Guidelines on Setting Up a LAN

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Wireless networks are prevalent today, with devices of all sorts (that includes PCs, mobile phones, smart TVs, and even some kitchen appliances) connecting to each other, forming an extensive network that keeps information of all sorts flowing. It is an ubiquitous part of our life in the information age.

So, why even bother to set up a wired local area network? There are a plethora of reasons for various needs and interests. Gamers, for instance, need the lowest latency possible in order to do better at their game. A split second of delay can ruin even the most skilled player’s attempts at pwning his opponent. People with massive file libraries demand the highest bandwidth possible for transferring their files from one device to another. Some are also unfortunate enough to be living in a locality where there is much electromagnetic interference, rendering Wi-Fi ineffective.

If one or more of those situations presented above apply to you, then do consider investing a little money and/or elbow grease in wiring up your home or place of work. The guidelines below are not specifically tailored for any particular operating system or device, but given the prevalence of the standard, it is most appropriate for the Ethernet standard of wired networking.

 

Do Not Scrimp on Networking Hardware

It’s a good policy to utilize the best hardware you can afford. While it is true that the march of technological innovation never stops, networking technologies of the wired variety do not exactly change every single year. At the present moment, gigabit ethernet (1000BASE-T for ethernet over copper) is already cost-effective enough to deploy into homes and small offices, and that means you should be going for Category 6 UTP cables, even if gigabit ethernet can possibly operate using Cat 5 or 5e cables.

Do make sure that your computers’ network interface cards can support these speeds, else you have to purchase gigabit network cards or USB network adapters in order to do so. Also, acquire a good quality (product reviews are your friends) gigabit switch that has a few more ports than you’ll need. Do make sure that the broadband modem that you use to connect to your ISP also has gigabit ethernet ports, just to avoid any possible data bottlenecks.

Plan Your Network

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You may not be running a datacenter in your home or small office (or maybe you are), but it’s still a good idea to plan ahead. While with wireless networking, you only need to know where the access point or router gets placed to cover the areas you need a signal in (everywhere, ideally), when you plan out a wired network, you’re going to plan out where the cables and wall outlets (if you prefer wall outlets at all) will be located. Personally, I don’t like punching too many holes in walls or climbing up to the ceiling or down into crawlspaces, so I’d prefer to run cable through cable raceways or trays that could be installed with less hassle.

As tedious as this guideline might be, know that it is way less laborious than the actual task of actually doing the real work of deploying the network.


Hire the Right People to Get the Job Done

If you’re not the DIY-type guy (or even if you are, but still new to networking), you have to get people that can do this job correctly, affordably, and within a reasonable timeframe. You should definitely not forego this tip; the worst thing that can happen is that you mess it up yourself, or hire people that have a vague or absolutely no idea what they are doing.

A previous experience comes to mind when a friend of mine who set up a gaming LAN shop instructed the guys who did his electrical and phone wiring to install the network cables as well. To summarize, it was an absolute disaster. Network cables violently kinked and crammed into places where they can’t be checked, electrical interference, and no map or labels on the cables, making future maintenance impossible. New network cabling had to be installed, costing him much more. No one ever has to reenact my friend’s experience.


Any Special Requirements?

This is more of an addendum to the point above. If there are any specific environmental, situational, or any other out-of-the-ordinary requirements that your network (or computing devices, for that matter) might require, it is imperative that you consult the experts. Even a brief consultation with companies that specialize on non-standard equipment and deployments will enlighten you as to what your network might need, things that you may have never considered or have overlooked.

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For example, in an industrial factory setting where there are many sources of electromagnetic interference, for example, wireless is useless, and even the standard UTP cables are insufficient for getting the data to reliably transmit and receive from one computer to another. Shielded twisted pair cables have to be used, and in addition, shielded raceways were utilized as well. In addition, every single computer terminal on the worksite had to be ruggedized to avoid damage and interference. Rugged computer systems are also essential when you operate in such conditions.


All Done? Have fun!

When you do manage to complete your LAN project, give it a whirl and transfer some massive files back and forth, just to get a gauge on the performance compared to wireless. Also, play an engaging LAN game with your friends. Enjoy your new high-speed local area network!

About the Author

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. Having three older brothers, she got into computers and other technological gadgets early in her life. She is based in San Diego, California, and works with many successful companies such as Chassis Plans.