The network at your small office is the backbone for all the devices it will support. Whether you’re doing setup for a new office, researching upgrades, connecting a couple new devices, or looking for more help with your office network. Understanding what to get will save time and money as well as improve your experience.
The biggest obstacle most face is the fact that there’s so many different products and extensive amounts of information not only on the web, but in the real world. It’s common to casually ask a couple tech savvy friends, “What’s the best device for wi-fi access?” and find that each will have a different answer. The challenging part lies in the fact they may both be right!
In the following sections, we’re going to look at a few key components of a small office network and provide tips in getting the best performance for your needs.
Selecting An ISP Or Changing Your Plan
Most times, new service will come with a package deal or special pricing. Pricing and speed varies between providers, but there’s usually some kind of commitment term.
Above is an example of current small business deals from AT&T currently available. By digging a little further, it becomes clear there is an installation fee of “up to $99” which is typical for most providers, though the rates will vary.
You’ll notice that the basic Internet deal includes a wireless gateway which is import for connecting wireless devices. When signing up for any service, it’s important to know if the gateway:
- Is included with the pricing, costs extra to purchase, or if there’s a charge to rent the equipment.
- Features built-in wireless capabilities.
- Has enough Ethernet ports available to physically connect machines.
Prior to setting up a new service or changing plans, make sure these questions are all answered by the plan’s literature or a customer service representative.
Physically Connecting Your Devices vs Wi-Fi
Although Wi-Fi is convenient for mobile devices and laptops, it’s best to physically connect workstations and network-capable printers to the network. Physical connections are more reliable and faster compared to wireless connections.
Depending on how many devices you need to physically connect, this could be a problem with a provider’s gateway or separate router as most units only have a 4-port capacity. Pictured above is what’s commonly called a “dumb switch” which simply means that it lacks the features (and complexity) of a managed switch. Implementing one of these simple switches will allow you to connect additional devices to your network.
Your wireless network is useful to provide access to laptops and mobile devices but it’s important to not connect too many devices as the quality degrades with each active connection. Also, make sure each connection is secured with a strong password that’s not given to everyone who walks through the door. If your clients or customers need access to Internet, find the model of your router and Google how to setup a guest network with that piece of equipment.
Use “The Cloud” For Backup
The word “cloud” has become a blanket term for just about anything Internet-based which, when applied to this scenario, means file server. Funny enough, file server is a kind of blanket term as well.
What’s meant by “using the cloud” in this context relates to establishing a backup system to either a service such as Carbonite, iCloud, or Dropbox, to name a few, in case of a disaster as well as for centralizing files. The other option is to connect an external hard drive to your network to be used a NAS (Network Attached Storage).
Pictured above is a slightly outdated router, the Netgear AC1600, featuring a USB 2.0 connection which enables users to easily connect an external hard drive. This can be used to back up important files as well as configured to share information between users.
We barely scratched the surface for networking in a small office as there are plenty of ways to customize equipment setting optimal to your needs. While some configurations are simple, other processes are more sophisticated. Call us at 1 (770) 936-8020 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll find a solution for your networking needs.