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We have all come to realise the importance of functional networks in our daily lives, both at home and in our different workplaces. A network can be described as a group of interconnected devices assembled to communicate with each other through shared resources.
We use these devices often, including computers, servers, smartphones, tablets, and others that can be connected to a network for use. Many people have issues with effectively setting up a network in this manner and give up after several failed attempts. If you fall into this category, you should be able to find out what you have been doing wrong in this article.
Why Setting Up a Network is Important
If you have found many people seeking an office or home network, it is because of the many benefits they stand to enjoy. Such benefits include printing, accessing the internet, and collaborating with others.
Steps to set up a network
Although it may appear as though setting up a network is a daunting task, if broken down into proper steps, it can be a relatively easy task to accomplish. Each stage in the setup plan is essential; if done correctly, you should enjoy maximum benefits from the network.
Before you can set up a network, you must plan properly. Included in this stage is identifying the purpose of the network and concluding whether it is for personal or business use. Doing this will help you determine the network's scope and the devices that need to be connected to it.
When you identify the devices that will be connected to the network, it will be easier for you to determine the network topology. The network topology refers to the physical layout of the network, which can be a bus, mesh, ring, or star topology.
One other important aspect of planning is identifying the IP addressing scheme. The IP address refers to a unique identifier assigned to any device connected to a network. You need to select a range of IP addresses that will be used on your network.
Planning may take a little bit of time, but it is a crucial step that needs to be taken when setting up a network, as it will save you both time and money in the long run.
To set up a network, you need the proper hardware, as this will ensure that the network is efficient and reliable. The following are some hardware requirements that you should consider when setting up a network:
Selecting the right router and switch
A router is essentially a networking appliance that connects devices to the internet or other networks. You must settle for a router capable of handling the network's traffic while providing adequate wireless coverage.
On the other hand, a switch is a device that can connect multiple devices within a network. Before you select a switch, you should consider how many devices you will have connected to the network. Additionally, you should also take into consideration the bandwidth requirements before making your choice.
Selecting the appropriate network cables
Choosing the right network cables is essential to achieving optimum network performance. An Ethernet cable is one of the commonest network cables used for setting up a network, and it comes in different categories, such as CAT5, CAT6, and CAT7.
For setting up networks in most homes and small businesses, CAT5 and CAT6 cables are preferred. When higher bandwidth is required, consider using CAT7 cables instead.
Other hardware requirements
Other hardware requirements are needed, including network interface cards (NICs), network adapters, modems and routers. A network adapter is used to connect a device to the network wirelessly or with Ethernet cables.
NICs are needed for devices that don't have built-in network capabilities, as we see in desktop computers. A modem is required if you use a broadband internet connection. Before you select the hardware for your network, you should ensure that they are compatible with each other and meet all your network's requirements.
If you choose the wrong hardware for your network, you may have to contend with issues. Such issues can include:
- Slowing down the network's speed.
- Experiencing connectivity issues.
- Other problems affecting the network's overall performance.
Setting up the network
Following the acquisition of all necessary hardware, the next stage is setting up the network. This stage involves configuring the router and switch, allocating IP addresses, connecting the devices to be used to the network, and finally running a test to check the network's connectivity.
Configuring the router and switch
The following are the steps that are involved in configuring the router and switch;
- Connect your computer to the router with the aid of an Ethernet cable
- Gaining access to the router's configuration page through a web browser
- Configuring the router's basic settings, such as password and the SSID
- Configuring the router's WAN and LAN settings
- Configuring whatever additional settings may be needed, such as DHCP and port forwarding
- Configuring the switch by connecting it to the router as well as its basic settings
Security is Important When Setting Up a Network
You need to ensure adequate security is enabled when setting up your network. This is because a network can be vulnerable to different security threats, such as malware and unauthorised access.
For this reason, you must take all the necessary measures to secure your network. The provision of network security also ensures reliability and adequate network services are made available.
Steps to Ensure Optimal Security for Your Network
Some of the steps involved in ensuring optimal security for your network include the following;
- Changing the default password for the routers and switches
- Enabling encryption protocols like WPA2 for Wi-Fi networks
- Using firewalls to help filter both the incoming and outgoing network traffic over your computer's network.
- Using strong passwords and two-factor authentication processes for all network devices and all user accounts.
- Limiting access to the network by configuring access control lists (ACLs)
Best practices for securing the network
When dealing with wired networks, you must update firmware and software regularly, as this step will ensure that they are up to date with the latest security patches.
It would be best if you educated all network users on security best practices, including not sharing their passwords and avoiding suspicious emails.
By implementing a network security policy, security measures and guidelines need to be followed. When you implement these security measures and guidelines, you will add several security layers to your network, which can protect it from potential security threats.
Regular Maintenance of your Network
It is wrong to believe that you can set up your network and abandon it because it requires regular maintenance. Regular maintenance will ensure that it continues to function optimally. If maintenance is not carried out on your network regularly, it runs the risk of suffering data loss, downtime, security breaches, and other issues.
The Importance of Network Maintenance
Regular maintenance ensures that your network works at its peak for maximum efficiency and reliability. When maintenance is carried out regularly, identifying and fixing potential issues before they lead to severe problems will be effortless.
Keeping up with this culture will also ensure that vulnerabilities can be adequately addressed. These are some of the routine maintenance tasks you need to be mindful of about your network;
Backing up your data regularly
Ensure you back up your network's data, as this will help you prevent data loss that may occur from hardware failures, malware, or other issues.
Do not allow dust or debris to gather in your network devices, as this may lead to overheating and damaged hardware. Therefore, you need to clean your devices regularly to prevent this from happening.
Updating software and firmware
You should keep your network devices current using the latest software and firmware updates. This will help you to fix bugs, improve performance, increase security and add features.
Let a Professional Have a Look at Your Setup
As already explained, setting up your network is not hard to do. However, it is understandable if you are not the techie type and would find it cumbersome. In this case, let an IT professional look at your needs and help set it up. It will be quick and can save you from hassles.