Thursday, January 10, 2013

Home IT Suggestions?

I put up a note in facebook and g+ about how I want my home IT reworked.

I've bought a new router that will help me with getting my wifi (used by family for non-work stuff including ROKU and other streaming video) separated from my work networking (netbook, macbook pro, printer, etc). I probably will have to run some cat5 through external walls to get this done, unless I can come up with some smarter solution. Helpful recommendations are appreciated.

I already have one wifi printer for family use. I want to get a wifi laser printer because ink is expensive. I might even try a color laser, but I don't know how those are with consumables. I know that monochrome laser is dead cheap to run.

I use darned few non-web apps. Almost all my mail, docs, notes, etc are in the cloud via google or EverNote or the like. This is necessary because we use linux, mac, and android devices around here. Everything has to be accessible.

But the fact that this is even possible, or that "home IT" is actually a non-eyebrow-raising phrase is incredibly cool. When I was 8, we never saw this coming. This is Star Trek, Lost In Space, and The Time Tunnel all wrapped up in one reality.

I'm interested in knowing how you would like your home IT to work. 
I'm particularly interested in what you have done as far as NAS and offline storage. We have a lot of digital photos I would hate to lose. I do have some online accounts, so we have some backup of some pix, but we have thousands to sort through to decide which ones we want to keep.


  1. Total wireless. I use Clear for Home for my families internet needs. The only wire runs from the Apple TV into the WiFi router because that was a zero-config setup. My own personal/business network is a dedicated Clear Mobile Hotspot that I plug into my MBP's USB cable with Wi-Fi disabled. This way I don't impact my kid's Thomas the Train episodes or my wife's Korean drama addiction (I kid you not and there're a million episodes on Hulu.)

  2. Tim,

    So, I've been pretty pleased with my home network in the past (working exclusively out of my home office between 2007 to 2012 with only 6 months out of it during that time) and feel I can give some pretty solid advice.

    First thing- get your house professionally wired for networking. Don't be half-assed about this. I actually went with a former coworker of ours (Michael Schultheiss) who had a side-business doing this. For this, you'll want to pick a central location in your house for your main hub into your house. I'd go with something both central to the house and with easy access for any ISP workers who may come out in the future to set up or diagnose ISP-related problems. Personally, I went with a closet central to the house by our front door. This closet has the ports that then fan out via wires to the rest of the home.

    Next, you'll want a minimum of one good router. Traditionally, I went with Linksys (I had a WRT54G that lasted me 7+ years), however the Linksys brand is now dead and they're all just Ciscos. My current one is a Cisco WRV210 which has VPN and a bunch of great small business features. The problem is, it's unreliable as hell and is constantly crashing. Thus, I'd suggest shopping around and being careful with which you want to get.

    This router will be your main interface to the outside world. Get a good one that can define your private network (possibly even doing DHCP<->DNS lookups so your private network can be resolvable for systems on it).

    Chances are, your router will not have enough ports for your house, so you'll next probably need a switch or two. Honestly, switches are pretty simplistic and you shouldn't expect to pay too much for one of these.

    Finally, if your house is decent sized you will probably want a few wifi booster or two. *Or*, if you want to subdivide your network a bit, possibly a second router (personally, I went with a second router with wifi as I could then isolate my guest and entertainment network from my home "work" network).

    One last thing- dynamic dns. It's *terribly* helpful to be able to connect to your home network from the road. Personally, I have my SSH (and a few others) ports forwarded to a single home-network gateway in my home (which is just an older system running Debian) so I can remotely connect. For your actual dynamic dns'ing, there's places like DynDNS, but I personally have never liked them. I go with these guys , and have been absolutely thrilled with them. They are free, but throw them some money anyway because they are awesome.

  3. Hey Sam.

    Do you use any wifi printers and nas?

    I'm seriously considering keeping it simple by moving the wifi router someplace central upstairs (probably a closet that borders on the upstairs hallway) and putting a smart repeater (almost directly) downstairs so I can run ethernet to entertainment boxes. The upstairs->downstairs wifi would just be a way of avoiding wiring.

    But if I was to run servers and desktop machines, I think I'd have to go with professional wiring here. Almost everywhere I want to go is on an external wall. It's a PITA.