- file sharing - Network file sharing between computers gives you more flexibity than using floppy drives or Zip drives. Not only can you share photos, music files, and documents, you can also use a home network to save copies of all of your important data on a different computer. Backups are one of the most critical yet overlooked tasks in home networking.
- printer / peripheral sharing - Once a home network is in place, it's easy to then set up all of the computers to share a single printer. No longer will you need to bounce from one system or another just to print out an email message. Other computer peripherals can be shared similarly such as network scanners, Web cams, and CD burners.
- Internet connection sharing - Using a home network, multiple family members can access the Internet simultaneously without having to pay an ISP for multiple accounts. You will notice the Internet connection slows down when several people share it, but broadband Internet can handle the extra load with little trouble. Sharing dial-up Internet connections works, too. Painfully slow sometimes, you will still appreciate having shared dial-up on those occasions you really need it.
- multi-player games - Many popular home computer games support LAN mode where friends and family can play together, if they have their computers networked.
- Internet telephone service - So-called Voice over IP (VoIP) services allow you to make and receive phone calls through your home network across the Internet, saving you money.
- home entertainment - Newer home entertainment products such as digital video recorders (DVRs) and video game consoles now support either wired or wireless home networking. Having these products integrated into your network enables online Internet gaming, video sharing and other advanced features.
Although you can realize these same benefits with a wired home network, you should carefully consider building a wireless home network instead, for the following reasons:
1. Computer mobility. Notebook computers and other portable devices are much affordable than they were a few years ago. With a mobile computer and wireless home network, you aren't chained to a network cord and can work on the couch, on your porch, or wherever in the house is most convenient at the moment.
2. No unsightly wires. Businesses can afford to lay cable under their floors or inside walls. But most of us don't have the time or inclination to fuss with this in our home. Unless you own one of the few newer homes pre-wired with network cable, you'll save substantial time and energy avoiding the cabling mess and going wireless.
3. Wireless is the future. Wireless technology is clearly the future of networking. In building a wireless home network, you'll learn about the technology and be able to teach your friends and relatives. You'll also be better prepared for future advances in network technology coming in the future.