Setting up a wired or wireless home network has many benefits than just having Internet access for multiple computers in your home. Today, it's almost a necessity to be able to plug in or connect via wireless to your network from any room in your house.
With many people who set up a home network, they end up under utilizing their home network and only use it for Internet access, attached to one computer.
Today, that kind of network setup is old school. Adding a router to your network, turns a home network into a LAN (Local Area Network) opening up many possibilities of what you can do on your network. Even if you have just have one Computer, many devices exist (other than computers) that are network capable, allowing interaction with other.
So what can you do with all this technology? Here are ten uses for what you can do on your home network.
1) File sharing – Sharing files over your network, between computers and devices gives you more flexibility than using USB drives or burning CD's. Having the convenience of sharing photos, music files, and documents allows for more productivity. You can also use your home network to save copies of all of your important data on a different computer.
Backups are one of the most critical, yet overlooked tasks with computers. On a home network, it's easier than ever to backup your data especially if you have an old computer with a lot of hard drive space that can be utilized. Better yet, devices that serve one purpose for file sharing, such as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) can also be a great solution for backups as well.
2) Video Game Consoles – Games consoles such as Nintendo Wii, Microsofts XBox and Sony's Playstation are all network capable (wireless or wired via USB to Ethernet adapter) that let you connect to your home network and quickly get online. And don't forget about hand-held games. Many of them are network capable as well (be careful since some only support WEP encryption).
3) Print And Peripheral Functionality – Once a home network is in place, after file sharing, printing is usually the next popular function you will want to setup. It's easy to set up all of the computers to share a single printer, or you can purchase a printer that is network capable (no need to share printers from one computer). Gone are the days of using one computer just to print out a document or an email message.
Printers are not the only peripheral that you can use on your network. Scanners, Web cams, CD burners, etc are now available with built in network support increasing the functionality of a home network. Now you can tell your boss you are more productive working from home, because your network is more reliable and has fewer network outages.
4) Internet Appliances – Yes we are now entering the Jetsons age. Also known as smart appliances, these devices still have not caught on with the average house hold but manufacturers are now starting to incorporate the technology into appliances more now than in the past. Ranging from being able to turn on you washer or oven from the Internet to saving energy, sending commands to….your refrigerator remotely….still takes a bit getting used to (who would have thought remote controls would be beneficial to TV's that only received 6 channels).
Soon internet appliances will be a "must have toy" and another reason why a home network is not just for computers.
5) Internet Faxing – Apparently the Internet and email didn't kill faxing. It's now as popular as ever with the many online faxing services available. In this era of paperless offices and digital documents, you'd think the paper and ink fax machine might finally be ready to retire.
But faxing is still an essential part of doing business for certain types of documents (think legal contracts as an example). No more stringing phone lines across your dining room or hitting your head in the crawl space to run a phone line over to your fax machine. Using an online fax services is cheap these days and allows you send any kind of document from email or other programs electronically to a fax machine.
6) Internet Telephone Service – Termed Voice over IP (VoIP) service, allows you to make and receive phone calls through your home network across the Internet, saving you money (substantually). These days quality of services has improved greatly to make switching from the old analog lines to digital, a no-brainier. Soon, everyone will be using VOIP. And when that day comes, imagine how you can fight back at telemarketers. Instead of hanging up on them, you'll be able to ping them to death (DOS). Yeahhhh!
7) Home Entertainment – Newer home entertainment products such as digital video recorders (DVRs) media centers and home theaters, now support either wired or wireless home networking. Having these products integrated into your network enables audio and video sharing, media to be streamed and easy transfer of digital files between devices.
8 PDA's – Blackberries, cell phones, iPODs, MP3 players and any other PDA you can think of either have or will have networking functionality built in (mostly wireless). These devices are quickly taking over the use of a personal computer, one application at a time. Having a home network that these devices can connect to, makes transferring files, or streaming media to and from much more useful than connecting to a USB cable.
9) Telecommuting – Sure, you may think having one computer that is connected directly to the Internet (via cable, DSL, etc) is all you need to telecommute for work. But in reality, companies these days are requiring you to use a company supplied desktop or laptop for working at home. With out a home network that you can just easily connect to, you'll need to always swap the Internet connection between computers. Having the flexibilty to just plug in is much more convenient and won't make you late for work.
10) Mobility – The freedom of not being tethered to a physical connection is one big reason to set up your home network as wireless. Even if you do have a wired network, with all the network ready devices in your home, you can still have the freedom of mobility, since you can go from room to room and just plug in (providing you have run a connection to each room).
One other good reason to have a home network, is the future. Think about ten to fifteen years ago with cable TV. Who knew back then it would be one way to connect you to the world.
Struggling with building a home network? Worried about spending too much money? Download Home Networking Tips And Advice now.