Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stuff I Should Know

This is more for home/small office folks who don't have separate IT staff. It's something I should have recognized much earlier in the game, but just didn't.

I've got quite a large network at home that required 8-10 CAT 5 cable connections and three wireless. Today, there are some wireless routers that incorporate 8 (possibly more) ports for wired connections, but I don't have one of those. I have the standard wireless router with 4 wired connection ports and had to supplement that with a second networking device (either another router or a switch--it doesn't matter, I've used both).

Now, being the idiot that I am, I just plugged everything up, did some elementary poking around the cute web pages to set the admin passwords to something private and set up WEP for security on the wireless. Then I thought I was done.

Silly me.

I forgot to look at the DHCP settings--you know, the service that hands out the IP addresses to the devices on your network so everything can talk to everything else. Actually, I did look at the DHCP and it looked good to me and I didn't think another thing of it.

All the devices got IP addresses. Everything could get to the Internet. I figured, well, good. Done.

Except, some devices could get to the wireless printer and others couldn't. My husband bugged the heck out of me, asking why he couldn't print. Some computers would show up in the HomeGroup and others wouldn't. If I shifted around the connections and wired up some of the computers to use the ports on the wireless router, they could use the wireless printer, but other devices on the network using the other switch (or router--my switch just burned up and I had to replace it temporarily with another router until my new switch arrives) couldn't print.

It was very aggravating, especially since I knew "the workaround" was to plug everything that needed access to the wireless devices to the ports on the wireless router. That should have clued me in sooner to the problem.

I looked again at DHCP, first on the switch and then on the wireless router.
The switch was using 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.0.254 with a mask of 255.255.255.0
The wireless router was using 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.254 with a mask of 255.255.0.0.

So the devices getting IP addresses in the 192.168.0.0 network were essentially under the impression that devices in the 192.168.1.0 were in a different network. An unroutable network.

I changed the switch's IP to 192.168.1.x and corrected the mask, and then I split up the IPs to give DHCP on the switch the lower range to hand out while the wireless router got to keep the upper range of IP addresses to hand out so there would be no IP address conflicts.

Now, we can all print and we all show up in the HomeGroup network.
This is...like...networking 101 but it shows how easy it is to overlook the basics.

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