What is a Home Network?
A home network is a fancy name for two or more computers sharing an Internet connection and a printer. Imagine having your desktop computer where it is (plugged in to the wall) and then having a laptop to take anywhere in the house or outside. On the laptop, if you want to view a picture or anything else stored on the desktop computer, you can just open it. It's called File Sharing. And, if you want to print something from your laptop while you're sitting on the deck, you can send it to the printer attached to the desktop computer. That's called Printer Sharing. So a home network isn't some scary thing that requires you to be a computer geek - it can be a simple way to have more than one computer sharing the Internet and a printer. (Home networks can also share lots of other types of devices, but for this introduction, I'm keeping it simple.)
To set up a home network (not a scary thing, remember), you need to purchase a router - a small device that connects between your modem and your desktop computer. (The modem is the device you got from your DSL or cable provider that connects to a telephone jack or cable TV wall outlet.) The router allows more than one computer to use your Internet connection at the same time. It also lets all of the computers in your home "see" each other and know they exist.
When you have your router in place, fire up the laptop. Most laptops today have wireless capability built in. (If you purchase a laptop that doesn't, you can get a wireless USB adapter that plugs in to your laptop and gives it wireless capability.) And if you install Network Magic on your laptop and desktop computers, it detects your router automatically and helps you connect to the Internet. Network Magic also sets up printer sharing and walks you through file sharing. It's really easy. And if you add more computers (because it's so easy), just install Network Magic on them and they're automatically joined to your home network.
So give it a try, and soon you'll be the proud owner of a home network and can tell your friends that it's not a scary thing. Better yet, send them an email from your deck!
Up next, why it's important to set up your router for a secure home network.