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What Do You “Need”?

There's no question that knowing what you really need before you go shopping is important. When you know what you need, you aren't as likely to end up being pressured into buying inappropriate (or even incompatible) equipment, and you're far less likely to walk out of the store minus an absolutely vital piece you need to actually make the network function.

You'll need to know the type of network you want in your home before you can choose the proper network hardware, of course. But you should go beyond that question and consider some additional points to make sure that you end up with the proper mix:

  • Will you be connecting your network to the Internet? If so, you'll very likely want some type of router or gateway to make that connection.

  • Do you plan to add more PCs (or other equipment) to your network in the future? If so, you should choose a solution that has some additional capacity beyond what you need today.

  • Are you going to use your network to supply home entertainment needs? If so, remember that multimedia content—and especially video—can make some heavy demands on the network's capacity, so network throughput (the amount of data the network can handle at one time) becomes very important.

  • Is a move to a different home on your horizon? If so, consider how easy it will be to pick up and move your network to a new location.

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