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small office needs networking advice


Hi:

Our small office is moving, so it's time to reevaluate our network setup.

We're a Windows 2000 office with 8 full time employees one Windows 2000 server, and one Linux Server, and a couple of development machines.  We also have about 5 other workstations that are used part-time.  

We use a DSL modem to connect to the internet, a cisco router and then two Linksys switches - one 16 port and one 8 port.

As for usage, we're a writing school not a film editing studio, so for the most part we don't move large amounts of data over the network.  The bulk of the traffic is running MS Access queries to our Access database.

My questions are as follows:

Is that one uplink between the 8 port and 16 port switch a possible bottleneck?  Will we get a noticeable difference in performance from using one 24 port switch rather than one 8 and one 16?

Is there any real advantage to upgrading our switches?  We had a problem a couple of summers ago where a switch was failing and it corrupted our Access database repeatedly before we realized what was happening.  We've replaced the switch, but it makes me leery about using Linksys products again, but Cisco's 24-port switches start at $555 and our budget is small.

Did we just get a bad switch that one time, or is it generally a dumb idea to use Linksys switches in a small office setting?

What is the advantage of using a managed switch over an unmanaged switch?

Last question - if we have a lot of ports on the switch that have wires plugged in but are left unused (without computers plugged in) will that slow down the network?

There are a lot of questions here so I made this a 500 point question.  I'll spread the points around to whoever helps.

Thanks,

-Charlie
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gothamww
Asked:
gothamww
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2 Solutions
 
gothamwwAuthor Commented:

and one last question - would it be more efficient to find a router that has a 24 port switch built-in?  Isn't that one uplink from the switch to the router a bottleneck?

thanks again for your help.
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centrepcCommented:
The uplink between two switches can always be a bottleneck.  In most small office networks you will not see a difference in performance by upgrading to one larger switch.  

If most traffic is just browsing the internet and office file sharing you will not see a difference.

I have many customers running fine on linksys switches.  You can have a bad experience with any brand.  3com is a great brand without the expense of a Cisco.

3Com Baseline Switch 2024 - switch - 24 ports
Switch - 24 ports - EN, Fast EN - 10Base-T, 100Base-TX - 1 U - rack-mountable
MFG#: 3C16471-US
119.00 at CDW

In a small office managed switches are overkill.   They are generally only used on large networks where remote admin is necessary.  Remotly shuting down ports and splitting networks into smaller subnets are advantages of a managed switch.  If you wanted to share you internet connection with another office you could use a managed switch to keep both networks completely private while sharing the cost of your internet.  

You can have patch cords plugged into all ports with a system not plugged in on the other end without having any effect on the perfromance of the switch.  

You will not find a router with 24 ports to fit your small budget.  The uplink to the router is never a bottleneck since the bandwidth of your internet connect is so much smaller than the 100mb port for the uplink.  




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nprignanoCommented:
Having a single managed switch (yes managed is better) will give you more control over your network.  Managed switches allow you to connect to the switch over IP, setup of VLANs and more.  Having a single switch will improve performance of requests to the server (slightly).  Having a 3Com switch over a Linksys will also give you a benchmark of quality - the 3Com switch will far outlast a Linksys switch.  Its more likely that the Linksys failed than it was defective - Linksys is the consumer line of Cisco products, so the design is there but the quality of the hardware is not the same.  3Com is a cheap alternative to Cisco.

Can I ask why you have two routers?

nprignano
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nprignanoCommented:
a patch cord does not affect the performance of the switch unless there is a completed circuit between the two ends of the cord.
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gothamwwAuthor Commented:
nprignano - you asked why I have two routers - did you mean switches?

We have a DSL modem, a router, and two switches 16 and 8.  the reason we have the two switches is that we grew, and went with the cheap route - of buying an 8 port switch, instead of replacing the 16 with a 24.
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centrepcCommented:
Have all of your questions been answered?
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gothamwwAuthor Commented:
thanks to all.
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