When you count up how many devices are connected to your internet at one time, you may be surprised – you could be streaming Netflix on your TV at the same time as working on your laptop, while your partner is on the desktop in the other room, streaming their favourite podcasts through a smart speaker, and the kids are upstairs on their mobiles and games consoles. A home network brings all the devices that connect to the Internet and each other together. It works in two ways:
- A wired network: connecting devices like scanners and printers with cables
- A wireless network: connects devices like e-readers and tablets without cables
Benefits of a home network
We take for granted that we can connect to the Internet from multiple devices now, but other benefits of a home network include being able to access files and folders from all the connected devices, sending documents from those devices to a single printer, and managing the security settings for all those networked devices from one place.
What do you need your home network to do?
To get the most out of your home network and ensure that you set the budget accordingly, it’s best to first work out what you need from it:
|Level of usage||Home networking set up|
|A few laptops and a mobile – basic Internet use||Single 802.11n access point|
|A home office with the need to access company drives through a VPN (Virtual Private Network)||A router capable of VPN pass-through|
|Gaming – multiplayer MMOs||Good router with port forwarding capabilities|
|Streaming – watching TV through the Internet or streaming videos to multiple devices||Wired network – better for reliability|
Wired or wireless?
That is the question!
In terms of reliability, wired Ethernet (or gigabit Ethernet) is one of the best options. It runs data around your home at around the speed of a mid-tier hard drive, or 125mbps. If you would like to run higher, you will need to wire it in to every room you’d like to have access to the Internet using Category 5e cabling.
Obviously everyone will have heard of WiFi, and the fact that it’s wire-free makes it all the more popular, but we’ve all probably also experienced times when it’s running slow and not all that reliable. If you’re just wanting to connect a few devices for surfing the web, then it’s a great solution, but if you’re hoping to move big files or stream then it might be less reliable and lead to those awkward buffering on a cliff-hanger moments. If you have a big property, you can improve your connectivity with a router with replaceable antennas. No matter what its size, it’s better to go for an 802.11n router which supports bandwidth 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
There is also the option of using a HomePlug powerline, which carries network signals through existing power lines. This avoids the need for Cat 5e cabling, but the speed will depend on your property’s wiring and how it’s laid out.
Considering how much of our lives we spend online now, it’s worth investing the time and money in getting the right set up for you and your home, so that you don’t waste any time waiting for your Internet connection to catch up. With many people now seeing working from home – at least part time – as the norm, that connectivity is all the more important, along with the need for the best levels of security.
To ensure that you have the best home network set up for you and your needs, get in touch. We’d be happy to give you no obligation advice and talk through your options.
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