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Wireless Router or Hard-wire?

by dcmorris / May 23, 2006 5:41 AM PDT

I am in the process of setting up a second computer in my home. They will be placed about 12 to 15 feet apart in separate rooms.
I believe if I go wireless I must purchase a router and wireless card. If I hard wire I must purchase a connecting cable.
I want to be able to use the internet, printer and scanner capabilities of both computers.
Any advice and/or thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

DC

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DC, Look Down The Road
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / May 23, 2006 6:12 AM PDT

It's really a personal choice. Determine what your future uses will be. Are these two computers going to be the only comps you ever have in the house? Things like that..

Just some points:

1. You will need a router for either setup to effectively set up file and printer sharing..You may want to choose a "wired" router only but most newer wireless routers also have a four or five port switch will allow you to plug in multiple "wired" connections as well as use the wireless connection. Choosing the wireless router would allow you to use either option and the wireless ability can easily be disabled should you choose not to use it.

2. For connecting the second comp to the system, hard wired will be more secure from attempted uses of your wireless time...

3. Wireless is sure nice when you expect to have friends that need a quick connection with their laptop.

4. The CAT 5/6 ethernet cable for 15 ft will be slightly cheaper than purchasing a wireless adapter for your second computer but may be more work to route through walls, ceilings or along the floor..It depends on location and access.

5. Although I prefer wireless PCI cards over the USB adapters for desktops, either one will work and should get good reception at such a short distance, especially if there is only one wall separating them.

6. Although file and printer can be shared easily over networks, the scanner doesn't work so well. I've never seen scanners that can be used remotely, although clearly, the files could be easily shared once saved to the computer.

Hope this helps.

Grif

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Yep. . .
by Coryphaeus / May 23, 2006 9:00 AM PDT
In reply to: DC, Look Down The Road

You'd be hard pressed to find a non-wireless router today.

For printer sharing I have my Canon i455 connected to and installed in one PC. The other two PCs have the printer drivers installed. XP on the other two PCs looks at my network, finds the printer, and I can print from any PC. Nice, and I don't need a print server. My laptop has built in Wi-Fi and a 10/100 port. I can use it in the computer room wired or anywhere in the house wireless.

Wayne

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Print Sharing??
by dickhob / June 1, 2006 9:26 PM PDT
In reply to: Yep. . .

Can you expand on your printer sharing a bit. I was told that I could not share a printer conntectd to another PC unless the printer was "network ready" and was connected through the router.

I need to set up a two pc network, to share one application and one printer. The internet connection is not at all important for the second pc.
Thanks,
****

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"print sharing from one PC" is better than "print server"
by stevel227 / June 1, 2006 10:25 PM PDT
In reply to: Print Sharing??

I'll let others explain how to share a printer connected to one PC. But don't buy a router with embedded print server thinking that you can reliably and consistently connect wirelessly to a printer only connected to the router. This sort of works, but I've been told that print servers typically can't handle bi-directional signals. In other words, wireless print servers can take a signal from a PC to print, but then if the printer itself sends a signal back (say, to tell the PC what ink levels are or to report on printing status), the server has trouble. It will often drop wireless links and you'll lose the ability to print unless you reboot the router and/or PC. I've had one, and sometimes it works like a charm, then out of the blue it stops reacting to the wireless print signal. Rebooting sometimes works, but this effort basically defeats the purpose of the wireless concept. I finally called the router's tech support, and they told me "no bi-directional printers." And this is a problem since just about all printers are bi-directional these days.

By the way, for your second PC I think wired is the way to go for short distances, but as others have said use a wireless/wired router for flexibility. And just share the printer off one of the PCs.

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I've never had a problem with a print server
by ChuckT / June 2, 2006 5:27 AM PDT

I've had a DLink DI-713p wireless router w/print server for years. Also I steered my brother to get a similar (but newer DLink box). Neither one of us has ever experienced troubles with dropped printer, or printers not communicating for whatever reason.

