Since beginning this Networking 101 series nearly three months ago, each article has been leading either directly or indirectly to the upcoming series of articles, beginning with this week’s topic: Network Routing is for “You.” It was during the first few weeks we promised to discuss routers because routing is the key to separating computers into distinct groups; i.e., you and your friends, family, and/or business colleagues are able to use your special group of computers without being interfered with by the thousands, even millions, of others you are connected to on the Internet because of routers.
Routers make it possible for you to set up your network the way you need it to be. It is important for anyone responsible for setting up a computer network to remember that the user (i.e., you) are the most important factor to keep in mind when configuring the network. The computers in your network are there for you, not the other way around.
You will recall the special upstairs home network we created for you in week two.
The upstairs computers here use a hub to link themselves together into a network. This makes it possible to share resources like files, printers, and even music and videos. The hub is a device that does not have the ability to route data traffic between these computers or between computers on the Internet. To do that, you need a router. Bear in mind that the word “route” has a very specific meaning here which we will be discussing in depth over the next few weeks. Suffice it to say, for now; your computers can talk to one another using either a router or a hub, but only a router can “route” your data.
Today, most computer users have at least one router in their homes and/or offices. Many of them are so-called wireless routers. The only difference between a router and a wireless router is the manner in which the computers talk to each other.
The important thing to remember in all this is you, and what you need out of your network. We connected the upstairs network of computers to the basement wireless router over an ICS connection because it was more convenient for you than running wires all the way down. We let your “bratty” little sister have free Internet on the network because you wanted to use her printer. It’s all about you. It’s never about me or one of my “nerd squad” IT people that hook it up for you. And if you do not ask questions before things get done, guess who the network will probably be hooked up for?
Next week we will get into the specifics that make it possible to use your router the way you want it to be used.