A Guide to Network Equipment

To the home user there is a multitude of networking equipment on sale. The naming and specifications of these devices can be confusing to the novice. The following guide is designed to cut through all the jargon and explain the terms, names and specifications making it easier to make the correct decisions when setting up a home or small office network.

What is a Network?
A network usually consists of multiple computer devices which can communicate with each other enabling the sharing of information or data between them. With today’s technical advances networks are not limited to computers and laptops as they have extended to televisions, stereo equipment and even mobile devices such as phones and tablet PCs.

Wired Networks
Before the advances in wireless technology networks would mainly be “wired”. This would involve various devices between computers that would allow cables to be plugged into the machines enabling communication. These cables would limit the movement of the devices and on home networks would be impractical as it would usually require the drilling of holes.

Wireless Networks
In the last few years wireless networking has improved and now operates at speeds that allow networking of equipment reliably and more easily than ever before.

Network Speed
Network speeds are important when deciding which way to go when building a network for the home or office. Wired networks currently run at three speeds. These are measured in Megabits Per Second, the current speeds are 10Mbps, 100Mbps and Gigabit which runs at 1000Mbps. 10Mbps is very outdated in today’s networks as it cannot really cope with the transfer of data required by today’s applications and file sizes. 100Mbps can still be acceptable as long as there is not too much multimedia requirements as these files are large and usually take up a lot of network bandwidth.

There are currently four wireless standards for use around the home or office, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n. The first two standards 802.11a and 802.11b are very slow and also very insecure to the point where they should not be used on networks at all. 802.11g operates at 54Mbps and is still useable on networks. It will work adequately when surfing the internet and handles the transfer of data at home or in the office. 802.11n is the latest standard to be introduced and can operate at speeds up to 100mbps. This is the standard that should be implemented if using wireless networks.

Network Equipment

Cables
Wired networks require special cables or network cables to function. The computer, laptop or network equipment has to have a network port to enable these cables to be connected to them. The port is called a RJ45 port. There are a couple of types of network cable that can connect network enabled devices to a wired network, these are CAT5, CAT5e and CAT6 cables. For the majority of uses the CAT5e should be used as this can handle all network speeds including Gigabit 1000Mbps speeds. Note that CAT5 does not support Gigabit networking.

Network Switches
A network switch is used to connect multiple computer devices using network cables. They usually have a number of RJ45 ports used to connect the devices to the switch. They can come in various sizes and have a differing amount of ports built-in. A network switch can have as little as four ports for home or small office use but they also can come with 8, 16, 32 and 48 ports, obviously the larger switches are usually found on larger business networks.

Some switches come with a management interface which can be accessed via a web browser allowing certain settings to be manipulated in the switch such as enabling and disabling ports. It will also allow segmenting of the network but this is not usually a requirement for home and small office networks.

Network Routers
As the name suggests, the role of the network router is to route traffic around a network. They take the data being transmitted around the network and analyse it and then send it to the required destination.

Typically a home router will interface with the various network equipment around the home and manage the passing of information between these devices and even the internet via the modem. Before the common application of modern routers, internet connection sharing between multiple devices was long winded and very unreliable. These days many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) supply a router as part of their installation or package.

A router may also have wireless technology built-in allowing the connection of wireless devices to the network. These wireless devices then have the ability to access and share resources on the network via the same router.

A typical home router will have four RJ45 ports, a port for connecting it to the internet and wireless capabilities allowing it to become the central networking device around the home.

Network Attached Storage
NAS or network attached storage was once only used for business to store data shared amongst devices on the network. There are now devices designed to do this for home use. The network attached storage is basically one or more hard disk drives contained in a box which interfaces with the home network using a cable. These can be connected to the router or switch. They have an interface that can be accessed by a web / internet browser allowing simple configuration and backing up etc. These devices are accessed by computers, laptops etc using built-in networking allowing browsing, copying of files to and from the network attached storage directly.

Media Players
These are some of the latest network devices that can be installed around the home. They can interface with the home television and even stereo equipment allowing movies and audio files to be played. Media players are put to good use in conjunction with network attached storage accessing media files and playing them around the home.

Network Cards and Adapters
These devices are used to connect a device to the network. They can be wireless or wired. A modern PC should come with these fitted by default. If a computer / laptop does not have network capabilities or does not have the required capabilities for the network to which it is connecting then an adapter can be purchased to enable the connection to be added.

Summary
There is a lot of varied network equipment that can be used around the home or office and hopefully this article has cleared up some of the confusion about the technologies available. If you are unsure of your requirements then a simple search will bring millions of results enabling research and advice from other users who have created their own netwo

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How Do I Connect My iPad 2 to a Network?

To get on the web, your iPad must first connect to a network that offers Internet access. To make this easy and seamless, your iPad comes with internal hardware that enables it to detect and connect to available networks.

iPad 2 comes in two versions:

– iPad with WI-FI: This type of iPad can connect only to wireless networks

– iPad with WI-FI + 3G: This type of iPad can connect to wireless networks and cellular networks.

