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Old 07-29-2006, 05:55 PM   #1
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Default Office Networking - Advice and Planning

Hey Gang!

This post might be a bit on the long side but please bear with me. I thank you in advance for your advice and replies, it's greatly appreciated.

Here's the deal. A local kennel wants to get their office computerized. Currently they're doing everything on paper and it's just becoming overwhelming for them. They've appointed me the task of handling the job and maintaining their systems, and...well...I have no idea which direction to go with their setup. I've never networked in a business location before and never had to network more than three systems.

They have a large U shaped front desk where they will need three computers. The employee in charge of bookeeping/finance will also need a computer - her office is sort've behind the front desk in a cubby hole kind of thing. I plan to custom build all computer systems. All four computers will be running a boarding program called Kennel Connection (www.kennelconnection.com) - but only the finance office PC will also need Quickbooks. However, all four computers will need access to a central database where the QB and KC files will be stored. They'll also be sharing a printer. I'm not too sure what else they'll be sharing but I imagine maybe a fax at the most. It would be nice to set up remote access so I could offer them support off-site but it's not mandatory. I'd like to avoid using a server; I've just never worked with them before and would hate to get involved in something I'm not sure if I could handle. I'm also not too sure if a server is REALLY needed for only two programs and a relatively small office setup. I'd prefer to just build a workstation in place of a server.

I also don't know what would be more beneficial in such a small office space - wired or wireless neworking?

With that said, how would you networking gurus plan out this project? What sort of things should I be taking into consideration, what things do I need to find out before taking the first steps? What system specs would you recommend for this project?

Really, any advice or suggestions would be helpful. Feel free to ask any questions if I didn't explain things well enough. I've never tackled this sort of project before so want to get as much planning and advice as I can before I get started.

Thanks guys!
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Old 07-31-2006, 08:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: Office Networking - Advice and Planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by buddhantraining
Hey Gang!

This post might be a bit on the long side but please bear with me. I thank you in advance for your advice and replies, it's greatly appreciated.

Here's the deal. A local kennel wants to get their office computerized. Currently they're doing everything on paper and it's just becoming overwhelming for them. They've appointed me the task of handling the job and maintaining their systems, and...well...I have no idea which direction to go with their setup. I've never networked in a business location before and never had to network more than three systems.
So why do you have the job, if you're not up for it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by buddhantraining
They have a large U shaped front desk where they will need three computers. The employee in charge of bookeeping/finance will also need a computer - her office is sort've behind the front desk in a cubby hole kind of thing. I plan to custom build all computer systems. All four computers will be running a boarding program called Kennel Connection (www.kennelconnection.com) - but only the finance office PC will also need Quickbooks. However, all four computers will need access to a central database where the QB and KC files will be stored. They'll also be sharing a printer. I'm not too sure what else they'll be sharing but I imagine maybe a fax at the most. It would be nice to set up remote access so I could offer them support off-site but it's not mandatory. I'd like to avoid using a server; I've just never worked with them before and would hate to get involved in something I'm not sure if I could handle. I'm also not too sure if a server is REALLY needed for only two programs and a relatively small office setup. I'd prefer to just build a workstation in place of a server.
You definitely want to go with a server. You need a central place to store files, for backup, disaster recovery, as well as performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by buddhantraining
I also don't know what would be more beneficial in such a small office space - wired or wireless neworking?
Either would work, as it doesn't seem like you'll be moving large files across the network. I would, however, go with a wired network, as I haven't found wireless networks to be very reliable. If you do go with wireless, though, be sure to encrypt the connection, and change the default username, password and SSID on the device!

