Your business has grown beyond its first computer, so now is the time to get your network in place. By networking your computers together, you can share centralized resources such as an Internet connection, programs, files and printers. You can even fax and scan over the network if you have a supporting multifunction device. As your network grows, you may need an email system or even a messaging system to communicate from one room to another. Most businesses use networks to boost productivity while reducing costs, so to help you get started, here are 10 tips for setting up an office network.
Tips for a wireless network
- Effective router placement: Because wireless routers have limited range and because that range is circular around their antennas, you want to make sure that your wireless router is placed effectively in our office, central to your wireless users. This will maximize coverage and reduce your vulnerability to attacks from outside your building.
- Change the password on our router: When you access your router through your Web browser, you have to type in a password. Usually, routers ship with passwords such as “admin” or “password” that are easily guessed. If you are not careful, a hacker can access your router, change your settings, and then lock you out by changing the access password. Stay in control. Set your router’s password right away.
- Set up wireless security: If you leave your network open to all users, any user can and will access it. This could lead to abuse of your Internet service, the compromise of your business data, loss of privacy, and a number of other issues. Log in to your router and set it for encryption using WPA or WEP and then add an encryption key that is hard to guess. Your encryption key code must be entered by every wireless device that is authorized to connect to your network.
- External antenna: If your wireless router’s signal doesn’t reach far enough inside the office, purchase an external range extender. If necessary, you will have to place additional wireless access points around the office and connect them to your router by a network cable.
- Use wireless only as necessary: For the most part, wireless networks are quite a bit slower than wired connections. If you have a work station that requires heavy network access, run a cable to it: you’ll get much better productivity. Wireless connections are great for convenience, however, because you can place workstations where cable won’t easily reach.
Tips for a wired network
- Beware of cable routing: If you route your cable through the ceiling, be sure to keep it away from fluorescent lighting features. If you must go over these fixtures, try to route the cable lengthways along the direction of the tubes rather than across them. Beware of other sources of electrical or magnetic interference that can degrade your network’s performance.
- Plan your topography: When you prepare your network, be sure to plan for the future, and get your network cable routed effectively. For performance reasons you want to minimize the number of switches or “hops” each machine must traverse in order to reach other network resources.
- Create a centralized backup strategy: With a network in place, you will need to have a centralized server or storage device hardwired to your network for data backups. Once in place, be sure that every computer is programmed to periodically backup to the centralized location.
- Consider VoIP: Voice over IP telephone service is becoming prevalent, so if you are thinking about adopting a VoIP phone system or using service provider, you will need a router that supports it. Check with the supplier of your system to get more details.
- Start troubleshooting at the physical layer: This means that if you have a user who can’t get online and can’t print, go ahead and make sure that the network cable is plugged in at both ends before you start checking routers, software settings, drivers, and network adapters.
These 10 tips for setting up an office network should help you get started whether you are using wireless or wired connections, or a combination of both.