A Network Overview
Okay, now that you have read through the various aspects of Networking, let's try and tie it all together.
Decide on a peer-to-peer or client-server NOS.
You will need to choose one or the other depending on the size and complexity of your network, such as a small home or home office network with two to maybe 15 or less computers as opposed to a network with 15 to 25 or more computers. A peer-to-peer network allows individual computers to share each other's hard disks, printers, and other resources. It is perfect for small networks with 15 or fewer users as an example, or for workgroups with one or more portable computers. Popular peer-to-peer packages include Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows for Workgroups.
Client-Server Network Operating Systems (NOS's), by contrast, can handle heavier and more complex traffic loads than peer-to-peer, and are designed for large networks that have speed-critical applications like video, multimedia and data processing simultaneously by all of the member computers. Popular Network Operating System packages include Windows NT 4.0, Windows NT 2000 and Novell NetWare.
Plan your cabling layout.
Once you have decided on whether your network is going to be peer-to-peer or client-server, decided on the network operating system software package you intend to use, take a few minutes with a pencil and sketch pad and diagram how your network will go together.
Plan on running your cabling under floors, over ceilings, or around dividers. If you have planned on installing just a small network over a short distance, use 10BaseT with one or more hubs. If you intend to run long distances with the radius of the network more than 325 feet, plan on using thin coax (10Base2) cabling, or possibly a combination of both with 10BaseT hubs.
Make a hardware and software checklist.
You will need to purchase each of the items shown below, so create a shopping list. Be especially careful when deciding on a network adapter (NIC's) for your computers. Make sure that when purchasing NIC's that you only get those that support your computers or laptops PCMCIA port, parallel port, or internal bus slots. And don't forget to consider the network software you will be using. They should have both 10BaseT and thin coax 10Base2 ports on-board for flexibility. These are usually referred to as Combo style NIC's. If you'll be using Fast Ethernet, be sure they support 100Mbps speeds.
If you plan to install a 10BaseT hub, make sure that it's expandable, and that it has enough ports to service all of your computers. If you will be using the hub in conjunction with a thin coax backbone, make sure that it has both 10BaseT and thin coax 10Base2 ports on-board. Note however, if you need to join these two cabling types and you cannot locate the exact hub you need with both types of ports, you can use a Balun to make the connection as we discussed earlier in this networking segment. Get the correct hub for the type of Ethernet network that you are installing, either standard 10Mbps Ethernet or Fast 100Mbps Ethernet. If you'll be joining standard and Fast Ethernet segments together, you'll need a switching hub in-between.
After obtaining the network software, adapters, cabling, and hub(s) (if any), do the hard work first by installing the network cabling, followed by the network adapters, and finally, the network software.
Here's your shopping list of needed items:
If you're using 10BaseT...
If you're using thin coax...
Some things to remember...
Pre-Packaged Networking Kits
Most of the major network component manufacturers have kits available that should have most, if not all, of the components you will need to build a small home or home officer network for 2 to 4 computers. Some of these manufacturers are 3COM, Linksys, SMC, Adaptec, Hawking and D-Link. For those instances where the pre-packaged kits will not fit your purpose, we would be happy to make up a network kit exactly to your specifications. Just visit our Component Shop or Send us and Email.
Price, Performance, and Reliability
How easily your new network goes together and how well it performs depends, for the large part, on two things. 1. How well you plan your network and carry our that plan, and 2. The quality of the components and equipment you purchase. The old adage still applies, you get what you pay for. Re-read the networking pages we have assembled here and give careful thought to your endeavor. Plan what you intend to do, check issues such as hardware compatibility and then acquire the best components you can afford. If it comes down to buying below average today or above average next week, wait a week, you won't be sorry you did!
There is nothing difficult about building a small network for your home or business. Each of the products that we offer have been tested by us in a variety of computers under all types of conditions to insure trouble free installation and use. Of course we can't possibly replicate every possible combination, but for the most part you can feel confident that we will only ship what we feel will work in most circumstances. If a problem arises, you can rest assured that our technical support staff will help you resolve it quickly. Some network cards flatly refuse to work in certain types of computers, and there seems to be no particular set of circumstances that define what is occurring. We will insure that what we provide will work or we will replace it.
Personal Computer and Networking Operating System Support
Every network product we offer is guaranteed to run with your network software and all of your computers. Every product comes ready-to-run with any number of computers and network software, including Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows for Workgroups, NetWare, Windows NT, Windows 2000, LANtastic, Banyan Vines, LAN Manager, PC-NFS, TCP/IP, and most others.
Old Fashioned Customer Service
If you have taken the time to review our web site, you will have noticed that we make customer service our highest priority. Every product that we sell is backed by a manufacturers full, limited warranty, free, unlimited technical support, and free software upgrades. Most importantly, any manufacturer that does not support its product is removed from this site. In addition, we add our own highly skilled technical support staff as well as our own warranty support.
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