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Home Networking Question

Home Networking Question

Home Networking Question

Hi Computer guys,
I am a structural engineer who is hoping for some advice.
I currently have (2) computers in my home.  One has internet access, the other does not and is on a different floor.  
If I go to radio shack and buy a wireless router is there anything else I might need to be able to get internet access on the second computer?  Is this a job that a complete novice can tackle?  Are there any sites that might give some good directions?
Thanks in advance.

RE: Home Networking Question

  Yes, you will need a wireless network adapter for the second PC. Some plug into a PCI slot on the motherboard, others just plug into a USB port.
  Plug your Internet connection into the router and then plug PC 1 into the router. Follow the directions that came with the router. Now go to the second computer and connect it by following the directions that came with the wireless adapter.
  If you are planning to share printers, files, etc, between your computers, you will need to set up a network. Windows XP has a built in wizard to accomplish this.

RE: Home Networking Question

It's pretty easy.  You hookup the router to your DSL or cable modem.  Hookup your downstairs PC to the router, wirelessly or not.  You'll need a wireless card or something for your upstairs PC; we have two wireless laptops upstairs in our house.

The mechanical part is pretty straightforward.  Your network security is another matter.  You must enable all your wirewalls to prevent intrusions.  However, I've found it easier to simply apply the MAC filter on the router to make sure that your neighbors aren't mooching your DSL or cable account.

The Media Access Control (MAC) address is a unique 32-bit number that's encoded into every Ethernet card ever built.  You can get your router to learn the MAC addresses of your computers, copy them into the MAC filter and then enable the filter.  


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RE: Home Networking Question

You'll also need a wireless card or board for the second PC.  Linksys (Cisco) wireless routers have a pretty good installation CD that walks you through the installation process.  I did have problems but their tech support people were able to help me get it going.

RE: Home Networking Question

Thanks all!
It sounds like I won't need to set up a network if I don't intend to share files or printing between the computers, is that accurate?

RE: Home Networking Question

Will I need a minimum number of RAM in the second computer?  The upstairs computer is about 7 years old and only has 192 RAM (it is in my son's room).

RE: Home Networking Question

As soon as you connect two computers to a router or to each other, wireless or wired, you have a network.  File sharing and printer sharing are services that run _over_ the network, like messengers traveling on a road.

192M of ram suggests that the upstairs computer is running Win98, not XP... which suggests that it will be easier and cheaper to replace it than to upgrade it enough to get it working nicely with the other one.  Even the cheapest computer at Wal-Mart is _way_ more powerful.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Home Networking Question

Not really a major problem, so long as he's not trying to do any real work on it winky smile

I've got an old Toshiba with 128M of RAM that I've connected to the Internet previously.  Molasses in February would be the appropriate description.  A PCMCIA wireless card should only run about $20, but there might be a driver issue if the computer is running Win98.  You could, of course, pay around $80 for an access point, which outputs Ethernet and alleviates your older computer from having install any drivers.

Mike is, of course, right about networks, although, technically, you have a network right now.  Anything that spits out Ethernet is one end of a network.  You simply have a degenerate case.

Current specials at various outlets will get you a blazing fast, relative to your old computer, laptop with built-in wireless for less than $500:


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RE: Home Networking Question

The upstairs computer is for nothing more than my kid playing a few internet games (i.e. runescape)

RE: Home Networking Question

You are correct, the upstairs computer is windows 98.

RE: Home Networking Question

You _can_ network a W98 box, even with wireless, but it's not necessarily easy.  Plug and Play was more hype than fact before XP.

You could look at as a technical challenge; you'll learn a lot of geeky stuff that's now mostly obsolete.  

You could look at it as resource allocation challenge, and try to do it on the cheap.  You'll learn a lot of geeky stuff that's now mostly obsolete, and you'll accumulate some hardware that's now mostly obsolete.

Right now is a good time to buy a refurb laptop with XP; in fact I just did.

... which still leaves the pile of perfectly good computers and laptops at home that I can't/won't bring myself to throw away, but they're too old and slow to use, upgrade, or give away.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Home Networking Question

So, is the consensus that networking the good downstairs computer with the old upstairs one will not work without serious upgrades to the older one?
Is this true for doing nothing more than accessing the internet with the upstairs computer?

RE: Home Networking Question

No, it's just indeterminate.  

You'll need some sort of wireless receiver, obviously, so you'll need to get something.  The highest probability of success would be with an external wireless access point, assuming you want to keep your computer and you don't want to risk drivers not working.  This is most likely to work, since it simply requires that your computer be capable of connecting to the equivalent of a wired LAN, which, even a Win98 computer should be able to do.


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RE: Home Networking Question

I'm using an old (160MHz P1 64Mb RAM) Fujitsu laptop with a broken screen for browsing.  If that is all you're doing, get a browser like K-Meleon.  It has a small footprint and isn't as greedy as Firefox for IE.  I'm not interested in animated graphics so I just disable flash.

Other than that, it is just a picture album for all our holdiay snaps.  No need to buy one of these electronic photo frames.

Something like that is OK for sites like tek-tips and eng-tips but not so good for gaming sites.  Anything that needs flash will need a faster processor and a lot more ram.

RE: Home Networking Question

Well, most key concepts about networking are well explained before.
I'm leaning for a WiFi router too. Add some filtering like MAC, F/W or stuff. WEP security is useful as a second-line protection, though it's easily hackeable these days.  You never know if a geek in the next block is trying to surf the web for free, so all security tools are valid here.

Please note that some ISPs keep track of the customer MAC address to allow/deny their network services, perhaps in an attempt to prevent clients from re-selling web access to the neighborhood. Fortunately, most off-the-shelf routers allow you to clone the MAC of the 'official' PC, so the ISP gateway will think it is talking with the client's PC, instead of your router.

Good Luck!

RE: Home Networking Question


The thought of "firewalling" the device is a good one as
I firewall at my server.  I can see the "attacks" on the
incoming side of it and log them to my syslog file.  It
is amazing who and what are tried.  There are sites on the
internet that allow one to "check" how "hard" your site
is.  I don't have any sites that come to mind. I do quick
surveys with "nmap" which would be on a different computer
on the internet that tries all the "ports" on your
firewall looking for holes.

One thing that I see a lot of are hijacked machines that
are turned into mailer "zombies".  They clog the internet
with thousands of pieces of "spam".

Aha!  I remember the site now!


Unfortuately, the port scan test is offline right now.

Anyway, please spend some time reviewing your firewall
stuff although it can be very irritating to read about.
I might suggest that you start with blocking all but
port 80 (http, web surfing), and see if you can still
email in and out.  *IF* you have to, then unblock port
25 (smtp). Outlook and other microsoft mailers historically
have been a source of compromise.

Indeed back in the early part of the decade, I was working
at a major network equipment oem.  In the lab, we installed
a version of windoze and it wasn't more than an hour or
two before the machine was compromized.

In short, it's a big bad world out there on the internet.
So doing a little prevention can enhance your internet


    Rich S.

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