How to configure a home network?

Elvis Elvis

A lot of people have a small network at home because the have several computers at home. For example one private computer, one computer for the children to play games and to surf over the internet and one laptop for work.

Of course you want that every computer has access to the internet and that they can communicate with each other.

To create a network at home with a internet connection on every computer at the same time you need the following:

  • A few computers
  • A router with or without a switch.
  • An internet connection.

The figure bellows shows how to setup a network using a router.

You have an internet connection which comes in to your house and this you connect it to the router. From your router you connect your computers to it. Every computer needs a network card and you need a network cable to connect the computer to your router. The router takes care of that the right data arrives at the right computer.

Another thing (most) routers do is to function as a DHCP server. A DHCP server is a server which will hand out IP-addresses to computers, printers, etc. automatically so that every computer can communicate with each other over the TCP/IP protocol and so that every computer has connection to the internet.
Below some important features of configuring a network will be explained and what you can setup for example.

More useful information

Computer name
Every computer must have a unique name. If not there will be conflicts. For example if you want to copy a file to another computer and you type the name of the computer where you want to copy it to the router doesn’t know which one of the computers the file must be copied to, because they have the same name.
So you must give computers unique names.

How to configure a home network?

How to give computers a name?
When you have installed Windows XP your computer has already a name. If Windows XP must be installed again you must give up a computer name during the setup.

If your computer has a computer name you can change its name. For example if you gave another computer the same name for accident.

To change the name of your computer you click right mouse button on ‘My Computer’ and click ‘Properties’. In the screen which is shown you click the ‘Computer Name’ tab.
The next screen is shown.

In this screen you can change the name of the computer by clicking ‘Change’.
A screen is shown where you can type the new name of the it. After you have changed the name and you have clicked the ‘Apply’ button, you must restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
After the computer is restarted it has the new name and the conflict is solved.

Just like the name, every computer must have a unique IP-address. If not there will be conflicts as well. This works the same as the computer name.
To assign an IP-address to a computer there are a few ways to do that.

  • Assign an IP-address automatically by DHCP.
  • Assign an IP-address manually.
  • Assign an IP-address by DHCP but make it static.


In most networks, IP-address are assigned by DHCP. The router is mostly also a DHCP server which will provide the computers of an IP-address.
If you have a DHCP server in your network you must disable this function in the router otherwise there are two DHCP servers which are willing to assign IP-addresses.
Assigning IP-addresses by DHCP is the most common way and this is recommended.

If a DHCP server or router assigns you IP-address you must set the properties of your connection on your computer to ‘Obtain an IP-address automatically’.You can make this setting in the properties of your network connection.

Click Start -> Control Panel -> Network Connections -> right click on your Local Area Network or Wireless Network Connection -> Properties.
The next screen is shown.

Here you scroll down and select ‘Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)’ and click ‘Properties’.
The next screen is shown.

In this screen you see that default the settings are set as shown above. If this is set the DHCP server or router can assign an IP-address to your computer.

How to configure a home network?

IP Manually

If you don’t want that your DHCP server or router assigns an IP-address to your computer and you want to set it manually, you can do this in the screen above.

You simply click the radio button ‘Use the following IP address’. Now you can enter the IP-address you want to assign. The same for the ‘Subnet mask’ and the ‘Default gateway’.
This is normally not used because you have to give the other computers an IP-address in the same range or you have to give the manually configured computer an IP-address that is in the same range as the IP-addresses of other computers which are assigned by DHCP.

By DHCP but static

You can assign also IP-addresses to your computers using your router or DHCP server to assign these IP-addresses by DHCP but you can make this IP-address static. Static means that the router or DHCP server assigns always the same IP-address to the particular computer. This is often used for a FTP server or Remote Desktop Connection to a server or to network printers for example.
If you want to use this option you have to set some settings in your router or DHCP server and you must set the IP-address properties of your computer as in the following screen.

Most routers have a function in it to set static IP-addresses to the MAC-address of a particular computer. So you have to enter the MAC-address of your computer into the router to give that computer a static IP-address.

How to set these settings I recommend you surf to the site of your routers manufacturer to download a manual.