Right now, I have upgraded my router with a much newer DLink DI-624 802.11g router (much better signal strength, and speed, that my old 802.11b couldn't do) but it does not have a built-in Print Server. So, instead, I bought a DLink wireless print server. I have been using it for over a year now, and this setup is also trouble-free.

The whole point of having a print server is so that a computer connected to a printer, to share, is not needed. And that was what I wanted. I have a collection of at least 3 computers on, at various times, in my house (sometimes more).

The only thing I would avoid is the ''low buck'' or unknown brands of print servers, which usually had odd setup requirements, or special usability drivers installed on every computer to recognize the printer. But sometimes you can't tell that until you get the box home. Good luck in anyway you do go.

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I also love my D-Link print server
by jhb045 / June 4, 2006 9:15 AM PDT

It can handle up to three printers. Currently, I have glossy 6x4 paper in a 2-year old Epson and plain cheap letter in my 6 yr old HP. The HP (default) even turns on automatically when needed.

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Print sharing
by djgriff60 / June 4, 2006 11:08 AM PDT
In reply to: Print Sharing??

Easiest way is to use a crossover cable between 2 PCs and install printer software on both. One as local and the other as networked. The key here being that your internet connection is not important on 2nd PC.

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Why?
by George.G / May 23, 2006 2:58 PM PDT
In reply to: DC, Look Down The Road

"5. Although I prefer wireless PCI cards over the USB adapters for desktops, either one will work and should get good reception at such a short distance, especially if there is only one wall separating them."

Just curious! I've had much better luck with USB adapters, especially since I can hook up an extension and basically put the adapter wherever I want! With PCI, you're stuck with wherever your computer is....and if it's on an outside wall? Good Luck!

George

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It's Easy To Buy Or Make Your Own Antenna....
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / May 24, 2006 9:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Why?

...for either type. It's just a personal preference, but on almost all PCI cards I use, I make an antenna that I can move to any location I wish which works much like your USB adapter. It also allows me to either purchase and connect directional or hi-gain omnidirectional antennas. They connect by wire to the back of the of the computer at the PCI card. Home made high-gain antennas can also be made for USB adapters as well but I prefer the options for PCI cards. (I've used an old Wok with the USB adapter stuck through a hole drilled through the bottom.)

My preference for the PCI card is related to the reliabitlity of the PCI connection vs a USB connection. Especially on older computers, USB connection seem to have a lot of problems.. The PCI card almost never does.

Hope this helps.

Grif

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Network Scanner
by waltknochjr / June 1, 2006 11:21 PM PDT
In reply to: DC, Look Down The Road

We have a HP OfficeJet 7410 connected to an ethernet netowrk. Anyone on the network can use their browser to access the scan function via the IP address. It has limited functions but is fine for scanning items to view on the screen or email. Walt.

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Thanks Walt, Most Of The Problem Is Logistics
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / June 2, 2006 2:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Network Scanner

First, not all scanners, (or printers for that matter), can be easily set up as an IP address device. So it definitely depends on the scanner and which automatic features it has.

I've always found it difficult to scan multiple page documents and other difficult items when my computer was simply "networked" to a scanner. It's not easy running a scan from your computer, then walking around the corner to change the page. Heck, I've got computers networked to my machine that are 90 miles away which are clearly not logistically feasible.. Even in situations where your machine is in a separate cubicle, it can be a lot of work if pages need to be turned over. I'd rather have the local machine user scan the document for me, then e-mail the final product to me.

But, yes, it can sometimes be done.

Hope this helps.

Grif

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New wireless 4 USB device server from DLink
by ChuckT / June 2, 2006 5:36 AM PDT
In reply to: Network Scanner

Just this past month a new DLink wireless four USB bi-diretional server has become available.

Called a DLink DPR-1260 RangeBooster G Multifunction Print Server. But it can be used for scanners, multi-function devices, or even online storage devices.

Check out the specs here. Pretty cool, and under $100!

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Get a combination wireless/wired router with print server
by ChuckT / May 23, 2006 9:29 AM PDT

Like the DLink DI-724U.
You can also get a non-wireless (wired only) router with a print server.

