The Components of a Wired Network
It’s important to buy the right components when setting up a wired network. The primary parts of a wired network are the cable, network adapters, and router. These are described in the following sections.
Fast Ethernet or 100BaseT cable
Buy a cable for each PC that won’t be using wireless. You want Ethernet cable, which resembles phone cable but with slightly thicker jacks. Ethernet cable is sometimes called Ethernet RJ-45, Cat 5, or TPE (Twisted Pair Ethernet). The names usually include a number relating to the cable’s speed rating: 10, 100, or 1,000.
Each computer on the network needs its own network adapter, and those gadgets come in many varieties. Most computers come with a built-in network adapter, sparing you the cost. Most newer laptops come with both wired and wireless adapters preinstalled, letting you connect either way.
Many of today’s routers come with built-in wireless, and some even come with a built-in broadband modem. Your purchase depends on your Internet connection and network adapters:
Broadband Internet users should purchase a router that has enough ports for each networked computer. If you need a wireless connection, perhaps for laptopping outdoors, buy a router with built-in wireless access. (Dialup Internet users can save money by purchasing a less expensive switch with enough ports for each computer.) Both a router and switch resemble the one shown in the following figure.
The router (or switch) needs a port for every computer’s cable, and the router needs a port for your broadband modem.
If you’re using some or all wireless network adapters, make sure that your router has built-in wireless capabilities. If you’re using a switch, buy a wireless access point to plug into it. (Wireless access points can usually accommodate dozens of wireless computers.)
Buying the same brand of wireless router and wireless network adapter makes them easier to set up.