Quote:
Originally Posted by buddhantraining
With that said, how would you networking gurus plan out this project? What sort of things should I be taking into consideration, what things do I need to find out before taking the first steps? What system specs would you recommend for this project?
Go with Windows XP Pro, so that you can set the users up in a domian - do you have experience with Microsoft Active Directory?
I'd also go with roaming profiles (wired network ++), so that there isn't as much personal data stored on the individual machines - instead, on the server.
For the server, go with at least a raid-1 (mirroring) array of hard drives, though a raid-10 (mirror + stripe) would be best. Do not neglect backups (USB Hard Drives are perfect for this).
Plan out the network on paper - where the switch, firewall (smoothwall.org, if you have any experience with unix) and server will be, then plan outward. Make sure to get as much user-input as possible, to make it as comfortable for them as possible.
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Old 08-01-2006, 09:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: Office Networking - Advice and Planning

Nice post there, fiXXXer
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Old 09-14-2006, 12:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: Office Networking - Advice and Planning

it is cause of crap like this that real network admins have a hard time getting these jobs...
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Old 09-14-2006, 07:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Office Networking - Advice and Planning

You dont need a server.

Buy a Nice XP pro PC. I would say a decent DELL PC.
I would buy a hardware RAID card with 2 HDs and install RAID 1 mirror. (120$ for card a 3ware SATA raid card would work great.)
Wipe the install and reformat.
install xp on the pro pc.

Make one username for all the people in the office, make them local administrators. Create the username/password on both the workstations and the server. So goto server make a user named "betty" and a password "shhhh"

do this on the server, and each workstation.
Do not let ppl login with the user account "administrator" for the desktops, give them a all a generic login like "office" with the same password.

Since you are a small network, you dont need a real server or active directory.

If your place has a static ip enable remote desktop on the server, windows firewall, and the network firewall applience. You will be able to remote into the network from anywhere with an administrator account.

you only need a "server" if you need more then 10 ppl to connect at the same time, need to provide networking software, or dont want to manage a workgroup.

you will be fine in this setup.
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Old 09-14-2006, 07:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Office Networking - Advice and Planning

I would perfer to use retrospect or acronis rather then using roming profiles.

with acronis you can take a image of a user's computer .. and if the computer is dead move it to a completely new pc ... even with diff hardware. I too kan image off a dell 170L and moved it to a HP something in less then a hour.
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Old 09-15-2006, 12:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: Office Networking - Advice and Planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by bilbus
You dont need a server.

Buy a Nice XP pro PC. I would say a decent DELL PC.
I would buy a hardware RAID card with 2 HDs and install RAID 1 mirror. (120$ for card a 3ware SATA raid card would work great.)
Wipe the install and reformat.
install xp on the pro pc.

Make one username for all the people in the office, make them local administrators. Create the username/password on both the workstations and the server. So goto server make a user named "betty" and a password "shhhh"

do this on the server, and each workstation.
Do not let ppl login with the user account "administrator" for the desktops, give them a all a generic login like "office" with the same password.

Since you are a small network, you dont need a real server or active directory.

If your place has a static ip enable remote desktop on the server, windows firewall, and the network firewall applience. You will be able to remote into the network from anywhere with an administrator account.

you only need a "server" if you need more then 10 ppl to connect at the same time, need to provide networking software, or dont want to manage a workgroup.

you will be fine in this setup.
Making a group of basic users all local admin on a central machine is just asking for trouble...all you need to do is set up a normal workgroup configuration, then just pick a computer to be the central location for those two types of data files, create a generic user on that computer, create a directory with those data files in it and give that user the necessary rights, then share the directory. To make it even easier, map that directory to a drive on the other machines. That is all you need to do.
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Old 09-16-2006, 01:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: Office Networking - Advice and Planning

no the users would be local admins of their PCs, but not on the xp "server" pc

the server pc would just have the Kennel Connection server software on it and perhaps files.

This would be a PC that sits in a closet, and is not used by people interactivly
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Old 09-16-2006, 03:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: Office Networking - Advice and Planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by bilbus
Do not let ppl login with the user account "administrator" for the desktops, give them a all a generic login like "office" with the same password.
...
Since you are a small network, you dont need a real server or active directory.
way to pull a 180...and as for the whole server in the closet thing...the original intent of this thread was that the person did not want to implement a single server.
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Old 09-17-2006, 01:51 AM   #10
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Default Re: Office Networking - Advice and Planning

I was under the impresion he wanted to make the network centrelised but not pay 1000's of $'s.

A single PC in a closet is not that much to ask. If you let somone login to that server and use it as a workstation you will have problems and will cost you more in the long run.
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