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Home Networking

In this post, we will discuss a new topic which will be of interest to most of you. – Home networking. This covers all the ingredients for a typical wireless networking and is the first step towards adopting a Digital Life style.

A Typical Home Networking

With Home Networking you may want to achieve the following tasks, mostly wireless.
  1. Share the Internet Connection
  2. Share the printer across the network
  3. Share data files between connected devices
  4. Share and stream media files across network so that it is available not alone in your computers, mobile devices and should be able access through your media players and AV setup. (play in your TV through your AV setup and speakers)
  5. A smart home needs networked surveillance cameras where you can display the video in any of the networked devices of your choice including TV and mobiles and store the content for a set duration
Following figure gives the basic components of a Home Network.
  1. ADSL modem with and Internet connection
  2. Wi-Fi router
  3. Wi-Fi, bridge, Wi-Fi Access Point, Wi-Fi Repeaters (Signal boosters)
  4. PLCC device (Power Line Adaptors), Power Line AV adaptors (ex: D-Link AV500)
  5. NAS (Network Attached Storage)
  6. Network Printer
  7. Networked computers, Servers, Desktop
  8. Mobile devices Laptop, Tablets and Smart Phones
  9. Media Players
  10. Media Streaming devices
  11. Surveillance cameras and monitoring systems
Among these the most important part of your network are the following :
  1. High speed Internet connection: This is the most important ingredient and backbone of your network since browsing and emailing is the major activity you may be interested. A 1Mpbs unlimited connection is the minimum you should have to start with. 2mpbs or higher is better if you are interested in media streaming.
  2. Wi-Fi Router: Since this is the hub through which all your communication is going through it is a wise idea to invest on a router which meets your current requirement and cover immediate future. If you are into only browsing and mailing “g “ Wi-Fi router may do but it is always better to go for 802.11 n router which will be a must when you use your network for media sharing and streaming.
  3. NAS (Networked Attached Storage): This will be the heart of your network where you will be storing all media files for sharing and streaming. So performance is the key here while selecting a NAS. We will dedicate one issue of this column on NAS.
Wi-Fi Routers

You are welcome to the World of routers which are filled with the extreme kind, crying for your attention. You will come across Xtream, Rangebooster, Advanced, Maximum performance, Extreme, Dual Band High Performance wireless routers. If you want to shop for one of those routers remember that these folks firmly believe in over promising and under delivering. Remember that it never go as fast as they say as well as it never goes as far as they say.

Before shopping around for a new router you need to decide on what kind of wireless network you like to have.
  1. Speed (g or n) g supports 56mpbs and n supports upto 300Mbps
  2. Range (1x, 2X, 10X !!)
  3. Dual band / Single Band Radio support (2.04 GHz / 5GHz)
  4. DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) support (http://www.dlna.org/)
  5. UPNP support (Universal Plug and Play also known as Plug and Pray J)
  6. USB port support for Printer
  7. USB support for portable USB storage
  8. Capability to function as a router/ access point or repeater. This will become handy when you upgrade this router to a new one.
  9. Gigabit LAN support
  10. Easy setup (this does not exist for those who need it)
Dual Band routers and Speed: g or n

Dual band routers operates at two independent radio frequencies 2.4GHz and 5GHz. g routers supports 56mbps and n can go upto 400mpbs theoretically, but in real World you may not see speed anything near to it. Dual band routers are good for separating your bandwidth consumed for Internet usage and local file sharing. Use 2.4GHz “g” for internet and 5GHz “n” for media streaming. Armed with theory you may expect better speed and range with n. But you soon realize that the result you may get is quite opposite to your expectation. Remember that 5GHz is subjected to more attenuation (power) compared to 2.4GHz, so passing through multiple concrete walls 5GHz suffers much more compared to 2.4GHz. Speed / range also suffers. Increasing power alone is not a solution either, you may clap louder to make the other party at far off to hear but he may not be able to clap back with the same power! So matching Wi-Fi adaptors from the same manufacturer are recommended for best reception.

Shared USB port for printers:

This is one of features, which most of the routers provide so that you can convert your USB printer to a network printer. But this is not substitute for a Wi-Fi printer or an Ethernet enabled Network printer in terms of features and performance.

Shared USB port :

Shared USB port allows you to connect a USB HDD and use it as a shared storage. It enables you to share files across network. Consider it a poor man’s NAS. It is like enticing you to have a lick at NAS technology. Once you get the taste of it you may want a full-fledged NAS box at home.

DLNA support: & UPNP

DLNA is a must if you are interested in streaming media across the network with your media players, PS3, XBOX, TV etc.. . I have written about DLNA in this column earlier so please refer to that for details.

Gigabit Ethernet:

Look for Gigabit Ethernet support since you will be connecting the NAS and may be some desktop directly to your router.

Linksys E 4200

This is one of the best simultaneous dual band routers around and surely not look out of place in your living room unlike most of the conventional routers. It is introduced in early 2011. It can go upto 450mpbs provided

This has a provision for shutting off the flickering LEDs which is boon during night.

This router is available in India for little over Rs 10000/- .

D-link Ampli Suite HD media Router 1000

(http://amplifi.dlink.com/products/DIR-657 )

This is a 300mpbs 802.11n single band router with 4 Gigabit ports, 1 SD card reader and USB 2.0 share port. This adopts the styling of Linksys E series routers. There is an iOS and Android support apps for this router. This is one of the few routers which support iPv6. We will cover this in detail as part of another article.

Apple Time Capsule

If you have many Apple devices at home or an Apple fan it is worth looking at Apple Time Capsule which is a dual band N wireless router with 3TB HDD built in. It works perfectly with MAC Time machine for backup too. It can backup multiple MAC machines. It works with and PCs too. Share USB printers across network. It allows sharing your Internet with a friend as a guest without giving your password.

I have listed only 3 of the latest Wi-Fi routers in this article. IF you like to know more for review or comparison visit the following link


Those who are interested in tweaking the routers and playing with third party firmware for more features and better range visit the links http://www.dd-wrt.com/ and http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato for tomoto firmware. Most of the popular routers are supported by these folks.

While configuring the router don’t forget to run DHCP server on the router, setup WPA2 personal for security and UPNP enabled.

Never set the router for WEP security protocol. It is like wearing a revealing dress to invite the neighbors to have a peep. Anybody with open source hacking tool and a PC can break into your system before you even finish setting up your entire network. So always run WPA2 personal and setup firewall for better security. If you want absolutely certain that nobody else share your joy enable MAC filtering.