Understanding Networking Basics

Just the Fundamentals

I get asked a lot about networking and how is the best way to network your house. Well the answer to that question is full of different answers as everyone has different needs and reason for setting up a home network. The good news is all new routers walk you through the process and you really don’t need to understand any of it to have a working home network. Unless something goes wrong you are pretty much good to go. So if you have ever had issue’s with your home network or just want to learn the basics of how the internet and networking works continue reading.

FYI, this is a guide on the networking terms and how it relates to the internet and networking, the purpose is to give you the building blocks on getting started with understanding networking. I was the head networking Tech for apple for several years and found most people we're missing the basics (fundimentals) of Networking/Internet.

If you would like more info or have a question feel free to contact me or post your question on the blog.


  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, this is the meaning of the acronym.
  • What is DHCP? Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a protocol that a PC, Macintosh, Linux host, etc... Can use to automatically obtain an IP number over the network from a DHCP server. It allows users to travel to different subnets without having to manually type in a new IP number, gateway, etc... For each subnet.
  • When a customer has a cable connection you would be setting up their network using DHCP. So the router will be set as DHCP and all the computers will join the network using DHCP.


  • Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet, this is the meaning of the acronym.
  • PPPoE is a specification for connecting you to the interent, so with pppoe your usage is traked by your user name and password. This is usually preset into the modem and unless you know it exsists might never know to look for it.
  • PPPoE can be setup with a router a few differtent ways, but I recommend setting your router to use PPPOE.
  • To setup you router to use PPPOE, you will need the user name and password that is on the modem. If you are not sure where to get this call your ISP.


  • A subnet is an identifiably separate part of a network. Typically, a subnet may represent all the machines at one geographic location, or on the same local area network (LAN).
  • Having a network divided into subnets allows it to be connected to the Internet with a single shared network address. Without subnets, an organization could get multiple connections to the Internet, one for each of its physically separate subnet works.
  • The good news is for home networks unless you know what you are doing you really never have to change any setting to your subnet.

IP Addresses

  • What is an IP address? Internet protocol.
  • What does an IP address do? Well you could think of it like your online address. Just like your house address allows the mail to get to you. Your IP address makes sure the information you are requesting gets back to you.
  • private IP address? Private IP addresses are the ones that start with, (apple), (third party) and (third party).
  • Apple base stations default to a IP address, the only time you will see this be different is when the apple base station is not the first router. Like connected to a wireless modem, third party router (Linksys, D-link) or the customer has changed it.

169.254.... IP Address?

  • If you're getting a 169.... IP address it is assigned by the computer due to the fact that an IP address was not obtained from a DHCP server (modem, Router or Gateway). This could be caused by a bad connection, a problem with the router/modem or a bad piece of hardware. Generally the easiest way to fix this is to power cycle the modem/router or change the ehtnet cable.


  • WVoice over Internet Protocol is the meaning of this acronym.
  • With the example above (169... ip address), we would want to know if they have VOIP (phone service goes through the modem). If they do a simple power cycle might not work. The reason for this is the modem might have a backup battery so if the power goes down they still have a phone for emergencies.

DNS Server

  • Simply put, domain name server.
  • Domain Name = Web Site (EG; www.google.com)
  • Server = Computer storing the information.)
  • So if a network setup is giving you a DNS error, this just means the computer does not know where to go so it can find the web site.
  • EG: googles web address is, so the smart people that setup the internet knew the average person would have a hard time remembering the numbers of every web site. So when we enter the address www.google.com the computer first goes to the DNS (domain name server) and hands the server www.google.com, at this point the server say’s ok I’ll look this up for you. Now the DNS looks it up and comes back and say’s the address google.com is located here The computer is now directed to the right address.
  • I know this sounds like a lot of work, but remember the computer does this in milliseconds.
  • remember the DNS settings come from your ISP, each ISP has their own DNS servers. You can always search new new servers.

Internet / Intranet

  • This information is not something you will have to fix or change, I just want you to know the difference.
  • The Internet is what we are on when we are surfing the web or checking email.
  • The Intranet is what we are on when we are surfing our home network, like sharing music to an Apple TV or between computers.


I will add to this as time goes on and make changes as the new ipv 6 standard becomes more used.

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