Setting up your small business network

By: Peter Carrington

Date: 21 June 2018

Setting up your small business networkAlmost every business, large and small, relies on its online connectivity. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say it is essential for practically every facet of an organisation. A network outage can bring a business to a full stop, and can even prevent employees getting into the building.

Clearly, then, any new start-up needs to make setting up its network one of its top priorities. Let's get to grips with some basics to help you choose the right switches and router to get your business off to a flying start.

Understanding switches and routers

Switches and routers are the basic building blocks of your network, so you need to understand what they are and what they do.

Switches are used to connect the various devices in your office, such as PCs, servers, printers and so on. The switch allows the devices to communicate information to one another.

Routers connect multiple networks. To construct an office network, you will need at least one router. They look to all intents and purposes like the ones you might have at home, but business routers have greater functionality, security and reliability.

Your business router is the conduit that connects your networked devices to the internet. However, it also does a lot more, choosing the optimum route for information to travel, protecting your business-critical and confidential client information from security threats, and deciding which devices get priority when things get busy.

Deciding what you need

No two businesses are the same, and all have different needs depending on working practices, size, number of users and so on. Here are some points to keep in mind.

Don't compromise

A domestic set-up might be tempting from a cost perspective, but it is a false economy. It's wise to invest in business-grade hardware to ensure your communication channels are reliable, robust and secure.

The flexibility to grow

Ensure your network will be able to grow in step with your business. You might have one or two employees to start with, but how many more might be on board in 18 months' time? Make sure you have the scope to add new functionality and features as needed.

Ease of use

Don't underestimate the importance of this. Switches and routers should be straightforward to install, manage and use. For example, if you choose switches with inline power, you will be able to position equipment like wireless access points wherever you like, as long as there is a wall jack for the network. The last thing you need it to be getting additional power outlets installed around the office.

Reliability and redundancy

Make these your watchwords. Remember, network downtime equates to business interruption on a grand scale, and that's something that no small business wants to be facing.

Copyright © 2018 This article was made possible by Peter Carrington