How Much Does It Cost To Install A Home Computer Network?
With more people working from home than ever before, having a home computer network has never been so important. Whether you're running a home-based business or you simply have a busy family with multiple computers, having a computer network makes it easy to link multiple computers, allow multiple computers to connect with a single printer and let users connect to the internet to check email, do research or stream movies.
If you need skilled help, ImproveNet can connect you with local pros for free to get your home computer network up and running efficiently.
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Table of Contents
- Home Computer Network Installation Cost
- What’s Included in A Home Computer Network?
- How to Set Up A Home Computer Network
- Computer Network Security
- Wired vs. Wireless
- DIY or Hire A Pro?
- Find A Pro
Home Computer Network Installation Cost
Homeowners typically spend between $193 and $604 to install a computer network. The average cost is $382, although hiring a professional to help you with the wiring or electricity typically costs extra. Computer support specialists often charge $25 - $30 per hour for their services, while electricians charge $50 - $100 per hour depending on the complexity of the job. In some instances, your Internet provider may offer free installation assistance.
What’s Included in A Home Computer Network?
The components of your computer network have a direct impact on the overall cost of this project. Some examples of the different features included in most home networks are:
- Hardware: This includes all of your computers, printers, monitors, modems and routers. One of the biggest benefits of setting up your network is that you can arrange all the computers to print from the same printer, which saves money and space. Computers cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000+ depending on the model and features of the machine. Printers cost an average of $50 - $200, while monitors average $200 - $500. Modems and routers cost $50 - $250.
- Cables: Unless all of the different parts of your network are wireless, you're going to have at least a few cables and electrical wires. Cable organizers help keep the different wires from getting tangled and cost an average of $20.
- Accessories: Backup devices such as USB drives cost less than $20, while external hard drives are available for around $120. Invest in surge protectors to prevent electrical surges from damaging your equipment. Basic models start at $10.
How to Set Up A Home Computer Network
Setting up your home computer network involves a combination of tasks, some of which you may be able to complete yourself and some of which require skilled installation by a professional. Take a look at the different steps involved in the process below.
- Choose a wireless router: This key piece of equipment lets the computers in your home network connect wirelessly or via wires to access the Internet. Before you buy your router, consider how you use your network. If you have a small network of computers and cell phones that connect to the Internet, a basic router can suffice. If you work at home and need to access a corporate network using a virtual private network (VPN), you need a router that's able to handle that type of connection.
- Call a professional to help with any wiring tasks. For wired networks, you may need to run structured wiring, which includes wiring panels, junction boxes and actual wires. Hiring a licensed electrician ensures that the work is done correctly and according to local building codes.
- Most modern routers come with software that walks you through the process of configuring the router, setting up a new administrator's password and setting up the wireless security. In general, you want to configure your network with the highest level of security available.
- Connect your wired devices to the router using Ethernet cables.
- Set up the Wi-Fi hardware by entering the Wi-Fi password you chose when you configured the router.
- If you use your router for specialized software, such as voice over IP (VoIP), video conferencing or online gaming, you might need to configure the router with features such as virtual servers or port forwarding.
- Test all of the hardware in your computer network and your home theater if necessary to make sure it connects to the router.
Computer Network Security
Even major corporations with dedicated technicians experience security risks, so there's no reason to leave your home network vulnerable. Anti-virus software is a no-brainer, but it's not the only way to keep your network protected. Here are some tips for securing your network:
- Sign up for a free service such as OPSWAT Gears or Secunia's Personal Software Inspector to keep all the devices in your network up to date and regularly monitored with security checks.
- Regularly monitor your network manually. When attackers try to enter your network, they leave traces of their activity. Alternatively, services such as OpenDNS help monitor your network traffic and block communication with suspicious servers.
- Keep the firewall turned on and install an outbound firewall, which can alert you to any malicious applications trying to connect out from your computer network.
Wired vs. Wireless
Increasing numbers of home computer networks are switching to wireless connections. The benefits of this type of network include having fewer wires and cables to worry about and the convenience of being able to easily access your Internet, printer and other devices. It typically costs more to set up, but it saves you in hassle and pays you back with convenience.
If you rely on fast speeds, a wired or hybrid setup in which you wire one computer and connect the rest wirelessly may be a better option. Ethernet cables generally provide the fastest connections.
DIY or Hire A Pro?
If you're setting up a wireless network among a few computers that you and your family use recreationally, you may be able to do this as a DIY job. If you rely on your home network for business, it pays to hire an electrician to make sure everything is set up correctly to maximize your connection speeds and network security. Hire an electrician to help with wiring, consult with computer support personnel for software and other connection questions and let your internet provider help get you up and running with the best possible internet service.
Find A Pro
Invest in the strength of your home computer network by hiring a professional to help set everything up. Head over to our free electrical contractors lead generator to connect with local pros today.
Last updated on Nov 17, 2016
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