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Network configuration

Posted on 2004-04-22
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Hi there.  I just wanted to know if there was a more appropriate way of setting up our network.  We currently have:

6 PCs - 2 with wireless cards (802.1g) and 4 with 10/100 NICs
1 Parallel Port Print Server (for our small office printer)
1 Network Printer (with its own ethernet connection)

2 8-port switches (why 2? I'm not sure - one's not in use)
1 MN-700 Wireless router (802.1g) with built-in 4-port switch

1 Lynksys DSL Modem.


We currently have the DSL modem going into the router, with 3 pc's and one swith connected to the router and then the remaining wired pc and the network printer and print server are then going into the switch.  I was wondering are we better off having all nodes into the switch? I read that the switch is faster than the router... but its a router with "built-in switch".  Does it matter?  Now, if we add more nodes and fill up the switch and router, where should the second switch be plugged into? The first switch or the router?

Thanks.
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Question by:s_mack
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by:Luniz2k1
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The only speed limit you have would be between the pc's that are on the router switch and the pc's that are on the regular switch, because they would share the single uplink between the 2 switches.
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by:fetch_
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On a network of that size, you'll be hard pressed to congest your equipment.  Plug it in and let it go.  Unless you are doing some serious rendering, the DSL connection is the only thing that will hold you back.
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by:s_mack
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The only issue with speed is our printer.  We're sending CAD drawings up to a gigabyte and more in size to it, so we'd like to send it as fast as possible.

Basically, the girls up front noticed that whenever I send a drawing to the printer, and they access the accounting database on the server, they get a lot of lag between operations.

I realize we could switch to gagabit equipment, but its not that big of a problem yet.  I just wanted to make sure our configuration wasn't halving the speed or anything because of packet collision.

I read that "a completely switched network has no possibility of collision", but it didn't really explain what "completely switched" meant in much detail.  I presumed that they meant we should have switches rather than hubs, but what do I know?  :)

Ok, it sounds like what you are saying is that our setup is the best it can be given our equipment - good enough.  I'll leave this open for a bit in case someone has a different point of view to offer.
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by:fetch_
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Now that is a lot of data.  I would put the printer and the machines doing a lot of CAD printing on it on the same switch, which should be linked to the switch built into the router.  Put the database and the girls up front on a different switch.  You're not using the same database server as your file server for your CAD drawings are you?  If so, your slowdown is at the server.
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by:HynesCo
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Sounds like your print jobs are being spooled by the server, hook the printer up to the network,"you need a print server to do this", costs about $130.00 this device plugs straight into the parallel port and has a RJ45 in the rear for the LAN connection. SO create a tcpip port straight through to the printer on your computer, the print jobs will be processed on your computer then sent to the printer without affecting anyone.
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jedha earned 25 total points
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Nothing new from these other posts, but I'll chime in as well:

DSL Modem  connected to your MN-700 Wireless Router
Connect each of your 8-port switches into the wireless router and segment your traffic.  Consider one switch a CAD printing switch and the other general access…etc
Switch1 - uplink to your router
- Add network printer
- Add pc's which send CAD drawings to network printer
Switch2 - uplink to router
- Add any/all other pc's
- Add database server

How much RAM does your printer have?  You might consider using once of your systems on the switch1 as a print server.  Windows XP can handle something like 10 simultaneous connections, and the large print jobs are spooled to disk on the print server rather than sending slowly to the printer (if the printer has limited RAM 32/64MB which is what I'm guessing you have).
It's not a perfect fix, but it might improve overall performance.

If you want to go that route, add the printer to the print server.  Go into properties on the printer, share it.  Then configure your client systems (especially the CAD clients) to use the shared printer instead.  See if that improves the performance.
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by:s_mack
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about the printer(s)

We do have a print server (HP JetDirect or something like that) and the office printer is hooked up to that via a parallell port.

The other "printer" is a 900 pound machine with its own RIP controller/PC with 2 GB of ram and a 40GB Hard drive and is hooked up to the network via a regular ethernet cable - same as the rest of the PCs.

