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Small Office Network - Advice & Planning

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3 replies to this topic

#1 buddhantraining


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Posted 29 July 2006 - 04:52 PM

Hey Gang!

This post might be a bit on the long side but please bear with me. I thank you in advance for your advice and replies, it's greatly appreciated.

Here's the deal. A local kennel wants to get their office computerized. Currently they're doing everything on paper and it's just becoming overwhelming for them. They've appointed me the task of handling the job and maintaining their systems, and...well...I have no idea which direction to go with their setup. I've never networked in a business location before and never had to network more than three systems.

They have a large U shaped front desk where they will need three computers. The employee in charge of bookeeping/finance will also need a computer - her office is sort've behind the front desk in a cubby hole kind of thing. I plan to custom build all computer systems. All four computers will be running a boarding program called Kennel Connection (www.kennelconnection.com) - but only the finance office PC will also need Quickbooks. However, all four computers will need access to a central database where the QB and KC files will be stored. They'll also be sharing a printer. I'm not too sure what else they'll be sharing but I imagine maybe a fax at the most. It would be nice to set up remote access so I could offer them support off-site but it's not mandatory. I'd like to avoid using a server; I've just never worked with them before and would hate to get involved in something I'm not sure if I could handle. I'm also not too sure if a server is REALLY needed for only two programs and a relatively small office setup. I'd prefer to just build a workstation in place of a server.

I also don't know what would be more beneficial in such a small office space - wired or wireless neworking?

With that said, how would you networking gurus plan out this project? What sort of things should I be taking into consideration, what things do I need to find out before taking the first steps? What system specs would you recommend for this project?

Really, any advice or suggestions would be helpful. Feel free to ask any questions if I didn't explain things well enough. I've never tackled this sort of project before so want to get as much planning and advice as I can before I get started.

Thanks guys!

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#2 Snapper


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Posted 29 July 2006 - 09:36 PM

your systems in front and the office dont need to be powerhouses,
amd 754 pin 2800, 512 m ram, 80 g hdd. would be more than adequate.
your "server" dosent have to be major either, simply beef the storage up a bit and run a raid 1. this makes a mirror image on another hard drive in the computer for data redundancy. so like 2 160 gig SATA drives Western Digital. for printing, you would want an IP laser Printer. lasers are more expensive, but for commercial use, and 3/4 computers, necessary, and it being an IP printer, you dont have to install it locally and share it, or dont even need an extra print server.
as far as wireless goes, its nice to have a wireless router, especially if someone has a laptop, but in an office enviornment you must pay attention to security. such as>
1.disable "broadcast ssid"
2. use a 128 bit WEP encryption key
3.use mac address authentication.
the use of all 3 of these will make it difficult for theft.
if you want all wired you will also need a 4-5 port switch, 4 computers and an IP printer is 5 nodes, most small dsl routers have only 4 ports to jack into.
an 80 gig drive in an external usb 2 bay should also be set up to backup your "server's" information. even though you are using raid 1 mirroring, you should also have a backup device for offsite storage.
hope this helped, post back if you need anything else

#3 Klinkaroo


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Posted 31 July 2006 - 07:09 PM

This is what I would suggest.

First of all I don't think you need internet acess am I correct?

System Without Internet
I would suggest an 8 port D-Link or Lynksies Switch. That would be enough to run the 4 computer plus a network printer and you still have 3 extra nods if someone needs to hook in a laptop or something tempoarily.

The PCs you will be building I agree with Snapper don't have to be powerhouses. Don't need any fancy graphics card on board will be great. I highly highly highly suggest Windows Xp.

I think just a basic laser printer will be fine with either an onboard or third party print server. I know this has the word "server" in it but they are actually fairly easy to set up and use.

For the important files I suggest one of the work stations you build, like Snapper suggested, with 2 hard drives in a RAID 1 could act as the server. I would suggest that this server be made with the "Finance" computer since I think that her documents will also be very important. With the RAID 1 you won't have to worry if a hardrive fails because you have a second hardrive with the exact same information. All you have to do is share the folder where the files are stored and all the computer on the network will have access to them but only allow acess to that folder and not the entire hardrive because of the finances I am guessing these have to be somewhat secure.

Another idea for storage would be a NAS (Network Attached Storage), this is basically a hardrive that connects to the switch but the problem is you don't get the security you get with the RAID 1 Array.

About the Fax I don't think you need to integrate this into the network. Most Fax machines are standalone...

For remote acess you would need internet and that is a little complicated for me to explain so I will let someone else do that. If you do go with a network with internet. I personnaly like RealVNC for remote access. Make sure you put a password.

Edited by Klinkaroo, 31 July 2006 - 07:11 PM.

#4 Klinkaroo


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Posted 31 July 2006 - 07:12 PM

Oops my message posted twice... Mod Delete this pleas :thumbsup:

Edited by Klinkaroo, 31 July 2006 - 07:13 PM.

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