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How to run two networks from the same router

Control two web connections from a single master PC

If you run a business from your home, you may wish to run your personal and professional PCs and laptops separately. Our Helproom expert explains how to run two networks from a single connection.

QUESTION I live above my small business and use six Windows 7 and XP PCs for work and leisure. These are currently linked to a single router and Wi-Fi network. I'd like to separate my home and business networks, but control both from a master PC running Windows 7. Please tell me how to proceed. Ian Shilston

HELPROOM ANSWER There are a number of ways you could achieve this, Ian. The most elegant solution would be to use a router that supports virtual LANs (VLANs). This feature allows a single router to maintain a number of separate networks internally and assign them to different external ports.

Using such a router, you can set up two networks as if you were using two routers. The PCs connected to one network won't be able to see those configured to access the other. You can also set up wireless clients to attach to the VLANs.

Because the VLANs are managed by the same router, your master PC will see and can be assigned to both simultaneously.

Another approach is to install a second network adaptor in your master PC (some models have two network ports as standard, in which case this isn't necessary). This solution is more complicated, however, as you would then need to configure each network as a different subnet and set up routing within Windows on the master PC. And if you're using a DHCP server to assign IP addresses, you would need to ensure that this also has access to both subnets.

If your current wireless router doesn't support VLANs, you may need to invest in a new model. Take a look at Cisco's £119 RV120W and Netgear's £189 ProSecure UTM5.

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