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A home network opens up all sorts of possibilities in the way your family can use its PCs and in the options for entertainment. But choosing the right equipment and creating your own home network can seem like a daunting task. There are so many different options and so much confusing information that the ordinary person can quickly become overwhelmed. You need some straight answers and accurate advice, but you don't want to make networking your hobby. What you want is a simple do-it-yourself guide that enables you to make the right choices, quickly set up your home network, and start having some fun.

This book provides the answers you need by showing you how to choose the best type of network for your home, the equipment you need to buy so that you don't have to make a bunch of trips back to the computer store, and how to get everything working together in the least amount of time.

Even the best experts sometimes run into difficulties and need a little extra help in figuring out what went wrong and how to fix it. That's why most of the chapters conclude with a “What Went Wrong: Your Quick Fix Reference” section to help you troubleshoot some common problems you might encounter and show you how to fix those problems on your own. You might want to think of these troubleshooting sections as the expert looking over your shoulder and helping you through any rough spots.

Who Should Read This Book

This book is for anyone who wants to make the right choices in setting up a home network as quickly and easily as possible. This book is not loaded with a bunch of computer jargon, and it's not going to take a lot of your time to read this book, either. If you want to become a network engineer, look elsewhere. But if you simply want answers that you can depend on and information you can understand, this is the only home networking book you need.

How This Book Is Organized

This book follows a logical path that begins by giving you a quick introduction to the reasons why you'll want your own home network and continues by showing you what you need to know to choose the right equipment. You'll find illustrations that explain how things work, pictures that show what the equipment looks like, and images that show what to expect to see on your computer screen.

The book consists of nine chapters in three parts:

  • Part I: Introducing Networking— This part of the book contains two chapters that introduce you to the absolute basics of home networking:

    Chapter 1: Why You Want Your Own Network— In this chapter, you learn about the possibilities that a home network opens up for you and your family.

    Chapter 2: Home Networking Basics— See the different types of home networks and get a basic introduction to the pieces that make up a network.

  • Part II: Starting Your Network— This part provides the real meat of creating your home network. In four chapters, you learn how to choose, install, and configure your home network:

    Chapter 3: Choosing the Best Network Type— Before you can begin shopping, it's important to know your home networking options. This chapter shows you how to choose the type of network that's best for your home.

    Chapter 4: Selecting Network Hardware: Your Complete Buying Guide— Buying the wrong equipment can cost you a lot of time and money. This chapter tells you how to choose the right equipment the first time.

    Chapter 5: Installing Your Network Hardware: This Won't Hurt a Bit— If you aren't a computer expert, the mere thought of installing a bunch of hardware can be a bit stressful. In this chapter, you learn that the process is actually quite easy when you have the right directions.

    Chapter 6: Configuring Your Network: Bringing Everything Together— Creating a working home network requires a bit more than physically installing the equipment. This chapter shows you how to set up the software that makes the network work.

  • Part III: Enhancing Your Network— This final part shows you how to protect your home network from outside threats, how to share parts of the network with your family, and how to make entertainment a part of the network:

    Chapter 7: Making Your Network Secure: Locking the Network's Door— You need to protect your family's privacy and safety. In this chapter, you learn how to take some important steps to keep your network your own.

    Chapter 8: Sharing Your Network— A network requires some sharing to be useful. This chapter shows you how to share the things that you really want to share on your home network.

    Chapter 9: The Magic of Entertainment Options— This final chapter introduces you to some ways to get even more fun out of your home network and how to make your network a part of your family's entertainment.

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