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Computer Networking Help: I'm Lost!

Old 01-30-08, 06:57 PM
  #1  
Sprocket Man
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Computer Networking Help: I'm Lost!

I'd like to set up a wireless network in my home office but this is new to me, and quite confusing. Here's what I have so far (all wired):

1. Cable modem
2. Desktop computer (no built in wireless adapter)
3. Laptop computer (Not currently hooked up to the internet. I'm pretty sure it has a wireless adapter built in because it tries to search for a wireless connection whenever I turn it on)
4. 2 printers

I'd like to set up a wireless network, and I guess I'll have to buy at least the following:

1. Wireless router
2. At least one adapter for my desktop

Here are my questions:

1. Is wireless-N much better than wireless-G or wireless-G-enhanced to justify the price premium? (usually about $20 more for the router and $10-15 more for the adapter) Range isn't too much of a concern because all items are within 20 feet of each other.

2. For the desktop adapter, is a usb model fine? Why do I see so many of the card-type (with antennae) adapters if a usb model works just as well (or does it)?

3. If I want to hook up my printers to the network, is it necessary to get a separate printer-server? Is there way to connect the printers directly to the router?

4. Are different brands compatible with one another? In other words, can I use a Belkin adapter with a Linksys router?

Thanks!
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Old 01-30-08, 07:32 PM
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iqaro
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Mmmm, I hope this help...

1- At least on numbers reported *-n standard is 5 times faster than *-g standard, up to 248mbps, so you can attain the performance of a wired network ( or so I think).

2- No idea.

3- Yes if *printer server* mean an adaptor from Ethernet to USB or paralell port. If you want to hook the printer to the router you'll need that adaptor if your printer don´t have an Ethernet connection.

4- Yes (at least up to my experience).

Regards...
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Old 01-30-08, 07:41 PM
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I'm a networking noob but I do know that wireless N won't do much unless your laptop has a card that supports N.

I've had an linksys wrt54g forever and it's actually fast enough to game on.

If your laptop has a card that supports N, a fast processor and hard drive, you will notice increased speeds when it comes to downloading large files. I have a new fastish laptop and my roommate bought a new router that supports N. Suddenly torrent transfers are way faster. Shares over the network are faster too.

Nowadays adapters and routers tend to work fairly well together but, in general, it is best to match brand to brand or at least chipset to chipset. If you pick up a linksys router, they generally work well with everyone else, especially broadcom, but I'd say stick with a linksys adapter, all things being equal.


Of course you could always set the modem/router next to your desktop and connect via ethernet which is what I do.
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Old 01-30-08, 07:45 PM
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if the desktop is close enough to the router (whenever you buy it), i'd just plug it in with a cable. heck of a lot cheaper than a wireless nic, and more robust as well.

most wireless routers have a few "RJ45" ports.
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Old 01-30-08, 10:26 PM
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+1 on the cable thing. Using 100 or even 1000 base T hubs is a lot more reliable than wireless.

If you do go wireless, make sure to have at least WPA2-PSK encryption (and use software like KeePass or other password generating software to make a 63 character access key) unless you want to run a public Internet access point.
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Old 01-30-08, 10:35 PM
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It's all been said. Put your router close to your desktop and plug it in to your computer directly with an Ethernet cable. Then you should be good to go. Also as others said make sure your current encryption in your current laptop adapter is compatible with your new router.
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Old 01-31-08, 12:28 AM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by Sprocket Man View Post
Here are my questions:

1. Is wireless-N much better than wireless-G or wireless-G-enhanced to justify the price premium? (usually about $20 more for the router and $10-15 more for the adapter) Range isn't too much of a concern because all items are within 20 feet of each other.
Go for the N, it doesn't cost that much more. But the throughput in speed is significantly faster. Won't make a difference for internet-downloads since even the fastest hacked cable-modem won't even saturate an A (11mbps) adaptor. But you'll find that moving files around, serving up videos will be better with the N.

2. For the desktop adapter, is a usb model fine? Why do I see so many of the card-type (with antennae) adapters if a usb model works just as well (or does it)?
Well, it depends upon your USB port. It MUST be the faster USB-2.0 standard. Otherwise, the USB port will operate at 20% or less of the top-speed of the wireless. Even if you have USB-2.0, go for a plug-in PCI card because it'll demand less CPU overhead compared to USB.

3. If I want to hook up my printers to the network, is it necessary to get a separate printer-server? Is there way to connect the printers directly to the router?
Print-servers are necessary for the network connection. Even better is to buy printers with network-card built-in. Lot of HP laserprinters and Epson inkjets have an expansion-port for print-server upgrade. Problem with 3rd-party printer servers ... is a lot of them don't support bi-directional communications and the driver can't see the printer natively and you lose some print features. Also make sure it supports TCP/IP protocol, not just IPX-only like many print-servers.

4. Are different brands compatible with one another? In other words, can I use a Belkin adapter with a Linksys router?
Theoretically yes, but there are proprietary differences that you can require the same brand. For example, Netgear 54g works best with both Netgear routers & adaptors.


I second what the others said, put your desktops on a wired connection to the router. You'll get better throughput and leave wireless bandwidth for the other devices. The total speed is shared with all the devices. So if you have two laptops, their connection speeds will be only 1/2 the total wireless speed if they're both using the wireless network at once. If you have 3 connections, each one gets only 1/3rd the speed... etc. Not to mention the interference issues and constant reconnection headaches...
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Old 01-31-08, 06:08 AM
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One problem with the cards, is with wireless because of the band the operate in you can have holes (small dead spots) so the USB ones allow you to move it around and some times only a few inches are all that is needed, a card in your computer means you have to move the entire computer if you happen to be in a dead spot.
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Old 01-31-08, 06:40 AM
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If you're buying a wireless router now, you maight as well buy draft-n. Try and get one with 2 channels but if you can't, no biggie. I just bought an Apple Airport Extreme Base Station, dead simple to set up, works fine on my new Dell laptop, but not so good on my 4year old laptop (but then again, my wife plays around with network settings on that, so not entirely sure what's at fault here).

There is a wireless router I was looking at (I *think* Dlink 655 or something) that has a print server built in - you just connect your printer via USB port). Dont know how well that works, no experience.

For your desktop PC - cards with antennae v USB. I attempted to get USB working on my PC (running Windows XP SP2) but it kinda screwed up. I never bothered trying to fix it (coz I'm gonna install Linux soon).
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Old 01-31-08, 03:20 PM
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+1 to connecting the desktop top the router with a cable. No need for wireless on that. Also, if the printers are standard cheapo models not designed to serve as network printers, you can connect them to the desktop and then share them with the rest of your network. I do that with an old HP laserjet workhorse. Google "sharing a printer" or something like that for detailed guidance.
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