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Couple of questions concerning ethernet switches

If I'm running a totally switched network (i.e. all the way to the desktop) is it an idea to leave all machines trying to communicate at 100MB Full Duplex, or should I drop the workstations down to Half Duplex.

The final switched solution will consist of 3 banks of 3 HP Procurve 2524 managed switches.  The switches in each bank will be connected using giabit stacking kits and I'd like to connect the 3 banks together using gigabit ethernet transceivers to provide some failover links.

I've had some problems during testing when using a standard CAT5e cable to connect the gigabit transceivers (dropouts, flooding).  Do I need to investigate CAT6 patches?  The patch cables themselves would be about 5 metres each.
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hstiles
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hstiles
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scraig84Commented:
As to the first question - That totally depends on the traffic patterns on your network.  Often you can get better performance by keeping clients at a lower speed and/or lesser duplex than the servers, so as not to overwhelm the server segments.  However, if these segments are not running at full utilization, you may be able to get away with full speed at the desktops as well.  It is very unique to the network layout, hardware, and software used on your network.

On the second question - yes I would look at those if you are having problems.  Gig over copper can be very touchy, so if you are having problems, it should be too spendy to throw in a few new cables at least to eliminate them as a potential source for the problem.
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afurmanCommented:
You can use 3Com Gigabit Server NIC us the cheapest wire tester for Gigabit Ethrenet. It software has some featureres for doing measurements of wire quality. This solution costs near $150-$200.
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ymashCommented:
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hstilesAuthor Commented:
afurman,

I'm not planning on upgrading the servers to gigabit over copper.  The gigabit will be running between the switches.  The Procurves in each stack are connected using gigabit stacking kits and each I want to connect each stack using a gigabit copper module.  Obviously, one befit of this approach is that we can upgrade the servers to gigabit at a later stage, although I understand that there are a number of complications associated with CAT6.

Want I really need to know is if anyone else has experienced problems when trying to run gigabit over a relatively short length of CAT5e cabling (10 & 20 metres).  I tried connecting two floors via the gigabit copper transceivers - simple cable run straight down the electrical riser and the link kept dropping or flooding the network.  As soon as I unplugged the cable from one of the transceivers and into a standard 100MB port the problem vanished.
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afurmanCommented:
hstiles,

I recommended you 3Com NIC not for upgrade but for simple and cheap testing and troubleshooting your cabling. You will use it for server upgrade later.

I have used CAT5e cabling for Gigabit Ethernet (2, ~40, ~80 meters, but newly installed) and hadn't any problem. Equipment: 3Com Gigabit NICs, 3Com SuperStack 3 Switches 4300 (with 1000Base-T modules), 3Com Switches 4005 (also with 1000Base-T modules).
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scraig84Commented:
I was just re-reading this and saw that I screwed up in my last post - I meant to say that it should NOT be too spendy to swap those cables.  Buying a NIC for testing cables isn't a bad idea, but buying a few new CAT 6 cables for relatively short runs should be pretty cheap.  I don't see why you wouldn't want to go ahead and be sure that the cables aren't the source of the issues.
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hstilesAuthor Commented:
Whilst a few people provided helpful suggestions, I have going to follow scraig84's advice, so it only seems fair to award him the points.

Thank you
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