Networking & Wireless forum


Extremely Lost Newbie Seeks Help

by Raethorm / August 9, 2013 10:51 AM PDT


I have been working on trying to set up a LAN/WLAN for my family for about a week now, and I have come to the realization that I need help. After reading more sites that I can count, pages of notes and too many hours spent trying to connect the's time I admit that I am very lost and confused. Maybe it's been information overload, or maybe I just don't get it, but I am here asking for help none-the-less.

As it is right now, I am trying to set up a network (some wired and some wireless) that can support: 3+ PC's, 1 iMac, 2 Laptops, 2 tablets, 3+ phones, 5 gaming consoles, a microcell and anything else I might be forgetting ATM.

I'd like to set up my LAN to require MAC address to be able to connect and a guest network (I was told to do this, but I still don't understand why) so when my family/friends come over they use that instead of my network?

So far I have purchased: a modem, router and a gigabit switch. IDK if I need an access point or a range extender, but my wireless devices do not connect when I go into some rooms.

Please let me know what other information is required. I am not very techie but I will do my best to get you the answers you need. I'd like to say thank you in advance to anyone willing to take time of of their day for a stranger to help them out. I very much appreciate it.

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Clarification Request
More info ?
by my-tech / August 13, 2013 6:29 AM PDT

Is it all up and working but the signal is not strong in some spots? <---In that case you need to either move the router/switch if possible for a clear path or add an access point.
What model is your router and switch ?

All Answers

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for the most part
by samkh / August 9, 2013 11:12 PM PDT

your isp should get you going ... why are you not asking them?

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From what you wrote you got it done.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 10, 2013 2:03 AM PDT

"my wireless devices do not connect when I go into some rooms." is nothing new. WiFi only goes so far so as a network installer you install outlets in those areas and add a WAP in other areas for more coverage.

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by mjd420nova / August 16, 2013 11:52 AM PDT

One big consideration is how many users will be on at one time? Maximum. I have four users and the router has four wired and four WIFI. So as long as it's only one device per user at a time. The wired ports are for the major net users (server/printer/scanner) and the Admin on port one. Some difficulty has been encountered with file/printer sharing between different WIN versions. XP, Vista, WIN7 and WIN8 are the brat kids that do not play well together. WIFI routers can be mounted higher to get increased range, but every wall and piece of furniture will reduce signals, even people moving around while connecting in a fringe area. In large open settings like a farm, mounting in an attic can really expand a useful area.

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Home Networking
by pauly1651 / August 16, 2013 12:05 PM PDT

There are classes at most community colleges in basic networking, my advice is that you take one.
Either that or find some one who knows what they are doing, and watch them real close, and ask a lot of questions.
This CNET forum is really not the place to learn how to set up your network. Everyone can say a lot of stuff, but you will need to do this hands on to really understand how to make it all work.
A basic networking class, with a good teacher is what helped me the most when I was first learning networking.
Hope you can get it done for your family.

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Wet string and Cocoa Tins!
by Zouch / August 16, 2013 9:08 PM PDT

Welcome to the crazy world of networking - it will seem like it's all wet string and cocoa tins at times but it's not that easy! There's nothing like compatibility and networking is nothing like compatibility. It's hard enough to get file and print sharing working between different Windows versions, let alone all the other stuff!

Starting out, you need some books. Microsoft publish one or two on home networking that cover the basics of Windows networking but are a bit light on foreign devices. Your local library is your friend.

For a more general view, "Home Networking for Dummies" is a good start or you can go to that has something like 100 simple individual steps for different aspects of setting up a home network. Or Google "home networking for dummies" without the quotes and check out the "how to" practical results.

Brief comments on some of your other questions.

A separate guest network can be helpful if you have stuff you don't want visitors to see or tamper with, such as any business information you may have on your PC. Inquisitive kids can do unimaginable damage to your network and files - you will have stuff that you can't afford to lose - keep it on your private network. Also, with a guest network, you can control the quality of service given to visitors so that it doesn't interfere with that report you have to finish for tomorrow morning, while they are Facebooking half the world!

As to your network options, given the practicality, I'd always settle for a wired network for my fixed stuff with flying patch cables for my mobile stuff. OK, it's not usually practical to do that for everything, so you can supplement it with WiFi and Powerline Networking. Depending on your house, WiFi can be an instant success or a total disaster! If you live in a steel framed house, or one with thick walls, expect it to be nearer to the disaster aspect! You can mitigate it with range extenders or access points but if you need to do that, I strongly recommend you enlist the aid of a friend or colleague who understands this stuff.

PowerLine adaptors can be very successful. The principle is that you already have a physical wired network running through your house - it's carrying your electrical supply! A powerline adaptor is a safety interface with an RJ45 Ethernet port that allows you to share data on the same two wires. You can even put an access point on the remote end if you need to.

As another poster said, your question is or could become too involved for this forum but if you have specific questions, there will be somebody who may be able to help. As I said, your local libraries are your friends - most have at least some books on networking.

Good luck!

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Start With The Basics
by Hforman / August 18, 2013 4:34 AM PDT

First, what kind of Modem did you get? Old style modems were for dial up and they don't have a lot of speed. Your ISP should be providing you with cable or dsl. Make sure you know what you are getting. If you have either, there should have been someone coming out to install this to get at least ONE PC working.

After the cable/dsl "modem" box, you should have a cable. This is a patch cable but it might be a special "cross-over" cable. I'd use this cable, but to find out what it is, you would need to show it to someone that can tell the difference in matching the colors on both ends. You can unhook this cable from you computer and connect it to a router.

The cable connections on the back of the router for your LAN connections should be regular patch cables. I suggest CAT 5e or CAT 6 for these. Don't go cheap on these and make sure they are the correct length. They should support gigabit speeds but, remember that the slowest part of the system will govern what you get. For example, just because you have 1 GB/sec speeds, it won't get the internet any faster than the Internet connection allows.

Set up for the router: This is where a good friend will come in. For security, I prefer WPA 2 but, if you are really concerned about neighbors jumping on (hacking) into your system, you can ADD MAC address testing. Don't use MAC Addressing alone as modern day systems alow MAC addresses to changed or be spoofed. Especially be careful if you are going to be using this for financial stuff such as credit cards, banking, etc.

Don't skimp on security! The reason someone suggested two networks (some routers support this better than others) is that, if you are using MAC address filtering, every time a guest or friend comes over or you add a new device, you will immediately need to add in the new MAC address. Guest networks means that they can just add a key to connect without you having to add their MAC. Make sure you set up DHCP for both wired and wireless. Some routers I remember had to be set up to bridge the wireless and wifi networks. If you don't, you will need fancy subnetting to keep wifi and wired completely seperate. I'd just have them bridged.

The user guide for your model of Router should be very helpful to get you started.

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