Wireless networking made easy

Wireless networking doesn't have to be brain-meltingly difficult. This CNET.com.au tutorial will walk you through the steps in setting up a Windows-based network to ensure that it remains robust and secure.

There's a rather persistent myth that computer networking is hard -- that unless you've spent three or more expensive years at university discovering the mysteries of TCP/IP you shouldn't even look at a network, let alone think of setting one up.

Wireless networks are allegedly worse -- insecure creatures that leak out your data and broadband connection to thieves and pirates who lurk behind every passing shrub. The truth of the matter is that wireless networking -- at least at a home/small office level - doesn't have to be brain-meltingly difficult, although it pays to take careful steps in setting up a network to ensure that it remains robust and secure.

Why wireless? Why share?
The amazing growth in broadband services in Australia has enabled more of us to do more online, whether it's downloading large files, using VoIP services or just maintaining a persistent and suitably swift connection.

At the same time, the saturation of computer ownership is more or less complete, and many users now have more than one PC at home - particularly if you're in a household shared among multiple adults or have children with Internet needs and wants of their own. And yet, there's only one actual data pipe into the house.

The solution is to share out your broadband connection to multiple PCs. This is possible across (and between) systems running Windows, Apple OS X and Linux, but for the purposes of this tutorial, we'll cover Windows installation.

What you'll need:

  • Two or more Windows PCs
  • A broadband Internet connection and modem
  • A wireless router and its documentation
  • Wireless cards for each PC you wish to share to

You may need:

  • A wireless access point or additional antennae
  • Your broadband account settings, including user name and password

For the purposes of this tutorial, we'll presume that your broadband connection is already set up and working for one PC in your home, and that all you've got is a broadband modem for either cable or ADSL with an Ethernet plug coming out of one end that normally slots into your PC's network card.

Many wireless routers come with an inbuilt modem for ADSL users -- newer models may support the ADSL2/2+ specification, but unless your ISP supports ADSL2/2+, you won't see any extra speeds just because you've got the newer hardware. If your new router has an inbuilt modem, the configuration is essentially the same, except that you'll be doing all the configuration steps from the one interface, and the phone cable that normally goes into your broadband modem will go into your modem/router instead. Integrated ADSL modem/routers are easier to install and configure, but there's an element of having all your eggs in one basket if something goes wrong, and the advantage of having discrete and removable components for upgrades is lost.

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