To effectively use your computers as tools in your ministry, collaboration and sharing information such as documents or databases is essential. By networking your computers, you reduce workflow time and you increase efficiency. Having a local network is very common today and is not as daunting, once you are familiar with a few terms:

Internal Networking

To provide connectivity between all the computers in your church or small office, the computers of the internal network must be connected to each other. To connect home or small office computers together, each computer must have a network adapter or device that connects the computer to the network; this device is commonly installed by default today.

 

Networking Technologies

You also have two types of networking technology, sometimes referred to as the LAN (Local Area Network) media, which enables your computers to send information to each other. The most common networking technologies used for home networking include: Ethernet or Wireless. Many networks can use a combination of wired and wireless.

Ethernet is the most common and most reliable. Being hardwired you get a constant speed and solid connection.

Wireless is more often found in your local internet coffee shop or homes or places where having lots of cables everywhere make little sense. Wireless is an radio signal that can go up or down or even drop from time to time since it is a remote signal. Also the speed can increase and decrease based on that signal strength.

 

Host/Server and Residential Gateways

Most small networks will have a single computer act as a Host or Server connected to a Residential Gateway. Residential gateways are also known as Internet gateways or broadband routers. Switches connect systems together but generally have no internet access, they just make the connections.   Routers/switches create an overlay network that allows more than one computer to share information or connect to the internet, collect emails or share IM (instant messaging) or video online.

 

Network Security

Most systems and routers come with Firewall protection that protect against incoming attempts to access or do harm from the outside world but it’s always important to also install Antivirus or Malware protection software when connected to a network.  Also having User Passwords and the changing of passwords from time to time can be advantageous to protect a network.

 

The Wrap-Up

Local networks can help us all be more effective as we pursue the mission of our ministries. Knowing these few basics can help to put the pieces together.

 

– By John Faught