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Connect Two Home Computers for File Sharing

Methods for networking two computers

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Connecting Two Computers With Cable Through Central Infrastructure

Rather than cable two computers directly, the computers may instead be joined indirectly through a central network fixture. This method requires two network cables, one connecting each computer to the fixture. Several types of fixtures exist for home networking:

Implementing this method often entails additional up-front cost to purchase more cables and network infrastructure. However, it's a general-purpose solution accommodating any reasonable number of devices (e.g, ten or more). You will likely prefer this approach if you intend to expand your network in the future.

Most cabled networks utilize Ethernet technology. Alternatively, USB hubs can be employed, while powerline and phoneline home networks each offer their own unique form of central infrastructure. The traditional Ethernet solutions are generally very reliable and offer high performance.

Connecting Two Computers Wirelessly

In recent years, wireless solutions have enjoyed increasing popularity for home networking. As with cabled solutions, several different wireless technologies exist to support basic two computer networks: Wi-Fi connections can reach a greater distance than the wireless alternatives listed above. Many newer computers, especially laptops, now contain built-in Wi-Fi capability, making it the preferred choice in most situations. Wi-Fi can be used either with or without a network fixture. With two computers, Wi-Fi networking minus a fixture (also called ad-hoc mode) is especially simple to set up.

Bluetooth technology supports reasonably high-speed wireless connections between two computers without the need for a network fixture. Bluetooth is more commonly used when networking a computer with a consumer handheld device like a cell phone. Most desktop and older computers do not possess Bluetooth capability. Bluetooth works best if both devices are in the same room in close proximity to each other. Consider Bluetooth if you have interest in networking with handheld devices and your computers lack Wi-Fi capability.

Infrared networking existed on laptops years before either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technologies became popular. Infrared connections only work between two computers, do not require a fixture, and are reasonably fast. Being very simple to set up and use, consider infrared if your computers support it and you lack the desire to invest effort in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

If you find mention of an alternative wireless technology called HomeRF, you can safely ignore it. HomeRF technology became obsolete several years ago and is not a practical option for home networking.

Next > Wired vs Wireless Home Networking

See also > Gallery of Home Network Diagrams

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