How to Set Up an Ethernet LAN

A local area network (LAN) is an excellent way for a group of computers in a home or office to share resources and a common Internet connection. With the high speed of Ethernet technology and modern plug-and-play (pnp) networking, setting up an Ethernet LAN can be a quick and simple task.

Things You’ll Need

Computer(s) with network adapter
Ethernet router, hub or switch
Ethernet cables (at least one for each computer)
Basic computer knowledge

Set up the router, hub or switch. Most modern networking components are configured to work right out of the box. Find a location that is central to your computers and plug the network device into an electrical outlet. If the device will allow your computers to access the Internet, connect an Ethernet cable between the network device’s “Uplink” or “Modem” port and your broadband modem.

Locate the Ethernet port on your computers. Find the Ethernet port on your computer; most modern computers have built-in Ethernet adapters with the port located on the back or side of the machine.

Connect an Ethernet cable between your computer and the network device. Each end of an Ethernet cable has a plastic modular plug (known to technophiles as an RJ-45 plug). Align the plug on one end of the cable with your computer’s Ethernet port and push it firmly but gently until it snaps into place. Locate an open Ethernet port on the network device and repeat this process to complete the connection between your computer and network device. Repeat this process for each computer on your network.

Turn on your computers and allow them to fully boot up. If they were already on, acknowledge any networking messages that may have appeared on the screen.

Complete the network setup on your computer. Most modern computers use plug-and-play technology to automatically configure a network connection when an Ethernet connection is present. On a computer running Microsoft Windows, right click on the “My Network” desktop icon, select the TCP/IP adapter, click on “Properties,” select “IP Address,” click on “Obtain an IP address automatically” and click “OK.”

If you are using an Apple Macintosh computer, click the Apple logo, select “System Preferences,” click on “Network,” select the “Ethernet adapter” in the list on the left, click “Advanced” then “TCP/IP” and select “Using DHCP” from the drop list. After performing these steps on your respective computer, the machine should be connected to the LAN via Ethernet; repeat this process for each computer on the network to complete the LAN setup.

Tips & Warnings

Once your computer is on the Ethernet LAN, you can map other computer hard drives as network drives, share information or resources, and send messages to other users on the network.

If your computer does not have a built-in Ethernet port, external Ethernet adapters are available at your local electronics retailer.

If your Ethernet LAN is connected to the Internet, be certain to use a router as your network device; most modern routers use built-in firewall software to add security to your network.

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