what do i need to set up a network on about 12 computers
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PringleConnect With a Mentor Commented:
hey matrixx

every one seems to be complicating your life there is a easy way to do this networking thing with out servers etc etc

1.) get u'r hands on 12 network cards dosent matter wot type really ..preferablr plug and play

2.) if the computers are in close proximity get u'r hands on sum coaxial cabling other wize known as 10base2 no hub needed

3.) link all the computers up

4.) select a default networking protocal lets say netbeui which is small and fast, and needs no configeration

4.) goto control pannel \\network ad client and choose client for microsoft networks and select file and print sharing and only select the netbeui transport protocal ...

volia you should have a network running in 30 mins...

Oh, were the answer so easy to merit just 50 points, but it isn't.
The reason why, is because there are so many different reasons why people want to set up a network, so many different computer configurations, and so much difference in the skill levels of the person who will be assigned the job of network administrator.

I'll approach an answer here from a distinctly Microsoft and Intel point of view. First you have to decide whether your network will have a server, or be peer-to-peer. Regardless of the decision, each computer on the network must have a network card installed, and the card should be connected by category 5 cable to a network hub (or switch). Then each computer on the network must be set up to use the network card and to communicate on the network. Finally you must share available computing resources appropriately so that others on the network can use them.

The simplest network to set up and administer is a Win9x based peer-to-peer one. Unfortunately, simple doesn't translate into power or security very well, so many organizations opt instead for an NT4 server based network.
I'll pause for now so you can tell us what you hope to accomplish with your network, and what kind of budget you have to create one and administer it.
If you decide you want 10/100 base T with a hub, (as mentioned above) here's some cheap parts...
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3 questions.
How fast do you want your net be?
How far between connections?
What do you need it do?

My 2 examples of what a can of worms you've opened is:

12 computers can be run on a wireless lan.

Benefits are very short implementation time and portable.
When the company moves the network goes with it.
Problems are its not very fast compared.

Other example
1 gigabit lan.
Benefits are SPEED. You can have realtime video conferencing with this and have plenty of headroom to grow.
Problems are cost, static network layout and hard wired implementation.

So, before you can ask what you need, you need to know what you want it to do.

Typically you buy a hub that has enough ports for the number of computers and servers your going to interconnect. Get either 10BaseT or 100BaseTX or a hub that can run at either speed.

Address your wiring issues. You just can't string wires all over the place without it looking like hell and/or violating safety code. Expect to pay $25/terminated end (2 per cable) and $1/ft for wiring - installed. Good wiring is an art.

Get NIC's for all the computers that match the speed of the hub. You can get 10/100 NICs that will work at either. You'll need patch cables as well.

12 is quite a few for peer-to-peer networking. That size group could use a server. Hire a CNE to come in and set up the server.

Best solution: hire a consultant to do the job for you.


If you need a consultant in the Chicago area, I work for beer. No cheap stuff!
I drink heavily, though!
With 12 workstations I recommend a server.
I prefer Novell for ease of maintenance but 10 users will cost about $2000.  Advantages are backups on dedicated server, Use one UPS, one tape back up, save all important data to one server.
15 users will cost more.  # of users means how many can be on server at same time.  You can have many users on server but only allowed to have as many on line as your version allows.
You also need workstations.  How fast do you want to go?
You do not need a hub if you use coax (10/100 baseT) but problem with that is it has to be connected from machine to machine and if one part fails they all fail.
All server system Novell, NT require constant updates so you have to subscribe to a service like ZD Inside netware, or Inside NT.  $99 year.
Network system require constant tuning up so be prepared to keep busy.
Is this for your own business or are you trying to start one?
This is long, but Im trying to be complete 50 points or not.

Based on the level of the question and how comfortable you seem to be with hardware in general I would suggest that you start learning about networking with a Peer-to-Peer network. they are by far the easiest to setup and maintain.

Since you dont mention if it is for personal or business use I'll try to cover both.

Some of the things I didnt see listed are:

What oerating system is going to be on the workstations?
    Depending on the systems that you need to support on
    your network, determins what features you need to look      for in a server.

What features do you need to support for the users of the machines?
    Internet Services, EMail, File Security, and a host of
    other possibilities.

If this is your first network, and its for a business, Hire someone professional, sign a contract with them, go over it with a lawyer before you sign. make sure they are the responsible for as much as possible, though they wont be interested in trainning you, it will let you see how it is done.

Peer-to-Peer networks are by far the easiest to setup. You can set up a peer-to-peer network simply as each station on a network talking to eachother machine directly or with a dedicated server type machine, but without any email, network or file security.

Novell works best for file level management, has a C2 (government) specification for security, and extensive user protections. As David_U mentioned its cost per-seat is initially greater, but the long run TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is lower than that of NT.

NT works best as an application server, ie the applications are stored on the server not on the client systems. NT's initial per seat cost is lower, but requires about double the hardware commitment than that of Novell. There are numerous security issues with NT which also raise its ownership, but often management decrees that NT be used based on the Microsoft name.

All updates dont need to be subscribed to from ZDNet. That is simply a service that provides them. They are free from the internet for both Novell and Microsoft products, from the respective publishers.

Novell has a mailing list that that you can ask questions of other administrators. Webpages you can search for common errors and gotcha's. There are similar resources for NT as well.

If its for personal use, whack away, I'd suggest setting up both and seeing which your more comfortable with. NT is easier to use initially, but has some strange ways of setting options. Novell is like esoteric initially, but as you become used to it has some powerful file managemt capabilities.

In the training bboks found at bookstores they usually include a 2 user liscense for teaching your self how to use the various Operating systems. Look in the back of the book for a CD.
To Pringle...
   What's easiest isn't always what's best, especially for someone who appears to be a relative novice in networking.

My advice to matrixxx is to stay away from coax and the kind of networking configuration it demands. It's easy, so to speak, to set up, but it isn't so easy to grow or maintain. There is a good reason why most network installations these days are based on 10baseT standards.
I did not say the the ZD publications were necessary but I find them quite helpful.  The monthly updates are well worth the price and saves me from having to search for latest changes.
As I said, you can use co-ax but it csan be a pain to setup and maintain.
There are tricks to using it however such as terminating the NIC you can actually set up a hub using RG-58.
Hubs are cheap and much easier to set up however.
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