Home Networking Decisions

The time has come to finally get your computer away from your desk, or that wireless router that your cousin hooked you up with has finally given up the ghost.  Have no fear, Joey is here.  Below are a few scenarios that should cover most users.

The Hardware.

I want to plug it in and be done.

Hands down, no discussion required, buy an Apple Airport Express.  The only downside is that there is no ethernet switch.  In other words, you can only connect wirelessly as there is only one port on the back.  Another cool ability of the express is to connect a USB printer to the device, which allows for wireless printing.  Another awesome use for the express is turning ethernet hotel/friends house connections into wifi for you and your more connected buddies.

Apple Airport Express

I have more advanced needs than above but want easy.

What the Airport Express lacks in ports and additional features, the Airport Extreme more than makes up for.  The biggest downside to the extreme is its cost and physical size.  However, if you want to be able to share a hard drive easily, and a printer, and plug in a bunch of computers and also have a guest network, well, the Extreme is for you.

Airport Extreme

I have advanced needs and want to save money.

The following two are routers that I have close relationships with (I own them both).  What the apple options lack in low price, these two make up for.  The biggest down to these two is that they are not nearly as user friendly as the apple options.  However, for the average user, with a little bit of learning and a cup of coffee, they are more than viable options.

Linksys WRTG54

D-Link DIR-615

The Settings.

To encrypt or not to encrypt.  This is actually becoming a tougher question, and I have a solution for you.  The original school of thought was whether or not you wanted to share your network with friends who were visiting or neighbors, yeah, who doesn’t?  Well, let me pose a hypothetical to you.  What if your neighbor gets caught downloading some form of illegal content on your connection, who is liable?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to find out.  What if you are paying for a 10mb/sec connection so you and your kids can have really fast internet, and then people start parking their car in front of your house, so they can have free internet?  Oh, and by the way did I mention that they are massively downloading and now your speed has dropped.

The above makes a clear argument for strongly password protecting your network doesn’t it?  Unfortunately nothing in life is black and white.

How about when a friend, or your kids friends come over and want to play PSP, DSi, Wii, or use an ipod/iPhone without using their data connection?  You would need to give them the coveted password.

So are you ready for compromise?

Make the password something reasonable, that you use for NOTHING ELSE.  Then take a sticky note, and write the password on it, and put it in a place that guests can get to, like the refrigerator.  Essentially your are granting permission from those who are allowed into your house.

As usual, if you have more questions/scenarios, hit the comments or the contact button above.

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