Home Networking Guide

It’s likely you’ll want to connect multiple devices in your home to the internet at once – so you can be on the desktop computer while your wife is on her laptop in the living room and your kids are upstairs on their mobiles. Sounds great, but how do you set it up? We’ve compiled an easy-to-follow guide for those in need of a home networking solution.

First of all, you’ll need to determine your needs

By working out what you need from your network, you’ll have a better idea of how you need to set it up so it’s suitable for your needs without going over budget.

  • Do you simply want to connect a few laptops and a mobile so you can surf the web at your leisure? If that’s the case, a single 802.11n access point may suffice.
  • If you’re looking to work from home a few days a week and need to access your company drives through virtual private network (VPN) technology then you’ll need to invest in a router capable of VPN pass-through.
  • Or maybe you’re an avid online gamer, wanting to connect to MMOs through your Xbox or PlayStation? If so you’ll need a good router as well as port forwarding capabilities.
  • To watch television through the internet or stream videos to multiple devices in your home, it may be best to consider a wired network for reliability.

Network Infrastructure Options

You’ll be able to choose from three network infrastructure options: wired Ethernet, Wi-Fi and HomePlug.

Wired Ethernet (or gigabit Ethernet) is one of the most reliable options for moving data around your home. It runs at around 125mbps which is equivalent to the speed of a mid-tier hard drive. If you choose to use gigabit Ethernet, you’ll need to physically wire it in using Category 5e cabling in every room you want to access the internet.

C2G 20m Cat5E cable
C2G 20m Cat5E cable, shop.bt.com

Wi-Fi is a popular choice as it is wire-free – but if you’re planning to move big files or stream often then it isn’t ideal for your household networking. As anything, it really depends on your needs. If you’re looking to connect a few devices for web browsing at home then Wi-Fi offers a quick and easy solution. If you opt for Wi-Fi, choose an 802.11n router which supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bandwidth. If your house is particularly large and you require a longer range, you may wish to consider buying a router with replaceable antennas.

BT Home Hub 5
BT Home Hub 5, shop.bt.com

For a reliable bandwidth without the need for Cat 5e wiring, consider using a HomePlug powerline networking setup. This option carries network signals around your home using its existing power lines – offering a throughput of up to 200mbps. The speed will depend on your electrical wiring and how it is laid out.

BT Mini Wi-Fi Home Hotspot 600 Multi Kit
BT Mini Wi-Fi Home Hotspot 600 Multi Kit, shop.bt.com

How To Set Up Your Network

First of all, change the admin password on your router. Failing to do this may leave you susceptible to hackers. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to set up the wireless security. Choose a password to act as en encryption key, making sure you can easily remember it but that it is hard for a potential hacker to crack.

Next, connect your router to your ISP. Follow these steps:

  • Connect the cable modem to the router port labelled ‘WAN’ or ‘Internet’.
  • If you’re using a static IP then set this. If not, choose the setting on your router that gives it an automatically assigned IP address.

Once you’ve done that, you can connect any wired devices you’re using to the router. If you have an Ethernet switch, connect it to one of the ports on your router (any apart from the one labelled ‘WAN’). The IP address should be picked up automatically.

Finally, it’s time to connect Wi-Fi hardware, for which you’ll need to use your encryption key that you set up initially. It should then connect automatically.

Make Use of Firewalls

Newer routers will come with an in-built firewall for added protection while you’re on the internet. The default settings should provide sufficient protection but if you’re concerned about hackers, simply increase all of your firewall settings.

Common Issues Solved

Occasionally, you may encounter a few problems when setting up your home network, so here are some tips to help you get back on track as swiftly as possible.

  • Help, I can’t set up the router

Before you panic, double check that you’ve tried to connect to the right port. Some older routers only allow you to connect to a specific port during the initial set up. You may also need to set your PC to a specific IP address and then reboot before the router connects.

  • My hardware won’t connect

For those using a Wi-Fi connection, it’s important to ensure that the security and encryption are set up. If you’re still encountering problems, head to Windows’ networking utilities to set the type of security being used

Let BT Shop assist you with setting up your home network – browse our wide range of networking products today.


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