A Guide To Setting Up Your Local Area Network

Key Points:

  • A local area network converges your local servers, software, network devices and connections.
  • It encourages seamless communications, increased output, easy data recovery, privacy and many other benefits.
  • Setting up a local area network might be what you need to elevate your productivity and that of your employees.
  • While the initial cost of building a local area network might be on the high side, due to its expected longevity, it pays for itself over time.


As a freelancer, remote worker or employer, establishing a local area network (LAN) might be the necessary push you need to maximise your earning potential. The efficiency associated with sharing networks and devices via a local area network begets an increase in productivity, which translates to ease and higher earnings. Thus, a local area network could be the factor that influences your competitive advantage over the next company. This is why having one is a necessity.

Setting up a LAN can be tedious, especially if you don't have a guide from experienced internet solution providers like those on BroadbandUK's site. Nevertheless, we are here to show you the reins and everything you need to set up a local area network. This LAN setup guide works for different business environments, be it a home office or an office complex. But, first:

What is a LAN?

A local area network, LAN, is a group of devices within the exact physical location connected to the same network. It is also a data communication network that connects computing resources like routers, servers, printers, phones, workstations, etc., within a small area. In essence, a LAN synchronises the computers and devices connected to a particular network in the exact location together. This location could be as small as a room and as large as a building or block. Thus, a LAN could feature two or three computers in a network. It could also feature hundreds of computers, provided they're in the exact physical location.

A local area network could be P2P-based or client/server based. The former, peer-to-peer, is void of a central server as each computing device connects to the internet through a standard router. On the other hand, the latter (client/server) is the opposite of P2P and has all computing devices connected to a central server and managed by the same server. This type of LAN is configured with ethernet or a wireless signal.

In retrospect, a local area network, regardless of the type, could be wired (Ethernet) or wireless (Router). However, local area networks don't have to be connected to the internet. Some are set up solely for resource and device connectivity.

How to set up a LAN

Setting up a local network can be done in these few steps. Luckily, we're expanding on each step for easy understanding.

  • Step 1: Determine your network needs and requirements
  • Step 2: Determine the type of LAN you prefer
  • Step 3: Make the connection
  • Step 4: Test

Step 1: Determine your network needs and requirements.

You need to determine specific requirements before you set up a LAN. For instance, how many network services and devices do you want to connect to this LAN? Your network services are your router, switch, and modem, while your devices are the computers, laptops, printers, disk drives etc. The number of these items will determine the type of LAN you should go for. Nevertheless, a typical local area network has:

  • A router or network switch or both
  • Modem
  • Ethernet cables (one for every device you want to connect)
  • Computer(s)
  • Printers
  • Other sharing devices

Disclaimer: Each device, server or workstation this LAN connects to will require a unique address. Also, if the number of computers you want to connect exceeds four, you should go with a network switch to extend the number of ports on your router; else, you shouldn't need a switch.

Step 2: Determine the type of LAN you prefer.

Your LAN for home setup depends on the LAN type you prefer. Thus, you'll need to determine this by answering some questions. Do you want a wireless connection or one with wires? The differences between both are evident in their setup, features and benefits, which we'll reveal soon. However, your preference should be influenced by the number of devices you aim to connect. Most businesses use hybrid connections (both wired and wireless). However, since this is a LAN for home connection, you should use a wireless router (Wi-Fi).

Step 3: Make the connection (WLAN)

Once you acquire a wireless router, you can set up your home wireless local area network (WLAN). Remember to consider distance, interference, security and transfer speed when choosing a router. Also, you'll need ethernet cables for this connection. The first step to setting up your home LAN via this route is to connect the router to your modem.

With the router powered on, connect it to the modem with an ethernet cable. You're to insert the cable into the router port labelled WAN/WLAN/Internet and then connect the other end of the cable to the modem.

Connect a computer to the router.

Connect your computer to the router's LAN port using another ethernet cable. Next, using your computer's web browser, configure the router's wireless network. You may need to place the router next to your computer for this step.

Configure the network.

LAN router configurations vary from one ISP to another. Nevertheless, if your router comes with driver software, you'll need to install it on the ethernet cable-connected computer. This is where you'll name the wireless network and choose WPA2 security. If your router didn't come with driver software, open your computer's web browser and enter either of these addresses:

  • 192.168. 0.1 or

The exact router address should be visible in your router's manual or printed on its bottom. Next, you should use the default username, usually 'admin' and the password, either 'admin' or 'password'. Then, select the SSID field and change the router name, Wi-Fi name and password to your preference. Next, click 'Enable' on the primary network to enable the Wi-Fi network, then save your settings and restart the router to apply the settings.

Connect a device to the network.

With your router in a central position where you can get the best signal, scan and connect to the Wi-Fi you just renamed via another computer, laptop, or smart device. Click on the network and key in the password.

If you want to connect other devices like a network printer or scanner to this Wi-Fi network, switch them on and go to the Bluetooth and Printer option on your computer. Here, select 'Printers and Scanners,' then click on 'Add a Printer' and watch your computer scan for the available printers in your location. Once it identifies yours, you can click on it and follow the instructions.

You might have to install the printer's software via the set-up wizard to connect it to your wireless network, else plug the printer's USB cable into your computer and print away. Once this is done, you can create your personal Homegroup, which includes these devices. This will grant all devices and users within your network the ability to share resources.

