Archived - Creating a small Ethernet network
Ethernet is a common solution for connecting computers to the Internet and for sharing data between computers. You can use Ethernet to connect dozens of computers in an office, or simply to connect the cable modem in your home to your computer
Ethernet networks vary greatly in design and complexity. You can easily integrate wireless computers, such as those using AirPort or third-party 802.11 cards, with your wired Ethernet network. Read about three simple types of Ethernet network you can create in your home or office below.
Equipment for an Ethernet network
These are the items used to create the Ethernet networks described below.
- Ethernet cable - Each device you want to connect to your Ethernet network requires a standard RJ-45 twisted pair cable, sometimes called a patch cable. Here are some illustrations of an RJ-45 Ethernet connector from two views, and a computer's Ethernet port with the Ethernet icon above it.
If you don't have an Ethernet cable, find out which cables are used by Macintosh computers.
- Ethernet hub - This is an appliance that has several Ethernet ports. You connect each device to the hub with an Ethernet cable to form a network.
- Crossover cable - This is a special type of Ethernet cable used to connect two devices directly without a hub.
- Router - This device directs traffic on your network, and it often looks similar to the hub in the picture above. It's especially important on a home network, because a router is what allows two or more computers to share the same Internet connection.
If you don't need wireless capability, you could get a wired-only router that has a multi-port hub built in.
Three simple networks
1. Hub network
In a simple hub network, just connect each device to a hub with an Ethernet cable as shown above. This network may be used for file sharing or printing, for example. The depicted network is not connected to the Internet.
2. Crossover network - two devices only
In this most simple network, you connect two devices' Ethernet ports with one crossover cable as shown here. This type of network may be used for sharing files, playing network video games, or printing to a printer that has Ethernet, for example.
Tip: If you buy a crossover cable, it's a good idea to label it clearly so you don't confuse it with a standard cable. Depending on which computers you're using, a crossover cable may prevent connection to a network. Some later Macintosh computers can automatically detect and reconfigure pinouts so that a crossover cable is not required and/or may be used interchangeably with a standard cable.
3. Router with shared Internet connection
In this network, your Internet service provider allows you one Internet connection that is shared among computers by a router. In the example shown here, the router is an AirPort base station. An Ethernet cable connects a DSL or cable modem to the base station's WAN port. Another Ethernet cable connects the base station's LAN port to a wired computer. Where the illustration shows one wired computer, you could connect a hub to the LAN port to accommodate many wired computers.
Tip: A router is the best way to connect your network of computers to the Internet. If you do not want to purchase a router but still want to connect to the Internet while using other TCP/IP applications (such as file sharing) on your local network, your computers must be set up in a specific way.
After creating a network, you may wish to set up file sharing, print to a network printer, or connect to a Windows PC. You can read all about how to do this in these informative documents:
- Mac OS X: File Sharing
- Mac OS 8, Mac OS 9: File Sharing
- Mac OS X 10.1: How to Connect to an SMB Volume (Microsoft Windows)
- Mac OS X: Sharing With Non-Apple Operating Systems
- Mac OS 8, Mac OS 9: Sharing Files With Windows-Based Computers
- LaserWriter Printers: TCP/IP Solutions Guide
- LaserWriter 12/640 PS: Network LaserWriter Sharing
To learn more about networks you can design with an AirPort Base Station, see:
- Designing AirPort Networks for Mac OS 9 Document
- Designing AirPort Networks for Mac OS X (v10.1) Document
Important: Wireless Internet access requires an Internet service provider (fees may apply) and AirPort (or AirPort-compatible) wireless Ethernet card and base station. Some Internet service providers are not compatible with AirPort. Read more about AirPort requirements for wireless Internet access.