"Networking" a computer means connecting it to another computer, either in your own home or office, or to the Internet. There are two ways of networking, and it is possible to have a mix of both, so you could enjoy the benefits of both.
A wireless (or wifi) network is the more versatile way of connecting computers in the office or home, particularly if you have a laptop and move from room to room with it.
Your laptop (and some desktops and printers) will have an in-built wireless aerial. To prevent other people accessing your computer and Internet connection, your wireless system will have a secret security key.
To connect to another computer or to the Internet, you will require a wireless router, which is the transmitter.
The router is normally provided by your Internet Service Provider and is located near to the main telephone socket.
(If you have cable TV, your TV box will also be your router and wireless transmitter.)
Wireless Speeds - they are called a, b, g and n. The frequency of most wireless devices is 2.4GHz, but there is a new, faster wireless network on a 5GHz frequency.
N offers speeds up to 300Mbps; G up to 54Mbps; B up to 11Mbps; A is no longer used.
Main advantage of wireless: portable
Main disadvantage of wireless: connection gets slower, the further you are from the transmitter. Walls and electrical interference also reduce the speed of your connection.
A wired network is a fixed cable method of connecting computers in your office or home, and is better if you have a desktop computer.
The speeds offered by a wired solution are far higher than with wireless and they are not subject to interference.
Wired Speeds - they are 10, 100 (Fast Ethernet) and 1000 (Gigabit Ethernet)
Main advantage of wired: faster, stable speeds
Main disadvantage of wired: installing cables neatly in the office or home can be more costly and messy.
Ethernet over Power - this is a system which uses the electrical wiring in your home or office to carry network signals
These plug-in units can provide either a wired or wireless network signal, depending on the make/model.
They can offer data speeds up to 500Mbps, but this depends on the distance between the units and other factors (see below).
These units work best when both ends are connected to the same electrical ring-main circuit.
They should be plugged directly into the wall socket, and not into a trailing extension socket.
They will not work if they are plugged into electrical ring mains which go back to different fuse-boxes (consumer units).