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Going Wired
by dcmorris / May 24, 2006 5:33 AM PDT

Instead of going wireless and sharing a printer I think I can do better going wired (router @ Newegg for 49.99 less 10.00 rebate plus shipping) plus an inexpensive printer. (Same router at Circuit City 59.99 plus sales tax which is more than shipping cost).
Running the wire will be no problem as the computers will be on opposite sides of back to back closets.
The scanner is a non issue as it is only used infrequently so we do not need to share it. In fact when it is used I am summoned to do it.
Thanks for your input.

DC

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DC, Your Choice But...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / May 24, 2006 9:58 AM PDT
In reply to: Going Wired

See the link below...The cost is $15.99 after a $25 D-Link rebate at Newegg.(Must be purchased before May 31, 2006.)

D-Link DI-524

It's wireless, plus it has a four port switch on the back and if you remove the antenna, it will still work as a wired router.

Its up to you.

Hope this helps.

Grif

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you need a router either way
by richard1154 / June 1, 2006 8:33 PM PDT

You need a router for either a wireless or hard wired connection. Almost all routers allow you to plug in at least four hard wired PC's. A wireless router allows you to connect up to 256 PC's equiped with a wireless card in addition to any PC's that will be hard wired to the router.

The router allows you to have the internet think there is only one IP connection (that is all you are paying for). The router then keeps track of where each PC is going on the internet and gets the replies back to the correct PC.

Which way you go is up to you. The normal routine when the second machine is in another room is to install a wireless router between the current PC and the cable modem and plug this PC directly to the router. You then install a wireless card in the second PC and set up the wireless connection. Read the instructions carefully or you may not get a good connection.

once both PC's are connected, you can set up a peer-to-peer network to share resources such as a printer or scanner. However, some of the routers have a an additional port that allows you to plug your printer into the router itself and share it. This is usually the better way, since sharing resources can leave you open for attacks from the outside.

One other thing you might consider when getting the router is to get one that has the firewall software built in so that you do not need a firewall on each PC.

I hope this will be useful to you.

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firewall protection
by roblinbos / June 1, 2006 10:43 PM PDT

I was just going to post regarding the firewall protection of a router for even a user with a single computer. Definitely a big plus! However, I would strongly advise anyone not to rely solely on this protection. The router settings usually say, "block ping from WAN side." A bit too vague for my taste.

Get good firewall software for your computers as well. It might be tricky to configure your network because of it, but it's not that hard. If anyone has any proof that ping blocking is all you need for protection, I'd love to hear it so I can stop being so paranoid!

I also have print sharing set up on my main desktop. It's great, because I can print from my wireless laptop. Go with the wireless router and disable the signal broadcasting. That way you're ready for the day you get a laptop.

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Wireless Router or Hard-wire?
by poet357 / June 1, 2006 9:06 PM PDT

I have a similar set up. A PC connects by cable to a router and a Mac 10' away connects wirelessly to the same router and another PC in the basement connects wirelessly to the same router (ATT) and all go out through a cable modem to the great beyond. I works just fine.

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Hard-wire or Wireless
by cygnus2000 / June 2, 2006 4:13 AM PDT

If speed is an issue, suggest you go hard-wire althoug wireless is very good.
In either case you will need a router in order to connect multiple computers at the same time.
So if you are purchaseing a router you may as well go with the wire-less router's as the cost diff is small.

Should you decide to use the wire-less capability you will have the additonal expense of a wire-less NIC card for the computer.

Be aware most laptops today come with built in wire-less capability thoug you still need the wire-less access point (Router).

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Been there, done that, chose CAT5 in the end
by Oracle_360 / June 2, 2006 5:07 AM PDT

I had the same connundrum you did, and originally I thought that wireless was better. After all, there's no hassle laying wire, and it would make LAN parties much easier. Much to my dismay, after a purchasing a wirless router, wirless adapters, a wifi signal booster, and then internal wireless adapters after the first ones failed, I found that for me at least, it really isn't worth it. Dropped signals, poor connection speeds, laggy gaming (and being randomly dropped from WoW and CS), are all part of the gamut of wireless networks. Finally, after months of agonizing over the network, I dropped the idea much like my wireless signal, and wired the house. Now, I have consistent signals, no loss of speed, and easy network set ups. I just wish I'd done it sooner.

