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Office Networking: Are You Ready to Connect Your Small Business Office?

Thinking about networking your office computers, printers, modems to share your key office computer equipment?

Think the job is simple and that you can handle it yourself?

Maybe so, but most small business owners have a business to run and may not have the time or inclination to work as a telephone or computer technicians setting up an office computer network.

If you are thinking about networking your office, here is some basic information that you need to know before you embark on the challenge.

Two Options

Generally, there are two ways to approach your office networking. You can go "wired" and string the cables yourself to connect all of your office computers, printers, modems, etc. Or you can follow the most recent business trend and go "wireless".

Wireless Option

Sometimes a wired cable local area network isn't always practical or cost effective. If you lease your office space and install a hard wired cable network, you must run wires through walls and ceilings. This wiring installation is permanent. Thus, when you move out of that leased office space, you will probably leave your cable wiring investment behind.

However, if you decided to go with a wireless network Your installation is simpler. A "wireless gateway" is placed on a shelf and "wireless cards" are installed within your computer equipment within their open card slots. All without expensive cabling being installed and installed within a matter of minutes.

Wireless networking not only increased productivity, but save you money by eliminating the cost of cables for a wired network.

Increasingly, small business people are going the wireless route. Wireless costs more but it may be worth it if you have computers in multiple rooms, or you want to use your laptop at multiple points within your office.

Wireless costs more but it may be worth it if you have computers in multiple rooms, or want to use your laptop at multiple points within your office.

The wireless option does put you in a position for more data security challenges. Expanding the reach of your office network sometimes makes the network available to high-tech thieves. Currently, the encryption method built-into the 802.11b wireless standard, is easily cracked by a determined hacker. Thus, allowing intruders to unscramble things such as network passwords and get access to the sensitive files or wreak havoc within your office system.

Other generations of wireless standards such as 802.11a and 802.11g include better encryption.

Wired Option

If you're computers and components (printers, modems, etc.) are in one room and your mobility within your office is not an issue, then a basic wired network solution is the way to go. It's less expensive and an effective choice that gives you the fastest data speed.

Those business offices that are stay with wired networks solutions do so because of cost and speed. Wired is cheaper and can deliver speeds far faster than wireless' 11 Mbps.

If there are just a few computers within the same room that need connecting, it's relatively easy. All the computers and components connect to a central device called the Ethernet Internet gateway. It acts as a central hub, allowing all the computers to share Internet access and each other's printers.

Most personal computers purchased today have built-in network cards (be sure to check before buying your newest PC) that makes connecting to the gateway relatively straightforward. You may want to handle the networking setup yourself or contact your local computer professional to handle the setup.

The challenge comes when you try to link computers in separate rooms or on different floors. When you start drilling holes in walls containing pipes and wires, then is when you can get into a whole new level of difficulty in the setup and maintenance.

Unless you're a telephone technician or really comfortable installing telephone lines, consider hiring a computer professional to install your wired office network for this setup and save yourself a time and aggravation.



Copyright Steven Presar

About the Author

Steven Presar is a recognized small business technology coach, Internet publisher, author, speaker, and trainer. He provides personal, home, and computer security solutions at www.ProtectionConnect.com. He provides business software reviews at www.OnlineSoftwareGuide.com. In addition, he publishes articles for starting and running a small business at www.Agora-Business-Center.com. Be sure to sign-up for the SOHO newsletter at this site.

Steven Presar