In our last write-up, we were able to confirm that the two PCs were communicating with each other. We initially used the IP addresses 192.168.10.11 for PC1 and 192.168.10.12 for PC2. But with the introduction of the Starcomms USB modem to the network, we had to change the IP addresses of the PCs so that they would have the same network address with the internet access (192.168.137.1 and 192.168.137.2).
Most laptops have the limitation of having just a single network port. The implication of this is that a laptop would only connect to another PC, forming a maximum of 2 PC network. For desktop computers, you may be able to install additional network ports. This, however, is not the cheapest or most efficient method to adopt.
A switch is a device that can be introduced into a Peer to Peer network to connect several computers together to form a network. The number of computers you plan to have in your network would determine the type of switch you should buy as switches come with varying number of ports.
– Assign static IP addressess to each PC using the network address of the Starcomms USB modem as a guide. The IP addresses should be 192.168.137.1 for the first PC and up to a maximum of 192.168.137.254 (See Part 2 for procedure)
– Identify the PC (Host PC) that will host your USB internet modem and other peripherals.The IP address of that PC would be your gateway and DNS address that you will use on other PCs on the network.(See Part 2 for procedure)
– Configure each PC to be in the same Work Group (See Part 2 for procedure)
– Install the internet USB modem and other peripherals (printer) on the Host PC and ensure they are functional.
– Install the printer software on other PCs in the network.
– Purchase a “Straight-Through” network cable for each PC on your network. This type of cable is different from the “Cross-Over” cable and are priced less than N500. You can easily identify them from the clip at each end of the cable, the colour sequence of the cable strands are the same for both ends.
– Connect the network port of each PC to a separate port on the switch.
– Use the “ping” command to ensure all PCs are communicating with each other.
If you have been successful this far, congratulations, you now have a basic knowledge of how computer networking works.
However, one major disadvantage of this arrangement is that the emphasis placed on the Host PC, the PC must always be on to be able to use the resources attached to it. A better and more professional arrangement calls for the introduction of another device called ROUTER.A Router basically allows devices operating on different networks to communicate with each other. Aside from the fact that the Starcomms USB modem is not best suited for a network environment, you will also remember that we had to change the IP addresses of the PCs in the network for them to access the internet. With a Router and a network-ready internet modem like the one provided by IPNX, what you have to do is more of a plug and play affair.
– You do not have to assign any IP address to any PC, this will be done automatically (DHCP). However, it is preferred assigning Static IP for easier network administration.
– Ensure that DHCP is enabled or disabled on the router according to your preference.
– Use the IP address of the internet modem as your gateway and DNS IP address.
– Attach your internet modem (IPNX) using a “straight Through” cable to the single port coloured yellow on the router usually called the WAN port.
– If you have a PC arrangement of 4 or less, you can connect directly using “straight Through” cables to the 4 ports coloured grey on the Router. If you have more than 4 PCs, you can connect the PCs to a multiple port switch, then connect one of the ports on the switch to one of the grey coloured ports on the Router.
You are also advised to buy network-capable printers that can be connected directly to a port.