Home and Small Office Network Setups

A small wired network may consist of an 8 or 5 port network switch which connects all computers together, and one Windows 7 machine running ICS bridging the network and the Internet connection through the ISP cable or dial-up modem as shown below. Internal computers can obtain their IPv4 configuration from the ICS machine while the ICS machine get its configuration from the modem which in turn is configured by the ISP. Some ISPs may provide you with a combined modem and router where you may omit the ICS computer as this role will be provided by the modem/router device.

A small wireless network is primarily made up of a Wireless Access Point (WAP) connected to the ISP cable or dial-up modem. Then all wireless client devices connect to the WAP and can have network and Internet access as shown below. In this case the IPv4 configuration is provided by the WAP device. Now-a-days, most ISPs can provide you with a combined modem and WAP where it can provides both functions, that is, Internet sharing and Wireless functionality. In addition, some devices may provide you with advanced routing and security features.

As most often is the case with small office networks, we find a hybrid where a combination of wired and wireless devices exists. Again, as most ISPs can provide you with a combined modem/router/switch device, it is more feasible to create a hybrid network. Additional network switches can be added so that fixed computers can be wired to the network while portable devices use the wireless. A WAP device is connected to the switch to provide the wireless accessibility to wireless devices and IPv4 configuration to all client devices and computers.


Other network configurations exist where you may have separate devices providing IPv4 configuration such as DHCP and DNS services, and wireless accessibility. Although, having separate services may seem more complicated it may give you some redundancy. For example, if one service fails the others remain active.

When connecting your Windows 7 computer directly to the ISP modem (via USB or Ethernet) to set up Internet access, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Open Network and Sharing Center, click Set up a new connection or network, select Connect to the Internet, and click Next
  2. Then select the method you are using to connect, such as broadband PPPoE and enter the name and password provided by your ISP
  3. Selecting the Allow other people to use this connection, will prompt you for administrator credentials if you are not already logged on as admin
  4. The Change advanced sharing settings option available in Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Network and Sharing Center, allows you to set advanced features such as, Network discovery, File and print sharing, Public folder sharing, Media streaming, encryption and user management options for your current network profile. I suggest that you disable any shares on this specific computer and turn off network discovery and file and printer sharing.