There is nothing worse than a spotty internet signal. This makes it difficult to get tasks done when running a business. Your business does not have to suffer from a bad internet connection. Improve it by setting up a small business network.
One of the main issues I see when I help businesses with their networks is the absence of the right equipment that supports a robust small business network.
This article explains the components of a network. We will review how to setup a small business network and how it can be expanded in the future.
Let’s get started.
Why Is a Small Business Network Important?
A small business network is about more than sharing data and making the internet more accessible. A network can reduce costs, increase productivity, and link devices to machinery.
Companies that use manual methods of sharing information across teams without a network increase mistakes and slow productivity. A network connects multiple devices through hardware called switches and routers using ethernet cables.
What Is Network Mapping?
Network mapping tools show connectivity between physical device locations and collect real-time data used in developing a report. It can analyze performance to determine efficiencies, identify bottlenecks and discover hidden things.
What Are the Components of a Network?
A new network is made of various networking devices. Some are a switch, hub, modem, and router. Switches and hubs are connectors devices that connect every device on the network. Without a switch or hub, there is no network.
These components are connected through ethernet cables, which transfer data at predetermined speeds. They connect modems to routers and routers to hubs and switches along the network map. Switches work better than hubs because they deliver data to intended devices, whereas a hub will send data to all connected devices.
A modem is used to receive internet data from an internet service provider (ISP). A modem cannot connect devices in a network. Different ISPs use different modems. If you have cable internet, a cable modem is required. If you have fiber optic internet, your ISP will provide the modem.
A router is a type of hub. However, it is more sophisticated and can have both a modem and an ethernet switch built-in.
It is more common for routers to have a four-port ethernet switch included. A business with a lot of devices will need a separate ethernet switch in the network.
The Difference Between a Router and a Switch
Unlike a router, a switch does not transmit internet signals. A router brings internet signals and serves as a network gateway. The router will join two networks, the internet to the business network through a modem or two separate networks in the building.
A switch is installed within the network to allow multiple devices to share the signal coming from the router.
The switch is essential for businesses that need computers to communicate with other computers, servers, office VoIP phones, and printers on the same network without compromising speed.
Should a Small Business Have a Wireless Network or a LAN?
It may be difficult to know which network type to set up. A business’s needs and the number of devices will determine the best type of network to establish.
Local Area Network
A LAN (Local Area Network) is a network that covers a small geographic area, like a home, office, or building. A business would use a LAN to connect all their office computers to share files and printers in a smaller setting.
A pro of a LAN connection is that it is fast and secure. The con of a LAN connection is that it is expensive to set up and maintain.
LAN connections offer faster speeds and better security because data faces less risk of compromise. A wireless connection is less secure. LAN setups can be large or small, but they are expensive to install.
A wireless network allows devices to share data and wirelessly connects devices to the internet. Wireless networks are called WiFi. The most significant benefit of a wireless network is its flexibility and cost savings. The cost to install a wireless network is less because of the absence of wires.
Wireless networks benefit businesses that cannot alter a historic building. A LAN installation may require drilling holes or disrupting existing wall structures. Users on a wireless network can easily connect devices and are free to move around the office.
Wireless networks are not without disadvantages. Unauthorized users may gain access to a wireless network which places your business at risk for cyber attacks. Wireless routers use radio signals that other devices also use. If other tenants in a building have a wireless network, their signals could interfere with your wireless network.
How to Setup a Small Business Network
A network can have the internet or not. Determine if you want your network to be connected to the web. If so, you’ll need to start with an ISP. You will receive a modem or buy a compatible one from the ISP or elsewhere.
Get a router to connect to the modem. The router is the gateway of the network. Some routers come with apps to manage the network. Connect devices to the router using an ethernet cable or another cable type based on the speed and type of data you will share. If an internet connection is involved, consider a router that has high-speed capabilities.
Additional devices can be plugged into the router using ethernet cables, or you can add an ethernet switch to expand a network for more device capacity. All computers plug into the ethernet switch to access the network.
A wireless network will follow a similar process, except no separate ethernet switch is involved.
Wireless networks communicate to all devices connected at the gateway where the router is connected. The wireless router will have an ethernet switch built in for a small local area connection of devices near the router. All other devices would connect wirelessly.
Expand a wireless signal using mesh routers. Mesh routers can amplify a network’s signal from the main router throughout a space. Devices permitted to the network will remain connected throughout the building.
Networks Improve Business Performance
A network for your business devices is an investment you should not skip. Networks allow multiple devices to communicate with each other.
Small businesses can benefit from a local area network or a wireless network. They each have benefits based on your business’s needs.
If you want to learn more about small businesses, read more on our blog!