Green Home Computing: the benefits of a home network

When you set up a home network so that your computers can talk to one another and share resources, you have three basic types of networks to choose among. The type you choose depends largely on the type of technology you have (or want). Here are the basic three:

Ethernet: An Ethernet network is a setup in which the various computers are connected by cables. Ethernet is fast, however, so it was the networking standard until wireless muscled its way into the picture.

Wireless: A wireless network is the kind you can access at places like at airport lobbies and an open cafeteria. You take your laptop in with you and open the lid. Instantly, the system searches for a wireless connection; when it finds one, it asks whether you want to connect. A home wireless network works the same way. It’s simple, invisible, and flexible, with no cables to trip over or to keep the cat from chewing through. Wireless networks are very popular because of the sheer freedom they offer.

HomePNA: A HomePNA (HPNA) network is a network that’s created throughout your house, using the phone lines that are already in your walls. This technology works fine and is likely offered by your telephone service provider
With some thoughtful planning, you can put together a home network that makes the best use of the resources you’ve got, cuts down on the resources you use, and makes safeguarding your data easier. If you have more than one computer in the house, a network will help you reduce the resources you’re using by reducing each computer’s power use. Other benefits include;

Peripheral sharing: When your systems are networked, you can easily share the printer; scanner; and even DVD, CD, or hard drive on any system in the house.

Media sharing: Here’s a neat idea. You’ve got a great collection of MP3 files on your main system, and your teenage daughter is having a sleepover in the family room tonight. Instead of burning all the audio tunes to CD and taking the disc downstairs for the kids to play on the family-room computer, you can simply turn on the network and let the girls access the media files on the hard drive of the main system upstairs. They’ll have a great slumber party, complete with tunes. No hassle. Nice.

Backups: You can store all your valuable files in a single location on the network and copy them to an external hard drive or another backup storage device. The difference between a network backup and a single computer backup is that you back up all of the computers to one central location. Using this approach means that you can share a back-up process between all computers, saving both time and money.

The big green bottom line is that you can reduce the number of devices you use by storing files in one central location and using the other systems and peripherals only when you need them. You’ll see a dip in your power consumption, extend the life of the computers and peripherals, and store your important files in one easy-to-find spot. Simplicity is good — and green.

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