When two or more computers in your home share the same internet connection or printer, or both, then you have what is called a home computer network.

Consequently, the Internet is simply a multitude of computers connected to one another sending information back and forth. This is called a Wide Area Network (WAN).

In your home, when you have more than one computer connected to the same internet account or printer or both this is called a Local Area Network (LAN).

More and more home computer networks have other devices connected along with computers. Today, home electronic things such as network connectable BluRay DVD players and gaming consoles such as X-Box, PS3 and Wii also share the same network / Internet connection. Security Systems, Camera Surveillance systems, TV’s, refrigerators, tablet PCS and Smart Phones are all becoming readily connectable through our home computer networks.

Equipment needed for a home computer network?

To be considered a LAN (local area network) a home computer network doesn’t need to be connected to the internet; however, most LAN home computer networks today are connected to the internet. Therefore, a critical component of making the network function is the Modem. The type of modem you’ll need will depend on whether you have DSL Highspeed Internet or Cable Highspeed Internet.

The modem is used for your home network to connect to the internet. Much like a postal carrier delivers your mail to your unique mailing address; the modem is assigned a special unique address. The modem’s address is assigned by whoever is your Internet Service Provider (ISP). This unique modem address is how the internet knows to send you information as opposed to your neighbor down the road to the person sitting next to you at a restaurant. When you surf the internet it is the unique address in your modem that makes sure the information you are expecting makes it back to you in your home.

Within your home, on a home computer network, you also need a Router. A router’s purpose simply sends traffic and emails to the right place inside your home. In other words, when you sit behind your computer and you are surfing the Internet while someone else in the house is playing games online with a friend the router directs that traffic to the right device. Generally, routers can connect devices several ways. If the router is wireless then devices can be connected wirelessly (Wi-Fi). Another connection method is Cat5 Ethernet cable, a hardwire connection that is more stable and faster than Wi-Fi. Typical routers today are both Wi-Fi and Ethernet capable.

Sometimes, depending upon your ISP (Internet Service Provider) the modem and router are combined into one device.

How to Setup WiFi

Connecting a Printer to a home computer network

Printers, depending on their age and built-in features, can be connected to a Home Computer Network in as many as 3 ways. Thenewest printers available can be connected via the WiFi network (without a wire / Ethernet cable) but typically require you program in the security log-in information such as your Wifi name and security Key etc. Recent printers have a hard-wire Ethernet connection whereby the printer is connected to your Home Computer Network via a Cat5 cable plugged straight into your Router (or LAN Switch). The oldest printers can often times, with the proper setup of settings within the host PC and other PCs on the network be set up to work as proxy printers with one pc serving as the host, but, this requires some specialized networking skills. 

Home Computer Network – Summary

In summary, a Home Computer Network is great for allowing multiple devices in your home have Internet access. To make it work you need a modem and router. Connection of devices can be in the form of Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable or both. A little known yet stable way to build an Ethernet system is by using Ethernet Over Electrical Wiring.