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Broadband Setup
February 2003

Russell James is Operations Manager at BJ Associates of San Antonio. They are an authorized service center for Toshiba and Sony systems. They are the laptop specialist and also handle system builds and parts for desktops. They can take care of any IBM compatible hardware or software problem that you have.

You have finally decided to move out of the Dark Ages of Internet access with a modem and sign up with a broadband carrier. If you are like most of us, your household has grown to have more that one computer. Wouldnít it be great if, not only you had the speed of a DSL or Cable modem connection, but all your computers could get on the Internet at the same time? What would it take to set up a home network that would allow you to share not only your Internet access, but maybe even a printer? It is not as difficult as you may think.

If you are planning on getting high speed Internet access you need to plan on buying a router to help to protect you from the trolls that live out there. Some of the installers that are paid by the DSL and Cable companies will tell you that your computer is safe when connecting directly to their modem because everything goes through the servers. I have not found this to be true at all. When we were using a dial up modem this was true because we were dialing into our ISPís modem line and then going through their servers to access the Internet. Now with the cable modem and DSL, we are on the Internet without the security of their firewalls and servers to protect us.

If you connect your system directly to a broadband connection, that system is then a part of the Internet directly. The only protection that you have is what is built in to the operating system that you are using. Why would you want to take that chance when all you need to do is add a router to your setup? If you have more than one computer that needs the high speed access, the router will not only provide Internet access, but will also network the systems together. You might need to change the name of the Workgroup that the computers are in to share files and printers but the general setup is pretty easy unless you start changing a lot of things.

I recommend the Linksys products to my customers because that is what we use at our office and I have been extremely happy with our router since it was installed. You can buy a Linksys wireless access point router with 4-port switch for about $100. If you donít need or want the wireless, the standard version will be about $60. With either of these routers, you will be able to connect up to four computers to the wired ports and up to 32 computers to the wireless access point in addition to the wired. You will obviously need to install network adapters in each of the computers as well. You can buy a good PCI 10/100 network card for less than $20. A wireless PCI 10/100 card will set you back about $65 but the prices are dropping fast. The cable will be anywhere from $4 to $30 depending on how far away your computer is from the router.

When you take the router out of the box, there is no setup that needs to be done to make it work. Plug it in to the power and the cable modem or DSL and leave it alone. After you install a network card in your system you will probably need to load drivers to make it work. Read the instructions that come with the card and follow them and you shouldnít have a problem. Windows will automatically set the card up to look for what is called a DHCP server to get an IP address for the card. When you plug the network cable into the router it will find one. The router handles the DHCP just like a server would. As long as you havenít changed anything you will be on the Internet at this point.

Actually, your router will be on the Internet and that is where the protection comes from. The computer will be sending requests for specific sites to the router, and the router will address those requests and send the results back to your computer. This means that if anyone tries to hack into your system they will be working on your router instead of your computer. The router is designed to deny incoming requests to access most of the ports that are available on your system. You can choose to open the ports up if you need to use them from within the web based configuration utility for the router.

This does not mean that you will be 100% protected because you will be behind the router. What this means is that the hackers will have to work much harder to find you since your computer will not exist to them. Only the router will be visible to them. You will still need to keep Windows up to date with the latest critical updates from the windows update site. You will also need to keep your antivirus software up to date to keep you protected from the latest viruses. Check the settings on Windows as well as your antivirus software to be sure they are checking for and applying updates automatically. 

You will have more speed than you ever imagined which means that web sites and e-mail will load before you can blink. This also means that things that should not be in your system will also move faster than you can imagine. Get the router and get the updates so that your trip on the high-speed Internet will not end in a crash and burn story.

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