|How to Build a Small Network Using a Broadband Router|
Broadband routers are the easiest way for you to build your own network. Using them, you can automatically share your broadband Internet connection among all computers on your network, as well as files and printers. Since they also work as a hardware firewall, it is also the safest way to be connected to the Internet nowadays. The installation is really fast and you can literally build your own network in just a few minutes. In this tutorial we will show you how to build your own network using a broadband router.
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Figure 1: A typical broadband router.
So, what is a broadband router? Despite its name, it is a device that integrates several other features:
- Broadband router: Automatically shares your broadband Internet connection among all computers connected to it. You also can configure it to limit Internet access based on several criteria (for example, time of the day – you may want your employees to be able to access the Internet only during lunch time or after job, for example).
- Hardware firewall: Prevents several kinds of attacks to your computer and also prevents shared folders and printers on your local network from being accessed by computers located outside your home or office.
- Switch: Almost all broadband routers also integrates a switch (usually a 4-port switch), allowing you to connect the computers you want to connect to the network directly on the router. You can also expand the number of ports by installing an external switch to the router. So for a small network with up to four computers you won’t need any extra hardware to build your network.
- DHCP server: This feature centers all network configuration options on the router, so you don’t need to do any kind of configuration (you should set them up as “automatic configuration”) on the client computers. Simply put, this allows you to simply connect any computer to the router and it will have immediate access to the Internet and to shared folders and printers located on your network, without needing any kind of configuration. Just plug and play!
- Wireless: The most recent broadband routers have wireless option, allowing you to connect computers without using cables. However, they will need a wireless network card and installing a wireless card to each computer on your network can be expensive. But this is a terrific solution for your home or small office where you have one or two laptops with wireless capability; just turn them on and you will be online. However, there are several security risks and fancy configuration options for using the wireless option safely. Read our tutorial Basic Security in Wireless Networks to learn more. Read our tutorial How to Build a Wireless Network Using a Broadband Router if you want to build a wireless network.
- Print server: Some routers provide a parallel port or an USB port for you to connect your printer directly on the router. This is really neat, because any computer on your network can use the printer without any fancy configuration. If you need to share your printer among all computers and you don’t buy a router with this option, the computer where your printer is attached to will need to be turned on in order to print something. This can be a hassle, for example, if the printer is connected to a computer from someone that is not in the office, it is turned off and he (or she) put a password on it. Also, by using a broadband router with print server option you can save some money on your electricity bill, since you won’t need another computer turned on to use the printer. If you choose to buy a router with this feature, you need to buy one with the same connection type as your printer, parallel or USB.
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Figure 2: Parallel port on a router with print server feature.
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