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Home Networking / Connecting Home Computers

With many people now having multiple computers in their home the next natural step it so connect them together. Many home users don't think they have the expertise to do it themselves, but times have changed. It no longer takes a rocket scientist or MIT grad to connect home computers!

USB Flash Drive

Depending on what you want to do, you may not need to spend much to simply share files. In fact, you may not even need a network! If all you want to do is transfer files between computers you could simply get a USB key. A USB key, or USB Flash Drive, is a device that plugs into the USB port on your computer and appears in Windows as a hard drive. You can then drag and drop files onto this drive. When done, simply remove the USB key and plug it into another computer to access your files. These devices are incredibly small, inexpensive, and easy to use.

Advantages of a Home Network

If a USB Flash Drive isn't sufficient, then a simple home network may be for you. Some of the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of connecting home computers include:

  • Sharing internet access (broadband)
  • Sharing printers to easily print documents
  • Sharing files
  • Backing up files from one computer to another
  • Playing online games (How to Throw a LAN Party)

Home Networking Technology Comparison

Here are some methods that can be used to connect two or more computers using wires, increasing in price and performance going from left to right. If you're interested in wireless home networking instead, check out the guide to wireless home networking.

  USB Cable Ethernet Crossover Cable Ethernet Hub / Switch
Number of Computers
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2 - 24+
Comments
  • Slow to fast speed - USB 1.1 (12 Mbps) / USB 2.0 (480 Mbps)
  • Can only connect 2 computers in this manner
  • Fast speed (10/100 Mbps)
  • Great choice if your computers already have a preinstalled Network Interface Card (NIC)
  • Connecting an additional computer will require an Ethernet switch and replacing the crossover cable with regular Ethernet cables
  • Fast speed (10/100 Mbps)
  • Very flexible, as network can grow beyond 2 computers
What to Buy
  • A "USB networking cable," also know as a Bridged USB cable. This is *not* the same as a USB A/A cable - a bridged cable has a chip in the middle that lets two computers talk with one another.
Total Cost
  • Around $20
  • $30 (cable) + $30 / computer (NIC)
       

 

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