With the gig economy in high gear, new home offices are popping up across the country. And nearly every household now has an Internet connection. The next step is setting up a network for your home office.
A network allows you to connect multiple devices, including personal computers, laptops, tablets, printers and smartphones to each other and to the Internet.
The first decision you’ll have to make is whether to go wired or wireless.
Early (pre-2008) home networks were predominantly wired networks. They tend to be faster than wireless networks (an important consideration for gamers) and the connection to the Internet is more stable.
For a wired network, you’ll need a broadband router connected to the Internet on one side and to a switch on the other. Then you plug in your various devices to the switch. One thing about a wired network: you’ll use a lot of cables.
There are a few other disadvantages to wired. It won’t work with devices that don’t have an external port, such as tablets and smartphones. Setup also takes longer than wireless and it’s not easy for visitors who want to connect to your home network.
The second option is more popular: wireless. Wireless networks use Wi-Fi and are quick and easy to install, but are generally slower than wired networks. They also allow easy access to smartphones and other mobile devices and there are no cables to run.
On the other hand, wireless networks are not as secure as wired networks, and not as reliable. But setup is easy – you just need a wireless router connected to your phone line, cable or fibre network access point in your home.
Because the wireless router is your main access point for WiFi, you should place it in a central location if possible, to get the best reception. You can test your wireless signal using a free app, the inSSIDer Wi-Fi checker.
Many people use a combination of wired and wireless, connecting their main computer directly to the router, but using wireless for other devices, including laptops, smartphones and printers.
No matter which way you go, remember to set up your network efficiently so you won’t have to revisit the process in a few months. A good wired or wireless network setup should last for years, not including updates to your equipment.