If you decide that HomePNA is best for you, here are the basic steps:
- Buy a kit, making sure you have a HomePNA card or external adapter for each computer in your home.
- Install the hardware (internal card or external adapter).
- Plug the included cable into the hardware and into the phone jack.
- Install the software.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when you set up a HomePNA network. First, most analog communication devices, such as telephones and fax machines, create signal noise. Think of signal noise as debris on a major highway. A little debris probably won't affect traffic, but a lot of it could slow down or even stop traffic in one or more lanes. If you install a HomePNA network and your computers have trouble communicating, try inserting a low-pass filter between any phones or fax machines and their respective jacks. The low-pass filter will block noise without impeding the performance of your fax or phone. You can find these filters at most electronics stores.
Also, electrical fields generated by powered communication devices, such as cordless phones or fax machines, can introduce another type of signal noise. A different type of low-pass filter, inserted between the electrical wall outlet and the power cord for the device, can fix this problem.
The last potential issue is rare but much harder to fix. If you have a very large home, or one that has been renovated several times, you may have too much wiring between computers. All of this wiring will weaken the signal, causing it to fade out and lose strength. The result is that not enough of the signal remains if and when it reaches the other computer for that machine to process it. If this is the case, then you will either have to move the computers closer together or redo the wiring, at which point you may want to consider learning about wireless networking.
Many home computer users will find that connecting computers through their phone lines is a good solution, but there are still two other networking technologies to discuss: power-line and wireless networks. For information on these networking technologies, and to learn more about phone-line networks, check out the links on the next page.