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Home Networking Do-It-Yourself For Dummies®

Table of Contents

About This Book
Foolish Assumptions
How This Book Is Organized
Part I: Doing Your Homework
Part II: Installing Your Home Network
Part III: Setting up Your Windows 7 Network
Part IV: Keeping Your Network Safe and Healthy
Part V: The Part of Tens
Icons Used In This Book
Where to Go From Here
Part I: Doing Your Homework
Chapter 1: Why Do You Need A Home Network?
A Network by Any Other Name
A Home Network for Everyone
A Home Network for One
Building a SOHO: When Home and Office Become One
To Wire or Not To Wire
Chapter 2: Understanding Networking Basics
Understanding Basic Network Properties
IP addresses
Subnet masks
Default gateway address
Domain Name System (DNS) server addresses
Part II: Installing Your Home Network
Chapter 3: Getting Wired
Routers and Switches
Identifying Network Adapters
Working with Network Cables
Twisted pairs and RJ-45 connectors
Twisted pair categories
Unshielded versus shielded
Straight-through versus crossover
Length and color
Chapter 4: Going Wireless
Planning Your Wireless Home Network
Buying a wireless access point
Part III: Setting Up Your Windows 7 Network
Chapter 5: Understanding User Accounts
Understanding User Profiles
Knowing the Difference in Administrator and Standard User Accounts
Chapter 6: Setting Up a HomeGroup
Chapter 7: Sharing With Others
Chapter 8: Connecting to the Internet
Choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Wireless (cellular)
Chapter 9: Connecting Remotely
Understanding Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
Chapter 10: Having Fun with Your Home Network
Networking Your PlayStation, Wii, or Xbox 360
Online Gaming Services for Gaming Consoles
PlayStation Network
Xbox Live
PC Gaming
Video card
Processor and memory
Game controllers
Automating Your Entire Home
Keeping Your Home Safe
Configuring Your Gaming Console for Wireless Networking
Part IV: Keeping Your Network Safe and Healthy
Chapter 11: Inside the Action Center
The Action Center Notification Icon
An Overview of the Action Center
Chapter 12: Windows Firewall and Windows Defender
Defining Malware
Blended threats
Protecting Your Network from Malware
Antivirus software
Antispyware software
Security updates and fixes
E-mail Threats
Social Engineering and Cyber Predators
Understanding Windows Firewall
Understanding Windows Defender
Chapter 13: Windows Update
Chapter 14: Backup and Restore
Determining Where to Save Your Backup
Hard drives (internal or external)
Writeable CDs or DVDs
USB flash drives
Network shares
Chapter 15: Building a SOHO Network
Recognizing the Benefits of Working from Home
Location, Location, Location
Regulatory Compliance
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS)
Health care
State privacy and disclosure laws
Data Confidentiality and Encryption
Part V: The Part of Tens
Chapter 16: Ten Great Windows 7 Resources
For Dummies Books
For Dummies Web Site
Windows: The Official Magazine
Microsoft Web Site
MSDN and TechNet Web Sites
Windows 7 News & Tips
Windows 7 Forums
Chapter 17: Ten Reasons You Might Not Be Able to Join a HomeGroup
Verify a HomeGroup Exists on the Network
Ensure You Have a Network Connection
Confirm You’re Running Windows 7
Make Sure the Network Location Isn’t Set to Home
Check to See If the Computer Already Belongs to a HomeGroup
Confirm That Someone Is Logged On to the Computer
Verify That HomeGroups Aren’t Disabled
Ensure Network Discovery Is Turned On
Confirm Peer Networking Grouping Service Is Running
Make Sure the HomeGroup Provider Service Is Running
Chapter 18: Ten Network Troubleshooting Tools
Running Windows Troubleshooters
Troubleshooting with the ipconfig Command
Searching Google and Others
Viewing Problem Reports
Generating a System Health Report
Reliability Monitor
Creating a Play-by-Play with Problem Steps Recorder
Getting Help from a Friend with Remote Assistance
Consulting Windows Help and Support
Cheat Sheet

Home Networking Do-It-Yourself For Dummies®

by Lawrence C. Miller


About the Author

Lawrence Miller, CISSP, has worked in information security and technology management for 20 years. He is currently the Director of IT for a sports and event retail merchandising company and recently completed his MBA at Indiana University — Kelley School of Business. He has previously worked as the IT Operations Manager in a large U.S. law firm and as a consultant to various industries in the U.S. and Japan, and was a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. Larry has written several other For Dummies books covering numerous topics, including information security and unified communications.


