Home Networking: A Beginner’s Guide

Do you need to get your new home connected? Perhaps your tired out old network needs upgrading? The AA Electrical team has put together a short and simple guide which will help you get started with home networking basics, so you can be online in next to no time. First things first…

Wired or Wireless Home Networking?

The vast majority of people now use wireless networking in their homes. With no need to be connected via cables, users can access the internet virtually anywhere, giving them more flexibility and providing a Wi-Fi connection for smartphones, tablets and any other smart device in the home. Particularly useful as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more pervasive.

Wired connections do still have their place, however. In sizeable properties, or locations with more temperamental connections, a wired network offers a more consistent, dependable and strong connection. In many cases, both wireless and wired connections are present in the same home, depending on the devices used and their location.

Positioning Your Router

Whether you’re setting up wired or wireless connections, your router is the most important ingredient in a home networking setup. This is the device that makes an internet connection possible.

Your router plugs directly into the network cable which comes into your home, then (typically) provides the capacity to connect 4 to 6 wired devices via LAN ports (you can add more with a LAN switch or hub), or uses Wi-Fi bandwidth to allow other devices to connect wirelessly.

The placement of your router can make a big difference to its wireless performance and the speed of your connection. Placing it inside metal cabinets, in corners and on shelves, or next to a wireless telephone cradle can all slow your connection down.

Best practice means placing your router out in the open, ideally in a hallway, as close to the centre of your home as possible. If you’re still not getting the coverage you’d like, or if your home has “Wi-Fi deadzones” you may want to explore options like range extenders or powerline adapters.

Security Protocols

Wireless connectivity may be convenient and accessible, but that means it could also be convenient and accessible to others outside your home. To ensure your neighbours don’t nab your connection and that your system is secure make sure you:

  • Do not leave your network open
  • Change your default password ASAP
  • Turn off remote management

Connecting Extra Devices

When you set up a new network and add new devices, like computers, smart TVs and tablets, you’ll generally be asked whether the connection is public, work or home. Always make sure you select home in this instance, as selecting public may make it tricky to connect secondary devices, like printers, in the future.

Firmware Updates

Once you’ve successfully set up your network, it’s tempting to simply leave it and never touch it again. However, new firmware for routers becomes available fairly regularly, which can improve its performance. If you want to keep your router at the top of its game, check the manufacturer’s website regularly for updates, then plug your PC/laptop directly into the router via an Ethernet cable, download and update with the new firmware.

We understand that things don’t always go to plan, so here are some common home networking mistakes to avoid.

If you have any helpful tips for home networking you’d like to share, please drop us a line. If your property makes networking problematic, specialists like AA Electrical are here to help. We work with homeowners to develop smart wiring solutions for Ethernet cabling and much more, keeping you connected and cable-free.