A good network and fast, stable Internet are necessities for any modern business. Brian Hodge of the Land F/X tech support team will outline your options when setting up a network, decode some of the inherent jargon, and help give you a solid understanding of best networking practices.
Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)
- Kinds of Internet
- Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
- Wireless Access Point (WAP)
- Power over Ethernet (PoE)
- Cloud vs. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Rack Mount
- Network Map
- Network Addressing
- Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
- Domain Name Servers (DNS)
- Call IT
0:00 – 3:34: Intro/TOC
Intro: What happens when things break? (3:00)
3:35 – 4:35: Kinds of Internet
5 – 35 Mbps
10 – 500 Mbps
250 – 1,000 Mbps
1 – 10 Mbps
5 – 50 Mbps
250 – 1,000 Mbps
$20 – $45
$30 – $56
Vary by area
4:36 – 5:29: Speed
Explanation of speed numbers (4:36)
5:30 – 6:14: Modem
Explanation of what a modem does (5:30)
A modem (typically provided by an Internet service provider) acts as a translator between the Internet service provider (ISP) and your router.
6:15 – 6:49: Router/Switch
The router acts as the “central hub” of your network.
Router vs. switch (6:23)
- Router: Required for a network
- Switch: Used to expand a network
A switch is designed to connect computers within a network. A router is designed to connect multiple networks together.
6:50 – 8:19: Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
Reasons to switch:
- VoIP is easier to install, configure, and maintain.
- VoIP scales up or down easily.
- Employees’ numbers follow them wherever they go.
- A range of call features are supported.
- Even older technology, such as fax, is supported.
Hosted vs. on-site:
On-premises VoIP phone systems are installed at your company’s office, typically managed and maintained by your own personnel.
Hosted, on the other hand, means all the software and hardware are hosted and maintained by a VoIP provider. Other than physical phones, everything else is provided virtually, which means you won’t be bothered with expensive hardware costs, nor will you need an in-house staff to manage the system.
8:20 – 9:26: Wireless Access Point (WAP)
- Wi-Fi 6 to identify devices that support 802.11ax technology
- Wi-Fi 5 to identify devices that support 802.11ac technology
- Wi-Fi 4 to identify devices that support 802.11n technology
2.4 vs. 5:
GHz is a radio frequency – like in your car, but much higher.
2.4 GHz: 3 available channels and the frequency is extremely crowded (Bluetooth, microwave, cordless phones, baby monitors, garage door openers, and everything else Wi-Fi), but it’s longer range, as it can go through the walls.
5 GHz: 23 channels and faster, but less range (a good thing – you don’t want your neighbor using your Internet).
Put a 5 GHz WAP in every room, and you will love your Wi-Fi!
9:27 – 12:03: Power over Ethernet (PoE)
PoE allows you to power your devices with just CAT5e cable.
- Netgear GS724TP ProSafe 24-port 10/100/1000 Smart PoE Switch
- HP J9773A 2530-24G-PoE+ Switch 24 Ports, Manageable, 24 x PoE+
Router basic stats (10:29)
Ready to grow?
- Gigabit throughput
- 12 port
Do you have a budget for just the two of you? Get a 4-port gigabit router with Wi-Fi built in, with a PoE injector.
12:04 – 13:23: Cloud vs. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Encrypt your data
- Protect from hackers and intrusion
- Especially good on Wi-Fi
Cloud data makes a VPN nearly obsolete. Unless you are a large company with virtualized desktops, the need for a dedicated VPN is very small.
All the sharing you would need to do can be solved by cloud storage. But with cloud data, you really only need a VPN when on an unsecured network, so get a software VPN solution.
13:24 – 14:03: Rack Mount
All your equipment should be rack mounted, Why rack mount?
- Ease of access
- Clean wiring
- Easy to label and maintain
- Easy expansion
- Looks cool and professional!
14:04 – 16:00: Wiring
Types of cables (14:10):
CAT6 is only for if you want to future proof your network.
You want at least CAT5e to get the most out of your Gigabit router. (CAT5 is only 100Mbps.)
Color code your cable: You have the ability to make sure your IT person (or you) can, at a glance , know what each cable is.
- Red for network hardware
- Blue for workstation Internet
- White for PoE
We also recommend marking the end of each cable so you know which port it goes to.
Conduit results in a clean installation and protects your investment, keeping cable safe from toddlers, pets, and office klutzes.
16:01 – 18:13: Network Map
Wire map (16:19):
- Start with a small sketch.
- Move up to a spreadsheet.
- Include the color code of each wire.
- Add your devices, and put in any static IP address.
- Label all the ports.
- Keep the map up to date. If you add a new station or change a static IP, write it down.
18:14 – 21:26: Network Addressing
IPv6 vs. IPv4 (18:53):
Your local network will be IPv4 and should use the 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.0.255 range.
- IPv4: 4 bytes each with a total range of 4.3 billion possible addresses
- IPv6: 128 bits each with a total range of 340 undecillion possible addresses
We recommend disabling IPv6 on your workstations, which will make tracing network issues easier.
