If you want to know about Bridges, Switches and Routers, see this page.

For more info on hubs, including a few words about hub speed, dual speed hubs, and network starter kits, go here.

A hub is a common connection point for devices in a network. Hubs are commonly used to connect segments of a LAN. A hub contains multiple ports. When a packet arrives at one port, it is copied to the other ports so that all segments of the LAN can see all packets.

In the newsgroups, you frequently see a question something like “Why can’t I just plug all the computers and the cable modem into a hub?”

Connecting the cable modem to the “uplink” or any other port on your hub won’t work unless your ISP can provide multiple IP addresses to you.   (Read this for more information.)

The reason is that the hub is a repeater, not a router.  In simple terms, a hub just takes the data that comes into a port and sends it out all the other ports in the hub. It doesn’t perform any filtering or redirection of data among different networks.

Since you need to create a separate network for your LAN, you need to filter the IP traffic between the networks and not simply pass everything on each network to the other. The hub doesn’t provide the filtering necessary to keep the networks apart.

There are also messages that advise connecting the uplink port to the cable modem as a way to create two networks. This port is just a convenience provided on some hubs so that you don’t have to use a special kind of cable (called a crossover cable) to connect multiple hubs together or connect some devices to the hub. The uplink doesn’t perform any filtering or routing.  The uplink port is just a specially wired port that has the connections for the receive and transmit channels reversed. This allows connecting hubs together (sometimes called daisy-chaining) to provide more ports, or to connect a hub to some kinds of network devices (like cable or DSL modems).

Go to this page for information on how to expand the number of ports on your router, hub or switch.

How To Hub

One of the main reasons that we’re here is to help you actually build your network. If you’re ready to start installin’ and pluggin’, use our detailed HowTos as thousands of satisfied readers have.

Not ready to dive in yet, but just want to learn more about a particular networking topic or technology?  Try our Backgrounders.  They’ll get you up to speed in a jiffy.

If there’s something you’d like to see that’s not here, just let us know!

What’s New in Internet Explorer 9?
Microsoft has released the latest version of its browser. What’s new? What’s better? What will take some getting used to? Eric Geier has the details. – 9/23/2010

Connect On the Go With Your Own Mobile 3G/4G Hotspot
Your mobile data plan can power your Wi-Fi devices if you have the right gear and a little know-how. Learn how to create a mobile hotspot whereever you go with our quick guide. – 7/16/2010

Set Up Third Party DNS for Faster and More Secure Surfing
With a third party DNS server, you can speed up browsing, protect yourself from malicious sites and make it easier to visit your favorite Web pages. Best of all, it’s usually free. – 3/31/2010

50 Great, Free Windows Mobile Apps
The iPhone has a great catalog of apps, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good choices on other platforms, too. Here’s a list of essential Windows Mobile Apps that won’t cost you a dime. – 2/25/2010

Get Help (or Give It) with Windows 7 Remote Assistance
Windows 7-specific improvements to Remote Assistance make connection quicker and easier. – 2/18/2010

Move Your Old E-Mail to Gmail
If you’ve made the move to to Gmail and wish you could take advantage of Gmail’s features with all your messages, here’s a guide to moving your old e-mail into Gmail for access anywhere. – 2/4/2010

Setting up Parental Controls in Windows 7
With Windows 7’s parental controls, you can set up restrictions on Internet access, gaming and Web sites with a collection of simple tools. – 1/27/10

Welcome to Windows 7 launch day. Before you run down to the store to pick up a copy, here are some things to consider. – 10/22/09

Survive the Upgrade to Windows 7
32-bit or 64? Home, Professional or Ultimate? You’ve got a lot of choices if you’re upgrading to Windows 7, and we’ve got a guide to help you work through them. – 10/8/09

Run Multiple Versions of Internet Explorer
Whether you’re building a Web app and need to see how it will look across several browsers or you’re just curious about how the Web looks through a prehistoric browser, here are several ways to try out everything from IE 1 to IE 8. – 9/16/09

Get Connected to the Internet Quickly with Instant-On Operating Systems
If you often find yourself pressed for time when you need to go online, an instant-on OS can get you connected faster by shaving precious minutes or seconds off your system’s start up process. – 9/10/09

Learn How to Buy a Wireless Router
Interested in buying a wireless router? Intimidated by all the choices? Here’s an easy guide to help you work through your options and buy the right gear for your network. – 8/13/09

Beyond Simple File Sharing: Using Mapped Drives
More advanced sharing techniques are at your fingertips. Learn how to reach out and touch them. – 7/3/08

Beyond Simple File Sharing: Using Hidden Shares
On a network? Have files you don’t want everyone to see? We walk through how to hide whichever ones you want to keep to yourself. – 6/12/08


Summertime, and the Computing Is Easy
Maybe a little too easy for kids. For a quick fix, check out Vista’s built-in Parental Controls.


From Connectivity to Passwords, 10 Must-Haves for Better Browsing
Looking to make browsing the Web more convenient and secure? Here are 10 connectivity-related extensions and handy Web-based services that work with any browser.


Reduce or Eliminate Messy DHCP Address Changes
Tired of your printer disappearing due to DHCP-assigned IP addresses? Don’t want to assign it a static address? Configurable lease times and reservations offer the advantages of DHCP without the pain.


Track Down Elusive Network Printers
A painless step-by-step guide to bringing that ghost printer back to life.

