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Build Your Own Network

Whether you locate your office at home or away from home, the foundation for the entire setup is the local area network or the LAN.

LAN Perks
The LAN as a whole is much powerful than the sum of the individual components taken separately. With the LAN, resources such as printers, modems, file-folders, and the Internet connection can be shared among users. LANs situated in different locations can be combined into one consolidated network. A rational backup system on the LAN would make a server crash just about a non-event.

Avoid the traps
Unfortunately, only few people know how to wire a network. Even fewer people know how to install and configure a network interface on a computer with the appropriate settings. Our installation kits include telephone help with these.

Installing a network without first evaluating what you want to accomplish can lead you into trouble and expense. Too often small office owners are lured into buying esoteric systems such as Windows NT that are supposed to provide grand solutions. Instead, they trap themselves in unending dependency and restrictions.

The Internet and the LAN
The Internet is now an indispensable utility of the office or home. It is the greatest source of information that ever was. Practically anything can be researched and found instantly on it -- a recipe, a technical (electronic) book, hotel room… the list is unlimited. All the computers on a LAN can share the same connection to the Internet without effecting the access speed (bandwidth). The Internet connection has become an inseparable adjunct of the LAN.

Security on the LAN
Security is a high concern with small offices. Intruders from outside coming over the Internet, inside personnel accessing sensitive information and virus attacks are three areas of concern.

Most customers simply allow consultants to provide peace-meal solutions for problems without considering possible side effects. Very often, they compromise the freedom of the inside office trying to block external threats.

No solution is good if it takes away time and attention from the day-to-day running of the business.

We have balanced and rational solutions that are very easy to understand, inexpensive to install and needs no special skills to manage.

Components of a LAN

  • The connecting media
  • Network interfaces
  • The network protocols
  • External Connections

Media
The most prevalent network infrastructures are made of 10Base-T Ethernet cables. There are millions of such networks. If it were installed properly with category-5 type cables, such a network would support the future 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10 billion bits per second). Obviously, this standard would be supported furthest into the future than any other.

If you exert a little effort and follow the instructions on this web site, you will find that the 10Base-T network is the simplest to understand and cheapest to install.

There are other network media options: fiber optics, thin net, wireless, existing telephone wiring, electrical wiring etc. However, these should be opted for only if there is a serious obstacle to install 10Base-T cabling. At present, these networks have bandwidth limitations except fiber optics, which is prohibitively expensive and redundant. The worst thing you can do to yourself is to be bound to one proprietary system becoming a captive of one supplier. Nevertheless, do not despair -- we will still try to help you if your circumstances dictate this route.

Network Interfaces
Almost every PC or Macintosh computer now comes with a built-in network interface for 10Base-T. If your computers do not have built-in network interfaces, you will need to install network interface cards (NICs) in them or use external USB interfaces. The NICs should match the available card slots inside the computer - either ISA or PCI. USB network interfaces are the easiest to install and are hot swappable. They are handy for Notebook computers too.

You can use computers that are five to six years old on the LAN. The older computers may not have USB ports. In this case, you will have no choice but to install NICs.

We provide telephone help to install and configure network interfaces that come with our installation kits.

Network protocols
Network protocol is the language that is used by computers to communicate with each other. You install a particular protocol on a computer to match the protocols other computers and devices on the network use.

Older LANs mostly used IPX/SPX, NetBEUI and AppleTalk network protocols. IPX/SPX is needed if you connect to a Novell Server. NetBEUI is used on Windows systems and is currently being discontinued. Now TCP/IP is used almost universally. The Internet uses TCP/IP, believed to be the fastest -- evidenced by the swiftness with which it fetches a web page from across the world.

TCP/IP need special configuration depending on the network environment. As such, our solutions all come bundled with help on network configuration.

External Connections
Almost every LAN has an external connection. Most corporate LANs connect to the main office via a leased line, called the WAN (wide area network) line. The Internet connection is also a WAN line. The home computer connecting to the Internet is conceptually a single-computer LAN connecting to the external network, the Internet, via TCP/IP.

Now many corporations link their geographically separate networks using various types of connections. Many of these are described elsewhere on this site. Technology is available to pass telephone calls over these connections to completely by-pass long distance telephone charges.

Please go to the page, Ethernet LAN to learn how to build your own network.

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