It wasn't long ago that building a home network was something which was only done by IT professionals and serious geeks. The cost and difficulty made it hard for anyone else to do. But things have changed since then.

Now, the costs of the equipment are far lower. Wireless gear is about the same price as is cabled network equipment; and a length of Cat 5 Ethernet cable costs no more than does an audio cable. Routers were once hundreds of dollars but can now be had for very little money indeed. At the same time, speeds have increased.

Both wireless and cabled networks have gotten better. Wireless was once only something done as an experiment; almost anything could knock out your network and the distance of these networks was quite limited. These networks can now easily provide networking for a three story home (as well as for your neighbors if it isn't secured).

The best part is that it's not only the cost which has come down; it's also easier than ever to set up. The equipment now available has better documentation which makes it easy even for the less than technically skilled to set up a home network. The configuration is far easier and tools to troubleshoot problems are also simpler than they once were.

Your average person also knows a lot more about computers than they did even a few years ago. Everybody uses email now and is aware of a few networking terms (HTTP, ping, etc.). Routers and IP addresses are no longer the sole dominion of nerds.

People are also much more aware of security issues than once was the case. Thousands of pages have been written about fraud and identity theft due to poor computer security, making people better informed about the issue. While they may not follow every security procedure recommended by experts, they are at least aware of the risks. Most of us have had a computer virus by now, so we all know why it's important to protect our computers and home networks.

The biggest problem for many people is simply familiarizing themselves with the technical terms involved in networking; NICs, protocols and so on. Once that barrier is overcome, it's pretty easy to do the rest. Internet connection sharing, once a difficult task is a simple matter today - there is a little research, maybe a little troubleshooting and you're good to go.

So if you're interested in building a home network, then get going and start connecting all of those computers in your home together. You'll easily be able to set up file and print sharing. You won't need to pass files in your household via email and CDs. You'll have better security and you'll be able to do all the stuff which only the pros could do a few years ago; that's the best part of all.

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