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Need Home Network Configuration Guidance
itpro Apr-29-02 12:04 PM
I've spent a lot of time trying to come up with a good solution for the following home networking challenge. I have read through some books focussed on home networking, searched the net at length, and tried to focus what I have gained, but still am not sure what is the most intelligent route to take. Since finding this site for the first time several hours ago, I have searched various FAQ listings, and Forums, but haven't found anything that really fits what I seek. Since I think solution/s to my network needs are straight-forward to those with more experience in this area, I am turning to this Forum to ask for help.

My situation is the following. I have two computers, both located in the same room (office). One is setup with Windows NT and the other with Windows 2000 Pro. Also in the room are two printers. The HP LaserJet printer is connected to the Windows NT computer, via one of its LPT ports. An ink jet printer is connected to the Windows 2000 computer, via its LPT port. I also have two network accesses coming into the office. The NT computer is connected via a simple Lucent router (provided by the carrier) to an IDSL internet access line. The WIN 2000 computer is connected via a Toshiba PCX1100U cable modem (provided by the cable company carrier) to highspeed cable internet access. I also have USB capability in operation to/from the WIN 2000 computer (this isn't available as part of the NT operating system, so I don't have this capability with the computer loaded with NT ). I also have a Linksys BEFSR41 router with 4-port switch, a Linksys EZXS88W 8-port switch, and CAT5 cables of various lengths.

Now for my basic question. What is the least restrictive and best way to interconnect my two computers, two printers, and two internet accesses so that either computer can print to either printer, and also be connected to either internet network access at any time. I believe I understand how to connect the two computers and two printers together in a LAN, with access through the Linksys BEFSR41 router/switch I already have to one or the other internet network access lines (IDSL OR cable modem). What isn't at all clear is how to set up the option to select (at the computer, without having to patch cables, change Windows settings, etc.) between one or the other network lines at either of the computers. At this point, I don't need to operate from both computers simultaneously into the same internet access; I mainly want to be able to switch either computer between the two internet access lines (with only one at a time operating over a single line).

As some additional information, I have multiple IP addresses available from the IDSL carrier, but don't know whether or not I can get multiple IP addresses from the wideband cable carrier. I am also prepared and ready to add additional router/switch hardware, or do whatever Windows/other programming is necessary to make this work.

I look forward to your help, and appreciate the opportunity provided by the Forum to gain it.

1. RE: Need Home Network Configuration Guidance
lbyard Apr-29-02 01:00 PM
In response to message 0
At the risk of answering a question with a question, why do you need two broadband connections to the Internet when one can be shared and that is quite sufficient for most mortals? Is it not? Larry

2. RE: Need Home Network Configuration Guidance
itpro Apr-29-02 01:44 PM
In response to message 1
I have two connections because the only really wideband connection, the cable modem connection, is all too often out of service and dial up to my house is the pits . The alternate connection is a most 128 kb/s which is better than dial up, for sure, but hardly what I would call wideband. At least it allows me to have decent internet access when the wideband service is out.

3. RE: Need Home Network Configuration Guidance
lbyard Apr-29-02 02:15 PM
In response to message 2
I live in a town in Maine and the cable might go down once a monthÖ. Do I understand that both Internet services have only USB connections to the PCs? Or does the cable MODEM also have an Ethernet interface? Larry

4. RE: Need Home Network Configuration Guidance
itpro Apr-29-02 02:27 PM
In response to message 3
I would say outage of one form or another once or twice a month, on the average, is about right for our wideband cable access, so I can relate there. Both of the internet services are provided via Ethernet interface; the ISDL through at little Lucent router, and the wideband cable via a cable modem. I am using USB connections only to share some peripherals hosted on my WIN 2000 computer.

5. RE: Need Home Network Configuration Guidance
lbyard Apr-30-02 11:56 AM
In response to message 4
You might want to look at Nexland's dual WAN port router at http://www.nexland.com/products/product.cfm?id=4. I have no first-hand experience with Nexland products. Larry

6. RE: Need Home Network Configuration Guidance
itpro Apr-30-02 08:42 PM
In response to message 5
Thanks for the info, Larry. I wasn't aware of this device, but looking at it at your referenced link it looks like it will do the job. I will definitely look into getting one and trying it out.

I will also look into the software "solution" for toggling between multiple internet connections, discussed under Networking FAQa at link: http://duxcw.com/faq/network/netsel.htm, under the title: "How can I set-up a computer with more than one network configuration so it can be conveniently used on multiple networks?"


7. RE: Need Home Network Configuration Guidance
lbyard May-01-02 11:33 AM
In response to message 6
Off the top of my head, I suppose it could be done by disabling the DHCP server in the router; assigning static IP addresses to all of the PCs; implementing host tables; installing a second network adapter in the Windows 2000 computer (or purchasing another router wit a single WAN port); setting-up Internet Connection Sharing on the Windows 2000 computer for one of the Internet connections (and disabling the ICS DHCP server) and using the router for the other; and setting-up multiple gateways on the client PCs; but I do not think it would be practical and would not do it, especially considering that the cable only goes down once a month. Doing it might also slow down access via the cable as the system is going to hunt for routers on both ISP systems. Another alternative would be a dedicated NT/2000 server handling both connections. In that case, the dual port router is probably cheaper and better. I would discontinue the DSL service and save some money, or discontinue the cable and use the funds saved to pay for a faster DSL connection. If you need both services (for higher reliability) for a server or something like that, I would move the server, etc. to a hosting service. Thatís all I have on this subject short of setting-up a network and doing it. Itís just plain too complicated. Larry

8. RE: Need Home Network Configuration Guidance
itpro May-01-02 04:33 PM
In response to message 7
Thanks for the additional thoughts and effort, Larry.

I just now got off the phone with Nexland representatives. I am now on the waiting list (expected shipment around mid-may) for the Pro800turbo Internet Sharing & Firewall router. I am very favorably impressed with the representatives I talked with at Nexland, who provided me with ready answers to all my questions/concerns that I expressed in my first message in this chain (saying that the Pro800turbo will let me accomplish the dual WAN connections and all the other features I desire). They also directed me to links on their site (pointed out by you, above) to download the full user manual, which I will be studying while I await shipment of my router.

I am told that the Pro800turbo Internet Sharing Box (ISB) not only shares two WAN connections, but also provides security behind the WAN interface. This is done without any need to change Windows settings, etc. It also load-balances between wideband WAN connections (a user configurable ratio) which operate simultaneously to feed packets. If one of the WAN feeds fails, the sharing ratio defaults to 100% going over the remaining WAN connection. As an additional backup, the ISB also has a serial analog port for dial-up modem backup, if desired! The ISB router handles all the Windows settings, including IP addressing (whether dynamic or static), with each WAN port set up independently and according to the requirements of the internet provider feeding that WAN port. Computers plug into what is in effect a VPN behind the ISB router, invisible and unreachable (by IP addressing) from the outside.

I will check all of this out when I get the box and hook it up in a network setting I described that I wanted in my first message in this chain. I will then let you know if this all works as advertised.

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