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Network Design

The first thing to do is decide how to design your home network. We will make some assumptions in designing a network that you can use. The first is that you have at least two computers ready to network. The second is that you are using a broadband connection such as a cable modem. Whether you have a static IP address or dynamic address doesn't really matter—they are interchangeable. The third is that you have some personal firewall such as ZoneAlarm Pro or WinRoute Pro to protect your home network and be your gateway to the Internet. We will use a mix of Windows operating systems to give you different tastes of how networking can work with different operating systems. We will not cover Linux or MacOS in these scenarios. The last assumption we will make is that you know how to install a network interface card (NIC) and have one in each computer.

We might not leave you completely on your own with the NICs. What you really need to understand is that two basic type of cards exist, and they deal with speed. For speed, NICs can either send data at 10 megabits per second (Mbps) or 100Mbps. You probably want to get a 10/100 NIC, which can handle both speeds. The way the card fits in your computer is the other concern. NICs can either be PCI or ISA cards, depending on which slots you have available in your computer. Your computer specs should tell you what kinds of slots you have available. Most new computers have PCI slots available. The NICs come with the appropriate drivers on a CD-ROM that you will use to install them properly.


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