Computers cannot express their full power if they are not connected to a network or cannot talk to each other. A network is actually two or more computers connected using some type of network cable. Computers can share files, access common disk drives, and share printers.

If you decide to buy a computer and put it on a network, you must ensure that it comes with the proper network hardware. For many computers, such as any of the Apple Macintosh line, the networking hardware is included. This is also true of many PCs, though for some computers you still have to request the hardware extra. In a normal situation each computer comes already with a NIC card but if users want to connect them to a network it is always advisable to have two network interface cards: one for the WAN Internet and one for the LAN.

The NIC should be 100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet compatible. It has a standard RJ-45 connector, plus perhaps a few blinking lights, just to add some excitement to the PC’s Input Output device.

Ask anyone who has ever installed a network card: Have the dealer set it up when you buy the computer. To connect the computers, you need two things: a router or a switch, and a network cable. You plug the network cable into the RJ-45 hole on the back of the PC. The other end of the cable plugs into the hub or switch. Then you repeat this process for each computer you want to put on the network.

In addition, computers can talk to each other even if they have different operating systems. A switch or a router can do the job of sharing resources between computers. On the other hand two computers can be connected together without a router or a switch, but to do that the wire needed is a crossover cable that is manufactured for the specific use of transferring data between machines that do not use a switch.

From a security standpoint, even if it is a simple home network, all the network users should have limited permissions on sharing other resources. As a matter of fact, if one of the computer gets infected, the virus can spread throughout the network if the infected user has a full access to the file system of the other computers. Given that the file permissions encompass the three categories of read write and execute, a good way to protect a home network could be to make, for example, some files and folders only readable and not writable. Therefore, if mom wants to control the computer of her kids, she should have full access to all of them but kids should not be allowed to tap into mom’s machine.