To Michelle Louise Kirkiewicz — if beauty were only skin deep, you would be the most thick-skinned woman I had ever known. But true beauty is in the heart, and you are truly the most beautiful woman I have ever loved.

Author’s Acknowledgments

Thank you to all the wonderful people at Wiley I have worked with on so many projects over the years. You all make writing so enjoyable and fulfilling: Amy, Blair, Carrie, Dan, . . . E, F, G, . . . Heidi, I, Jen, Katie, Laura, Mike, N, O, Paul, . . . Q, Rev, Susan, . . . T, U, V, . . . W, X, Y, and Zoe!

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments at http://dummies.custhelp.com. For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Blair J. Pottenger

Acquisitions Editor: Amy Fandrei

Copy Editor: Heidi Unger

Technical Editor: Dan DiNicolo

Editorial Manager: Kevin Kirschner

Editorial Assistant: Amanda Graham

Sr. Editorial Assistant: Cherie Case

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (www.the5thwave.com)

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Sheree Montgomery

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Proofreader: Susan Hobbs

Indexer: WordCo Indexing Services

Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies

Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director

Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director

Publishing for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Fifty years ago, most households had only one television and one telephone. As the price of these technological marvels dropped, families began purchasing additional televisions and telephones — and the home network was born!

Think about it: Your televisions are basically networked together on a cable network. Okay, not a perfect analogy — in the early days you had rabbit ears, which are more of a wireless network except it’s not exactly a network. Your telephones are wired together in serial — multiple phones with one gateway (your telephone number).

In the not too distant past, the home computer sat on a desk in a study or family room and everyone went to the computer to use it. Today, computers have become the next technological commodity, and it is not uncommon to have multiple computers in a single household. And with wireless networks, the computer goes with you to wherever it’s most convenient for you to use.

From being able to watch your favorite TV show or answer the telephone from any room in the house to doing work in a home office, networks are all about convenience.

This book helps you set up your home network — the computer kind, not the television or telephone type! I show you how to connect to the Internet, connect your computers and other devices, share files and music, secure your network, and much more!

About This Book

This book is designed to be a hands-on, practical guide to home networking. It’s chock-ful of helpful screenshots and step-by-step instructions to guide you through basic and advanced home networking configuration tasks, and it provides just enough background information to help you understand what you’re doing and why.

Each chapter is written as a stand-alone chapter, so feel free to skip over some chapters and go directly to the topics that most interest you. Don’t worry; you won’t get lost in some complex storyline, and you won’t discover “whodunit” if you start at the end of the book and work your way back!

Foolish Assumptions

If you’re reading this book, it’s probably safe to assume you’re interested in home networking and need some help getting started. Beyond that, I assume you have at least one computer running Microsoft Windows 7, an Internet service provider, and a can-do spirit to go along with your do-it-yourself character!

A basic working knowledge of computers and Windows operating systems (not necessarily Windows 7) is also helpful. If you need help with basic topics such as booting up your computer, connecting peripheral devices (including monitors, keyboards, and printers), and navigating around Windows (for example, you have no idea what the Control Panel or Windows Explorer is), I strongly recommend starting with a book such as Dan Gookin’s PCs For Dummies, Windows 7 Edition or Andy Rathbone’s Windows 7 For Dummies (both by Wiley) before attempting to set up your own home network.

Finally, the Time Needed at the beginning of each task throughout this book is an estimate. It assumes that you will read every screen and take the time to familiarize yourself with the various options available. Thus, if a task says it will take you 10 minutes to complete, it’s possible that it may take you only two minutes — but these are estimates based on an average reader and an average computer user (that perhaps takes time to smell the roses!).

How This Book Is Organized

This book is comprised of the five parts described in the following paragraphs. Each chapter begins with some helpful background information about the topics that are discussed in the chapter. After the background information, I walk you through the various tasks step by step in an easy-to-follow, do-it-yourself format. I’ve also included helpful screenshots to guide you through the steps.

Part I: Doing Your Homework

You probably already have some idea of why you want a home network. In Chapter 1, I describe some of the many uses of a home network, possibly give you a few new ideas and different possibilities, and help you justify the expenditure, if necessary, to your Chief Financial Officer (spouse). Chapter 2 introduces you to some basic networking terms and concepts to help you talk the talk!

