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Ethernet refers to a method of networking computers over a LAN or Local Area Network.
Ethernet technology allows local devices to connect and communicate with each other, whether to share files, utilize the same printer, share an Internet connection, game together, or even stream local media. Whether you are connecting to your work’s network or surfing the Net on your home’s broadband connection, chances are you’re utilizing the Ethernet to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to set up an Ethernet connection?
The only thing you really need to set up an Ethernet connection is a couple of computers, an Ethernet cable, and a hub or switch. With the right protocols installed, this configuration will allow you to communicate between the two computers.
Most people, however, will use an Ethernet network to share an Internet connection. To do so, you will need a broadband modem, router, and at least one Ethernet cable. Your broadband modem allows you to connect one device to the Internet, but by using a router, you can share that connection with several devices, either via Ethernet cables or a wireless connection. For more complex tasks, such as sharing central resources or printers, you may also need a server, network storage, and a networkable printer.
Can I set up an Ethernet network without running cables?
The fastest and most reliable way to connect devices over an Ethernet network is by using cables; however, in some situations this can be impractical or even impossible. If you don’t feel like drilling through the walls of your home or office, you should consider setting up a wireless network. Wireless networks don’t have the range of a wired network, and the signal may deteriorate or even be blocked by objects or walls, but the signal can be improved using amplifiers or wireless extenders. While not as secure as a direct cable connection, wireless networks can be encrypted for additional security. Another option is to use powerline adapters, which utilize your existing electrical lines to extend the reach of your LAN.
How fast are Ethernet networks?
The speed of your Ethernet network will vary depending on the hardware you have connected to it. Most routers and switches provide up to 100 Mbps or 1,000 Mbps connections. If you’re simply using your router for Internet access, the 100 Mbps router should work fine, since most broadband connections are under 100 Mbps. If you share media between other computers on your network, or have a higher speed Internet connection, the higher speeds are recommended.
Additionally, the type of wire used in your network will affect its speed. Older Ethernet cable, such as Cat5 cable, is only capable at handling 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps connections. For 1,000 Mbps connections, you need the newer Cat5e or Cat6 cables. The Ethernet port in your computer may also effect the speed with which you can send and receive data over the network. Some routers also provide wireless access, which typically provide lower speeds than a wired connection, but more flexibility. Wireless speeds will vary based on the wireless technology used, your distance from the router, and the type of wireless adapter in your device.