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DC, Take some measurements first
by alswilling / June 3, 2006 2:12 AM PDT

There are so many security problems with wireless that it is not even practical at this point in time, unless you just don't care about security. Wireless from room to room requires wireless connections that depend upon radio waves rather than light to carry the signal containing the data that travels between the computers on the network. That means that anyone with a little knowledge of radio frequencies or an identical system can tap into your network and intercept data, even gain access to your computers. Therefore, in my humble opinion, your best bet to date is a hard wired network.

First of all, although it may seem to be only 15 feet or so between your two machines, keep in mind that aside from drilling holes through the base of your wall (which requires drilling through the rat seal--a 2x4 nailed to the floor to which the wall studs are nailed), you may prefer to run the cable along the ceiling or along the floor from one computer to the room where the other computer resides. Figure at least 18 additional feet if you run the cable along the ceiling. To get an accurate measurement, use a 25-foot measuring tape or measure in increments: from each computer to the wall, along the wall to the doorway, distance from the floor to the top of the door frame, distance along the wall and/or across the ceiling from one room to the other, etc.; then add all the measurements and round up to the next foot.

Next, you do NOT need a router for the network connection between two computers. However, if you decide to add a third computer or wish to provide access to a friend with a laptop, you will need a router. Since all routers today have a built-in hardware firewall, they are relatively secure. Since you stated that you are connecting two computers, I will concentrate on that fact and not speculate about further or future connections.

The only thing you need, other than ethernet cards for each computer, is a crossover cable. A regular networking cable will NOT work for direct connections between two computers. It must be a crossover cable. Crossover cables are available in 25-foot increments, beginning with 25 feet in length. That is the least you should use. If your route between computers (see earlier measurement info) is more than 25 feet and you cannot shorten the distance, either go to the 50-foot cable or have a local computer tech make you a crossover cable the length you need. I would opt for the prefabricated cables to be sure the crossover is done properly.

Once the crossover cable is connected, decide which computer is to be your primary, or host, computer from which your Internet connection and printer sharing will come. It is usually the host computer that is connected to both the Internet and the printer (about the scanner in a moment). However, if your Internet is connected to one computer and your printer to the other, that is no problem either.

When you have decided which computer is your host computer, use the Network connection wizard to establish the network. You will then be asked to make a disk containing the necessary files to set up a compatible network connection on the other computer. To save time and aggravation, you should do this. Insert the disk into the drive of the second computer and then run the setup from the disk.

For the printer sharing, simply opt to share your printer with the other computer on the network.

As for scanners, Grif is absolutely right. Scanners do not do well as shared peripherals. The only satisfactory option there is to dedicate the scanner to one computer and use that machine for all scanning operations. You can, however, easily set the scanner settings to save the scanned images to either computer. It is far easier to share image files than it is to scan from a remote scanner.

Oh. Crossover cables can be purchased at any computer store and from Staples and Office Max. Wal-Mart only carries regular network cables, and despite the manufacturer's assurance on the package that you can directly connect two computers, that is not true. Again, you must have a crossover cable to get a proper and satasfactory connection.

I hope this helps.

Al

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P.S. Re: DC, Take some measurements first
by alswilling / June 3, 2006 3:00 AM PDT

To qualify my earlier post, I should point out that I am using the precise setup that I described to you: a crossover cable connecting two PCs. This works between two machines running Windows 98, 2000, or XP; or a combination of any of the two Windows operating systems mentioned here.

Most of the time, my wife and I are on the Internet at the same time; and never once has there been a case of a signal or connection from the Internet going to the wrong machine. The browser takes care of that concern. It is the browser, not the router, that keeps everything straight--that sees that the data from the site you are accessing goes to the machine that requested it.

