As we progress through the Age of Information, more and more people are now connected to the internet. In a 2012 report published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, out of the 10.9 million internet subscribers in Australia, 80% of these are household subscribers. The report shows that technology is not limited to business use but for family use as well.
Since we now own smart devices such as tablets and smartphones, the need for a home computer network or hub is increasing. Families do not only use their devices to connect to the internet – they also them for virtual sharing. It may sound like a luxury but a home network is now a necessity for many families.
However, some people are still hesitant about setting up their own network at home. They think that it is either too complex or too expensive to setup. This guide aims to help people understand what a computer network is, how it works and why you need one at home.
What is computer networking?
Networking engineers define computer networking as the linking of a group of computers to a network. Some of these networks include:
- The Internet
- Local Area Networks (LAN)
- Home Area Networks (HAN)
- Wireless Area Networks (WAN)
- Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN)
Each network type uses different hardware to facilitate communication but they all use the same components. Hardware, such as routers, and software coordinate a smooth exchange of information between devices.
The most common types of home networks are wireless area networks (WAN) and local area networks (LAN). These networks use routers to direct traffic between all the connected devices. Modern routers feature both Ethernet and wireless technology to ensure better connectivity.
Safety is also a primary concern in a network. To ensure the users and data’s safety within the network, installing a firewall is recommended. It can be software or hardware, both of which prevent malicious programs and users from attacking your network.
Given the different types of networks, what is ideal for home use and how does it work? Let us find out.
How does a computer network work?
A computer network allows computers and other devices to communicate with each other. Since most families own desktops, laptops and smart devices, it is the easiest method of facilitating file and document sharing. A network also allows users to connect to the internet simultaneously. Users within the network can also communicate with each other through the following mediums:
- Social media
- Video conferencing
- Instant messaging or IM
Networks also allow users to share programs and operating systems remotely. Aside from these, users can also access different devices such as printers and scanners. For casual and avid gamers, it is the best way to play simultaneously on their favourite game.
Modern home computer networks use both wired and wireless connections. This hybrid technology lets users connect more devices to the network’s central point or hub. It makes it easier for all your devices to “talk” to each other.
Now that you know what a network is and how it works, are you ready to set up your own home network?
Do I really need a home computer network?
The answer is “yes”! Gone are the days where home computer networks were reserved for techno geeks and gamers. Today, most homes have their own computer networks. Since more family members need to connect to the internet, having one computer is not enough. A home network can help accommodate more users and devices.
Below are some of the main reasons why you may need a home computer network:
- Access to the Internet – the internet itself is a global network and we need to access it for information, shopping and anything related to our daily activities.
- Data and file sharing – share documents, photos, music and even applications with other devices. No need for hefty emails or Zip drives.
- Peripheral or hardware sharing – you do not need to have wires everywhere anymore. Just locate the scanner, camera or printer to use it on the network.
- Home entertainment and multi-player gaming – set up multiplayer games with other devices in your home. This makes it is easier to share movies, videos and games with family members.
- Internet telephone or VOIP service – instead of calling friends or relatives overseas with your telephone, Voice Over IP service or VOIP allows you to make calls through the internet. It’s relatively cheaper than using regular telephone rates.
A home network is the future of connectivity and sharing. In fact, big-named manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung are constantly developing technologies for a connected home. Eventually, you will be able to operate your home’s appliances with the tap of a finger.
The future is now and it is time to create your own home computer network.