A local area network, or LAN, is used to connect different devices within a home or office to each other and to connect them to the internet. The advantages of LAN networking are that it allows the devices to talk to each other without having to connect them individually to the internet with their own modems and wired or wireless connections. Figure out which devices need to be connected and how they need to be connected, gather the equipment you need and get to work.
Plan Your LAN
To begin your local area network setup process, begin by planning out which devices need to be on the network. For example, you may need to connect laptops, tablets, printers, smart TVs and other equipment. Take a look at the devices' documentation to figure out how they can be connected, such as whether they require wired or wireless connections or work with either.
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Then, consider where the devices will be located. If they're going to all be in a small area and wirelessly connected, you may be able to use a single wireless router and access point, but if they're going to be dispersed over a wider area, you may need more access points or a wireless repeater to get good signal.
Also think about how the LAN will connect to the internet. If you already have an internet provider, this may be all set, but otherwise, you may want to shop for one that can offer the speed and capacity you need at a good price. Consider whether you will get wireless routers, cables, a modem to connect to the internet from your internet provider or if you need or want to buy them yourself. See what equipment your provider offers and at what price and whether you're able to get a better deal elsewhere.
Wired or Wireless LAN Setup
You may want to connect some devices with wired Ethernet cables, which can deliver faster connections with less interference. If you are going to go that route, plan out how many cables of what lengths you need and where you need to run them.
For a small home or office connection, it may be fine to run Ethernet cables under tables or along the walls, but for a more sophisticated establishment of a LAN, you might want to install cables beneath the floor or within the walls. You may wish to consult a construction expert if you consider that route and don't want to do it yourself.
Setting it All Up
Once you have everything planned out and have your equipment in place, you'll need to set everything up. Follow the instructions to connect your modem to the internet and connect any cables that need to be connected. Generally, devices that are connected with wired connections will automatically set themselves up on your network, but check their documentation to see if they need any extra configuration.
Then, for any devices connecting wirelessly, turn them on and follow the LAN configuration steps in their documentation to enter wireless network names and passwords and get them online. Verify that you can access the internet from all devices, and test that you can connect to devices like printers and use them successfully.
Troubleshooting and Maintenance
If you have any trouble with a network connection when you first set it up or later, try disconnecting the device from the LAN and connecting it again. Try using a different cable to see if that is the problem or moving the device closer to the router if it is connected wirelessly.
If all else fails, consider contacting the device's manufacturer for help.