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Suggestions please for creating a new home computer network
Old 06-20-2015, 03:10 PM   #1
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Suggestions please for creating a new home computer network

We are moved into our new home, and are faced with setting up a home network. While we were living in an apartment (between houses) I simply had the cable box connected to a wireless router, with Ethernet to the laser printer. All of our wireless devices could connect easily, and the laptops would print just fine.

Now we are in our new house, and the physical layout is different. The cable modem is near the Tivo in the middle of the house. The laser printer sits in a far corner. Connectivity through the router seems sketchy. I suspect that the freebie router that was included when we bought our cable modem was free for a reason. The laser printer is not a wireless device.

I am thinking that I need an Ethernet line directly from the router to the printer. That is how it was in the apartment, and it worked great. I am also thinking that I need either a better wireless router, or a 2nd one. While I am putting this together, I would also like to set an old desktop machine on the network to act as a place where we can share files or store pictures and such. Perhaps there is a better device to do this than an old PC. Perhaps an Ethernet network hard drive connected to the main router?

Any recommendations for an Ethernet network hard drive? How about recommendations for a good wireless router?
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Old 06-20-2015, 03:29 PM   #2
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I have two NAS drives connected to the router by cables. One is an older Buffalo, and the other is an Iomega. The Iomega is very compact, low power, and stops spinning the drive during inactivity. So, I leave it on 24/7 for file sharing. However, it has a significant flaw: it hangs up when its share picture folder is opened by a client PC and the latter tries to create thumbnail icons. However, that Iomega is a few years old, and new models may work better.

I also have two desktop PCs to use for archival file storage and backup. One runs the original version of WHS (Windows Home Server), and the other WHS 2011. Both versions have been discontinued by MS, although you can still buy WHS 2011. I run them on older dual-core PCs. They are both faster than the stand-alone NAS's but I do not want to run them 24/7 like the Iomega. They work very well for file archival and also to run Windows backup for all client PCs. The single-instance-storage backup is great. I have read that one can use a Win 8 machine as a host to do the same, but I have no Win 8 in the house.

About routers, I have had problems with them eventually, and the problems all went away when I plug in a new one. I don't know the cause, but for $50, it's simpler to spend the money.
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Old 06-20-2015, 03:46 PM   #3
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I also have a Buffalo NAS - mine is connected to my Apple Airport Express router by cable. Also have a LaCie portable external drive that is shared between an iMac and Macbook, and a Western Digital external drive for Mac time machine backups. From what I understand, the NAS backs up itself.

My recommendation for storage would be a NAS. And yes - connect your printer via cable. I recommend an Apple Airport Express or Airport Extreme router. We had a few at work in an all PC environment, and they worked well. Very easy to install.
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Old 06-20-2015, 04:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clone View Post
We are moved into our new home, and are faced with setting up a home network. While we were living in an apartment (between houses) I simply had the cable box connected to a wireless router, with Ethernet to the laser printer. All of our wireless devices could connect easily, and the laptops would print just fine.

Now we are in our new house, and the physical layout is different. The cable modem is near the Tivo in the middle of the house. The laser printer sits in a far corner. Connectivity through the router seems sketchy. I suspect that the freebie router that was included when we bought our cable modem was free for a reason. The laser printer is not a wireless device.

I am thinking that I need an Ethernet line directly from the router to the printer. That is how it was in the apartment, and it worked great. I am also thinking that I need either a better wireless router, or a 2nd one. While I am putting this together, I would also like to set an old desktop machine on the network to act as a place where we can share files or store pictures and such. Perhaps there is a better device to do this than an old PC. Perhaps an Ethernet network hard drive connected to the main router?

Any recommendations for an Ethernet network hard drive? How about recommendations for a good wireless router?
If the printer is network ready, then a drop between the printer and router sounds best. If this is on the 1st floor, and you have basement, it is not difficult to run a cable underneath the floor to do this. For a clean look, you would use outlet boxes in the wall as part of the installation.

As for network storage, a dedicated device will do a lot better than an old computer. The newer device will probably be more power efficient too.

The wireless router? What model? Is it dual-band? There are lots of reasons why a wireless signal doesn't work as you think it should.
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Old 06-20-2015, 05:14 PM   #5
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You might look into a Wireless bridge and see if it fits your needs. I have a D-Link access point in the entertainment center, and everything in there is connected to it with an ethernet cable. It acts as a bridge to the wifi router (also a D-Link), which is off in the corner of the house on the computer desk.

In our case, there's a line-of-sight between the router and bridge, but running a cable between them would not have been practical. I've been happy with this configuration for several years.
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:07 PM   #6
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The wireless router is a TP-Link TL-WR481N. Thank you for the name "NAS". Those look exactly like the type of device I need for sharing files and backup.

It is not a big deal to string cable. Everything is on the first floor, so I just drop into the basement, go cross country to the next location, and back upstairs.
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:11 PM   #7
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I still keep my servers hardwired to the router (they are not in the same room), and use WiFi only for portable devices. Wireless still cannot beat 1Gb/s Ethernet. Still seems slow when I move my MP3 or photos files from one location to another.

PS. By the way, I can turn on/off other PCs, including the Windows servers, if they are hardwired with LAN cables. You cannot do that with WiFi (turn off only, not on). So, using my laptop as the roaming console (the laptop is wireless), I can run the other machines without walking upstairs.
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Old 06-20-2015, 10:39 PM   #8
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Without seeing your house (our at least the blueprints), no one can tell you your best option. If it's easy to add CAT5/6 (or whatever) cable I'd do it. If not, well the answer depends on things we cannot (or don't yet) know.

