Networking Installation Options

networkAs telecommuting and computers in schools become more commonplace, so does the need for multiple computers in the house. With only one hard-wired connection, it can be difficult to maintain the necessary level of productivity. Employees finishing tasks up after the end of their work day and students needing to do research or complete papers. In addition, the wealth of information that is made available with the click of a mouse is amazing and children can use the Internet to further their education. Most likely, your current configuration is your cable/DSL modem plugs straight into the computer. The computer is connected to the public Internet and there are no connections for additional computers. You only have one IP address from your ISP.

Option #1: Multiple IP addresses: An easy way of getting the second PC online is to install a network card in it, buy a hub, plug both PCs and the cable/DSL modem into the hub, call your ISP and get a second IP address and configure the second PC accordingly.It is what your ISP most likely will try to talk you into doing.

    • the two PCs are independent from each other
    • relatively easy setup


    • Both PCs are exposed to public Internet
    • Enabling file sharing adds security risk
    • Higher monthly ISP cost for additional IP addresses

Option #2: Internet Connection Sharing via Software: In this scenario, you install a second network card in the computer that is connected to the Internet, install a network card in the second PC, connect them via a CAT5 cable. You configure the connection between PC 1 and PC 2 as a private network, then install and configure Internet Connection Sharing software (ICS) on PC 1, lastly configure PC 2 to access the Internet via PC 1. Probably the cheapest solutions of them all, but also the least reliable one.


    • cheap, only requires 2 network cards and Cat5 cable
    • ICS software is available for free with newer versions of Windows or online as freeware
    • No additional ISP cost


    • One PC is exposed to public Internet
    • Can be difficult to configure
    • If PC 1 is shut down or broken, PC 2 cannot get online
    • Can be unreliable
    • Limited number of PCs

Option #3: Using a hardware router/gateway/firewall device: In this scenario, you install a hardware router/gateway/firewall device, connect the public side to your cable/DSL modem, connect the private side to a hub, connect all PCs to the hub, configure all PCs for your private network. While the costliest solution, by far the safest, most reliable, and most scalable one. Highly recommended.


    • All PCs are protected by firewall
    • File sharing between PCs is safe
    • No additional ISP cost
    • Connect many PCs to home network without additional cost
    • Easy PC configuration due to DHCP server in gateway device
    • Optional additional functionality with gateway-integrated wireless access point, print server, DMZ, content filtering, and more


    • Can cost several hundred dollars depending on gateway device and features
    • Somewhat of a learning curve
    • As you have probably figured out by now, option #3 is the most desirable solution because it gives you a protected private network, it is a very stable solution, it is easily and extremely expandable, and it gives you the most features.


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