• A fast and reliable home network is becoming ever more important with an increasing number of connected devices
  • This article reviews basic questions on what the home network is, its key components and advice on how to improve.
  • Also, please read our guide on the best access points for home and best nvr

Home Network Basics

What is a home network?

A home network helps you link all your devices to each other as well as to the internet. You can set up a home network using a wired or wireless network, with all your devices connected to a central unit called a switch or hub. This allows for smooth communication between all the devices in the network. For example, you can instruct a printer to print a certain document from your computer. And for wireless setup, all the devices with wireless capability can access programs outside your home.

What equipment do I need for a home network?

No matter how small your network is, some devices can make carrying out activities easier. And as your network becomes bigger, some of these become mandatory.

  • File server – A file server provides you with shared disk access so you can have all your computer files in a location where they are easily accessible. When all the files in your network are kept in central storage, all network users will be able to access them easily.
  • NAS (Network Attached Storage) – is often needed for a home network that involves streaming. If you’re going to be doing multimedia and file sharing, you need to have a Network Attached Storage, which provides storage for your devices. This means if you have a lot of videos on your hard drive, you can present it to the network and access them easily. Fortunately, there are a lot of options to look at, such as the QNAP TS-251+ 2-Bay Next Gen Personal Cloud NAS.
  • Network Video Recorder – If you deal with video editing on your system, a piece of valuable equipment is the Network Video Recorder. It lets you record videos and streams them to your mass storage device. A good one is the Amcrest NV4108E-HS 4K 8CH POE NVR.
  • A router is used in handling and monitoring your network traffic. It’s so significant that all devices in your network need it to access the network. If you’re going to be dealing with high volume traffic, you should invest in a solid router, even if it’s expensive. A cheap router typically won’t handle heavy traffic. We recommend ASUS AC2900 WiFi Dual-band Gigabit Wireless Router.
  • Access point. The function of the router is to distribute network connection throughout your home. If for a reason, you can’t get a connection in certain areas, you can use an access point to extend the signal to such an area. Fortunately, these access points are not expensive. Moreover, they come with WiFi, which most routers to have. So, that’s a double advantage of having one. If you’re planning to add one to your home network, you should check out the Ubiquiti Networks UAP-AC-PRO-US Unifi Access Point
  • PoE Switch – Sometimes, you may need to connect multiple devices to your network at a time. In such cases, the ports on your router may not be enough. For example, if you have only 8 ports and you need 10 devices to be on the network simultaneously, you may need something that can easily extend the port so you can connect more than 8 devices. The best switch is the PoE switch as it provides not just connection but also power once connected. A switch that we recommend is the Ubiquiti US-8 Unifi Switch.

Should I choose wifi vs wired devices for my home network?

When it’s time to choose between a wired and wireless network, there are a lot of considerations to be mindful of. Some of these will affect the day to day activities in your home network. That’s why you need to think about this thoroughly. Even if you’re accustomed to using wireless connection everywhere, there is no reason a wired setup can’t benefit you.

With a wired internet, you get security, stability, high-speed, and minimum delay (latency). As you can see, you get faster transfer speeds on a wired network compared to a wireless one. There is also a low risk of a data breach as your connection is more secure. In light of these benefits, a wired connection should be considered if you want faster internet and top security.

That doesn’t mean a wireless internet isn’t good. You get lots of benefits, some of which you’ll never find in a wired network. Sufficiency, convenience, and continuous technology advancement are the major advantages of a WiFi internet setup. To choose the right one, you should evaluate your needs and preferences. That’ll reveal which one suits you most and give you a lot of reasons to choose it over the other.

Why you should invest in a home network

One of the reasons is to connect different computers to a network, simultaneously. Another important use of this is allowing you to share documents, videos, images, and other items between computers. With a home network, all the computers in your home can be connected and you don’t have to go from one to another just to get specific files. Again, you can connect a single printer and use it on all of the computers so that each person that needs it doesn’t have to buy another printer.

