Networks used to be confined to businesses, allowing desktop PCs to access information from a central server. At home, computers tended to be stand-alone. File-sharing usually consisted of emails to oneself and running around with USB sticks.

But in the last few years, we’ve seen a considerable shift towards home networks – especially with the rise of smart devices.

What is a Home Network?

A home network allows you to share information between your PCs and other devices. It also allows the sharing of resources such as printers and additional storage.

Today, networking is commonplace in the home as well as the workplace. Especially as it is becoming easier to set up.

What is a Home Wireless Network?

If you have broadband internet, your service provider will have probably supplied you with a wireless router. This makes it simple to set up a network as a number of PCs and other devices can connect to it via a wireless connection.

These routers have Ethernet connections too, allowing you to physically attach devices using cables. These devices include network attached storage (NAS), printers or scanners. Once connected, you can access them from your other systems.

The router broadcasts a wireless signal that can be picked up in all parts of most homes.

Not all service providers will supply a particularly good quality router. If you are experiencing range or connection issues, you may wish to investigate some of the market-leading routers.

If you have a larger property or particularly thick walls, then you may need to boost your signal using WiFi range extenders

What is a Smart Home Device?

Increasing numbers of devices, from TVs and security cameras to toys and fridges, now have ‘smart’ capabilities. This means that they are able to communicate via the internet. This connection allows them to access services such as TV on demand and social media. Others use the connection so they can be monitored and controlled remotely.

How to Set up a Smart Home Network

When setting up a home network to handle smart devices, you need to consider where they will be located and how they will connect.

Most devices have wireless capability built in. With these devices, you’ll need to take into consideration WiFi signal strength. If your wireless printer sits in a room where WiFi signal is weak then it will struggle to receive jobs.

You can get free software to allow you to test the speed of your network in different parts of the house. If the wireless signal is poor, consider hard wiring via Ethernet or powerline adaptors.

If you need to boost your signal, there are three things you could do.

For devices that need a lot of data from the web (e.g. TVs and game consoles), a hard-wired Ethernet connection will achieve better performance. Ensure your cable is a high-quality one, as these will be able to transfer data signals faster.

With any network, it’s crucial to enable the router’s built-in security settings. Most modern routers have WPA security enabled by default, but on older models, it may need to be switched on. WPA security prevents anyone else from accessing your network and helps to ensure that your data can’t be intercepted.

How to Create a Smart Home

Lightbulbs, thermostats and even kettles that can be controlled remotely via smart capabilities. The options really are endless these days. In creating a smart home, you need to think about how you are going to control everything – and why!

Controlling most devices from a smartphone app is possible. Even when you’re away from home. For example, you are out and about so you can turn lights on to deter burglars. Or you are coming home from a holiday and want to turn the heating on so it’s warm when you get back.

However, when you’re in your house, you might want a more convenient method.

For many people, this means a smart speaker such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home. Once attached to your router, these allow you to control other devices by voice commands. They can also be used to consume media from the internet such as streaming music or radio. Some devices also have a display so that you can display pictures or watch video from sites such as YouTube.

Once you decide how you are going to control your smart devices, it’s clearly important that you make sure any additional devices are compatible with your chosen system.

While a fully connected and interactive home may have once been the stuff of movies, it’s now becoming a reality. Connecting your home is easier (and cheaper) than ever. How are you using this technology? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!