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Connecting your computer(s) to broadband internet
If You Are Using Dial-Up
If you are currently using a dial-up internet service provider (about $20 a month) and using a telephone line dedicated to the internet (about $40-$50 a month), then broadband internet is not only faster, itís probably less expensive (about $45-$50 a month). You can connect all your computers to that one single connection. So, if you are paying more money for more than one dial-in, you can really save money.
How the ISP Installs Your Broadband
Whether you are using wireless, cable, or DSL, your internet service provider (ISP) usually provides a modem, or recomends one for you to get. Use that modem, or follow their advice in purchasing.
Most ISPs try to connect their modem directly to one computer with either a USB cable or a CAT5 cable. There are two problems:
The solution to both problems is in an inexpensive (less than $50) device that includes a router, firewall, NAT device, DHCP server, and a multi-port 10/100 ethernet hub/switch. Some devices (less than $100) also include a wireless access port. The ISP usually installs software on your computer to control their modem; when you install the router, that software will no longer be used.
In other words, NEVER let this stay as your installation:
ISP ---> Modem ---> Your ComputerALWAYS convert it to:
ISP ---> Modem ---> Router/Firewall ---> Your Computer or Network
Begin by checking the output of the ISPís modem. If a CAT5 cable is in use, you can skip to the next step. Ifís itís a USB cable, you need a USB-to-ethernet converter because none of the inexpensive routers accept USB input. Some of these converters include:
In summary, you must convert the USB output of the modem to the ethernet input of the router. I have been told that the satellite systems will NOT work with this system (probably because the routers do not have the necessary "login" routines); thatís why Iíve left the word "satellite" out of this guide.
Connecting Your Computers With Wires (or connecting an existing network)
If your computers are already networked, or if you want to run CAT5 cable between you hub and the computers, use this method. If you do not want to run wires, use the next section "Connecting Your Computers WithOUT Wires"
If your modemís output is a "hub" type connection (which is normal), you need (1) "crossover cable" (about $5 at http://www.pcmall.com/pcmall/shop/detail.asp?dpno=851562) to connect the modem to the "WAN" port of the router.
The key piece of equipment is a Router/Firewall/Hub like the D-Link DI-604 (approximately $35 after rebates from http://www.pcmall.com/pcmall/shop/detail.asp?dpno=973450 or http://www.officedepot.com/ddSKU.do?level=SK&id=613666). Before buying, check the price on the wireless hub -- the 22Mhz units are being deeply discounted and may be less expensive!
If your computers are already networked together using CAT5 cabling, skip the following step. Just plug one of the "LAN" ports into your hub. Once again, a "crossover" cable (see above) will be needed to plug into one of the ports, unless the hub provides an "uplink" port, in which case the "straight" cable is correct.
If your computers are NOT already networked together using CAT5 cabling:
If you are using more than four computers on your network, you may need another hub, such as the D-Link DSS-8P (about $55 at http://www.officedepot.com/ddSKU.do?level=SK&id=619975).
Connecting Your Computers WithOUT Wires
If you want to connect your computers to your router without using CAT5 cabling, use this section. If you have an existing network, or want to connect with wires, use the above section "Connecting Your Computers With Wires".
Manufactuers and Vendors:
I have no association with the above manufacturers or vendors, other than I use their products and often purchase from the companies mentioned. There are many suitable products and places to purchase them, especially CAT5 cables. Iíve also successfully used Linksys products. And many other vendors are producing good products.