Part II: Installing Your Home Network

In Part II, I show you how to set up your home network, including how to install various networking equipment. Read Chapter 3 to learn about wired networks, or Chapter 4 to find out about wireless networks. Or read both chapters so you can build a hybrid network — but don’t go bragging to your neighbors about how environmentally friendly your home network is; I’m talking about a wired and wireless combination network here!

Part III: Setting up Your Windows 7 Network

Next, it’s time to set up all the bells and whistles! In Part III, I take you through various Windows 7 networking topics and show you how to set it all up. This includes setting up different user accounts (Chapter 5), creating a homegroup (Chapter 6), sharing network resources such as storage and printing (Chapter 7), connecting to the Internet (Chapter 8), connecting to your home network when you’re away or to your office network from home — if that’s allowed (Chapter 9) — and some fun stuff like networking your gaming system and home theater (Chapter 10).

Part IV: Keeping Your Network Safe and Healthy

In Part IV, I cover some very important topics that will help you keep your network running efficiently, protect your privacy, and keep your family safe. In Chapter 11, you learn about the Action Center, which you use to centrally manage your home network security. Next, in Chapter 12, I cover various Internet threats, how to recognize them, and how to protect your home network, and then I show you how to configure Windows Firewall and Windows Defender to protect your computers from Internet threats. In Chapter 13, I show you how to set up Windows Update to keep your computer current with the latest security patches and bug fixes. In Chapter 14, I cover backing up and restoring your important data — in case a hard drive ever crashes, a virus infects your PC, you accidentally delete a file, or worse. Finally, in Chapter 15, I cover some advanced security topics that you need to be aware of if you use your home network for a small business or home office.

Part V: The Part of Tens

Part IV includes some very short but helpful chapters that provide a handy reference in that familiar For Dummies format — the Part of Tens! I point you to ten handy resources that cover Windows 7 topics beyond home networking, in Chapter 16. In Chapter 17, I give you ten tips for addressing issues joining a homegroup, and in Chapter 18, I help you troubleshoot some common networking issues.

Icons Used In This Book

Throughout this book, I occasionally use icons to call attention to important information that is particularly worth noting. But don’t bother trying to double-click any of them with your mouse! Here’s what to look for and what to expect.

tip.eps Thank you for reading; hope you enjoy the book — please take care of your writers. Seriously, this icon points out helpful suggestions and useful nuggets of information that may just save you some time and headaches.

remember.eps This icon points out information or a concept that may well be worth committing to your nonvolatile memory, your gray matter, or your noggin — along with anniversaries, birthdays, and other important stuff!

warning_bomb.eps “Danger, Will Robinson!” This icon points out potential pitfalls and easily confused or difficult-to-understand terms and concepts.

technicalstuff.eps If you’re an insufferable insomniac or vying to be the life of a World of Warcraft party, take note. This icon explains the jargon beneath the jargon and is the stuff legends — well, at least nerds — are made of.

Where to Go From Here

Well, if you had pointy ears instead of a pointy chin (like the Dummies Man logo), you might say, “Logic clearly dictates that you turn the page and start at the beginning.” Instead, I suggest that the needs of you outweigh the needs of the many, and I’ve written this book to meet your needs. So turn the page and get started!

Please note that some special symbols used in this eBook may not display properly on all eReader devices. If you have trouble determining any symbol, please call Wiley Product Technical Support at 800-762-2974. Outside of the United States, please call 317-572-3993. You can also contact Wiley Product Technical Support at www.wiley.com/techsupport.

Part I

Doing Your Homework


In this part . . .

Don’t worry — it isn’t a graded assignment! But you do need to know why you’re building a home network and understand some basics about networking before you get started. So in this part, I help you explore the possibilities for your home network, explain some networking terms and concepts, and describe some basic networking equipment.

Chapter 1

Why Do You Need A Home Network?

In This Chapter

arrow Learning about LANs and WANs

arrow Recognizing the benefits of home networks

arrow Deciding whether to build a wired or wireless network

Computer networks allow you to easily share resources with others. These resources may include Internet access, shared files and folders, printers, and much more. In this chapter, you explore the benefits of creating your own home network.

