DIY Home Networking: 5 Tips for Success

network cables connected to switch

Setting up a wired home network is not terribly difficult, and the payoffs are many. A home network will let you share data and files across computers, control what the kids are doing online, manage automated devices from afar, and more. Making your own networking cable can save you money over the overpriced network cables that you could buy at the store. You won’t have to grapple with pre-made cables that are slightly too long or too short. The biggest perk of DIY home networking is the fun and sense of pride you’ll get out of doing the job yourself. Here are our 5 tips for success.

1. Think Through Your Home Networking Design First.

Decide what you want to accomplish with your home network. Do you work at home often, and have a corporate network with VPN (virtual private network) technology? If so, you’ll need a good router that can handle VPN passthrough. Do you watch a lot of TV through the internet on Hulu or similar services? If you’re doing heavy data sharing or streaming of video, you’ll want the reliability of a wired network. Actually, we’d recommend a wired network for every user, period, because it offers maximum performance, speed and reliability. Wi-Fi may be convenient, but a Wi-Fi signal is slower and less reliable in transmitting data than wired network cables.

Many folks use a combination of wired and wireless networking, called a mixed-mode network. Take a tally of the devices you have, and consider their locations across the house. Where your devices in relation to the router? Where will you need to run wires? Walk around the house, draw a map, and add in all the devices. It takes a little time, but it’s a worthwhile step.

2. Preparation is Key.

Get your tools ready. To wire the network, you’ll need a power drill, pliers, scissors, a crimper tool, crimper connectors, modular plugs, and a big box of cat5e or cat6 cable. Clear out any closets, cabinets, and sections of the basement where you need to drill and run cable. Warn your spouse, family, or roommates about the project, and remind them how enjoyable the house will become with a nice, strong home network.

3. With Wired Home Networking, Practice Makes Better

Wiring your home network can be fun, but don’t expect perfection at first. You’ll need to be patient and do some fancy finger work. Give yourself time to get it right. To make an ethernet end, first, use the crimper to remove the sheath of the cable and take it down about an inch. Untwist the eight wires and straighten them out with your fingers. Put them into the correct sequence, then string the wires through the guide. Use pliers to pull the wires through, then push the guide down and trim off the wire ends. Snap the guide into the jack (called a registered jack 45, or RJ-45). Use the crimper again to secure it. Don’t get frustrated if your fingers aren’t nimble enough or you mess up the first time. DIY home networking can take practice.

4. Secure Your Cables

Once you’ve wired your home the way you want, take the time to lock down the cables. Attach them securely to the wall or beams, and make sure they aren’t touching any potentially hot pipes. If you’re putting cables in the wall, check that the cable you use is rated for in-wall use. Otherwise it might not be able to handle heat fluctuations in the house.

5. Have Fun With It

Once you’ve done the hard physical work of setting up the networking infrastructure, and you’ve configured your router to work with the other devices, have some fun. Embrace your inner nerd and come up with a naming scheme for your devices that is scalable, unique and easy to remember. Names from Greek mythology? Game of Thrones? Favorite pizza toppings? Naming devices in your network is not only fun, but practical. It’s much easier to troubleshoot a device named “Homer” than “unknown” (but don’t forget to yell “D’oh!”).

By the way, if DIY home networking becomes decidedly un-fun, call Security Five. Our team of experts will help you install your network so you get a strong signal and powerful performance in every corner of your home. Contact Security Five at 610-310-5584 today for a free consultation.