What devices do you need to share your Mac’s Internet connection?
Perhaps the most popular way to share an Internet connection on a Mac OS X Snow Leopard is to purchase a DSL cable/router, a device that connects to your Internet connection, which then connects to your LAN. The main downside to a hardware internet connection sharing device is that it costs more than just a software solution.
Cable/DSL routers are great because they are easy to set up and configure. You can leave it on, which means constant access to the Internet for those on your LAN. You don’t have to worry about another computer getting online as you would with a software solution.
The Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station is not only a wireless access point (WAP) for your network, but it also acts as an Internet connection sharing device. (AirPort Express can’t share an internet connection…sorry.) Some older flavors of AirPort Base Station have a built-in v.90 modem to share a single 56kbps connection using a dial-up account! The base station typically has several Ethernet connections to share a high-speed Internet connection, including a dedicated port for connecting to a cable/DSL router and two or four ports for connecting to other computers on the LAN.
If you think that a cable/DSL router or AirPort Extreme base station could be the path of karma for you to achieve your goal of sharing your internet connection, here are a few things to consider when deciding which device to buy for your LAN:
>>> Do you need a key? Most cable/DSL routers have a small switch of 3, 4, or 5 ports. This multi-port capability is great because the same cable/DSL router that shares your Internet connection is also the cornerstone of your LAN where all your connections come together, saving you from having to buy a switch on top of the cost of a cable/DSL router.
However, some cable/DSL routers have only one Ethernet connection to connect to your LAN. So keep in mind that if you choose a device with a single LAN connection, you must provide your own adapter that will then connect your cable/DSL router to the rest of your LAN.
>>> Have you got a modem? If your only internet connection is through a dial-up modem account, look for a built-in analog telephone modem on your cable router/DSL router. You must have this feature if you want to use a device to share your Internet connection. (Again, older AirPort Base Station versions are great for this because the modem is built in, but you’ll have to do some shopping on eBay.) Even if you have cable/DSL service, some ISPs also include a connection-account that accesses the range your broad. With this abundant set of connections, you can connect your cable or DSL service to your cable/DSL router as well as use your dial-up account as a backup in case of problems with the main service.
>>> Do you want a printer with that? Some cable/DSL routers also have a port for connecting the printer – which is a nice feature to have because it allows you to leave the printer plugged in and powered on so that anyone on the network can print to it at any time. (This is much better than connecting the printer to a computer and sharing it because then the computer sharing must always be on in order to make the printer available.) Mac OS X can send a print job to a printer using Bonjour or TCP/IP, just make sure That your printer is compatible with TCP/IP printing, also called LPR (Line Printer Remote).