Network Hardware

Overwhelmingly, the dominant topology for small-business local-area networks is Ethernet. That's what we recommend and install.

This technology involves

Here's more on all this:


For the most part (and for most of our customers), a network server computer is the same as our recommended network station -- with the following modifications:
  1. Intel Xeon® 64 or Dual Core Xeon processors
  2. 2GB+ System memory
  3. Second hard drive in RAID mirror (optional, but probably worth the extra few dollars for complete system redundancy)

Such a configuration, together with consistent backup routines, will provide rigorous security and plenty of room for growth.

Network Operating Systems

We presently recommend Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 (SBS) as the software that runs on your local network server.

While this product includes "bells and whistles" many of our customers don't need right away, it is the industry standard, and provides security and connectivity features that most users will grow into.

Connecting Up

These are the "nuts and bolts" that connect everything:

Network Adapters

Today, most computer motherboards, for both servers and stations, include 10/100/1000BaseTX network connections. Alternatively or as a replacement, there are quality NIC adapters available from Linksys and others.


Routers are the hubs to which everything on the LAN connects to be connected to each other. We recommend the industry leader for small-business networks, Linksys, now a subsidiary of Cisco Systems.


To connect stations, servers, and routers, we use Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Category-5e cable. This cable is rated up to 100 meters or longer with in-line repeaters. We can run all our own cable.

Though it stretches to and beyond the specifications of UTP cable, there are presently both network adapters and routers and network adapters rated at 1Gbit which are ten times faster than the current 100BaseTX standard. We are experimenting with these and expect them to offer some -- imited -- performance advantages.

Other Network Hardware

Print Servers

If the shared printer is located within ten feet or so of the server, it can be hooked up directly. Otherwise, you need the hardware with a socket for the network cable and a card to handle the connection between the network and the printer. There are two ways to handle this: Internally or externally. Today, most printers capable of handling network volume are also available with network connections, either "off the shelf" or as an added option. Or, you can use external an print server. Generally, the internal approach is more cost effective unless you are adding an existing printer without an internal option.

Digital Modems

These are trivial pieces of equipment, usually coming from the service provider. Otherwise, there are several manufacturers, including Alcatel and others, and their units are readily available over the Internet, usually for $50 to $70.


We mention dialup Internet connections here only to take the opportunity to comment that these are not viable for businesses any more. Under the best conditions, they are too slow for business use, and this becomes even worse considering the volume, reliability, and speed with which businesses must pass information. Further, sharing a dialup Internet connection over a local network, something that virtually all businesses want to do, is just not feasible.