Some Basic LAN Questions

I have a router in my bedroom with 4 ports.  I want to run LAN cables to every room in the house.  There is only 1 free port to branch out to the rest of the house.  What's the best way to do this?  Should I run one cable to the nearest room and add a LAN hub, then branch out from there?  My limited understanding of the mechanics of Ethernet communication makes me think that should work.  Alternatively,  I have another router that's set up as a switch with free ports that's halfway to the other rooms.  Should I use it as a LAN hub instead?  Would that work?  Anything I should watch our for in this setup?  The distance to cover to the farthest machine is about 25 meters from the DHCP router or 10 from the switch.

Mike
shachoAsked:
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tigermattCommented:

The way you wire a network is ultimately determined by the distances you need to run, the topology of where the cables need to run to, how many cables you need to pull to each room, how many rooms you are attempting to cover and so on.

In your case, you have no problem with cable length, considering the maximum distance is only be 25 metres. However, without knowing your physical house layout, any obstacles, how you are planning to run the cables (such as dropping cables from above or some other method), it would be impossible to make a completely valid recommendation as to how to proceed.

You should always considering using a patch panel at the switch/router end to terminate your cables. You can pick them up reasonably cheap from most large electrical or computer retailers. This eliminates the hassle of having to put connectors on the end of cables and keeps all your cables neat and tidy. At the other end, the cable can be wired into an RJ45 socket; again, relatively cheap to pick-up (with a back box) from most electrical stores.

You should also consider for expansion -- will you need to add more cables to different rooms in the future? If so, you may need to strategically locate network switches around the building. Try to place them in suitable places to cover one area of your house, and ensure you always have a route back to your core switch (probably the switch in your modem/router). It is generally deemed bad practice to 'daisy chain' switches from each other, because in high traffic deployments it can overload the backbone; for proper network design, you should run a cable from every switch back to a central, core switch.

If possible, always use a network switch rather than a hub. This reduces the amount of broadcasting which needs to take place on your network, making it much more efficient. The cost difference between a hub and a switch is minimal, if any.

So, all that said, you really have two choices. Place a switch (or multiple switches) in different locations of your building, running cables close to those switches back to those points. You can then run one backbone from each switch to your main switch (in your router). Alternatively, run every connection back to your central switch. The latter may or may not be feasible -- it really depends on the layout of your building(s).

-Matt
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teamleaderCommented:
THERE ARE TWO SOLUTIONS:
FIRST; WIRELESS ROUTERS, SO YOU CAN HAVE LAN ANYWHERE AND SECOND THE WAY YOU SAID WITH HUBS AND CABLES, BUT YOU WILL HAVE PROBLEMS WITH TRAFFIC BECAUSE OF  THE DISTANCES BETWEEN P/C'S.  
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joelvpCommented:
Distance for ethernet is not an issue in your setup. It can reach up to 100 mtrs.
There is also no problem in using you second router as a switch as long as you connect all cables to the LAN side. You cannot use the WAN side then for that one.
So: No problems in your suggested setup. If it is possible to use cables, I would always prefer cables over wireless due to inherent stability.
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tbeersCommented:
Wireless would be most convenient, but then you have to buy adapter cards for each PC.

If you set up the other router as a "hub", it would actually be a switch.

Disable DHCP on the second router and assign it a static IP.
Then, connect the other router using the LAN ports.
This should give you three more without any additional cost.
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n7oknCommented:
I need to chime in. If your 2nd wireless router is a Linksys wireless router, you may have troubles using it as a switch. All other brands are OK. In a Linksys, for some reason, if the WAN port is not active, traffic doesn't flow between nodes. I noticed this on some but not all Linksys WRT54G units. Also in a house, it really depends how professional you are. If your're a perfectionist, you can go the way of the rack, patch panel and rack mounted switch *eyes rolling* but since you're thinking of saving $30 and using a consumer based router as a switch, it will work splendedly, and Ethernet wiring really is quite forgiving. I was really cheap and used all cat 3 wiring because I was too cheap to buy a roll of cat 6 wire, then I just crimped on RJ45 ends and didn't use any jacks... Hey for home use, it's just fine. But don't do what I did, look to the future and do it right. You will be glad you did.  I'm just saying what will work, but it doesnt mean it's right.
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shachoAuthor Commented:
Thanks all for your input.  I have wireless now, and I'm trying to improve on it as I'm using a lot of high bandwith applications like video conferencing, so wired is what I'm going for.  I should have mentioned that this is a home network with max 6 connected nodes at any given time.  And an apartment at that, so expansion is not really a consideration.  So it seems the smart thing to do would be to daisy chain from the router to the switch, and on to the farthest machine.  A direct line would probably be better, as suggested, but my guess is it won't make an appreciable difference at this scale.  

>You should always considering using a patch panel at the switch/router end to terminate your cables.
I am not well versed in how Ethernet over twisted pair works, but I think your basic consumer router/switch will automatically terminate unused channels, no?  Sorry if that's stupid question.

Mike

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tigermattCommented:

At your sort of scale, and considering the number of users is not considerably high, daisy chaining via a switch should not be a problem. This does seem as though it would be the most effective route to take for a small, limited, no expansion network.

-Matt
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shachoAuthor Commented:
Roger that.  Set it up last night and tested - works great.  Regarding termination...

>You should always considering using a patch panel at the switch/router end to terminate your cables.
I am not well versed in how Ethernet over twisted pair works, but I think your basic consumer router/switch will automatically terminate unused channels, no?  Sorry if that's stupid question.

Any thoughts?

Mike
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aleghartCommented:
Termination...physical endpoint of the cable.  Infrastructure is normally run with solid copper cable.  Patch panels terminate all home-run cables in a single location, and provide an RJ-45 receptacle ("jack") for patching to your network equipment.

At the other end, each cable is terminated in a keystone RJ-45 jack, then snapped into a box or trim plate.

Patch cables are made with stranded copper, which is more flexible, but not as resistant to damage.

Some people will run really long patch cables from computer to switch and call it a day.  For long-term/permanent installations, or installations in walls, etc. this is a bad idea.  Damage to the wire at any point, including the plug ends, means you have to replace the cable.

If you had the required tools and skills to fix a damaged patch cable...you can wire it up right.

If it's your own house, and you don't care...no worries.

I'm doing my own wiring with new solid copper Cat5e for network and phone.  Coax for TV.  Cut clean holes in walls with a low-voltage box (acutally an orange ring), then keystone jacks and plates.  Everything lines up with electrical outlets and looks clean.

The all home-run to a patch panel for the Cat5e, and coax goes to a central splitter in the same closet.

Sounds like a lot of work, but sure looks cleaner, and it will last as long as the house.


Best bet is to keep the router and an 8-port gigabit switch next to each other.  Use a short 1-meter patch cable to link the router and switch.  All network equipment plugs into gigabit switch.

That way, peer-to-peer connections in the house are at the fastest speed possible.  Not running to the 10/100 ports of the router.
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shachoAuthor Commented:
aleghart - that was very helpful.  Thanks for the comment.

Cheers,

Mike

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