Home Wireless Networking

This is a first time thing for me and I want to set up a wireless network in my home (2 pcs and 1 laptop) and I will be using a DSL connection for the internet and I wanted to know what is the best and cheapest way to accomplish this?
johnsonlr96Asked:
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sunray_2003Commented:
Hi johnsonlr96,

Couple of questions to know how cheap you can do .
Do you want to have wireless for all 3 computers or only the laptop .
Does your laptop has got an inbuilt wireless card or you have to buy one

If you want only the laptop to be wireless then buy a 4 port wireless router from either Linksys, Dlink or Netgear. If you are in the United States good time to buy due to Thanksgiving sales.
Cable connect from the router to both the desktops and Use the wireless for the laptop.

Cost depends on what kind of wireless router you buy whether 802.11 b or 802.11g .. So it all depends on what you need.

SR..
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johnsonlr96Author Commented:
I would have to buy all the parts and I want to be wireless on all 3 and i was looking at 802.11g

thanks
LaDonna
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Bernie SalvaggioIT ManagerCommented:
Well, unfortunately, cheap and wireless don't really go together.  I would highly recommend that you don't just buy the cheapest access point you can find.  I have experience with and highly recommend Linksys products.  If you want 802.11g then I would recommend the Linksys WRT54G.  You plug your DSL modem into that and that's your router and wireless access point.  It also has 4 LAN ports in case you ever decide to cable something.  

Likewise, I also wouldn't recommend buying the cheapest wireless NIC's you can find.  You'll get what you pay for, dropped connections, poor speeds, low signal strength, etc.  Wireless cards with an Orinoco chipset are the best, hands down.  They also tend to be a bit pricey.  You may like to just keep everything with the same vendor, in which case I'd recommend the Linksys WPC54G for the Laptop.  This is a good card in that it also works with 802.11b networks so if you try to connect to a network other than your home network, you're pretty much guarenteed you'll be able to connect.  For the desktops you can use the Linksys WMP54G which, likewise, works with 802.11b networks as well.

Netgear also makes good wireless products.  I'd strongly advise you try to stay away from D-Link products.  I know a lot of people who bought them because they were the cheapest and have had many randome problems.  However, I also know people who use D-Link products with no problem at all.

Whatever you do, once you get your wireless access point, make sure you enable 128bit WEP encryption, change the default SSID, and make sure your AP doesn't broadcast its SSID.  Otherwise anyone will be able to connect to your network in a heartbeat.  Wireless is inherently insecure.  The Linksys instruction manual details quite clearly how to do all of the above.

-Bernie
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johnsonlr96Author Commented:
How do I enable the 128 bit WEP encryption?
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Bernie SalvaggioIT ManagerCommented:
The following are two web sites that'll walk you through setting it up, the second is a bit older I think.  They include pictures and step by step instructions.  I'm assuming of course that you did get the Linksys wireless router.  If you got something else, let me know and we can go from there.  Also, these links are just for setting up the router to use 128bit WEP, you'll still need to set up the computers to connect to it with the SSID and WEP key you set.  The instruction manuals that came with the wireless cards you bought should tell you how to do that.  If not, let me know what cards you bought and I should be able to help you out.

Two additional things, as well as enabling 128bit WEP, be sure to change the default password for the router, and the default SSID.  Make the SSID something non-descript, random.

http://support.earthlink.net/mu/1/psc/img/walkthroughs/hardware/Linksys/befw11s4/9520.psc.html

http://www.whitehats.ca/main/members/Cerberus/secure_linksys_wap/securing_your_linksys_wireless_access_point.pdf

-Bernie
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johnsonlr96Author Commented:
I got the Netgear 54Mbps wireless router and PC card kit WGB511
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Bernie SalvaggioIT ManagerCommented:
This site has a decent page for setting up that AP and wireless card.  Let me know if it's not descriptive enough.

http://www.smashco.com/wep_setup.htm
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