Help with Refreshing an Office Network

Posted on 2007-04-06
Last Modified: 2010-03-18
Ok - Trying to help a friend who is a dentist refresh his network. can anyone give me a good starting point for what he wants:
need a designated server to capture my digital photographs and x-rays and to run the network.  I need more speed to the terminals in each operatory(may be the servers problem). I need a full proof no brainer back-up system(we have an external hard-drive to backup now). I possibly  need some inexpensive secondary monitors in a few rooms for  easy explanation of treatment options and diagnosis.  I will need a new computer in my office, maybe a laptop if feasible, but I am not opposed to a desktop

I know enough to be dangerous and he wants me to help. Now I need YOU to help ME!
Question by:friarl

Expert Comment

ID: 18869476
Is their any existing equpment in the office and if so what are the specs on it?

Accepted Solution

Brain2000 earned 500 total points
ID: 18870303
Here is where I would start, in no particular order.

1) The network.  I would go with gigabit for fast image transfers.  I would make sure that you have at least CAT 5 cabling in the walls (or CAT5e/CAT6).  If you have CAT3 cable, you will need to change it out in order to get past 100MB/sec across the network.  If you want to run wireless, then find a vendor you like (i.e. linksys) and purchase just their hardware to make sure you get the most from a single vendor's speedboosting technologies.

2) The server.  I would purchase a supermicro server.  These servers are very reliable.  In the last 6 years, I've put 30 of these into production, and I've had 0 die on me.  My favorite server of their's is the H8DAR-T motherboard that supports up to 32GB of ram, dual Opterons, dual core capable, and 4 removable hard drive trays.  I usually run it with one dual core 270 opteron, 4GB of ram, and two 250GB hard drives.  One of these servers with these specs costs around $2000 from

3) The workstations.  I would build my own workstations, unless they are laptops, which I would purchase Dell systems.  If you are not comfortable with spec'ing out and purchasing parts from across the country from multiple vendors (I'm very specific about some of the things I buy) and assembling the PC's yourself, then just buy from Dell (or your favorite PC vendor).

4) The backups here are going to be very important.  Especially since this lies in the medical realm, and may mean the difference someday between losing or not losing a lawsuit.  If you're in the medical field, it's not a matter of if you get sued, but WHEN you get sued, just make sure you have your ducks in line.  So for a backup system, I would use three removable hard drives, and set up a scheduled task to copy all required files to the removable drive.  Then, this drive can be taken offsite and a new one brought back.  You do not want to lose files because of fire or theft.  So the importance of the data should determine how often the hard drives be rotated and kept offsite.  Be sure to make sure that you are recycling the disk based media so that you do not run out of hard drive space.  Someone should check it at least once a month to make sure it is working.  Finally, hard drives are a very common item to have die.  I would highly, highly recommend that you mirror all the hard drives in the server.  Not only the OS, but also the data drives (if you only have two drives for both OS and data, then definately mirror them together!).  This will not only reduce office downtime if a hard drive dies, but also keep a duplicate of the data in case of failure.  I would also recommend that the person that checks the backups monthly, also checks the condition of the hard drives to make sure they are still mirrored and healthy.

There's lots of ways to skin this cat, but this is what I would initially propose, and determine if it covers all the needs and requirements of the office.

Expert Comment

ID: 18973663
Are you just after upgrading the network?, or commisioning virtually a whole new network.

Forgive me if I am wrong but it sounded to me like the network was running slowly and that you wanted to keep as much of the hardware as possile except a few new monitors a laptop etc.

I would agree with Brain2000 the first place to be looking is the network cabling. If your server is causing the main hold up try looking at what it is hosting. I mean there is no need for your server to be handling DHCP tasks hand that over to your router. Print serving tasks, pass them on to the individual workstations or a dedicaed print server, everyone will still have acces to them, its one less jo for the server.

Decide if yo want to upgrade the existing server or build a new one. I think you will e surprised what you can achieve by removing unnessacary software and services, adding some more memory and defragging the hard drive.

What OS are you currently using for the server and workstations, I mean if you are still running NT go for a Linux server with XP workstatios yo have all the cost and speed benefits then.

As to the laptop wireless is the only way to go, no doubt about it, I would reccomend linksys everytime for a low cost business solution. The office cant be too big so a singe wireles access point plugged directly into te existing network hardware should give you ofice wide coverage.

As to what laptop go with a laptop you are hapy with something to suit the budget and requirements.

sorry if I am barking up the wrong tree here, lease feel free to point me back n the right direction.

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