Get Fast, Free Smartphone Phone Internet Access With Wi-Fi
You can save a lot of money and gain a lot of speed if your smartphone supports Wi-Fi networking. Here’s how to set up your Windows Mobile device for WLAN access.

Build a NAS Device With an Old PC and Free Software
Looking for a way to share storage on your network? If you have more time, space and PCs than you do disposable cash, FreeNAS is an excellent — and free — option. We show you how to set it up.

Expand Windows Home Server With Add-ins
An active Microsoft Home Server developer community has produced many useful add-ins. Here are three that we tried and liked. We also offer details on where to download them and what to expect when after you install them.

Wireless Network Configuration Tips for Windows XP
If you have several systems running Windows XP SP2, Windows Connect Now (WCN) provides a way to avoid some of the repetitive, time-consuming and error-prone tasks involved in configuring a wireless network.

Supercharge Your Wireless Broadband Router
The Linksys WRT54G line of wireless broadband routers and its competitors, may be the bargain of the 21st century when combined with DD-WRT — Broadcom-chip-based open source firmware.

Build a Linux-Based WAP with Single Board Computers
If you’re ready for more power, flexibility and security than an off-the-shelf WAP can offer, you can try your hand at this DIY project.

Building Network Appliances With Linux, Part 6: Running Servers
Once your firewall is protecting your Linux appliance, you need to poke a few holes in it to allow visitors access to network services.

Step-by-Step: Creating a Wireless Network – Part 2
Once you’ve got all your gear lined up, it’s time to bring your wireless network to life. Part 2 of our three-part series steps you through what you need to know to configure your network easily and securely.

Step-by-Step: Creating a Wireless Network – Part 1
With the explosion in the popularity of wireless networking comes an avalanche of choices and technologies that can quickly become overwhelming. In part 1 of our three-part series on setting up a Wi-Fi network, we help you assess your needs and pick the right equipment.

Building Network Appliances With Linux, Part 5: Internet-connection Sharing Firewall
In the latest installment of Building Network Appliances With Debian GNU/Linux, we take a quick tour of Webmin and set up an iptables Internet-connection sharing firewall.

Building Network Appliances With Linux, Part 4: Lock Down the Firewall
Last time, we left off after installing Webmin. Now it’s time to configure the two network interfaces, then lock down security.

Building Network Appliances With Linux, Part 3: the Firewall
A Linux-based iptables firewall is especially robust and configurable. In the latest installment of our how-to series on building a Linux appliance, we’ll set up system administration using Webmin.

Build a Linux Network Appliance, Part 2
In our first installment, we described the benefits of Linux-based network appliances. Now the construction begins using Debian GNU/Linux operating system as the foundation of your gateway box.

Build a Linux Network Appliance, Part 1
If you’ have a shared Internet connection and some networked PCs, this is just what you need to secure your LAN with a powerful, flexible device that outperforms comparable commercial devices for a fraction of the cost, or even no cost at all.

Do It Yourself: Roll Your Own Network Cables
This one begs the question: Why assemble your own Ethernet cables? Maybe you need custom lengths of cable. After all, coiling a 25-foot cable when you need only two feet is overkill, not to mention a decorating don’t. You won’t do it everyday, but having the supplies and know-how to whip up a cable on the spot is handy.

Troubleshooting Poor WLAN Performance
Sooner or later, you’ll need to check on performance issues in your Wi-Fi network. Learn how to pinpoint root causes, and what solutions to implement.

Share your Internet Connection

The HowTo that started it all!  Whether you have cable, DSL, satellite, or even dialup connection to the Internet, we’ll show you how to get everyone on line with only one account.

Sharing Files Across the Internet
Have you ever found yourself wanting to share files across the Internet, with friends, family, or business associates, but didn’t have the means to do it? Fortunately, you have several choices.

Set up a Web site
If you’ve been thinking of setting up shop on the web, there’s more than one way to do it. Our HowTo on Web Hosting will give you all the info you need.

Use Microsoft’s Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)
Microsoft’s ICS is usually the first thing people try when they decide to share their Internet connection.  But you may need help, and we’ve got it! — Now with Win2000 Pro instructions!

Set up a Mixed Media Router
Got a network with Ethernet and either phoneline or wireless parts and trying to get it all connected together.  Our MMR HowTo tells you how to put it all together.

Setting up a server
If you have an always-on broadband connection, sooner or later, you’ll probably want to set up some sort of server.  Learn how to do it the right way and keep your LAN safe and your BSP happy!

Turn Your Old 386 into a Storage Server
NASLite is a customized Linux-on-diskette that can turn your old 386 into a Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Unix or OS/2 file server.

Getting applications to work through a firewall
Most Internet sharing methods come with some sort of firewall that’s designed to keep unwanted guests out of your LAN.  But sometimes, you want visitors to be able to penetrate the wall.  Learn how!

Securing your LAN
If you have a constant connection to the Internet, you’re guaranteed to get “doorknob rattlers” checking to see if you’ve left yourself open for mischief…or worse!  Learn how to send them on their way.

Wire your Network
Go here for links to sites that will help you do your own network wiring.

WiFi and the Penguin: Setting Up 802.11b Under Linux
Adding client 802.11b networking to a Linux workstation isn’t the easiest task in the world — but it’s definitely doable for anyone with a little knowledge of how their Linux system works. In this tutorial, Michael Hall explains step-by-step how to set up wireless networking on a Linux workstation.