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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everybody,

So let me explain my situation. I'm the son of a small business owner which manufactures and ships product. We take orders via website, phone and mail. Thus, we use Dydacomp's M.O.M or Multichannel Order Manager. We use an in-house server to host the MOM database & company website as well as manage the printers and workstations. My question is regarding our network. Our network was set up in the past, before I started working here. I'm usually pretty tech-savvy but this situation is a bit out of my league. We currently have Comcast Cable running to a "SURFBoard SB4100" modem, which in turn routes to a "Linksys BEFSR41". From there, a line goes from the router to a switch - "3Com 3C16471". From there, the switch runs ethernet cables to each workstation as well as the server (Microsoft Windows Server 2003; unknown hardware specs - haven't looked them up) and the print server "Netgear PS110". The issue at hand is, we want to upgrade to a Gigabit switch for higher throughput and internet speeds as well as integrate wireless. I'm fairly certain I can easily pick out an unmanaged, 10/100/1000 Gigabit switch to simply plug and play in the old switch's place. However, concerning the wireless, I'm unsure whether we could simply replace the old Linksys router with a newer, wireless-capable router or if I should integrate a wireless access point instead. I'm asking this because apparently the server handles the DHCP/IP Assignments. That capability is turned off inside the Linksys router.

With all this having been said, what would be the best way to replace the switch and integrate wireless into our network?

Thanks!
Kyle
 

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Re: Small Business Networking Advice

replacing the switch is only half the equation. You need to have gigabit nics in the server and workstations. Ideally you would put two gig nics in the server and team them which requires a managed switch. This would create a 4gig pipe to the server.

Is the wireless for the secure network or for a guest network?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: Small Business Networking Advice

Most, if not all, of our computers are gigabit capable already - hence our desire to upgrade to take advantage of this capability. I'm unsure whether the server has a gigabit nic or not, but i'm well versed in computer hardware and would be able to easily connect and implement one. Our system is only about 12 workstations and about 6 printers, which is why we have only a 24-port switch. We don't need super-blazing-fast internet speeds, we only want to upgrade from what we have easily and simply. No full-network overhauls, that's a bit too much at the moment.

The wireless is for the secure network. What i'm thinking is buy a 300 mbp/s wireless access point and encrypt it the way you typically would with a wireless router. I'm simply unsure whether it's a simple "set password" system or, because of the switch/router/server network, if it's more involved than that.

Thanks for your time!
Kyle
 

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Re: Small Business Networking Advice

I would suggest you get a dual band wireless router and connect it by its lan port not wan port. This turns it into a wifi access point. Routers tend to be cheaper than access points. Being connected by lan port means the dhcp server ips will flow thru it to the wifi devices. You would set wpa2 for wifi encryption on both bands since wep and wpa have both been compromised.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Re: Small Business Networking Advice

So if I were to buy an unmanaged 24-port gigabit switch to simply replace the old switch, then add a router with dual-band wireless encrypted with wpa2 wired via LAN port, not WAN, this would suit my purposes?

Also, I'm a bit confused as to why there is a wired router between the cable modem and the switch if it doesn't handle DHCP. Could you clarify why it's there? Also, could the wireless router simply replace the old wired router or should I connect them separately?

Thanks,
Kyle
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re: Small Business Networking Advice

In hindsight, the router probably acts simply as a firewall at this point since DHCP is turned off and we're using a switch. Though, if I think it out logically, we should still add the wireless router separate from the wired router otherwise wireless connections would navigate simply to the cable modem, and to the internet, completely bypassing the server and it's DHCP addressing. Am I mistaken?
 

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Re: Small Business Networking Advice

I would buy a managed switch.

The second reason for the router between your network and the modem is ip addressing. The modem and routers wan port are in a completely different subnet than your network.

You would add the wifi router to the switch not the router. Only the switch should be connected to the router. Otherwise the wifi router would be at an advantage with internet access. It would still get dhcp thru it from the server based dhcp if connected to the switch or the router.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re: Small Business Networking Advice

Whats the difference between an unmanaged and a managed switch, and what changes would I have to make to the network in order to accomodate the difference?

I understand the reason for the router now, thanks.
 

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Re: Small Business Networking Advice

A managed switch allows you to do a number of things like
create vlans
do adapter teaming like for the server

but its best for troubleshooting network issues. You can look at the port stats of every connection. This can tell you if a pc has a failing nic or you have a cabling problem depending on the type of errors you find.

Comes in really handy sometimes. You can just plug it in and use it as a simple switch to start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: Small Business Networking Advice

Alright, awesome. Thank you so much for your time and assistance.
As a final question, are there any wireless dual-band gigabit routers and/or 24-port managed switches you would recommend? Or brands you would avoid or recommend?

Thanks!
Kyle
 

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Re: Small Business Networking Advice

I am a big fan of hp managed switches. Some I have had for 12 yrs and still running
Netgear and dlink for routers. stay away from belkin and linksys.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Re: Small Business Networking Advice

Thanks Wanderer, I'll take that into consideration. Personally I'm a fan of Netgear networking. Aesthetically, I enjoy the flat blue color and the spartan metal casing over any plastic/frou-frou aesthetics. Function over form, imho.
Don't know much about HP or D-Link but at your recommendation I'll take a look at them.
Regarding Belkin, I've heard many a bad thing. They seem to be the "quick, cheap and easy" way to solve problems, but due to Linksys popularity I would have thought they would be more reliable. Anyway, thank you for your help and I appreciate your time and recommendations.

Thanks!
Kyle
 
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