20:17 – 22:27: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
Static IP (20:40)
21:27 – 22:27: Domain Name Servers (DNS)
We recommend logging in to your router and changing the primary, secondary, and tertiary DNS servers. We suggest your local router as your primary – that way, whenever you reach out to a file on your network, it looks at home in that sweet gigabit network first.
For primary, use your router IP address (probably 192.168.1.1). This should be in the instructions you received with your router, but you can also just look up your default IP and password on the manufacturer’s website.
For secondary and tertiary, we suggest Google DNS 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52, and OpenDNS 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11.
22:28 – 24:32: Storage
Why we strongly recommend cloud backup (22:37):
- Cloud backup is essential to business security today.
- Ask yourself this question: What would it cost you to be shut down for a week? With cloud backup, you’ll be up and running in hours instead of days.
- It’s affordable: At least 1 TB of data per user at roughly $10 per month.
- No need for a VPN: Drop the cost of maintaining a file server, or even get rid of it altogether.
- Easy to have employees work remotely.
NAS vs. server (23:20):
Network attached storage (NAS) is essentially a bunch of hard drives in a secure enclosure. Advantages:
- Less expensive
- Less maintenance
- Hot Swap drives for off-site backup
- More reliable
- Control over who has access to specific files and folders
- Automatic backups to the cloud
- Host applications
With VoIP, a good router, cloud backup, and come cloud services, all most businesses need is a good NAS.
Example: TerraMaster F2-210 2-bay NAS – ~$150 + hard drives
24:33 – 25:42: Call IT
You’re an expert in your field. Let someone who is an expert in his or hers fix your network.
What goes in your “Oh poop!” binder? (24:54):
- Up-to-date network map with addresses
- Passwords for your router, server, and NAS
- Serial numbers of software
- Instructions on how to rebuild all of them
- Names and locations of these various text files
Always tell your IT person to keep those text files up to date and show you the update to your “Oh poop!” binder, of what he/she did that day.
Have a backup, and be ready to use it. It’s your most important tool!
25:43 – end: Recap
What you need:
- Wall-mount rack
- Gigabit router
- Possible switch with PoE
- Small router with PoE injector
- Wireless access point
- Voice-over IP phones
- Clean wiring in conduit
- All backed up to the cloud and your file-sharing NAS
- Network map: No matter whether you go with rack mounts or on a desk; server or NAS; top-of-the-line or budget equipment. Most importantly, label everything with the IP address and keep your wire map up to date.
With your network dialed in, you’ll save money and work faster.
Having fun with color coding cables (27:40)
Example routers (29:18):
- Cisco RV345P router: ~$500
- Two employees?
- TP-LINL AC3200 Tri-Band Wireless Gigabit Wi-Fi: ~$140 for the router
- TP-LINK TL-POE150S – PoE injector: ~$20 per workstation
Add a PoE switch to expand. Remember: You will need one port for data and one port for VoIP. Depending on how fast you’re growing, you may want to get one standard switch for data and one PoE switch for phones.
- Starter router: Linksys WRT 3200 ACM router: ~$200
- PoE switch options (~$20 per user):
- 4 port: ~$60
- 8 port: ~$85
- 16 port: ~$180
The importance of having your network independent from whatever your Internet service provider has: Your own router, your own wireless access points, etc. (gives you more flexibility and ability to upgrade) (31:06)
Suggested wireless access points (WAPs) 33:08):
- Directional WAP: ~400 feet
- Upiquiti UniFi UAP-AC-PRO-US: ~$135
- Omni-directional: ~100 feet
- TP-Link TL-WA801ND: ~$24
Why we recommend VoIP phones (they’re saving us $1,000 per month!) (34:30)
Question: Is a directional WAP the same as a Wi-Fi extender? (35:10)
Answer: Typically, no. A Wi-Fi extender plugs into an outlet, catches the Internet signal, and retransmits it. A WAP is plugged in with an ethernet cord and sends the signal itself, which makes it significantly faster.
Question: Any tips for finding a good IT for a small office vs. medium office? Is there anything we should ask about specifically? (37:40)
Answer: We mainly recommend creating your own emergency (i.e., “Oh poop!”) binder. You’ll be able to rate your IT person based on his/her reaction to the first emergency situation, as well as how well he/she updates your existing documentation based on that incident. When hiring an IT, you can ask candidates about their plan for if and when something goes wrong.
Question: Besides Synology and TerraMaster, what other NAS brands are good for a small office? (40:44)
Answer: We also recommend QNAP, as well as checking the reviews at newegg.com. Look for one that will make it easy to switch out drives for backing up.
Question: Can you go over creating static addresses again? More specifically, do you set this up at the device or at the router? (45:40)
Answer: You should definitely set up static addresses at your server and printer. For workstations, use DHCP addresses. We recommend only allowing the router to assign addresses up to 200, and reserve addresses between 200 and 255 for the static IP addresses.
Question: What’s your opinion on Western Digital Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro hard drives?
Answer: They’re both fantastic! When purchasing drives – especially NAS drives – we recommend buying an extra one. As far as which one to buy, look at the warranty rather than the brand. Also, a solid-state hard drive is a much better and faster option than a spinning hard drive.