Computers are the backbone of many small businesses, and as technology continues to move forward, you want to make sure that you have the best computer network for your company. Not only will it help your business stay competitive, but it can also help save you money.
A network is simply two or more computers that are linked together. This allows the networked computers to share resources, including printers, scanners, and other equipment. It also allows users to exchange files electronically, and allows electronic communication both inside and outside the network.
Before you start planning for a computer network, you must first determine what type of network you really need. There are two main types of networks: a local area network, or LAN, or a wide area network, also known as a WAN. If you need help determining which type is right for you and your business, ask an expert, or retain the help of a networking consultant.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you look for the perfect computer network.
- Are you ready to go wireless? If you are thinking about networking your office computers and equipment, consider going wireless. Depending upon the type of building you are located in, a “wired” computer network may not be cost effective. By the time you factor in the cost of running wires and cables through walls and ceilings, you will have spent a small fortune. For most small businesses, wireless computer networks are usually the best way to go.
- Anticipate and confront software and hardware problems. Sometimes network software seems to have a mind of its own, and it can require frequent monitoring. Make sure you have someone on staff who is knowledgeable in this area. Otherwise, when your network decides not to play nice, you’ll have to call in an expensive network tech and twiddle your thumbs until your network is back up and running.
- Secure your network. If an authorized user gains access to your network, they can bring it to a screeching halt, steal valuable data — or worse. Before your network goes live, make sure your computer guru or consultant has installed and tested all appropriate security measures, and instructed your staff on how to keep the network — and its contents — safe.
- Establish a backup policy. Everyone who uses a computer has experienced a problem with a lost file, or a file that was accidentally deleted. For that reason (and myriad others), it is critical that you regularly back up the information on your network. Establish the backup process, and follow it religiously.