Networking. Buying and configuring advice

  The Twerp 19:48 17 Apr 03

I need to build a network for my business.

Currently we have one LapTop running Win98 and two Desktops, one running Win98 and the other running WinMe. All of these will be in the main office (room).

Soon we will be adding a further two DeskTops that will be running WinXP. These two will be located in a room upstairs.

There will be two shared printers, and a scanner. These will all be located in the main office.

All pc's will require access to the internet.

All pc's will require access to a single Zip Drive.


Where to buy:
1. Are there any recommendations? (with reasons why please)
2. Are there any companies to steer clear of? (with reasons why please)

What to buy:
1. Wireless, or wired?
2. Any manufacturers to consider/steer away from?
3. Would I be advised to install a cheap pc, to act as a server for access to the peripherals and internet?

Operating systems:
1. By using three operating systems, am I likely to encounter any issues?

Any other advice you can give would be most welcomed.

  Forum Editor 20:39 17 Apr 03

I can do it, but I'm very busy right now. There are other regular forum users who will be able to help you with this, and with luck someone will do that soon.

I'll come back to your thread later tonight and if you still need advice I'll pitch in.

  The Twerp 23:35 17 Apr 03

Thanks for the offer. If you're able, i'd appreciate the advice.

  John-259217 04:44 18 Apr 03

A nettle no one wants to grasp!

Some general answers to your above questions taking last first:

All above versions of windows will network OK together the only issues I can see involve differences in set-up methods, which are fairly minor, and less effective security procedures in 98 & ME which probably won`t affect your intended network if no one outside your company has physical access to your machines.

Wired or wireless? You first need to consider the layout of your office, including any future changes you might want to make, if its easy to install the cables then a wired network is faster, more secure and generally cheaper but you should consider using a combination of both. This may be better if the laptop is often moved and the upstairs room is not easy to wire.

Printers, scanner, Zip Drive and Internet access.
Sharing printers over the network can be done in several ways. You could just use the networked PC`s with print sharing enabled, this is the simplest option and won`t greatly affect their normal operation. Sharing a scanner is a bit more involved and may require extra hardware/software. Its easier to use one PC for the scanner then transfer the file across the network. Accessing the Zip Drive on one PC is no problem but you will still have to run up and down the stairs to put the disks in (similar problem there with one scanner)! To use upto five PC`s for internet browsing at the same time would be very slow over ordinary dial-up making a broadband connection essential but the odd e-mail here and there from each would be OK. Either way a router will be the best option for this task. It will also function as a network switch and can offer wireless capability as well.

Cheap PC as a server? Hmmm bit trickier. Before going this way consider if all your current PC`s are in constant use or does one spend a lot of time idle? It could double up as a server but all the networked systems can offer some server funtionality anyway without the added time and expense involved.

I hope this is some help to you, sorry its so general, but there`s a lot to cover here. I`ll be interested to see the FE`s advice on this.

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