Your wireless home LAN should be up and running!

Step 3: Make the connection (LAN)

For a wired home LAN, you'll still need a router or switch to act as your network hub, but the configuration is a bit different. Also, a router automatically assigns IP addresses to devices in this network, while a switch only expands the LAN ports. To create an ethernet-based LAN connection, you'll need to:

Set up the router

Plug your router into a power source and ensure it is online and connected to your modem via an ethernet cable and the WAN port. You can connect the switch to the router using another ethernet cable to expand the network. Ethernet ports on your router will be labelled 'LAN.'

Connect your computer to the router.

Using another ethernet cable, run a connection from your computer's ethernet port to the router port. Your computer should automatically connect to the internet if the router is online.

Ethernet settings configuration

Because you're using a router and not only a switch, this router will act as your DHCP server and give IP addresses to all workstations and connected devices. To configure your ethernet settings, go to the start menu on your connected computer and click on 'Network & Internet.' Select 'Ethernet' on your computer, and you should see the name of your network and the 'Connected' tag under it.

Verify connections

You'll have to verify the connectivity and IP addresses for each device connected to the router via an ethernet cable. Once this is verified, turn on your network, file and printer sharing options to be able to share resources across the network. This is where you can create options where specific users can access certain files.

Step 4: Test the network

You will need to test different access points of your network to determine its connectivity. Hence, from printers to computers, workstations to mobile phones, you'll need to ensure they can connect to the internet and access the network's services and resources. You can do this by searching a website you don't typically go to to ensure the site isn't loading from your computer's memory.

Disclaimer: If you've tried everything and are still having trouble setting up your home LAN network at this point, BroadbandProviders will tune you in the right direction. We're here to alleviate your burden by recommending solution providers that will absolve you of this responsibility.

Wired vs Wireless LAN

When choosing which LAN type to set up for your home, you should consider several factors. As previously mentioned, the number of devices affects your decision as more devices will require more IP addresses which a wired LAN can provide. This section will highlight other factors where either LAN type is preferred over the other.


A wired local area network is more secure than a wireless one. This is because a wired LAN is more challenging to hack into as the malicious attacker would have to connect to the router, switch or computer before they can access the network environment. In contrast, a cyber hacker can access a wireless local area network (WLAN) by intercepting its transmission and breaking the encryption.


Wired networks grant users more control than their wireless counterparts. This is because resources within the network cannot easily be accessed unless authorised by the network administrator.


In terms of internet connectivity, a wired LAN offers better performance than WLAN; this is because WLANs have less bandwidth. LAN offers faster connection and data transfer speeds than WLAN. Wired LANs also prevent users from dealing with the troubles of poor signal strengths and are sufficient for many uses.


WLANs are more convenient and easy to set up than their wired counterparts. This is because they use a less or no cables at all. Wireless LANs are also flexible because users can quickly relocate their computing devices anywhere within the Wi-Fi range and still have access as opposed to wired LANs, where the ethernet cable doesn't exceed 100 metres.


Wireless networks are quicker to install, and they come with more diversity in design options. On the other hand, wired networks require hardwiring of all devices within the network. It's also time-consuming but easy to configure.


Although wired networks require more hardware for connections like ethernet cables, hubs and switches, they are less expensive than their wireless counterparts, which require fewer accessories. Also, users that don't want internet connectivity on their wired networks would spend significantly less as they'd eliminate the cost of a broadband router from their expenses.

Uses of LANs

Local area networks, regardless of the type, are used for several purposes like:

Resource sharing

Local area networks connect several computing devices in a particular location. Thus, it allows users to access and easily share resources like databases, software, applications, etc., across computers in the network.

Device sharing

Without a working local area network, each staff in an office would require a printer or scanner, which would be an expensive and impractical way to run an office. A LAN centralises data and allows everyone to use the same devices simultaneously.

Internet sharing

A LAN also prevents each staff from acquiring their Wi-Fi box as it provides internet sharing across all endpoints and devices connected to the network. This also enables members of the network to communicate with each other.

Pros of setting up a LAN

You should set up a local area network because

It increases productivity.

Having all your computing devices connected to one network can only increase your productivity and that of your employees.

It promotes collaboration

LANs can also integrate with IoT devices, thus allowing access to data resources in no time. Thus, it promotes collaboration between teams and allows them to work together faster.

It allows high data transmission rates.

You can seamlessly send loads of data with local area networks without worrying about breaks in transmission.

Easy resource management

Due to the centralised nature of LAN, its connectivity allows for easy management of data and resources from the server.

Cons of setting up a LAN

High initial cost

The initial cost of setting up a local area network is high, even though several factors influence the overall cost. However, it pays for itself in no time.

No privacy

Centralised data means administrators have unlimited access to their user's private and public data, which may be a privacy violation.

Regular maintenance

Local area networks require regular maintenance in software updates, installations, cable changes, etc.

Final Takeaway

Setting up a local area network can significantly benefit your line of work. The ease, convenience, accessibility, and collaboration associated with using a LAN yield increased productivity.

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Is ethernet faster than Wi-Fi?

Yes, ethernet can have a faster transmission speed than Wi-Fi.

Do I need a router for ethernet?

You can make do with a modem, but if you want to connect more than one device to the internet, you'll need a router to expand, as it has more ports.

How often should you reboot your router?

To ensure performance efficiency, you should reboot or restart your router once every one to two months.