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Office Networking - Advice & Planning

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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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Hello buddhantraining and welcome to G2G,

Take a Look at my Tutorials to get you started, as any of these will apply to your scenario. To decide if you should go Wired or Wireless depends on your abilities with Cat5: Do you plan on just purchasing long cables and hiding them under the carpet, or do you plan on wiring them internally to Wallplates, or do you want to skip all the wiring and go wirelessly. It is all up to you and your skill's. The differences between wired and wireless networks pretty much amount to greater speed and security for hardwired up to 4 per router, vs. Expansion ability for wireless.

But as your Post says, if I were building this 4 PC Network (and funds were not a concern - since you didnt set a spending limit) I would obtain Service from preferrably a cable ISP (Theres my plug) as they are faster than DSL, then Use a Wired router (linksys) and Internally Hardwire the 4 PC's with Cat5E Plenum. Each PC would also Have a Gig Capacity Ethernet card (linksys) with at least Windows XP Pro. As for the Fax machine I would use just about any of the HP all-in-one series (Fax, Printer, Copier).

But I am just a Residential Network Installer (avg Max Pc at 4 to 6), not a Business Network Administrator (avg Max Pc from 10 to a couple hundred), so you may want to see if someone in that category posts a reply.

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