Network Configuration & Troubleshooting (Part 1)

5/26/2012 11:37:26 AM

We explain in a step-by-step guide how to set up your first network

Setting up a home network may sound like a daunting prospect but it really isn't. You just need to follow some simple steps.

In the following guide, we will be looking at a simple step-by-step guide on how to set up your very own network using a combination of wired, wireless and Powerline connectors. The following guide assumes that your router is set up with DHCP enabled (all modern routers come with DHCP enabled by default), meaning IP addresses are automatically allocated by the router to each newly connected device.

1.    Connect Your Router

Description: Connect Your Router

The first step of setting up any network is to connect your router to the power socket, and if you're using a cable modem, take out the network cable from the back of your PC and plug it into the 'internet' port on the back of the router instead. Most broadband connections in the UK are ADSL, in which case your modem and your router will probably be one combined unit. In this case, plug the phone cable into the back of the ADSL router and wait for 30 seconds or so for everything to be sorted out.

2.    Connect A PC To The Router

Description: Connect A PC To The Router

For this stage you will need to connect a PC to the router via an Ethernet cable. You can plug the PC into any of the ports you like, because they all operate in the same way.

Once plugged into the router, wait for the two devices to negotiate a link and you should have internet connectivity. Once you do, this means your PC has been allocated an IP address (a bit like a unique phone number) by the router. Every other device you connect to the router will also be allocated its own distinct IP address. If you see a pop-up asking you what kind of network you just connected to, click on 'Home'.

3.    Connect Other Wired Computers

Description: Connect Other Wired Computers

If you have other computers that connect to the router using a wired connection, you can go ahead and connect these to the router as well at this stage. As with the original computer, wait a few moments for the router to allocate an IP address to this system and it too should have connectivity to the internet. Both systems are now connected to the router, and are therefore also ready to speak to each other, using the router as a common path. Although it's possible to set up a network without a router as an intermediate, it is much more difficult!

4.    Set Up Wireless

Description: Set Up Wireless

Using one of the computers connected to your router, it's now time to enter the router's configuration screen and set up the wireless network. Most ISP-provided routers have an SSID (wireless network name) and security key pre-allocated, and it will be printed on a sticker stuck to the underside of your router.

Most third-party routers require you to set up your own. We would recommend you name your SSID something unique (especially if your neighbours use the same router/ISP), and set your password to something secure yet memorable. If you see a pop-up asking you what kind of network you just connected to, again click on 'Home'.

5.    Connect Wireless Computers

Description: Connect Wireless Computers

To connect a PC wirelessly to your network, make sure the wireless network adaptor is turned on and navigate to the notification area of your PC (bottom right, next to the clock). Click on the wireless networking logo (on Windows 7, this looks a little like a bar graph) and scan for new networks.

If your router is in range, you will see its SSID in the list. Go ahead and click to connect it, entering the password you set up on the router earlier. All being well, the two will negotiate a link and once again, the router will allocate an IP address to the computer.

6.    Allocate A Workgroup

Description: the System window with the workgroup

the System window with the workgroup

In order for the computers attached to the same router to talk to one another, they need to be connected to the same 'workgroup'. By default Windows 7 calls this workgroup 'WORKGROUP'. Windows XP calls its default workgroup 'MSHOME'. If the different machines on your network are to have a hope of seeing each other and sharing each other's files, they all need to be connected to the same workgroup. You can call a workgroup anything you like, but for ease of use we will assume that you stick to the default name of 'WORKGROUP'.

7.    Join Workgroup

Description: Join Workgroup

Joining a workgroup is done in the same way on Windows 7 and Windows XP. In either case, click on the Start button and then right-click 'Computer' (My Computer in Windows XP). Click 'Properties'. For Windows 7 you will see the name of the workgroup on the very next screen. For Windows XP, click on the 'Computer name' tab. Once you've joined a new workgroup you'll need to restart the system for it to take effect.

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