A Guide to Setting Up a Small Business Network

In order to run a business of any size, a competent computer network is crucial. In most cases we have come to rely on computing systems so much that if things go wrong with them, it can be detrimental to the finances.  

There are several reasons why having a comprehensive IT system in place is beneficial. Here’s a look at some of them, along with a guide to setting up a network of your own. 

Why we need a network

As we begin a new decade, the tech used in business is more advanced than ever, and major players in the computing world are insisting that we make sure we can keep up with the latest developments. But why is it so important to introduce a network? How is it so influential on the day-to-day running of a business? 

The main reason is that it enables communication between staff members as well as clients. File sharing is an important part of doing business and communicating the ideas and plans you have for clients and customers, as well as for your employees, can be done with ease through a functioning IT network. 

In addition, it makes it easier to connect everyone up to key office resources, such as printers, scanners and copiers; is a cost-effective option as you’re just using one internet connection; and boosts your storage capacity. 

The network you need

Small businesses tend to use a Local Area Network (LAN) connection. This is where there is a group of computers that are connected to each other, as well as to other devices, and this all tends to be based in the same room or building. As a small business owner, you’re likely to need a LAN connection for your office.

How to choose what you need

While a LAN connection is the most common choice for a business, there are different options available and it’s important that you work out exactly what your business needs before you invest. Some key things to consider are how many computers you’ll need to connect up, what files will be shared and what levels of access will employees require? On a practical level, you’ll also need to work out how this will all fit in the office space you have. 

Looking ahead, are you likely to need to rethink the network in the future? If your business grows in the coming years, the network will need to move in line with this. 

All of these factors will have an influence over the hardware you opt for and the cabling required. 

Going wireless

Wireless networks are the norm in modern offices. They allow smart devices to connect and can help to elevate communication between teams. 

But they’re not as secure as wired networks, so it’s worth considering setting up both if this is a concern for you. Plus, wired networks aren’t likely to lose signal and drop out of range.

The tools of the trade

So, what’s needed to set up your LAN connection? The main point to remember is that research is everything. Investing in trusted, high quality products now will save you a job in the long run.

You’ll need the following to get going:

  • A server – this is the main computer and is the hub for all the data used by your business. This is a secure addition to any network and is your starting point for your network
  • Cables – Cables are used in both wired and wireless connections and you can choose between copper ones and fibre optic. The latter offers many benefits over copper, but both are still common options. You’ll need to make sure you test your network cables. 
  • Network testers - A network cable tester is a device for measuring and checking an existing LAN connection which you can buy from leading brands such as RS Components.
  • Routers and switches – these allow you to connect to a few devices at once. 

As you settle into using your network, it’s possible to update and adapt as you go along. As long as you test the system regularly and keep up with expansion, you will be on the right track for your network.

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