How To Set Up The Perfect Home Network

How To Set Up The Perfect Home Network

Range Govindan
Feb 11, 2010

Most homes use WiFi networks nowadays, in large part because they're easy to setup and convenient to use if you have more than one computer user in your home, which is a given with most families. While wireless networks are easy to setup it's common for people to underestimate what their new WiFi network can do. Without further ado, we present to you our perfect home network and how to set it up.

This Home Hack assumes you already have a wireless router and emphasizes the creation of a WiFi network that will simplify tasks, allow you to share data through, and let you create a wireless media hub, which is simply a hard drive plugged into your home network, wirelessly, that everyone can use to dump and save their data.

What You Need

Materials:
Computers
Wireless router
Wireless network extenders
Video game console (Xbox 360 is really interesting)
Wireless external hard drive (Drobo is a great example)

Tips

1. Setup your home network using your wireless router. You can enhance the range of your network by using wireless extenders. Most wireless routers support a range of 150 feet indoors and 300 feet outdoors. If you're getting a weak signal in parts of your home, we suggest using a wireless extender (buy the same brand as your wireless router to ensure compatibility) to increase that range.

2. If you have an Xbox or a PS3, you can set either to stream movies, TV episodes, music and photos on your television.

3. While any external hard drive with an WiFi adapter is an easy way to create a wireless media hub we recommend setting up something a bit more secure, like the Drobo. We like the Drobo because it's basically a RAID enclosure that accepts hard drives of different sizes. What does this mean? For example, you can patch in a bunch of different hard drives, of different storage capacities, and Drobo will consider them as one big hard drive. It also uses the RAID 1 setting to ensure that your data is safe even if one of the hard drives fails. The base Drobo model costs $340, plus you'll need the $180 DroboShare to plug the Drobo into your wireless network. The good thing about Drobo is that you can pack it up with older hard drives and it will work. Most RAID enclosures only accept hard drives of the same size.

4.The cheapest wireless media hub alternative is to purchase something like the Iomega 1TB Screenplay hard drive ($250), which only has one hard drive and doesn't have any protection if it fails. Which you choose depends on how much data you plan on storing on this data hub. If there won't be much, then you don't need the Drobo. However, if you have gigs of media files, then the Drobo is the way to go.

Additional Notes: Networks can be very complicated or very easy. For most people, we recommend to keep things simple unless you've got someone in IT in your family that's willing to help. This setup will allow everyone in your home to have a central hub for all of their larger files. If any of the computer's hard drives fail, you'll have a backup.


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(Images: Rogersmj via Creative Commons license, osde8info via a CC license, Leslie Wong, Thomas Hawk via a CC license)

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