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    5. Building your Network - Components of a Home Network

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    • Choosing a router isn't as complicated as you might think! We're going to go through the specs you'll see when you're shopping for routers, demystifying each one as we go. Remember, the router is the central nervous system of your network, and as such you need to make sure you get one that'll meet all your needs.

      Try to think ahead a bit when you shop for a router. Imagine what your network might be like in a year, or even two. Do you have a child who's going to get her own computer? Will you be adding a gaming console? Buy for what you might need in the near future, as well as what you know you need today.

      Quick Guide
      In a hurry? Here's the minimum checklist you need to keep in mind when router shopping:
      • Decide if you want a wired, wireless or hybrid router (that does both). See our guide here to help you choose.
      • Look for the newest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11n.
      • Make sure the router you buy has a firewall pre-installed.
      • If you're big into gaming, consider a router with QoS (Quality of Service). This feature lets you prioritize your network traffic to give you a speed boost.

      Technical SpecWhy It's Important
      Wired, Wireless or BothIt determines if your router connects strictly via Ethernet (wired) or also supports wireless networking. Most wireless routers also include several ports for wired connections, so it’s a good idea to go with a wireless router for greatest flexibility.
      SpeedSurprisingly, speed might not be quite as important as you think. You’ll find router speeds listed in Mbps, but remember, these transmission rates are under optimal, laboratory conditions. You can expect daily performance to be much lower, but still within acceptable limits.
      Wi-Fi Standard
      (for Wireless Routers)
      The newest Wi-Fi standard is 802.11n. 802.11n wireless connections offer the fastest maximum speed and best signal range over earlier Wi-Fi standards due to its increased signal intensity. 802.11n is also backward-compatible, meaning it works with previous generations of Wi-Fi, such as 802.11g/b/a.
      Firewall ProtectionFirewalls are essential for blocking out security threats. Most routers come with firewalls installed.
      Number of PortsThe number of ports determines how many devices can plug into your router. Make sure you get a router that will handle current needs plus the foreseeable future. Gigabit ports are recommended for greater bandwidth and optimal performance. Double-check the type of cable included with your router. To get optimal performance from your Gigabit ports, make sure to use CAT-5e or CAT-6 cables.
      ManufacturerIf several of your devices already have wired or wireless network adapters from a particular manufacturer, it might be beneficial to choose a router from the same place. Manufacturers sometimes optimize performance among their own devices.
      QoS (Quality of Service)Some routers advertise QoS, which stands for Quality of Service and allows users to prioritize their network traffic. This can help with gaming or VoIP — usages where such prioritization is important to your experience.
       Shop Wired RoutersShop Wireless Routers

      Wireless Access Points

      What's a WAP? 
      A wireless access point, or WAP, is basically a wireless router without the router function. It’s used to add wireless capabilities to an existing wired network. If you already have a wired network and you want to add wireless, a WAP might be the best way to go.

      Shop Wireless Access Points

      You should now feel pretty comfortable going out there and shopping for your router. In the two pages that follow, we’ll explore how to use your router to build your wired or wireless home network.

    • View Answer at http://www.dell.com/content/topics/topic.aspx/global/learn/network/build_router?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs
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