A small office network consists of a modem, Wi-Fi router, switch, a number of end user devices like desktop PCs, tablets, smartphones, and peripherals like scanners and printers. With modern equipment that works right out of the box, knowing the role and function of these devices is enough to get a small office network setup running in a matter of minutes.
The first step is to have your Internet Service Provider (ISP) run a broadband connection into your place of business. Cost-savvy business owners may purchase their own cable modem instead of renting one from an ISP. In most cases, this starts saving money after the first year.
A Wi-Fi router hooks up to the cable modem with Ethernet cable to deliver Internet access to a Local Area Network (LAN). A Wi-Fi router broadcasts wireless Internet (obviously) and has enough Ethernet ports to provide wired connections to several end user devices. If there are more devices than ports on the router, running Ethernet cable from the router to a network switch will be necessary to accommodate those devices.
Learn more about differentiating a switch vs. router.
It is a good idea to plan for future growth when choosing a network switch for business. It is generally not a good idea to daisy chain several small switches to accommodate a growing network as it can sap throughput. It is better to run one switch for the entire network if possible.
Running printers and scanners into a network switch enables users to utilize them from anywhere in the network.
If an office space extends beyond the reach of a Wi-Fi Router, wireless access points provide Internet access to a larger area. Avoid situating wireless access points near large slabs of concrete or metal as it can interfere with the signal. Designing a Wi-Fi heat map helps maximize wireless coverage in a small business network.
The main challenge for a small office network setup is purchasing equipment that fits the size and scale of the operation. The Build Your Own NeweggNET Solution helps small businesses select networking equipment that is tailor-fit to their needs.
Find more small business networking tips on HardBoiled:
- 5 Free Tools to Draw a Network Diagram
- Wireless Router Configuration Guide for Small Networks
- Free Tools for Conducting a Network Speed Test
Anatomy of a Small Office Network – design by Dana Choi