July 17, 2023
When it comes to setting up a computer network for small businesses, there are plenty of things to consider—from whether or not it makes sense to share your files over a company network, to how you’ll set up remote desktop sharing. Whether you’re setting up a small network in your home or office for a new business, there are some steps you should consider before you get started. So let’s get started!
What is network design? Network design is the process of laying out the physical structure of a network. It encompasses all aspects of a network’s physical installation, configuration, and operation. The term is used for both wired and wireless networks, although the terms are often used synonymously. Network design can be a difficult and tedious process, but it is essential to achieve optimal performance and reliability. Before you can connect your modem, router, firewalls, switches, access points, patch panel, etc., you must set up the network architecture to make this happen.
The topology of a network refers to the layout of the physical cabling and the devices connected to it. For example, some common network topologies are:
If you are new to networking, it can be overwhelming to choose the right topology for your network. It is important to get this right so that your network works effectively.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to look at the number of devices connected to your network, and how many ports they require. For example, if you only have two devices, you probably don’t need a hub/switch topology.
If you have 10 or more devices, a star topology is probably best.
If you have 20 or more devices, a mesh topology may be appropriate.
The Network Architecture In order to connect devices to the network, they must be connected to a switch that is connected to a router. The router acts as the central location for all of the network connections and it is responsible for routing traffic from one device to another. The switch acts as a hub that connects devices together and it is responsible for delivering frames to the appropriate device. Check out the small business network diagram below for a generalized overview.
Once you have planned the network design, here are the high-level steps that will be needed.
The router is the brain of the computer network and is the device that connects computers together. Most routers can be configured to give computers internet access, but some routers are only designed to connect to another router.
For most small businesses, the best router is the one that is capable of connecting multiple devices and does not compromise on speed. Many routers come with their own router software accessible via a local IP address, which can be used to configure the router. You can also download the software from the internet. The software will make it easy to add computers to the network and give them internet access.
When you are done configuring the router, test the internet connection by accessing the router configuration page on your web browser.
P.S: Most ISPs provide Free routers but if your business is expanding you may need to get a commercial router. For example, when the number of devices to be connected is more than 15.
The firewall is like a security guard that protects your computer network. When you connect a computer to the network, the firewall will check to see if it is allowed to connect to the internet.
The firewall is also responsible for preventing unwanted activity on the network by monitoring all incoming and outgoing connections. This includes email, instant messaging, web browsing, etc. If your firewall isn’t working correctly, or if you have problems with your firewall, it’s a security threat to your business.
Most firewalls have a built-in web interface that will allow you to configure them and add new ingress and egress traffic rules.
DNS is the device that translates names into IP addresses. For example, if you type the name of a website into your web browser, DNS translates it to the IP address of the website.
Most small business networks are connected to the internet through a broadband modem, which acts as a gateway between the internet and the computer. Most of these modems have built-in DNS servers.
You need to add the DNS server addresses to your computer to get internet access.
A switch is a device that connects computers or other networking devices together into a local area network (LAN). The main function of a switch is to connect multiple computers or other networking devices to each other and provide them with access to the Internet.
Switches come in two types: Layer 2 switches and Layer 3 switches. Layer 2 switches only support layer 2 communications such as Ethernet frames and MAC addresses. Layer 3 switches support both layer 2 and layer 3 communications.
In order for a network client to connect to your server, install the server and client software on the computers. The process of installing and configuring the software can be tricky, but if you’ve done it once, you’ll know what steps to follow. Be sure to research your options for selecting the Operating System for Servers and Clients and read any documentation that comes along with your software. Refer to our post on setting up a business server.
The easiest way to add computers to the network is to use the built-in DHCP server that is usually included with the router.
If you have a router that does not include a DHCP server, you can download a DHCP server from the internet.
You can also create a local DHCP server for your own use. You could add a new subnet to your existing network and create a new DHCP range for it. Then assign IPs from that range to the new computers. In addition, you will need to change the DNS settings for the new subnet to point to the old DNS servers.
After adding computers to the network, you need to configure internet access. Most routers have a built-in web interface that will allow you to do this.
To set up internet access for a windows computer: Open Network and Dial-up Connections on the Start menu. Select the connection you want to configure. Click the Properties button. Under Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), select Use the following IP address. Enter the IP address of the computer that will be used for internet access.
This refers to the ability to secure your network and protect your devices. It is important to choose a network security plan that fits your needs and budget.
For example, if you are concerned about the theft of data, you may want to invest in a device that encrypts all data sent between your devices.
In case you need WiFi you may want to invest in business-grade wifi devices to handle the network load and security. Guest WiFi is another common requirement and you should have a separate SSID created for guests who want to connect to the internet. This allows you flexibility and enhanced security. Make sure to have the encryption and logging mechanism enabled.
What is the difference between an Ethernet modem and fiber optic cable?
A modem (modulator-demodulator) is a device that converts digital data into analog signals for transmission over telephone lines, radio waves, etc. A modem is essentially a transmitter/receiver pair. Modems use frequencies between 300 Hz and 3 kHz and transmit data at speeds ranging from 2.4 kbps to 56 kbps.
Fiber optics is a type of cable that transmits information using pulses of laser light. Fiber optic cables are commonly used for long distance communications. Fiber optics operate in the same frequency range as modems and have similar bandwidth capabilities. However, fiber optics offer much higher speed than modems.
As more people opt for high-speed Internet connections fiber optics is becoming the preferred method of networking. While cable modems can still be considered but in the long run, fiber optics network will hold you in good stead.
Switches are often used to connect computers in a local area network (LAN), which allows users to share files, printers, and modems among several computers. There are so many types of network switches out there, and you probably already know that choosing the right network switch for your business can save time and money. But did you know that you should also consider other important factors? For example, does your current switch support gigabit Ethernet? Does it offer enough ports? And how much power does it consume?
Depending on the size of your office, you will need to purchase the correct amount of cabling.
When selecting the amount of cabling you need, you want to select an optimum length. This is to avoid having to run too much cable. If you exceed the length of your cable, you will have to unplug and reconnect the devices. This will take time and could potentially be a hassle.
LAN Cable Standards are another important consideration to improve data throughput, improved link reliability, data throughput rates, and range.
If you have the ability to use wireless technology, you may want to consider wireless cabling which is usually cheaper and faster than traditional cabling.
Nowadays the expectation is to connect multiple smart devices, like Smartphones, WiFi Printers, Voice assistants, Tablets and WiFi Projectors, and Presentation Laptops.
A good network engineer can help you get the right combination of Cabling and Power needs without straining your budget.
In summary, the most important thing to consider when setting up a small business network is whether or not it meets your organization’s needs. If you need to quickly connect multiple computers to one another for productivity purposes, having a centralized server may be ideal. On the other hand, if you are running an online business you will need a robust network infrastructure to handle the load. If you need to share files across multiple devices, you may find it easier to use a peer-to-peer sharing network. Regardless of which option you choose, there is a network configuration that will work best for your specific needs. So take some time to research different options, and then determine which would benefit your company the most.
Networking is a huge topic and has many discussion points. We will see some more aspects in another post.