As for firewalls, you do, I concede, have to depend on a software firewall such as ZoneAlarm for security. Windows' firewall is rudamentary and should not be depended upon to protect your computer from hack attacks, etc. The advantage of using a router for two computers lies primarily in its hardware firewall, which is superior in some respects to a software firewall. Otherwise, as I said before, a router is not necessary to network two computers and neither is a peer-to-peer setup.

Al

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Are we missing a connection??
by dickhob / June 3, 2006 3:24 AM PDT

Your router-less connection using a crossover cable was what I wanted to do. Simply connect the to PCs with the cable via the ethernet ports. But how do you complete a broadband internet connection? Will adding a second ethernet card get the job done?
Thanks
****

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RE: Are we missing a connection??
by alswilling / June 3, 2006 3:50 AM PDT

The broadband connection to one of the computers is established by whatever modem you are using. The ethernet card on each computer with the crossover cable connecting the two should provide both computers with access to the Internet connection. The Internet connection is shared by the crossover cable. When you run the network connection wizard, you will see that only one of the two computers needs to have direct Internet connection, whether dial-up or broadband, and that connection is shared with the other computer through the crossover cable and the ethernet cards to which it is connected.

In short, you should only need one ethernet card per computer and the crossover cable to connect them.

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(NT) I'm still short a connection
by dickhob / June 3, 2006 5:27 AM PDT

Sorry for the confusion, but I have a crossover cable connecting the two pcs via network cards. I have a cable modem connected to the internet and a cat5 lan cable connected to the cable modem- where does the other end of this cable connect to the pc? There is no port available.
****

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RE: (NT) I'm still short a connection
by alswilling / June 3, 2006 1:46 PM PDT

****, I apologize for being a source of confusion. My DSL modem is internal. It didn't register in my wooden head that your modem connects through your Ethernet card. In that case, yes, you will either need a second ethernet card for the crossover connection; or if your modem has an optional USB connection, you can connect the modem to a USB port and connect the crossover cable to the ethernet card. Since your system is already configured to look for the modem on your ethernet card, it would be less trouble to install a second ethernet card for the crossover cable.

My apologies for not realizing that you were using the ethernet connection for your modem. There are four types of modems, basically: the one like you have that connects to the ethernet card, one that connects to the USB port, one that gives the option of connecting through the USB or ethernet card, and one that installs internally.

I hope this clears up the misunderstanding.

Al

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RE: (NT) I'm still short a connection - possible alternative
by alswilling / June 3, 2006 2:54 PM PDT

A possible alternative to adding another ethernet card to your machine would be an Ethernet-to-USB adapter. D-Link and others have adapters at half the cost of an ethernet card, and the adapters render the true 10/100Mbps connection that you would get with an ethernet card. That would be a cost-efficient alternative to adding an ethernet card for the modem.

Your local computer supply store should have one or more brands. If not, a variety of adapters can be seen--and purchased if need be--at tigerdirect.com. The full URL is:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/Category/category_slc.asp?CatId=589

I hope this helps.

Al

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Now it makes sense
by dickhob / June 6, 2006 5:02 PM PDT

Al,
Thanks- I didn't think I was crazy. I checked out the link you provided- it looks very promising. Wish I had the info a few days ago. I've got the systems wired to a router, but am having all kinds of problems getting them to see one another- This is apparently pretty common from what I've seen on the net.

Somewhere I picked up on the crossover cable direct connection route, but I still need at least one internet connection too. If I can't resolve my problems using the router, I will definitely try the one you suggest here.

Thanks again
****

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The Deed Is Done
by dcmorris / June 6, 2006 3:39 AM PDT

I purchased a wired router. I ran a 25' cord from the router into a closet, up through that ceiling, down through the ceiling of another closet and into the other computer and had about two feet to spare. Everything works fine.
This might not be the perfect solution but it works for me. More important is ''She who must be obeyed'' loves the new set-up. She thinks I am a computer genius. Being the humble guy I am I had to admit to her it could not have happened without the input I received here at Newbies.
Many thanks!

DC

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(NT) (NT) 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' .....LOL
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / June 6, 2006 4:59 AM PDT
In reply to: The Deed Is Done
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