A Network by Any Other Name

A network is a group of computers that communicate with each other in order to share resources, such as Internet access, computing power, files and folders, printers, and even the computers themselves.

If you’ve worked on a corporate or office network, you may have heard the network referred to as the LAN, which is simply a local area network. Your home network can also be correctly described as a LAN. There is no hard and fast rule for how small or large a network must be in order to be considered a LAN. It may consist of as few as two computers or as many as several hundred computers.

Another acronym you may hear when referring to a network is WAN, or wide area network, which connects multiple networks together. For example, a corporation may connect several of its locations together on a private WAN. The biggest example of a WAN is the Internet, which connects networks as small as one computer to as large as thousands of computers together over the Internet.

A Home Network for Everyone

Fifty years ago, most homes had only one television and one telephone at best. Just 20 years ago, most homes had only one computer, if any at all. Now, as computer prices have plummeted, homes commonly have a computer for practically every member of the family. The benefits of a home network include the following:

check.png Sharing high-speed Internet: In the not-too-distant past, sharing an Internet connection across multiple computers would have been laughable. Dialup modems, accompanied by their trademark symphony of screeches, beeps, and other harmonious sounds, are as aggravating as they are slow. With a top speed of about 56 Kbps over a traditional home telephone line, surfing the Internet is an exercise in patience. But as high-speed Internet with cable and DSL routers and modems has become more accessible (and affordable), sharing an Internet connection has become commonplace. (See Chapter 8 for more on connecting your home network to the Internet.)

check.png Sharing files and printers: Moving files over a home network is as easy as cutting and pasting, dragging and dropping, or pointing and clicking. A home network also makes it possible for you to share printers. No more tying up the “printer computer” to print a massive homework assignment or work project. (In Chapter 7, I tell you how to set up printer sharing.)

check.png Playing games, videos, and more: A home network allows multiplayer games, so you can enhance your game-playing experience well beyond Solitaire! You can also connect your digital video recorders (DVRs) and game consoles to your network to entertain the entire family (see Chapter 10).

A Home Network for One

A network is traditionally defined as two or more computers connected together. But even if you have only one computer, or you live alone, you may still find a home network beneficial. Wireless networks are ideal in both of these situations, particularly if you have a laptop computer. A wireless network with a laptop computer gives you the freedom to work from your desk, your bedroom, your kitchen, your backyard — just about anywhere in and around your home! And don’t forget about the other wireless devices you may have, such as a game console and your mobile phone.

Building a SOHO: When Home and Office Become One

As home businesses and telecommuting, or working from home, have become more commonplace in today’s business world, a small office or home office (SOHO) network is now a necessity for much of today’s workforce. Much of the equipment for a SOHO network is the same as for a home network, but there are a few differences. For example, you may also need to connect a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone to your home network or set up a virtual private network (VPN), which I cover in Chapter 9. Depending on what type of work you’re doing in your home office, you may also have regulatory compliance requirements (which I discuss in Chapter 15).

To Wire or Not To Wire

Your two choices for connecting computers in a network are wired and wireless. Wired networks are generally faster and more secure than wireless networks, but wireless networks provide mobility and convenience if you have laptop computers and mobile devices. If your home isn’t prewired with Ethernet network cables (see Chapter 3), running network cables throughout your home can be a time-consuming chore and unsightly (imagine blue cables running along the walls and under rugs), unless you actually go through the trouble of running your cables behind walls and furniture.

remember.eps Although a wired network generally provides faster network speeds than a wireless connection, that doesn’t mean you’ll get faster Internet speeds with a wired network. Wired networks typically operate at speeds of 100 or 1000 Mbps (megabits per second) and wireless networks operate in the 54 Mbps range. But a residential high-speed Internet connection typically provides only 5 Mbps of Internet bandwidth. So your bottleneck will almost always be your Internet connection, whether you have a wired or wireless network.

Of course, you don’t have to be a purist when it comes to home networking. It’s entirely possible to have a little bit of both, and this approach may be advantageous. For example, depending on the construction materials used in your home, you may find certain areas, such as your basement, difficult to cover with a wireless network. Running a network cable from your wireless router down to your basement, and connecting it to a hub or switch in the basement is one way to address spotty wireless coverage.

Both wired and wireless networks are fairly inexpensive to set up and require just a few basic pieces of networking equipment, which I explain in Chapters 3 (wired) and 4 (wireless).