Configuring a LAN in the Home
The easiest way to setup a LAN is via the ports on your ADSL Router (-aka Internet Hub). At the current time of writing (2011), ISPs (Internet Service Provider) are shipping routers with four wired ethernet ports. The easiest way to network your Desktops and Servers is to run an ethernet cable from each PC to one of these ports: this way the Server and Desktops can communicate with each other (-and the internet) via the Router itself. If you are new to networking, then this is the simplest and cheapest way to start out. However, there are a couple of reasons why this setup may no be for you - notably:
The number of PCs you can link together are limited to the number of ports on the Router (-normally four)
If your PCs are all in one room of your house, some distance from your Router (-which will normally be placed near your telephone master socket), then you will need to run four cables from the Router to that room (-one for each PC), which might be somewhat messy
The easiest way to network your Desktops and Servers is to run an ethernet cable from each PC to one of [the] ports [on the Router]
If your PCs are all in one room of your house, some distance from your Router, then the best layout is to run a single ethernet cable from the Router to the room in question, then connect this to a Network Switch in the room. An ethernet cable can then be run from each PC/device to the Network Switch. This has two advantages over the simple layout described above:
Only one port on your Router is now in use - leaving the other three for expansion
Only one cable needs to be run from the Router to your network room, making it tidier. It also means that the devices plugged into the Network Switch can communicate with each other without having to go all the way back to the Router, making it slightly more efficient too!
If your PCs/devices are grouped in more than one room of your house, some distance from your Router, then the best layout is to run ethernet cables from the Router to the rooms in question, then connect these to a Network Switch in each room. An ethernet cable can then be run from each PC/device in that room to the local Network Switch.