New network

Posted on 2004-11-25
Last Modified: 2013-12-07
I'm new to networking and trying my hand at developing an upto date network for a small school.
We have broadband access and computers in 4 rooms plus admin office.

My idea, use the existing cables to create a gigabit network.  New computers have been ordered plus gigabit hubs.  I'll have a 2 file server and win2003 server.  The rooms will be star topography.

How I'm I doing?
Question by:clankk
    LVL 36

    Expert Comment

    Hi clankk,
    I assume you mean gigabit switches. Gigabit is overkill for this situation apart from perhaps to the server(s) itself.
    Saying that gigabit network cards are about the same as normal ones now. It is the gigabit switches which are more espensive. A switch with a couple of gigabit ports and the remaining ports being 100Mbps ones would be a good choice.
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    you're doing fine, provided that the cabling in use at the moment is Cat5e minimum (as anything below this does not support gigabit networking). you could also use the 2003 server to share the broadband connection securely amongst the rest of the network (you may have already thought of this, but never mentioned it so I thought I'd throw it in!).

    Hope that helps,

    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Without knowing what you're going to be doing on the network, it isn't necessarily true that it is overkill. It is likely that it is overkill but if you've got the money, what the hey, right? GigE is much more demanding so make sure that you use the cat5e like barrymullholland pointed out and make sure all of your connections are good. It won't do any good to have real fast connections if they won't stay up.

    If you really aren't going to be stressing the network though, you might consider putting that money to a different use. Look at what is really important and see how that can be best addressed. If your network isn't stressed and you're using GigE vs 100Mb, you probably won't notice any difference. The servers may be the bottleneck. If I was you, I might consider spending my money on a  SAN instead. Reliable storage and backups. This kind of thing is what will keep you looking good when there is a problem. That is one thing you'll learn about networking. There is no glory. On the very best day of the year, your phone won't ring and nobody will knock on your door because everything is working ok. On the worst, everybody is standing on your desk wanting to know why something isn't working.

    Anyway, your GigE network is going to be real sexy and cool, but nobody is going to appreciate it but they'll be yanked if it is broke. If you can do something that can make the network more stable or recover more quickly from a problem. People will not be as angry and you have done your job well.
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    In my opinion, if you bought a couple of Layer 2 GigE switches then your fine.  If you went the managed (layer 3) route, then you probably should have stuck to 100Mb switches (100 Mb laywer 3 switches tend to run 3-10x more expensive than your same number of port layer 2 switches).  But this depends on what you're doing with the network.  If you expect your students/staff to be transferring large amounts of data in large files, then GigE makes sense.  If they are just opening word documents and surfing the internet, then it doesn't make much sense.

    A SAN or NAS doesn't make that much sense to me because of the cost.  These devices - for anything quality - will run mid 5 figures to mid 6 figures depending how much storage you get on it.  A couple of managed GigE switches at WORST will run 10K.  A Relative drop in the bucket on the cost of a SAN or NAS.  

    What OS will the file servers be running?  I assume Windows.  I'd suggest making at least two Domain Controllers.

    Also, how many PCs total?  Any Macs?  Linux?
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    If using exiting wiring  for gig the need to cat 5e or 6

    If you only hare a distance to go cat 5 will work fine.

    Cat 3 is only good for 10 mb

    If ues the old wiring make sure you to a Manage Switch, it will let you set a speed  for each connection and let see whats going on each connection.
    LVL 4

    Assisted Solution

    I'm not arguing... but I do feel a bit of a need to substantiate my earlier comments.

    Yes you can go absolutely crazy with a SAN but I'm guessing you can get into a small reliable SAN  for around the cost difference between probably four or five GigE switches vs. 100mb switches. I'm guessing that is 12 - 15K give or take, which unless I'm mistaken should be enough to get somebody into a small basic SAN. Might need to shell out a few more dollars, I don't know. That is way beyond the scope here. Forgive me if my numbers or assumptions are off target, but I stand by the premise of my earlier comments.

    We don't have a whole lot of information to do an in-depth analysis. It seems all the comments concur the plan is sound and the major concern would be the media. I was simply pointing out to somebody who is new to networking that it is good to look at network design very pragmatically. I know I can listen to the sales pitch or read a few articles about various goodies and get very excited and want to forge ahead. The problem is that if I forge ahead, is anybody but me going to realize how cool this technology is? If it breaks down are they going to be breathing down my neck, or are they going to be saying hey that's ok because it's really cool when it's working?

    I was just pointing out that a functional network is worth much, much more than a sexy network. If I can spend the same amount of money or even a little more for a vanilla network that will never go down vs. one that has all the latest and greates technology. I'd take the first and my life would be simpler and my users would be happier. We don't get recognized for the cool factor, we win when nobody knows our names because things work so well.

    sorry to waste threadspace :)

    Author Comment

    Thanks everyone, just for finalise...

    File server should be win 2003.  In total about 40 pc's. no macs, no linux for now.

    The students will use internet, media applications such as photoshop and fireworks. We should have some
    future need for server space for tutorials and server practicals.

    Students will have roaming profiles and allocated storage on the server. is this advisable or is there a better option?

    additional question: what about student with their own laptops? what kind of setup would u recommend?
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    Here's a few closing thoughts then:

    If the computers have been ordered, so be it, but if not I'd suggest you consider ordering a system or two (server wise) from - they have servers with 16 drive bays.  I'm NOT suggesting you max them out now, but you COULD get them with 4-8 drives to start.  This would give you the potential for lots of disk space at a good price.  (Maxed out these systems are $20,000 or so with over 6TB of space - you don't need to max out, but having the room to grow is a good thing.  A SAN or NAS with the same space would almost definitely cost 5x that much, minimum).

    I'm not sure I'd do roaming profiles.  Roaming profiles are, in my opinion, more trouble then they are worth.  If student1 logs in to PC1, then saves a document to their desktop, then logs into PC2, then logs out of PC1, then logs out of PC2, then the student loses their document forever because the last copy of the profile copied to the network didn't have it and they logged in before it was on the network to begin with.  (Follow that?)  If you're set on using them, learn how to exclude folders through group policy and effectively only replicate the registry info.

    Laptops - especially those owned by the students CAN be a problem.  You can require that the student allow you to make them a part of the domain, but you can't block them from doing things like you almost certainly would with school computers.  This probably means putting them into their own OU with NO restrictions on it.  You might also have to make the student account a member of the latptop's local admin account.  You can also refuse to put them on the domain and make them be required to manually connect to all network resources - meaning they type in \\server\share name in a start/Run option and are prompted for their domain account and password.  It can happen that a student want's their computer to be a part of their home domain - most people don't have them, but if they've got a parent (or if these are adults, a spouse/roommate) who has a domain setup at home, their PCs can be a part of only ONE domain, this would be a potential problem for the students (just be aware of these issues).

    Back to the network question, based on usage, it's POSSIBLE that the Gig bandwith would be advisable - it depends on the actual size of the photoshop images.  It certainly won't be a problem, just might well be overkill.

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