By Paul Routledge D-Link Country Manager
Like many others, you may have grabbed your laptop in the middle of March and headed home, with the initial plan of three weeks working on the sofa, in the garden or in the upstairs office you never use. As always, the picture in your head doesn’t quite match the reality, and now after an extended period, it might be time to make a few upgrades and create a more workable home office environment. From the smaller problems, like a lack of USB ports to charge both your phone and plug in your wireless mouse, to the 10 year older router that powers your wireless network, if you are going to work from home for a long period, you should consider resolving these issues.
If you work from home infrequently, or your network requirements amount to just checking emails, file downloads/uploads and the occasional video conference meeting, then a basic set up is all you require. Let’s run through the requirements for a basic home office set up.
First things first – establish a plan! What is the end goal? More connectivity, faster speeds, data security and better capacity are all possible, but there are a few things to consider before we dive in
- Your environment – Mansion, house, flat or garden, where you plan to work will have an impact on what equipment you need
- How often will you be working at home Are you at home every day or just 1 day a week
- Bandwidth requirements – Are you hungry for bandwidth? video conference calls or upload/downloading images and videos
- Wired or Wireless – Can you cable up devices or is it mostly going to be wireless connectivity
- Level of security – If you work with personal data or financial details for instance, you will need to consider a higher level of security
USB hub/docking station
Let’s run through the requirements for a basic home office set up. As the streamlining of most modern laptops continues, the added portability often has a negative impact on connectivity, sacrificing Ethernet, HDMI and USB ports. As most offices will have docking stations, this only becomes an issue at home. A USB hub acts like a docking station and enables you to connect all of your devices, charge your phone, and connect multiple monitors.
What is a Hub? A Hub will add extra ports to your laptop, desktop, games console or other devices with a USB port, usually they will be USB-A or USB-C. Hubs can also draw power via the USB connection and their lightweight portability allows them to fit into your pocket. USB hubs are plug and play meaning they can just be plugged into your device and they are ready to go.
The router is the king
When its comes to internet, the router is the king – the gateway to all the rest of your networking solution. So if you are still using the router your ISP provided, you could be limiting your network wireless speeds, security and reliability.
Wireless Speed – Wi-Fi 5 or Wireless AC, is the current standard technology in the market but a router advertised as AC1200 doesn’t mean you’re getting a top speed of 1,200Mbps. This number is a combination of band speeds (2.4 and 5 GHz) For example, an AC1200 router is going to have a 2.4GHz band with a top speed of 300Mbps and a 5GHz band with a top speed of 867Mbps.
Coverage Area – If you have a larger area to cover, a router with more external antenna’s will provide more flexibility, because they can be adjusted to focus broadcast in different directions.
Mu-Mimo (multi user, multi input, multi output) – MU-MIMO allows the router to broadcast to many devices on the network at the same time, as opposed to one at a time, increasing efficiency.
QoS (Quality of Service) – QoS lets you tell your router which devices you would like it to prioritise, so that you can choose which devices have priority such as your work laptop or VoIP handset.
App-Based Management – Apps simplify the task of setting up and making adjustments to your Wi-Fi network, monitoring when devices are connected and helps to easily manage router updates.
Why do you need Wi-Fi 6? Because your smart home is reaching the limits of its potential. Prevailing Wi-Fi standards simply aren’t built to support “noisy” Wi-Fi environments with countless personal devices and smart home gadgets running simultaneously 24/7. Wi-Fi 6 brings next-generation Wi-Fi technology into your home, giving you the quantum leap in capacity, speed, and range you need to handle all your Wi-Fi demands. Perfect for high-performance, highly device-dense smart homes. Its saves on battery life, With Wi-Fi 6, you get up to 4X more device capacity than you do with Wi-Fi 5 AND includes wireless encryption.
Switching – Wired Networks
What considerations do you need to make for a wired network? If its possible within your home, a wired network solution can provide better stability and performance than a wireless one, as wired connections are less prone to radio interference and lose fewer packets of data that need to be retransmitted.
In reality however, it may not be convenient to run cables to every device, so we recommend to use a wired connection when you can, then a wireless connection when you can’t. How many ports do you need? This is where the planning aspect of the network comes in, a normal router will have 4 Lan ports, so an idea of how many extra ports you will need is necessary, just think of all the work or home devices you’ll want to plug in, desktop PC, smart TV, VoIP phone, games console and the switch itself. Switches are most common in 5 or 8 ports versions although many have up to 52 ports!
A switch will either be labelled with Fast Ethernet (10/100mbs) or Gigabit (10/100/1000mbs).
Fast Ethernet can handle speeds up to 100 Mbps, which is probably enough for some people, but those with superfast internet services, will lose the benefits.
10x faster than FE, Gigabit Ethernet can handle the fastest home broadband connections and has the bandwidth to handle high local network demands.
Power over Ethernet (PoE) enables network switches to transmit both power and data through an Ethernet cable at the same time, so your PoE enabled switch can connect to an Access Point, Camera or VoIP phone, when there is no power outlet available