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Discussion in 'Hobby Electronics' started by Sam, Oct 30, 2005.

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  1. Sam

    Sam Guest

    I am interested in getting views on a proposed office network. I have taken
    some advice from a boffin but have no way of checking whether that advice is
    good or bad. I am hoping that the collective brains trust in these groups
    might shed some light on the subject. Please bear in mind that I am not far
    advanced from computer illiterate. If these questions are incomprehensible
    then that might be the explanation.

    We have 4 staff, each with their own stand alone computers. I am going to
    acquire four new computers. Those in my office tell me that I need to change
    the current arrangement to an office network.

    The use will be e-mail, web searching and small accounting system.

    The questions I would like to answer for the new office network are

    1. is a server as well as the 4 desk tops a good idea. ie what would a
    server add? Is it just the ability to view/access others files? What are the
    relative advantages and disadvantages of adding a server eg accessibility
    and cost effectiveness?

    2. Is Celeron or AMD preferable vis-a-vis pentium 4.

    3. Are there any issues bout these being accessible and cost effective?

    Thank you.

  2. Rod Speed

    Rod Speed Guest

    You should be asking them what they
    want to see that they dont currently have.
    It varys depending on how its used. You can have all the files
    that matter on it, accessed from there by the individual PCs.

    That makes it simpler to backup, but depends
    on what the accounting system can support etc.
    Main advantage is centralising files so they can be backed
    up properly. Main disadvantage is that it needs to be fixed
    quickly if it breaks and isnt as easy to setup.
    I prefer celerons for their quietness, perfectly
    adequate performance for that situation.
    Not really but its not very clear what this question is about.
  3. Sandgroper

    Sandgroper Guest

    You haven't said what business you are running and what applications you
    would be using.

    At a glance of what you posted , the ideal way is to set up a Star Network
    topology using a central network switch with all the computers and the
    server coming off it.

    The server will act as a primary domain controller and you will be able to
    centralise all the office data files / data base /accounting system .....

    The workstations can either logon to the server domain or they can logon
    without joining the server domain.

    As with the older computers , if they are not very old , like a 1 Ghz or
    above , you can redeploy some
    of them for print servers as well one as a firewall /proxy server to the
    internet for all your emails and web browsing and you can even use one of
    them to be a backup the server data.

    Backups can be also be done by using a 200 Gb Maxtor One Touch USB external
    HDD that can be placed anywhere away from the server.

    As with the type of computers , the server should be a P4 server , you can
    get the budget ones for about $4,000 and for the workstations , the Celerons
    would be alright.

  4. quietguy

    quietguy Guest

    Sam, whenever I was in your position I found it worthwhile to get a number of
    'quotes' for the 'item' in question. While to some degree you will find this a
    bit confusing, you will gradually learn the questions to ask.

  5. Sam committed to the eternal aether...:
    It's a good idea for the reasons already stated by others (backing up being
    the biggest benefit). It doesn't need to be a 'real' server, it can be a
    lesser machine than the desktops if all you are doing is sharing some files
    and printers.
    The cheapest one. I use AMD myself but I wouldn't say they are better then
    intel or vice versa.
    You could probably use the existing computers depending on how old they are
    and what software they need to run. If you only need to use existing
    software plus a web browser and email client then this may be an option.
    Naturally the boffin wants to sell you new stuff.

    In your situation it will be difficult if not impossible to justify the
    capital on a ROCI basis. I would say do it with minimum specs to suit your
    applications but reasonable quality, plan to replace it all in 3 years and
    ensure it's well supported by the vendor or someone else.

  6. What is wrong with what you have now? Why would you want to change
    what you have? Does what you have work? Would you prefer more
    peformance? If so, how would you like an increase in performance? How
    will buying 4 new PC's help your business perform better? How would
    you like your business to peform better?

    How do you currently use email? Does everyone have a modem? Do you use
    a centralised server for distributing email?

    What about web serching? IS that done via individual dial up accounts

    What accounting system do you use?
    How long is a piece of string? If my string was longer, could i do
    more? If the string was shorter, would i save more money? Perhaps
    several peices of string would distribute the load better?
    I prefer the short string.
    I dont think you really know what you want here, that is the big
    issue. Buying 4 new computers just becuase your staff want them may
    not be the right thing to do. You need to tell us your problems rather
    than asking for advice on something that no one here can answer. What
    has prompted you to investigate buying new PC's?

    IT is my life now, and one thing i can assure you is that 95% of my
    customers do not know, nor understand what they want. You need to
    analyse your business before you ask questions. Have a good solid
    think about where your problems are, then use that as a grounding to
    ask questions. Think aboout how you can increase performance, and this
    may lay in buying PC's that dont crash or a faster.

    You boffin may be trying to sell you his business. You need to focus
    on your business.
  7. spodosaurus

    spodosaurus Guest

    Is your business already wired for networking? If not, are you going to
    try wireless or have it professionally wired for gigabit ethernet? I'd
    recommend the latter, especially if you're going to be having the
    desktops connect to a server for user data and such.


    spammage trappage: remove the underscores to reply

    I'm going to die rather sooner than I'd like. I tried to protect my
    neighbours from crime, and became the victim of it. Complications in
    hospital following this resulted in a serious illness. I now need a bone
    marrow transplant. Many people around the world are waiting for a marrow
    transplant, too. Please volunteer to be a marrow donor:
  8. The Real Andy committed to the eternal aether...:
    I'd be amazed if anyone would actually buy anything from a pretentious
    smart arse like you m8.
  9. First ask yourself

    What are the business needs in this operation?
    What are the identified WORK problems with the
    current situation - If it aint broke dont fix it?
    Does everybody need to have email access?
    Does everybody need to have Internet access?
    Will time be lost to personal or general surfing?
    What will or could be stored on a server?
    What programs need to be accessable by more than
    one person?
    Do you really need new computers?

