So, you’ve finally got the aesthetics of your new office space mapped out. Now comes the herculean task of planning your network set up. Even if it’s a small office with minimal networking needs, there are many technicalities that must be considered. Where do you even begin? Here’s a short how-to guide on setting up your small business office network.
Choose a Network Switch
The first thing you’ll need is a network switch. The switch allows you to connect all of your computers within a single network. Your three basic options are: managed switches, unmanaged switches, and smart switches. Managed switches give you a high degree of control over your network, while unmanaged switches are more plug-and-play but allow for little to no configuration. Smart switches are the middle ground between these two extremes, giving you some level of control but also allowing for easy management.
Performance is also a concern. Cheaper switches may not be as fast, so if you need to transfer large files or do other bandwidth heavy tasks, take that into consideration. There are a number of technical differences between your options. If you want to find the best one for your needs, then your best bet is to consult with an expert.
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Choose a Router
In layman’s terms, a router is the device that actually sends information over your network. The earliest routers only came with ethernet ports for wired connections, but these days most routers feature wireless access in addition to ports for direct connection. There are a number of things to consider when shopping for a router such as:
- Security. Shopping for a router is a good time to start thinking about your network’s security. For example, some routers can automatically screen and filter incoming attacks on your network. Do your employees bring their own devices to work. What about guests? What security measures are you counting on your router to take care of?
- Range. How big is your office? Wireless routers don’t have infinite range, so you need to consider this when doing your shopping. The material that your walls are made out of can also impact the effective signal range, so keep that in mind when evaluating your options.
- Cost. More expensive routers will often have more features, better connectivity, and a longer range. It’s all about what your business needs.
As you can see, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Questions that require a level of technical know-how to answer. That’s why most small businesses choose to outsource their network setup to an expert.
Future-Proof Your Network
Businesses are constantly adapting and growing and your office network needs to be able to grow to keep up. Monitor the number of ethernet ports on your switches. Switches with more ethernet ports are more expensive, but if you plan to grow in the future, then it’s something you need to consider. Starting from the bare minimum will limit your potential for growth and you may end up spending more down the line anyway.
While these tips and best practices are a good starting point, every small office is unique and there is no universal solution. It comes down to assessing your needs, pairing them with the appropriate solutions, and forecasting the infrastructure needed for future growth. This is why small businesses trust Digital Agent as a strategic partner. Located in the Atlanta area, Digital Agent’s core business is customized solutions. This means that we evaluate your current and future requirements and then offer solutions that integrate all your IT-related needs while meeting your budget.
Digital Agent combines the latest technical innovations with old-fashioned service values. Modeled like a family-run business with a commitment to customer care, personalized service and attention to detail.