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Please Recommend a Network Upgrade

Posted on 2004-08-10
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-07
I have a client with:
3 workstations running Windows 2000 all with 10/100 NICS.
Cabling is Cat 5 using daisy chain configuration ( No Hub)
One workstation needs to share a folder for access to an Application that relies on Dbase  file system.
This workstation currently runs very slowly presumably due to the application servicing clients.

I am looking for suggestions to improve performance. One question I have is : How do you determine if the network is indeed running at 100 and not 10?

My working theory is that if we off load the application to a stand-alone workstation dedicated to that purpose, the current worksation hosting the app will improve as will the performance of the app.
I m looking for suggestions for a hub that will support 100 mgb bandwidth and any other improvements you might recommend.

Please feel free to ask if you need any other environment information.

Thanks !

Question by:MarcRosenberg

Assisted Solution

by:Jeff Rodgers
Jeff Rodgers earned 150 total points
ID: 11767277
1. Install a 10/100 Switch instead of a hub, between all PCs so that the connection runs through a switch rather than another PC.Switches sense where the bandwidth is required rather than splitting it evenly with no regard for usage.
2. Verify your network cards are all capable of 100 Mb. If all are capable switch to 100 mb half duplex (this assuming you have no connections beyond to LAN)
3. Assign static IP addresses to each PC.
4. Share the folder.

In terms of the application depending upon what you are running you may want to centralize it on a dedicated "server" and use ODBC connections to connect to it from workstations. But that of course would depend on need,and what the app is.

Good Luck
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 11767462
Most modern network cards have two lights on the back of them.  One is 'Link' and the other is '100'.  Likewise there is usually LEDs on the switch that indicate whether the device is connected at 10 or 100.

Assisted Solution

gambit777 earned 150 total points
ID: 11768144
A simple way to determine your nic card net speed do the following:

Right click network neighborhood and select properties
Right click Local Area connections and select properties
then select
show icon in taskbar when connected

If you have Installed a 10/100 Switch and you have all 10/100 NICS you will be connecting at 100mbs unless there is a problem with the NIC card or its configuration.
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LVL 27

Accepted Solution

pseudocyber earned 600 total points
ID: 11768637
My question is how are they running "daisy chained"?!?!?  To do so, with bridged cards, you'd have to have 2 NICs in each one.  There's NO hub!?!?!  Are you SURE it's cat5 and not Coaxial cable?  I've never heard of the topology you describe with Cat5 cabling.

Are they running TCP/IP to begin with?  They could be using tokenring or IPX/SPX.  

I would get an inexpensive MANAGEABLE switch like this Asante IntraCore IC3524 Base 24-Port 10/100 ($457 @ CDW) http://www.asante.com/products/switches/3524/index.html or a Linksys SRW224 ($250 on pricewatch.com)  http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?grid=35&scid=40&prid=641.

Why manageable you ask?  Because in a business environment, you want to be able to manage your network, run baselines, track down problems, customize your network.  Manageable switches give you all of that and more.  Unmanaged switches are for ... small business/home office ... not for when your network is crucial to your business.  Believe me, these are VERY inexpensive compared to others ... Cisco, Nortel, Foundry, F5.  But I cannot overemphasize how much a managed network benefits a business versus an unmanaged one.

Regardless, run Cat5 or 6 from the node's location to a centralized location - either a closet or the room where your gear is going to be.  Punch it down on a patch panel, and from there, cross-connect with patch cables into your switch.  In that location, if the server(s) or "server pc's" are close, patch them directly into the switch as well.

NOTE - if you have a managed network, one thing you can do among others, is manage the network connections.  You can set them all to 100Mbps Full Duplex if you wish, and do the same on your servers (definitely) and other network gear.  If you do it on the PC's, that's up to you, but I would if they don't move around.  Laptops might want to stay auto, but you run into duplex mismatch issues with autonegotiation.

DUPLEX MISMATCH?  If you're running an unmanagead(able) network, you must rely on autonegotiation.  This is when a card/NIC can "sense" the speed and duplex.  The problem with this is that it isn't understood very well and a lot of vendors implement it differently so it fails.  If you have an autonegotiate side and a 100 Mbps Full Duplex side, the 100 Full side turns off autonegotiation.  The auto side, unable to negotiate with the 100 Full side, mistakenly assumes the 100 Full side is older and incapable of 100 Full and will SET ITSELF AT 100 HALF DUPLEX - RESULTING IN A DUPLEX MISMATCH.  When this happens, large file transfers will be VERY SLOW because of the tremendous number of Frame Check Sequence (FCS) and Alignment errors piling up on one side, and giants and late collisions on the other side.  This causes retransmissions which are suceptible to errors as well.

So, this means, if you have an unmanaged(able) network, set everything to Autonegotiate and hope for the best.  Of course, you can't SEE the errors, because you can't look at statistics on the ports because they're unmanaged ... :(

Anyway, after you do this, and connect it all up - it's up to you to implement DHCP if you wish, but having such a small network, it's no problem configuring TCP/IP manually on each machine with static IP addressing.

Hope this helps :)
LVL 11

Assisted Solution

PennGwyn earned 300 total points
ID: 11768779
> 1. Install a 10/100 Switch instead of a hub, between all PCs so that the connection runs through a switch rather than
> another PC.  Switches sense where the bandwidth is required rather than splitting it evenly with no regard for usage.

  Good switches supply full bandwidth to all clients, queuing packets a little if a link is busy.  Hubs rely on collisions to allocate bandwidth.  Neither device "splits" bandwidth, evenly or otherwise, in any intelligent sense.

> 2. Verify your network cards are all capable of 100 Mb. If all are capable switch to 100 mb half duplex (this assuming you
> have no connections beyond to LAN)

  If every PC has its own connection to a *switch*, they should be able to run full duplex for even better performance.

LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 11768785
Another thing to think of - with a managed switch, it might be possible to combine ports for better throughput to multiple locations - such as many clients to one server.  You could put multiple NICs (or a dual or quad NIC) and "team" the interfaces together to provide fault tolerance and load balancing.  You would be much better off with a managed switch that can support this - Cisco calls it "fast etherchannel" and Nortel calls it "Multi-Link Trunking (MLT)".

Teaming NICs between two nodes - point A to point B isn't effective because the load balancing algorithms always choose the same interface.

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