We don't have a fileserver for the CAD files - there's only one pc (mine) that does CAD and its all on my workstation.  When I send the plot (CAD speak for "print") of a large job it takes a long time, but that's ok - its expected.  The problem is that it tied up the network and the accounting programs didn't like it.  Three PCs have the accounting program installed, but only one has the database and they all access it from there.  So of course, the main one isn't bothered by it but the other two have to pretty much wait until I'm done my printing.

BUT. Fetch had the solution and jedha made it more clear to me - so thank you both.  It works beatifully now!   I now have it like this:

 DSL modem plugged into uplink of Router
 Switch 1 and Switch 2 uplinked into ports 1/2 on the Router
 CAD pc and big printer plugged into ports 2/3 on Switch 1
 All other pcs and print server (for office printer) into ports 2+ on Switch 2

I'm not sure I understand why that worked, but it did :)   Now when I print it doesn't seem to be affecting the front office at all!

The only downside I'm experiencing now, and I don't quite know why, is that it seems to take 3-4 times longer to print to the office printer than it did before.
 
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by:s_mack
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Hmm... I just discovered something else :)

That switch that wasn't being used before (which I above called Switch 2) isn't a switch at all - its a hub.  Is that why printing to the office printer takes longer?   The girls also say that the accounting program seems to have a small lag all the time, whereas before they had a huge lag when I was printing and none otherwise.

Time to look up the difference between a switch and a hub :)

But what about this?

What if I throw out Switch 2, and move everything above that was on Switch 2 over to Switch 1 and move everything that was on Switch 1 (only my computer and the monster printer) onto the built-in switch of the router?  I'll give it a try
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by:HynesCo
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Take the hub out completly,  whatever you plug into the hub will actually share just 1 10 meg pipe to the switch, where as all switched users have a dedicated 10/100 meg pipe.
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by:fetch_
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That is strange about the office printer.  Try a few test pages and see if the time decreases.  Print from more than 1 computer.  Make sure that you don't put a piece of Cat5 between the two switches trying to improve performance.  This will cause a loop and your switches will not understand the network properly, causing network problems.
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by:s_mack
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Well.. I investigated the matter a bit more, and I observed that the "Col" light on the hub (previously stated as "Switch 2") was blinking rather frequently.  After reading the manual, "col" means collision *duh* and that can't be good.

There was probably a reason why we stopped using it.  Anyway, I plugged my computer (CAD workstation) into the router/switch along with the big printer and the true switch.  I then plugged everything else into the switch.  The printer then printed fine and the lag seems to be gone - although it was so slight it was probably in our heads anyway :)

Now its all great.

Thanks for the help!
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by:fetch_
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buy a new $30 switch (5 port) and replace the hub.
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by:s_mack
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ok, but why do we need it?  Doesn't my configuration do the same thing??  Or is the "built-in" switch different from a seperate switch?
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by:HynesCo
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No, a switch is a switch is a switch. Well I must add one more thing, There is a managed and unmanaged switch, it sounds like your config has unmanaged, nothing wrong with that with the config I see. As long as the hub is gone your network traffic
will run much more smoothly, also to increase performance you should be able to do a 100TX full dulex on all nodes on the network except for the Hp print server which I think will only link up via a 10 meg connection, you might want to check this, if it can link at 100TX then set up everything 100 full duplex, send a few test print jobs on all printers just to make sure the full duplex isnt causing some grief with the older equipment  or pc's. That is as optimal as you can get without upgrading your network cable to at least cat5e, upgrade all nics to a 10/100/1000 network adapter and purchasing a new gig switch.
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by:fetch_
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The unmanaged switch (the one you can get for $30) will manage the full/half duplex for you.  Never had a problem with it.  It would help the other database-using machines on that same switch with speed.  On a hub, only one machine can talk at a time.  With a switch, all devices can talk at the same time.  There are a few "gotchas" to that last statement, but on the whole, it's true.  Has that printer started printing any faster?
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by:s_mack
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yeah... printer is printing fine now that I changed the hub for the switch.
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by:jedha
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good to hear that everything is working.  i think you asked above about the built-in switch on your router compared to adding another - no difference except for possible load on the router.  I wouldn't invest in the additional switch until your performance is hit hard or you need additional ports.  With the presumed size and load of your current office network you should be fine.  Good luck! :)
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