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How to change from switch to firewall router when I upgrade from dial-up to cable?

I have peer-to-peer networking with 8 pc's hardwired (Cat5) to the server (a separate computer) via a switch with dial-up service.  All pc's are running WinXP Pro SP2 and have up-to-date Norton Internet Security 2005.  An HP laser printer is also connected via a cable outlet. We've just had Atlantic Broadband installed and I'm wondering the best set-up (in newbie terms) for these pc's in terms of security.  I've read that a firewall router would probably be the best security.  I'm not familiar with routers at all and was wondering which firewall router (gateway?) would be best and if I can use the same wiring that was run for the switch.  Do I just take the cables from the switch and connect them to the router?  Is there different programming that would have to be done? I was told that with a firewall router the server wouldn't have to be on in order to gain access to the internet.  I would like the easiest and, hopefullly, most secure method.  Thanks for your help!
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barbid
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barbid
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2 Solutions
 
rvthostCommented:
Yep, a router is the way to go.  There are many options, but here is a Linksys one:

http://tinyurl.com/apyvk

Sounds like you have everything connected to the switch today.  So install the broadband modem, connect the new router to the modem, connect your current switch to the router.  Done!  The router will hand off IP addresses and all outgoing traffic such as Internet will go through the router and out the door.  You are correct in that it doesn't matter which PC/servers are on going forward.
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jeff_trentCommented:
The Linksys WRT54G is cheap, and reasonably well featured.  As rvthost mentioned, it's a very simple procedure to install the router and get it up and running.  I think the hurdle for you is going to be moving away from the peer-to-peer networking.  Are you currently assigning IP Addresses statically?  If so, you'll need to set them all for DHCP and let them get their IP, Default Gateway, and DNS Addresses from the new Router once it's hooked up to your Broadband connection.
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barbidAuthor Commented:
Does it need to be a 'firewall' router, if there is such a thing for extra security?  So I don't disconnect the cables from the switch?  I thought they would each be connected to a port of like a 16 port router, if that makes sense.  Also, are there any routers that aren't wireless?  If not, is there usually router software included to secure that aspect? Sorry, hope these questions make sense.
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barbidAuthor Commented:
Jeff:
Oh, I just don't know enought, I guess.  No I don't assign IP addresses; I just let the DHCP do it. Why do I have to get rid of peer-to-peer?  Isn't it still peer-to-peer? Or now that a router is involved, is it something else? Thanks.
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rvthostCommented:
Jeff makes a good point that you'll need to do some planning for addressing.  I would assume that you would not want the server's IP address to change, and perhaps the HP printer.  Check out the documentation on the Linksys, but as an example:

Linksys will automatically hand off IP addresses between 192.168.1.100 - 254.  So I would set all your PC clients to DHCP and let the router assign the address.  

Then you would want to statically set the IP address on the server and printer.  

Server:  192.168.1.50
Printer:  192.168.1.51

Does that make sense?

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rvthostCommented:
The linksys router I mentioned is a "firewall" router.  There is a wired version here, http://tinyurl.com/c9hzv

It's about the same money as wireless, so I always recommend wireless for future functionality.  The routers do have a web interface for configuration where wireless can be turned off for example.  

I don't want to confuse you too much with NAT, but besides basic firewalling, your router will get a public IP address.  All of the devices "behind" the router get a private address.  From an outside person, they have no idea how many PCs or devices you have.  This is good protection for a broadband Internet setup.

I would leave your switch in place, then you don't need to buy a router with so many ports.  The router I mentioned just has 4 ports, but you can plug your switch into the router to "expand" the network.  That should save you some dollars.

Regarding DHCP, you must have your server configured to hand out IP addresses?  With the introduction of a router, I would turn it off the server and let the router do it.  It's a small network, but it will still save you some overhead on the server.
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jeff_trentCommented:
>>  Does it need to be a 'firewall' router, if there is such a thing for extra security?  So I don't disconnect the cables from the switch?  I thought they would each be connected to a port of like a 16 port router, if that makes sense.  Also, are there any routers that aren't wireless?  If not, is there usually router software included to secure that aspect? Sorry, hope these questions make sense.

Most any home use router you buy will have a built-in firewall.  The WRT54G we suggested has this.  There is no need to purchase a router with so many ports.  Go with a cheap one like we suggested and just connect your existing switch to the new router.  This will essentially extend the number of ports on your router at no additional cost to you.

>>  Oh, I just don't know enought, I guess.  No I don't assign IP addresses; I just let the DHCP do it. Why do I have to get rid of peer-to-peer?  Isn't it still peer-to-peer? Or now that a router is involved, is it something else? Thanks.

Don't concern yourself with whether or not you'll still be using a "peer-to-peer" network, as this is an overused term and not worth worrying about.  You'll still be peer-to-peer in the sense that you don't have a dedicated server.   You'll want to ensure that there is only one DHCP server on your network, otherwise you'll have BIG problems.  When you disable internet connection sharing, I suspect that the PC with the dialup connection will no longer issue DHCP addresses, and your new Linksys router will take over.
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barbidAuthor Commented:
Thanks, so much rvthost.  You answered my questions!
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barbidAuthor Commented:
Jeff:
Thanks, I didn't know I had to disable the ICS in the server.  I guess that could have caused some problems.  Anything else you can think of that's not obvious to a newbie?
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jeff_trentCommented:
Nothing that I can think of.  The rest should be plug and play...
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