The Future is Wireless, or is it? The RJ45 Cable and Why Gamers Still Need the Old School LAN

Setting up a LAN (local area network) is a simple and effective way to share resources between different computers.  A LAN can allow easy access to data held on any computer in the network, without the need to copy files, and is also a practical way of sharing one piece of hardware, such as a printer, between multiple machines.  With just an RJ45 cable (or more accurately, a number of RJ45 cables), and an inexpensive router, setting up a LAN is possible in just a few minutes, and does not require any in-depth, computer geek knowledge.  To prove this point, and in the interests of fully de-mystifying this straightforward process, you most likely to already own the technical sounding RJ45 cable, in the form of the Ethernet cable that you use to connect your computer to your modem.  If you do not have internet access at home, and usually connect to a wireless network (WLAN) when out and about, you can see what an RJ45 cable looks like by visiting RS Components.

In the early days of first person, multiplayer computer gaming, where several players on different machines wanted to take part in the same game, hardwired LAN connections were the way to achieve the rapid and reliable data transfer necessary.  Back then, in the early 1990’s, networking computers required a bit of knowledge, both for the software configuration required, and often the hardware installation of a network interface card.

These days, of course, things are a bit different.  Pretty much any PC bought in the last 10 years or so will have the necessary hardware already installed for Ethernet networking, and the software setup required to establish the LAN network is simply a matter of following the step by step instructions of a wizard.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that widespread broadband access has made the internet the network of choice for multiplayer gaming.  The most common use of a LAN these days is to allow several devices to share one broadband connection.

Wireless LANs in the home are now standard, with any vaguely modern laptop or games console able to connect to the short range signal sent out by the home router.  However, serious gamers still favour the more solid and reliable connection that can be achieved through the wired connection provided by an RJ45 cable.

If you have experienced problems with connectivity when gaming online, the chances are you have been using a wireless connection between your PC or games console, and the modem which connects you (via the wireless router) to the internet.  There are a number of reasons for connection problems in a WLAN to occur, with devices like cordless phones and even microwave ovens capable of disrupting the signal from the router.  The simple solution?  Establish a good, old fashioned LAN by plugging one end of an RJ45 cable into your router, and the other to the Ethernet port of your gaming machine.  For more information on the use of LANs in gaming, look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LAN_party.

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