Another importance of a network is that it allows you to stream videos and images from the internet, from a host of providers including YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon. They all have a database of photos and videos covering a wide range of industries, accessible after a subscription. A home network lets you access all of these when the need arises.

Another importance of a home network is that it lets you set up online parental control to monitor your children’s activities on the internet.

What are the benefits of a home network?

One of the advantages of having a home network is it allows you to connect a group of devices. Thus allowing all of them to interact freely. You can share just one internet connectivity between all of these devices. This means you can browse the internet on your computer, smartphone, tablet, etc., using just one connection.

Beyond the internet connection capability, a home network allows you to use a variety of other devices. This is especially good for setting up a smart home or security system. For example, you can have your home security system, home automation systems, using this network as well as Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone system and Network Attached Storage (NAS) device.

And going by the name, it’s easy to make out that a home network system can easily be set up. You don’t necessarily need professional assistance. Moreover, the various devices to set it up are widely available and affordable as well.

How can I see all devices connected to my network?

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways you can access and monitor all the devices connected to your network. You can either use an app (there are a lot of these out there including the Fing app, Advanced IP Scanner utility) or use your router’s web interface. Because your router hosts your Wi-Fi network, it has information about the devices on the network.

And it’s the most accurate. If your router doesn’t offer this feature, you can use the software on your computer to scan the devices connected. One of such is the NirSoft’s Wireless Network Watcher. The problem with this is that you won’t see any offline device. Only those that are online will be visible.

Do I need to buy gigabit-capable devices for my home network?

In most cases, you don’t need to purchase these devices. The reason is that most operations won’t need one. For example, if you’re only browsing the web, downloading, or uploading, you probably don’t need to have gigabit-capable devices on the network. However, if multiple users are accessing the network at a time and you want to upgrade the speed and overall performance, you can look into owning one of these devices.

Do I need a rack mount for my home server?

There are a lot of people who will install their servers without using a rack mount. However, using one can bring a lot of benefits. First, a rack mount can ease the installation and remover of your server. This makes it easy to move around if there is ever any need for that. Again, they are designed to hold standard servers so you can use it for more than one.

 Another advantage is that you can protect the server from pests, climate changes, dust, and other elements that can degrade the lifespan. If you need to change your home server at any point, you don’t need to throw out the rack-mount as it will be useful again. Finally, you can install more than a few servers at a time if the rack comes with multiple rails.

Frequenly Asked Questions

How do I share files between two computers on a home network?

There are several different ways you can share files between two computers in your home network. You can use a LAN file-sharing software to do this. A lot of software including the one from D-LAN will let you do more than just transfer files between two computers but also browse the folders and files on the other computer. Once you install the program, just create a new folder on the other computer and the new folder will show up on the other computer where you want to access it.
You can also use the Nearby Sharing option in Windows 10. This can easily be found in your system settings under sharing experience. Here, you can set up how you share files between the computers in your network.
You can also use email transfer. Transferring files aren’t limited to just the internet. You can also do that using your local network. Just like Nearby Sharing, you’ll select the file you want to share, click Share, and choose from the email contact on your computer.

Why is a router needed on your home network?

When you are setting up a home network, you want to choose your devices carefully. And some are a must in a network setup. Such is the case of a router. It’s more like the brain in your entire setup.
Why?
With a router, you can route all the devices on the network so that they share the same connection, using the same ISP. Again, the presence of a router in your home network increases security since any of your devices cannot be accessed directly from external sources. And if your model has a VPN, then that’ll further add to the security of the network. In addition to all that, a router lets you set up parental control in your home network so you can block access to risky or unwanted websites.

Should I use PoE in my home network?

Typically, a PoE switch or injector is useful for those using PoE devices in their network. If you don’t have any PoE devices you need to connect in your home network, you probably don’t need a Power over Ethernet. However, if you have items like webcams, VoIP phones, IP cameras, wireless access points, etc., you should consider using a PoE. For example, if you have several webcams in your home, you can power them using a single PoE switch. Imagine if you have to run a single wire to each webcam? Moreover, PoE connection in some cases offers more reliability than a wireless connection.