Understanding Wi-Fi networks
Wireless devices such as Apple iPad 2 transmit data and communicate with other devices using radio frequency (RF) signals that are beamed from one device to another. Although these radio signals are similar to those used in commercial radio broadcasts, they operate on a different frequency. The most common wireless networking technology is Wi-Fi. There are four main types – 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n (we will not explain these types in details, it is enough for you to know what types exist). Apple iPad 2 supports all types of wireless types which means it can take advantage of the fastest wireless networks out there, particularly those based on Apple’s AirPort Extreme wireless acces point.

Understanding cellular networks
If your iPad is a second model, it means not only can your iPad connect to wireless networks and hot spots, but it also can make use of a cellular network if no wireless networks are in range. There are two specific types of cellular networks: 3G and EDGE (again, we will not explain in details). Unfortunately, although you can often ride the wireless train for free, there’s no such luck when it comes to cellular networks. Your iPad’s 3G chip won’t work unless you plug a micro-SIM into the iPad’s micro-SIM slot (located on the left edge of the device when you hold it in portrait mode).

Connecting to a Wi-Fi Network
As soon as you try to access something on the Internet, your iPad scours the surrounding airwaves for wireless network signals. This dialog displays a list of the networks that are within range. For each network, you get three tidbits of data:

Network name. This is the name that the administrator has assigned to the network. If you are in a coffee shop or similar hot spot and you want to use that network, look for the name of the shop.
Password-protected. If network displays a lock icon, it means the network is protected by a password, and you need to know that password to make the connection.
Signal strength. This icon gives you a rough idea of how strong the wireless signals are. The stronger the signal (the more bars you see, the better the signal), the more likely you are to get a fast and reliable connection.
Making your first connection
Follow these steps to connect to a Wi-Fi network:

Tap the network you want to use. If the network is protected by a password, your iPad 2 prompts you to type the password.
Use the keyboard to type the password.
Tap Join. The iPad connects to the network and adds the wireless network signal strength icon to the status bar.
To connect to a commercial Wi-Fi operation – such as those you find in airports, hotels, and convention centers – you almost always have to make one more step. In most cases, the network prompts you for your name and credit card data so you can be charged for accessing the network.

Connecting to known networks
If network is one that you use all the time – for example, your office network or home – the good news is your Apple iPad 2 remembers any network you connect to. As soon as a known network comes within range, your iPad makes the connection.

Stopping the incessant Wi-Fi network prompts
The Select a Network dialog is a handy convenience if you are not sure whether a network is available. However, as you move around town, you may find that dialog popping up all over the place as new Wi-Fi networks come within range. If you don’t want to be bothered with constant tapping the Cancel button, there is a solution:

On the Home screen, tap Settings. The Settings screen appears.
Tap Wi-Fi. Apple iPad 2 opens the wireless network screen.
Tap the Ask to Join Network switch to the Off position. Your iPad no longer prompts you with nearby networks.
Now you no longer see the prompts, and you don’t know when you are able to connect to network right??? Here is the answer:

On the Home screen, tap Settings. Your iPad 2 displays the Settings screen.
Tap Wi-Fi. The Wireless Networks screen appears, and the Choose a Network list shows you the available networks.
Tap the network you want to use. If the network is protected by a password, your Apple iPad prompts you to type the password.
Use the keyboard to type the password.
Tap Join. The iPad connects to the network and adds the network signal strength icon to the status bar.
Connecting to a hidden Wi-Fi network
Some users disable network name broadcasting (you can’t see the name of the network in available network connections box) as a security precaution. The idea here is that if an unauthorized user can’t see the network, he or she can’t attempt to connect to it. You can still connect to a hidden network by entering the connection settings by hand. But you need to know the network name, the network’s security type, and the network’s password. Here are the steps how to connect to a hidden network:

On the Home screen, tap Settings to open the Settings screen.
Tap Wi-Fi. You see the Networks screen
Tap Other. Your iPad 2 displays the Other Network screen.
Use the Name text box to type the network name.
Tap Security to open the Security screen.
Tap the type of security used by the Wi-Fi network: WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA Enterprise, WPA2 Enterprise, or None.
Tap Other Network to return to the Other Network screen. If you chose WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA Enterprise, or WPA2 Enterprise, your iPad prompts you to type the password.
Use the keyboard to type the password.
Tap Join. The Apple iPad 2 connects to the network and adds the network signal strength icon to the status bar.
Turning off the Wi-Fi antenna to save power
If you know you won’t be using wireless for a while, you can save some battery juice for more important pursuits by turning off your iPad’s antenna. Here’s how:

On the Home Screen, tap Settings. The Settings screen appears.
Tap Wi-Fi. The Wireless Networks screen appears.
Tap the Wi-Fi switch to the Off position. Your iPad 2 disconnects from your current network and hides the Choose a Networks list.
When you are ready to resume your Wi-Fi duties, return to the Networks screen and tap the

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