Designing a Home Network

I previously wrote about subnetting, and understanding the networking hardware involved is part of designing a good network. I’m going to focus entirely a home network though because there are fewer good options, and both are valid depending on your needs. If you do pursue Network+ certification you’ll want to familiarize yourself with all the architectures that exist just to cover all your bases. For home networks all you’ve really got is a mesh architecture or hybrid architecture.

A mesh architecture is fairly new for homes, and great for multiple rooms. Think of a mesh network architecture as being like a spiderweb where each device bounces its connection off one another. The benefit is that physical architecture such as walls do not impact the signal nearly as much. Wifi waves are radio waves, and radio waves can be weakened when they travel through thick walls. However, since the signal is relayed at each point in a mesh they can work around physical architecture. The downside is that they can be overkill for apartments with few rooms, and much more expensive than a traditional hybrid network.

A traditional hybrid network is a router and modem. Nowadays the devices tend to be combined into a multi-layer device. However, they do operate on different layers even within the same device. A modem receives a signal from the ISP, and either sends it along its bridge or router if they’re built-in. If you choose a router like me then the difference between a modem and router is much more obvious. My modem can handle speeds beyond 1Gbps, but I had to buy a separate wifi router. That is because the router is handling the path finding, and trying to find the most efficient route to my device logically. Physically, it’ll just beam out radio waves and whatever happens, happens.

So that’s how you can decide on how you want to design your home network. If you have multiple floors or rooms you should consider a mesh network. The signal will traverse the floors and walls much more efficiently, but it will be more expensive. On the other hand, if you live in a single room single floor apartment like me a traditional router is fine. Routers work just fine in open areas where they can beam out radio signals at will and hope it works. You can also create your own mesh network using routers if you really want to anyway.

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