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How to set up a small business network.

You have 2 basic options to begin with, wired or wireless network.Once that decision is made then you have greatly reduced the myriad of options, but there are still a lot of products our there for the small business network.

Wired vs. Wireless

A wireless business network can be used when installing wires can be very difficult or expensive.Also, you will find a wireless network is the easiest to install because it is a matter of a couple of cards, a router and you are ready to go. However, there are some disadvantages.

Wired networks, also known as Ethernet networks, use wires similar to phone lines to connect you to the internet.The disadvantage is that physical wires have to be installed from room to room.However, wired networks are highly reliable, very secure, extremely fast, and fairly easy to set up.They have been known as the least expensive network to install, but as wireless technology improves, you may find it becomes very competitive price wise.

First, assess how many computers will be on the network now and in the future.You don't want to decide to go wireless because you only have a couple computers now and find that you need wired in a few years when you have many computers.Also, how much data will be used on the network and how fast will it need to go.A company dealing with streaming video will have very different requirements than a company that only uses the network for email.

Network setup (wireless)

The actual installation of the wireless business network is fairly simple.You will need an internet provider and some examples are Comcast, Quest, and PeoplePC.Now you need to pick your equipment.There are many different vendors and several different technologies to choose from.Make sure you pick all the same type of technologies for your routers and cards.You can pick different vendors, but most vendors work best with each other.

You can do some comparison shopping by purchasing a magazine or visiting a local computer vendor.Most people agree that electronic products are best to buy by brand name even if you have to pay a little more.Once you have purchased the router and a card for each computer follow the instructions for installation.

One of the disadvantages of wireless is security.It is possible for others to have compatible equipment so they can wirelessly connect to your network if you are not careful.You will want to research purchasing a hardware firewall.Additionally, most routers will give you some security options.You will also want to put a software firewall on your computers.

Network setup (wired)

The major installation difference is that you will have to physically install wires from your router to each computer that will be on the network.You will need to shop for your router and cards first and then choose the wire you will need to support these items.Fiber optics is usually too expensive and not necessary.Most networks run on CAT5.

Once you have purchased the items and wired the office, install the network using the instructions that came with the products.A wired network is more secure because all people have to come through the router to get to the other computers from the internet.However, this access point needs to be carefully guarded with hardware and software.Even if you don't feel that your network holds secret information, it still needs to be carefully guarded.Criminals have been known to ‘hijack' a vulnerable network and then do their crimes through the hijacked network to keep their identity anonymous.

A business network that has approximately 30 computers or less will not need a network architect to maximize the network.However, once you go beyond 30 it is probably worth your time and money to have the network professionally installed.

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