How Should I Set Up My Home Network?

Let’s say you just bought your second computer. Perhaps you purchased a new laptop, tablet, new machine for your spouse, or another machine for yourself. Maybe you want to connect your smartphone via Wi-Fi when you’re at home, to reduce the usage of your mobile data plan. Perhaps you got a smart TV, light switch, video-streaming box, or Echo or Echo-like device.

Whatever the device, you want to connect it to the internet. It would also be nice to share things, like printers or extra disk space, among compatible devices.

You, my friend, need a LAN, or Local Area Network. There are lots of ways to set one up; I’ll review the basic setup for the most common case.

Already have a network, but not sure how to grow it? I’ll look at that, too.

First, let’s look at the two types of networks: wired and wireless.

Read moreHow Should I Set Up My Home Network?

Internet Safety: 7 Steps to Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet

The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE EditionSubscribe to The Ask Leo! Newsletter and get the 88-page Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE Edition digital download as a gift. Based in part on this article, the Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE Edition will help you identify the most important steps you can take to keep your computer and yourself safe as you navigate today’s digital landscape.

Viruses and spyware and worms … oh my!

The very concept of “internet safety” is almost an oxymoron these days.

It seems not a day goes by that we don’t hear some new kind of threat aimed at wreaking havoc across machines connected to the internet.

Here are some things you can (and should) do to stay safe.

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Can Hotel Internet Traffic Be Sniffed?

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My friend’s husband has been getting into her email even though she’s not given him her password. He has confronted his sister about an email and when asked how he got into the email he says that where he works (a large hotel chain), they have a program that searches emails for keywords and brings info up. Could that be true? Can they snoop on hotel internet traffic?

Yes.

Hotel internet security is one of the most overlooked risks travelers face. I’m not just talking wireless – I’m talking any internet connection provided by your hotel.

In fact, I’m actually writing this in a hotel room, and yes, I have taken a few precautions.

Read moreCan Hotel Internet Traffic Be Sniffed?

If I Let My Neighbor Share My WiFi, Can They See My Network Traffic?

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I have a home network with three computers (two desktops connected with ethernet cables to a Linksys router; laptop is wireless). The wireless signal is encrypted and I gave my next-door neighbors my network key so they can wirelessly connect just to check email, do banking, etc. They are not on my home network, but can they still see where I am surfing (such as my bank site with passcodes, etc.)?

Let me, at least, make one important correction to what you’ve described:

If you give someone access to your wireless access point, you have given them access to your home network.

They’re on it.

Now, what they can see depends on a number of things but to be blunt…

I hope you trust them.

Read moreIf I Let My Neighbor Share My WiFi, Can They See My Network Traffic?

How do I get wireless internet?

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We have dial-up at our house and I’m sick of it. I can get on the internet from my iPod at the edge of my property, but I want internet on my desktop IN my house. What do I need to connect up?

I want to use this question to clear up a misconception that appears to be surprisingly common.

Wireless internet is not just “out there” to connect to. You need to take steps, whether it’s setting something up, paying for something, or at a minimum, asking for permission.

It’s definitely not the case that you can just grab a wireless card and suddenly be connected anywhere you want. The wireless capabilities of your computer are only half of what’s needed.

There are several approaches to getting a wireless internet connection.

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How Do I Connect My Desktop to the Nearby Wireless Internet WiFi Hotspot?

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I have a desktop computer that is not hooked up to the internet, nor has been. There is a WiFi hot spot down the street; since it is free I would like to be able to connect to it. What do I need to buy and do to get up and connected to it?

You need two things to connect to that local hotspot. One you can probably buy at any computer store, but the other might be harder to come by.

Let me explain…

Read moreHow Do I Connect My Desktop to the Nearby Wireless Internet WiFi Hotspot?