How to Set Up a Small Business Network
Setting up a small business network is the best way to maximize computer hardware and peripherals. Business networks allow multiple users to share a single internet connection, files and software, and access media and other resources. Thanks to improved technologies, the evolution of networking and storage peripherals, and plug and play features, the process is not nearly as complex as it once was.
Steps to Set Up a Small Business Network
Follow these steps to set up a small business network for your organization and experience the benefits of enhanced sharing capabilities, security, and productivity.
1.) Determine Your Needs
Before you begin setting up your small business computer network, identify your company’s needs to properly identify your choice of equipment and setup.
Here are a few key questions to consider:
- Which applications will you be using?
- What types of files and/or data will you be storing and sharing?
- How many computers and peripherals will be connected to your network?
- Will employees require remote access or to be able to connect using multiple devices?
2.) Choose a Wired or Wirelss Small Business Network
Wireless networking has gained popularity over the years, thanks to lowered costs and simplified configuration, but Ethernet-based wired networking also has it’s advantages:
- Wired – Superior reliability, low costs, and faster connection speeds are great reasons to consider a wired network.
- Wireless – Flexibility is the main benefit of wireless networking, allowing employees to utilize their devices from anywhere within reach of the signal. Visitors can also be offered complimentary Wi-Fi, and fewer cables makes for a more attractive atmosphere. Wireless signals can be temperamental however, and speeds can be reduced with heavy traffic.
3.) Choose Your Equipment
One of the most important steps of setting up a business network is securing the right equipment. Computers and devices using Windows, or Apple technologies, have built-in networking capabilities, but you’ll also need:
- A wired or wireless router.
- A server (many small businesses use a cloud-based server), or a computer to act as a server.
- One or more Ethernet cables.
- Depending on the size of your organization, one or more wireless access points (WAP’s).
4.) Configure The Network
There are two types of configuration: a peer-to-peer network, typically for home use, and a client-server network. With the latter, shared resources reside on the centralized server, and “clients”, which are desktops, laptops, and other devices, connect to and communicate with it via a wireless signal.
In addition to being more stable than its counterpart, a client-server network is also easier to back up and keep data protected. Rather than using a physical server, many small businesses opt for a server-friendly operating system, such as Microsoft Windows Server Edition, or Linux. Either can be installed on a PC, which in turn becomes the server.
Your router is linked to the server by a cable, and also to your broadband connection, allowing any device with wireless capabilities to connect with the network. Depending on the configuration of your office, you may need to install additional WAP’s, to extend your wireless router’s signal range and strength.
5.) Increase Security
Once your network is configured, you’ll need to protect it, using the following steps:
- Physically secure the router, which is vulnerable to hackers.
- Access the router’s administration settings.
- Change the admin password to one that is complex, involving a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols.
- Turn on the firewall and wireless encryption.
- Turn on VPN to allow remote access.
- To limit access to authorized users, set up network logins and passwords.
- Create a secondary guest network if desired, with a unique password.
- Install third party security software.
Small Business Network Configuration in MD, DC & VA
Need helping configuring your business’s computer network? Call Maryland Computer Service for network design, configuration, and IT support in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia!