In This Chapter
Finding out what a network is and why you might want one
Setting up the network hardware
Configuring network system preferences
Troubleshooting your network
In the not-so-distant past — I'm talking 10–15 years ago — networks were found only in huge companies that had the money and the workforce to pay for and maintain them. But now, as technology rolls on, a home or small office network is both very affordable and relatively easy to create. In this chapter, I introduce you to this helpful beastie: You discover what networks are, what you can do with them, and how to set up a small network of your own for your home or small business.
Networks can be used for many things. Computers exchange all types of data over a network: files that you want to send between computers or to networked printers, streaming audio or video broadcasts, data for multiplayer computer games, or even a private company Web site (typically called an intranet). Anything that you can imagine that would involve moving data between multiple computers can be done by using a network.
First, let me define network. In a nutshell, a network is a combination of hardware, cables, and software that allows computers and printers to talk to one another. (Heck, you don't even need cables with a wireless network, as I show you in Chapter 3 of this minibook.) To have a network, you need the right hardware and software. Some of the hardware ...