The Little Network Book


Guide for the perplexed home sys admin

All the really smart computer people I know back off when it comes to keeping a network up. Maintaining a healthy home office network is no one’s idea of fun. Neither is wiring it up to begin with. Their reluctance means more and more it’s gonna be up to you. And don’t think twice that wireless is going to give you a free pass. It’s just as gnarly. For a bonus challenge, try mixing up Macs and PCs on the same network. Into this mess a new breed of entrepreneurs rushes offering home networking skills. (At a rate of $60/hour, if you’ve got the know-how, you’ve got a steady job.) I’ve hired a few and they were worth it. Yet, after they leave there are a hundred questions and things still need attention, and darn it, why is it always going down? The Little Network Book – the best of a small set of books – is a clue for the clueless. Without dumbing things down, it simply explains what’s going on in those mysterious routers, switches, hubs, and protocols. It’s helped me keep the visits from the experts to a minimum.



Dynamic vs. Static IP Address: With some types of Internet accounts, you won't use the same public IP address every time you connect, because the ISP dynamically assigns address from a pool of reusable addresses. This type of address is called a dynamic IP address. It's fine to use for most small networks. But if you ever decide to serve Web pages or provide other services to the Internet from any of your computers, your ISP will need to assign you a static IP address - one that doesn't change - so Internet users can find your site.


First, you don't need to turn on file sharing on every computer to move files back and forth. If you enable file sharing on your kids' computers (for instance) but not on your home office computer, you'll be able to move files back and forth from your computer, but the kids won't be able to accidentally open your investment portfolio (or other personal data) from their computers.