Anyone who can remember the soul-destroying whirr of a dial-up connection will know how important a smooth connection can be, but whilst you’re right to splash out on a fast connection, it’ll all be for nothing if your setup isn’t up to par.Whilst being the first step in getting your staff connected to the outside world, Local Area Networks (LANs) can often represent the biggest hazard. When done correctly, you’ll forget it’s even there, but a badly organised network can be the equivalent of having a shredder for a letterbox.
With that in mind, here’s our foolproof guide for how to get your LAN installed smoothly.
1. Check Existing Wiring
When you move into a new office and spot shiny sockets on the wall, you might think a good set-up is a sure thing. They may look good and indicate quality, but it’s often a mystery what the quality of the cables behind the wall are.
Having existing cables already run through an office can be a huge help, both time and money-wise, but until you take the time to check the wiring, you could be connecting your very expensive switches into prehistoric cabling.
2. Capacity Planning
This may seem like a given, but figuring out how many people and devices will be on your network is always a sure fire way to get the right network the first time around, and save money in the process.
Different devices require different speeds, and the infrastructure requirements of one person and their laptop will differ hugely from an international call centre.
Counting how many people will use the network is also a great way to avoid congestion issues. Failsafes to prevent congestion can seem costly at times, so figuring out usage will give you an idea of the bestways to strengthen your network.
3. To POE or not to POE
Power over Ethernet (or POE) is a great way to simplify the cabling required in your office, and reduce the amount of clutter lying around. POE powers your phones and wireless access points via the ethernet line, as well as providing them with a connection to your network. POE can also be used for PA systems and door entry systems.
POE is a tried and tested method to lessen downtime, as well as allowing easier maintenance and installation flexibility - meaning less time waiting around for engineers if there’s a problem with your network.
4. Plan for Redundancy (but not that kind)
Redundancy may sound like the last thing you want for your business, but when it comes to setting up your LAN it’s highly recommended. Redundancy is the way your network prepares for high traffics and port failures, and is important for maintaining reliability.
In the simplest terms, it involves introducing more paths for your network to use if others become busy or broken, and can increase costs, but for companies that work with multimedia or large file sizes (architects, designers, production companies etc.) it’s an important investment to ensure that you don’t lose valuable work.
5. Make it self-healing
Loops are a network problem with a nasty track record of decimating connections and sometimes even stopping a network from working altogether. They can be caused by human error, and more often than not people aren’t sure what has caused it.
Many cheap-and-cheerful network companies like to skimp on loop detection hardware for the sake of an attractive price, but whilst they do increase the price of a set-up, they are effectively the apple a day that keeps the tech-doctor away.
Virtual Local Area Networks, or VLANs, are an option that provide added security, speeds, and organisation. Most commonly used for separate departments in a company (so Accounts can do their work without accidentally deleting Marketing’s files) they are also useful for prioritising different types of network traffic, so a phone call will always get a guaranteed connection over someone checking Facebook on their lunch break.
We offer an end-to-end set-up and support package, and are always in the mindset to seek out problems before they come up. We’ve worked with all sorts of LAN setups, and whether you’re starting with a clean sheet or would like help improving your network, we are more than happy to offer our wealth of experience.
So give us a call or drop us an email, and we’ll be more than happy to figure out your needs.