To set up a small business network, you'll need a combination of hardware, software and a certain level of computer expertise. While it is possible to setup a network yourself, you may want to consult with a small business networking expert to do the job right the first time. Once it's installed, you'll see increased efficiency and cost savings and will only have to deal with periodic maintenance and upgrades.
Routers and Switches
Routers and switches are what enable all components in a network to be connected. Routers allow all computers on the network to share the internet line, and you'll need at least one with enough ports to accommodate all connected computers. In larger networks, multiple routers may be necessary to increase performance. You also need switches to connect peripheral devices to computers on the network. With a switcher, all computers can share a common networked copier, printer, fax or scanner, saving you money on multiple devices for each workstation.
Computers and Servers
You need computers for each workstation and at least one main computer server. A server is the primary computer in the network, stores and transfers data to and from connected computers, and acts as a "clearing house" for all internet data travelling to and from the network. Larger networks will have two or more servers, with some even providing primary processing power for computer workstations.
Each computer and server on the network must be equipped with network-capable software. Most all modern operating programs for Mac, PC and Linux platforms are network compatible. You also need primary networking and protection software for the server. This software enables the entire network to communicate and function, and protects data and connected devices form security threats via firewalls and anti-virus detectors.
You need cables to connect every piece of hardware in the network. Even in wireless networks, you still require cables to connect computers and devices to wireless units. You've invested time and money on your networking hardware and software, so don't skimp on cables. Use the highest quality cables available for best results and long life.