    I have often been consulted by small enterprises with
    these same ideas and found that many did not need to
    make any changes beyond buying a switch and network cards
    to allow internal message sending.

    Where you go will depend upon those answers. You can also
    have a local network without it having to be on the Internet.

    I know a small business where only one machine is connected
    to the Internet for corporate emails and business surfing -
    it is shared by all staff.

    Many small operations find it more productive to use an
    accounting package that sits on a server and the staff all
    access it from the server via the local network. Often this
    means a new version of the software that allows this.

    If setting up a network you need Network Interface Cards
    in each machine and a switch to connect them, cable connection
    provides better security - wifi provides easier rearrangement.

    If making major changes you may wish to consider alternative
    software etc. Using Linux you could save lots of money on
    the licence fees for the basic software and get by with lower
    level equipment.

    There are many arguements for and against particular hardware,
    most are personal preference and experience only. All are
    reasonable but you should be guided by the requirements of the
    software that you intend to use.

    If you are based anywhere in the Riverina I would be happy to
    provide a proper analysis and quote.

    But keep in mind the computers are a tool to assist your
    business needs not staff toys.
  10. spodosaurus

    spodosaurus Guest

    I've read his post, and found most of his comments and questions to be
    pretty relevant for the OP and things I was wondering about, too. What
    did you take issue with?



    spammage trappage: remove the underscores to reply

    I'm going to die rather sooner than I'd like. I tried to protect my
    neighbours from crime, and became the victim of it. Complications in
    hospital following this resulted in a serious illness. I now need a bone
    marrow transplant. Many people around the world are waiting for a marrow
    transplant, too. Please volunteer to be a marrow donor:
  11. Rod Speed

    Rod Speed Guest

    McBain is just another pathetically bitter and twisted drunk.
  12. swanny

    swanny Guest

    A server can be a good idea provided you are able to maintain it. It's a
    good idea to have some kind of UPS to power the server throughout short
    power blackouts and brownouts, and to gracefully shut it down when the
    power is out for extended periods.

    A server can add:
    - file sharing.
    - centralised backups.
    - email server. The desktops send the email to your server which is
    responsible for sending it on to the destination, as well as receiving
    all the email in the background, and the desktops access the server to
    receive email. You can also add virus and spam filtering to your local
    server. Also means that local (internal) email does not need to go out
    over the Internet.
    - local dns cache, which can speed up Internet accesses.
    - dhcp server.
    - internal web server for intranet web pages.
    - centralised application serving/sharing, which could include web based
    applications on the internal web server.
  13. I find that for a significatn percentage of small business that a UPS
    is a mere waste of time. A decent ups costs a lot, and needs to be
    maintained. Neither of which small business are usually interesed. A
    good surge supressor will usually suffice.

    A standard workstation can do all the above. The question how much
    data needs tp be shared, that will determine when and where a server
    is appropriate.

  14. Funny that, i usually find that business like it when i ask them what
    they need and force them to question what they really need. I used to
    outsell the sales guys in my last job, and guess who always landed the
    big contracts?
  15. Alex Gibson

    Alex Gibson Guest

    Store email, store company documents so they are available
    to all, center point of document storage and for sales information ,
    records(database) etc
    that can be more easily backed up than four or more seperate computers.

    A decent network switch with spare ports in case you need to add more pcs.

    A good hardware firewall for your net connection.
    Software firewalls on all machines.
    Anti-virus on all machines.
    Anti-spyware on all machines.

    Update all antivirus, antispyware at least once a week.
    Unless you are using it as a processing server
    makes really no difference what processor for
    office use. Cost and reliability are more important.

    Probably worth your while to go with Sun , Dell , IBM or HP
    with a three year service contract.
    Any problems you just ring them,rather than having to fix it yourself.

    Depends on your location , if regional go with the company
    that can give local support (including local computer shops).
    I would also suggest , getting a ups (uninterruptible power supply),
    and tape back up drive.

    Back up the pcs once a month, the server twice a week.
  16. swanny

    swanny Guest

    Why would you put an email server and web server on a workstation? If it
    is powered down when the user goes home, no-one gets any email??
  17. swanny

    swanny Guest

    With storms and trees causing power cables to short and periodically
    dropping the power out, I found that haveing the servers reset several
    times an hour a real pain. Since I put a UPS on each I've had no
    problems. Maybe your experience is different.
  18. Leo

    Leo Guest

    Yes but do you have any friends, and where do you buy those extra large,..just askin,
  19. Alex Gibson

    Alex Gibson Guest

    Depends if outages starting costing them cash / loose sales etc

    Really would depend on location and reliability of power in the area.

    I'm sure lots of UPS's got sold when Victoria was
    having all those brownout hassles a while back.

    A decent quality pc power supply seems to make a difference with
    some of the very short outages we seem to get a lot of in summer.

    Pc with budget / cheap power supply goes down then reboots
    decent quality power supply, pc keeps humming a long.
    Ended up getting a ups to avoid hassles.

    Probably getting close to needing a new battery soon.

  20. nbs

    nbs Guest

    star network topology you say. and the other choices would be...?
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