Q: What are the benefits of networking?
A: Networking your computers allows them to share resources, such as network servers, printers and databases, and facilitates centralised resource management and auditing.
Q: Can I share data between computers?
A: Yes. Employees can work from a common set of files, can transfer files between themselves, and can access company databases and intranets.
Q: Can I connect all my computers to the internet?
A: Yes. A device called a router is used to connect the internet to your network. Internet-based services such as email, the web, instant messaging and internet telephony are then available to any device on the network.
Q: Which devices can I share between computers?
A: DVD/CD drives, memory sticks, the storage on some digital cameras and mobile phones, and most printers can be shared. Scanners can be shared if they specifically support a "scan-to-network" function.
Q: What sort of security is available?
A: Full access controls can be implemented, which allow only a specific user or group of users to access specific resources.
Q: What other benefits are there?
A: If you centralise your file storage, you can then back up your central storage, and be confident that the majority of business data is protected by the backup. You can also centrally manage such tasks as printing, antivirus signatures, spam filtering, and intrusion detection.
Q: What equipment does a network need?
A: At a minimum, a network requires cabling for each device, and a central hub or switch. Most offices however have structured cabling, in that the cabling is in the walls. Devices (such as computers) are connected to the sockets in the wall; the switch is connected to the other end of the cabling in the walls via a patch panel.
Q: Do I need to buy a server?
A: No, the network can run in "peer-to-peer" mode, in which there is no server. However without a server, the benefits of centralised management mentioned above are not available.
Q: How fast is a typical office network?
A: Current networks "in the field" are usually 100Mbit/sec. Older networks run at 10Mbit/sec. Newer networks run at 1Gbit/sec (1000Mbit/sec).
Q: What sort of cabling is used?
A: A typical network uses Category-5e cabling (unshielded twisted pair with RJ-45 connectors).
Q: May I see a diagram of a simple network?
1Mbit 100Mbit 1Gbit --//-- internet --[ router ]--[ switch ]--[workstation-1] 100Mbit [/firewall] | | | | | | | | 1Gbit [server]---+ | | +---[workstation-2] 100Mbit | | 100Mbit [workstation-4]------+ +-----[workstation-3] 100Mbit
Q: How can I build a highly reliable network?
A: We'd suggest installing applications on workstations, but storing all user data on the server; use a SCSI RAID5 array in the server; install a UPS for the server; then use a SCSI tape drive to backup your data nightly, employing a standard backup strategy such as grandfather-father-son. Remote backup and monitoring systems could also be explored.