If you want a second WAP, they work best hard-wired.
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Old 06-21-2015, 07:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clone View Post
I am thinking that I need an Ethernet line directly from the router to the printer. That is how it was in the apartment, and it worked great. I am also thinking that I need either a better wireless router, or a 2nd one. While I am putting this together, I would also like to set an old desktop machine on the network to act as a place where we can share files or store pictures and such. Perhaps there is a better device to do this than an old PC. Perhaps an Ethernet network hard drive connected to the main router?

Any recommendations for an Ethernet network hard drive? How about recommendations for a good wireless router?
Our current home network consists of wired ethernet throughout the house plus wifi for our phones/ipads. Motorola cable modem to Apple AirPort Extreme router providing wired ethernet and wifi. Three external USB hard drives connected to AirPort Extreme router through a USB hub provide ample storage for movies/music/data backup. Router connects to ethernet switch which in turns connects to two desktop computers, laser printer, AppleTV, two Tivos, laptop in media room for streaming movies/tunes stored on drives attached to router. The cable modem/router provided by cable company was swapped out early on for the Motorola modem and AirPort Extreme, which is much more reliable and avoids a monthly rental fee. I have used NAS devices in the past but find the USB drives attached to the AirPort Extreme to be quite capable if you don't need or want to bother with file server management. Reliability is good with a router reboot needed maybe once every 3 or 4 months.
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Old 06-21-2015, 03:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Clone View Post
The wireless router is a TP-Link TL-WR481N. Thank you for the name "NAS". Those look exactly like the type of device I need for sharing files and backup.

It is not a big deal to string cable. Everything is on the first floor, so I just drop into the basement, go cross country to the next location, and back upstairs.

I read a review of that router.get something else. I haven't purchased anything wireless recently, but you will get better performance from a better router. If the house is longer with obstructions, then planning a run to a repeater or 2nd router will fix a lot of problems.
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Old 07-11-2016, 10:09 PM   #11
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I thought it would be appropriate to close the loop on this thread by posting what I decided to do.


I found a dual band router- ASUS RT-AC56U that had the features I wanted. I also purchased a Western Digital 'My Passport Ultra' 2TB USB drive to use as network storage. I ran ethernet cables to the laser printer and my docking station. These are located in a different room relative to the cable modem, router, and TIVO box. The router is in the center of the house, roughly, and we have great coverage everywhere in the house. It was initially located on the opposite side of the wall from the oven stack and the microwave, and my wife's laptop would occasionally lose signal. Moving the modem about 6 feet away from the stack and towards where my wife normally uses her laptop has eliminated that problem.


Anything that is connected to the primary network can access the printer or the network storage. The network storage is folder access protected such that guests cannot see most of the folders. Some folders are read only for me, but R/W for DW. Others R/W for me, Read only for her.


The modem supports two wireless network access, the primary network that we use plus a guest network that you can limit. This makes it easy to give out a password for guests. After a few months, you can change the guest password and not have to redo all of your primary devices.

I am certain there are other similar devices and perhaps other ways of doing this. I just wanted to document this in case others find the thread with the questions. Now they will also find a solution.
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clone View Post
I thought it would be appropriate to close the loop on this thread by posting what I decided to do.


I found a dual band router- ASUS RT-AC56U that had the features I wanted. I also purchased a Western Digital 'My Passport Ultra' 2TB USB drive to use as network storage. I ran ethernet cables to the laser printer and my docking station. These are located in a different room relative to the cable modem, router, and TIVO box. The router is in the center of the house, roughly, and we have great coverage everywhere in the house. It was initially located on the opposite side of the wall from the oven stack and the microwave, and my wife's laptop would occasionally lose signal. Moving the modem about 6 feet away from the stack and towards where my wife normally uses her laptop has eliminated that problem.


Anything that is connected to the primary network can access the printer or the network storage. The network storage is folder access protected such that guests cannot see most of the folders. Some folders are read only for me, but R/W for DW. Others R/W for me, Read only for her.


The modem supports two wireless network access, the primary network that we use plus a guest network that you can limit. This makes it easy to give out a password for guests. After a few months, you can change the guest password and not have to redo all of your primary devices.

I am certain there are other similar devices and perhaps other ways of doing this. I just wanted to document this in case others find the thread with the questions. Now they will also find a solution.

Ethernet cables? Docking station? Network hard drive? Sounds old school to me. My only cables are the cable to the modem and a short Ethernet cable to my Apple Airport (also 2 networks) which provides excellent coverage throughout the house. Too cheap to pay for the combined modem/router Comcast tries to push and they tend to have more connection problems. Everything else is wireless. We backup everything to the cloud using either Carbonite or iCloud where everything is encrypted and backed up. I've had too many problems with home based storage breaking and unrecoverable, and they're susceptible to theft or fire loss.


Enjoying life!
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Old 07-12-2016, 09:37 AM   #13
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We've simplified. One WiFi router connected to Cable modem. One LAN cable to Raspberry Pi (more for experimentation than anything serious). Eventually I plan on having my backup drive connected to the Pi similar to a NAS. Printer, laptops, tablets and phones are all cable-less.
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