How to Design a Network for a Small Business
An appropriate small business network design is important for business owners. A small network is often more susceptible to viruses and spyware than larger networks, due to software vulnerabilities. Up-to-date software built to manage these risks is just as important as having high quality routing systems and hardware.
Knowing how to design a computer network is not always easy. Everything from the position of the router in a signal chain to the number of computers in the network will affect the flow of information within an organization.
Setting up a network for the office requires the following:
- A secure Internet connection from the Internet Service Provider (ISP)
- A router with a high-speed Internet connection
- A modem
- Firewall capabilities
- One or more switches (allows computers to link to one another over an internal network)
- Phone line/cable/fiber optic linking (wired or wireless)
- Ethernet hubs
- Management and security software
Network Designs and Configurations
For small networks, the basic logic follows that the ISP sends information to the modem, which connects to the router, which then connects the small business desktops and laptops either wired or wirelessly.
Five main configuration types link the computers together:
- Token Ring
Choose from the following design types to determine the type of network that best fits the company’s needs:
- Local Area Network (LAN): This design type connects local devices, or devices that are in close proximity like in an office building. The most typical type of connection using LAN is an Ethernet connection.
- Wide Area Network (WAN): This design type connects devices (nodes) that are farther apart—perhaps even by miles. This is common with city and government network applications.
- Metropolitan Area Network (MAN): This design type is built for schools and city-wide networking.
- Personal Area Network (PAN): Home offices utilize this type of network to connect multiple nodes, such as computers, mobile phones, notepads, printers, and fax machines.
- Campus Area Network (CAN): This design type connects LANS within a specific geographic area—usually schools.
The frequency of Wi-Fi connections in business settings has been on the rise. Hospitals, campuses, corporate offices, and even retail outlets rely on computer networking to provide useful information for their employees and customers every day.
* Note: IIt’s always a good idea to plan ahead for network growth that accounts for two to three years of company growth so your future needs are more easily met.
How to Prevent Computer Security Vulnerabilities
Sharing files and software is vital to your clients' businesses. Protecting their data is an integral part of daily operations. No matter what the design, an unencrypted network connection and outdated software leaves the network vulnerable to malware, phishing, proxies, spyware, adware, botnets, and spam—all of which can cripple or disable the entire business.
- Use complex passwords to encrypt the network traffic through wireless encryption protocols (WEPs).
- Set authorization access and restrictions to certain employees through programming.
- Utilize a VPN to enable remote computer access.
- Set up a “guest” network for other wireless users.
- Ensure the network, security, and virus protection software are up to date.
- Limit physical access to the router.
Network Tools for Security and Ease of Use
Software security tools help users find architectural weaknesses and stay up-to-date with reliable data tracking and measuring. At SolarWinds MSP (formerly LOGICnow), we combine web protection with managed antivirus, mail protection, patch management, and backup to offer clients complete protection from every network security angle, delivering comprehensive web security, web filtering, and bandwidth monitoring.
Our remote management software is a single-solution business tool that can track and monitor everything on a network from a single pane of glass.
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