Step By Step Configuration for a Home or Small Business Network

Configuring a general small network for home office or small office.  If you are a home business owner, you may need a network in your home office or for your family.  These instructions are general setup instructions and do not cover all possible variations of networks or computers.

Please note that though the figure displayed below has a server and switch, your network may not have these device.  Ignore the devices if not present.  Small business networks often have switches and servers.  Consult the vendor or a computer consulting company for specific instructions about server and switch setup and configuration.

Note: This configuration works for either DSL or Cable Internet providers and accounts for wireless devices

Carefully unpack and verify all devices are present.

    1. Wireless router
    2. Laptop(s) and/or workstations
    3. Power adapters for outlet connections
    4. Surge suppressor/power strip
    5. DVD with network configuration software
    6. Cat 5 or 5e cables with RJ45 connectors (similar to but larger than a phone connection)

Electronic devices are sensitive to damage and electric or magnetic charges.  Handle with care.

An Internet service provider (ISP) is responsible for providing a pre-programmed Cable or DSL modem.  Contact the ISP with questions or concerns about missing or damaged modems.

Choose a name and SSID (or security ID) for this network.  Names are not case-sensitive and may be any length.  SSIDs must be either 8 or 13 characters in length and can contain numbers, letters or special characters like an ‘&’ or ‘$’.  SSIDs are case-sensitive and should be documented and kept in a secure location.

From the outside wall, a cable will lead to the ISP modem.  Multiple modem lights should be blinking.  If not, unplug the device, wait 30 seconds, and plug it back in.  This resets the modem’s connection to the ISP.  If the no lights are seen, contact the ISP for assistance.

Connecting Network Devices

Note: See Figure 1 for example network layout design

Unpack the wireless router.  It is a rectangular box labeled with Wireless Router.  Do not connect the wireless router to the power outlet.

  1. Plug one end of a Cat5 cable into a port marked LAN (or local area network) on the Cable or DSL modem.
  2. Plug the other end of the Cat5 cable in step 1 into the Wireless Router port marked Input.
  3. Plug one end of a Cat5 cable into port 1 on the wireless router.
  4. Plug the other end of the Cat5 cable in step 3 into the network port on the back of the computer.  There is only one network port on most computers and the cable will plug in with a ‘click’..

Figure 1. Typical Small Network DesignThe typical small network design includes wireless workstations connected to a switch and router.


Connecting Power Adapters

Note: Each power adapter is unique to a device and will not connect to a different device.

  1. Plug the surge suppressor/power strip into a working outlet and turn on the power strip.  The power button will light up.
  2. Using the supplied power adapter, plug the wireless router into the power strip.  Many wireless routers have no on/off switch and start automatically.  If no blinking lights are noted on the wireless router after two minutes, unplug, wait 30 seconds, and plug in again.

Configuring and Securing the Network

  1. Insert the DVD supplied with the network setup kit into the DVD player.
  2. The DVD will start automatically.  Follow the prompts and instructions on the screen.  Have the network name and SSID available.
  3. When prompted, type in the network name and SSID.  The SSID is case-sensitive and should be stored in a secure location.
  4. When prompted for a security setting, choose WPA (WiFi Protected Access).  This creates a secure network that prevents unauthorized users from accessing the network.
  5. When prompted, choose to make the network hidden.  This prevents nearby networks from finding your network and provides another layer of security.

Adding Additional Devices

  1. Power up the laptop.
  2. Login using the administrator account or a user account with administrator rights.
  3. Turn on the wireless connection on the top panel by pressing the red button.  The button will turn blue when it is on.
  4. When prompted, enter the SSID (recorded earlier) into the window.  Once entered, the laptop is now connected to the network.
  5. Additional devices (printers, scanners, fax) may be added to the available ports on the router or computers with CAT5 cables or USB cables.
  6. Windows, Mac or Linux operating systems will automatically recognize new devices plugged into the network and load the appropriate software drivers.

By Dion D. Shaw

Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity.


Lynn, Samara. (2010, July 12). How To Set Up A Home Or Small Business Network. Retrieved 3/11/2012 from,3253,l%253D252628%2526a%253D252629%2526po%253D1,00.asp?p=n

Shaw, Dion. (2012, March 12). Setting up a basic network with cable or DSL. University of Wisconsin, Platteville.  Business Communications 5010.  Spring 2012.