If you want to transfer some of your data files from one computer to another in your office what will you do? One option you have is to take a floppy or CD and copy the data into it from source computer and go to destination computer and download the file in it. This method is very much time consuming and also you can not copy the data more then 1.44MB in floppy and around 800MB in CD.
What if you have more than 2GB or more data to transfer? Here we can use LAN. A LAN is a group of two or more computers that can share information and resources. You can have 1000's of computer in your LAN depending on the size of your organization as long as the computers are kept in one building or location. Here I am going to tell you how to build a small Local Area Network of 5-10 computers. First of all we need to know the equipments that are required to setup a LAN.
Computers: – Obviously you need 2 or more computers to build a network because one computer can not make a Network
Cables: – Depending on your network size and utilization you can select the category of the cables. For a small network you can use CAT5 cable which supports 10 / 100Mbps speed. However you have option to purchase Cat 6 Cable also which support speed of up to 1Gbps. Here I will use CAT5 Cable.
Hub / Switch: – This is a device the will be put in a central location and all the PCs will connect to it. These devices can be of 4, 8, 16, or 24 ports. They come with more ports also. These days switches are being used everywhere as they are more advance then HUB.
NIC: – Network Interface cards are required for you PCs. Here also you have an option to get a card of 10/100 or 10/100 / 1000Gbps speed. Again it depends on your requirement and budget. One end of network cable will connect to NIC in your computer and another end will go to switch. Note: – Most of the computers these days comes with built in network card so you do not really need to purchase NIC if you already have one on your computer's motherboard.
RJ45 Connector: – These are small jacks that need to be punched at both ends of cables. You do not need to buy these connectors separately because readymade cables are available in market but of course if the desired length cable is not available then you will have to get the RJ45 Connectors and punch them at both ends of cable as per the cabling standard .
Once you have all the equipments you are ready to do connectivity among your computers and some windows settings. Follow the steps below to get your network up and running.
Step1: – Open your computers one by one and install the NIC. As I mentioned above if you have built in network card on your computer's motherboard then you do not need to do this activity. Better you buy PC with built in network card this way you can save lots of time.
Step2: – Connect all the computers one by one to your hub / switch. Once you connect all the computers just power on the switch.
Step3: – Now you have to do some settings in your PC. All the PCs should have a unique identification so that another computer on network can identify it. Just in human beings we know people with their names, in computers they identify each other with their unique IP Address. These are 32 bit octets in the form of 0 and 1. We write IP address in the decimal form like 192.168.1.1. You have two options to provide IP address one is manual by sitting on each computer and typing the IP address and another is through DHCP Server. You can say DHCP server as a service of Microsoft Windows 2000/2003 Server which automatically provides IP address to computers as soon as they boot. For a small network of 10-20 PCs you do not need DHCP server but for big network it would be very confusing and time consuming to provide IP address manually. In our scenario you can give IP address manually because we are setting up a network of just 10 PC. Now log in to PCs with administrative privilege and follow the steps below to give IP address to PCs.
a. Click on Start – Settings – Network Connection and then double click on Local Area Connection.
b. From the new Window click on properties and on the new window scroll down to select internet protocol TCP / IP. Double click on it or click on properties to give IP address.
c. On the opened window give an IP address in the space provided. Just below IP address there is an option of subnet mask. As soon as you will give the IP address the subnet mask will come automatically depending on the Network Class you have selected.
Once you are done just save the settings by clicking on apply and OK. Repeat all 3 steps above on all your computers but remember to give a unique IP address to each computer. You can check the connectivity among the computers by running a command called PING on each computer. Just go to command prompt and type ping IP ADDRESS (For example Ping 192.168.1.1) you should get reply from another computer which has the IP address 192.168.1.1, remember the PC you are trying to ping should be switch ON. If you get a message saying REQUEST TIME OUT that means the PC you are trying to ping is switch off or there is some problem in the connectivity. So you will have to check it.
These settings are enough to get your LAN up and running how ever in IP settings page you have some more options that you can define as long as you have installed these services in you network. For example DNS, Gateway or WINS.