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Need recommendation on network equipment

I currently work at a small non-profit organization and I am only somewhat knowledgable about networking. First of all, we have two buildings that are a within a tenth of a mile from each other. The first building contains our server, 10 client computers, and a 12 port switch. Also, both buildings are wired with cat5(not cat5e) cabling. The second building is connected through fiber. The fiber has media convertors on both ends that convert it to an rj45 connection which is connected to the switches at both ends. The second building has about 35 client computers. This is setup with a 24 switch and 24 port hub. The fiber is connected to the switch with 22 clients and the other port is connect to the hub which connects the rest of the client computers. I know this in not an ideal situation but it was like this when I started here and the organization does not have much money to invest in it. However, when I work in building 2, I notice significantly slower speeds when accessing anything on the server. So, I am looking for an affordable solution to increase performance. My first though is to eliminate the hub in building 2 and install a 48 port switch instead. If anyone can give me advice on how to increase performance without rewiring the buildings to cat6 and installing gigabit ethernet, I would appreciate it. Please justify your answers since I am not real knowledgable on this topic.
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Robcarter10
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Robcarter10
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techno-wizCommented:
The most bang for your buck will definitely be replacing that hub with a 10/100mbit switch.
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TNL_EngrCommented:
It is definitely a good idea to eliminate the hub in building 2, as that device will cause network performance issues for anyone attached to it.  I am curious to know what speed the media converters are operating at.  Depending upon the age, they may be connecting at 10MB instead of 100.  

There should be no need to rewire the buildings since you probably don't want your workstations connecting at speeds higher than the link between buildings.

You might also want to look at what type of fiber you have and make sure it matches the media converters.  
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Robcarter10Author Commented:
I am noticing network performance issues for everyone in the building, not just the ones attached to the hub. My intial thought was that it was the media converters which at the time were 10mbs. I had them replaced last year with 100mbs converters but there are still problems. They are the right converters also. I have thought about buying switches that have fiber ports for both buildings, but I am not sure if that would help. I guess my main question is if I need more than 100mbs connection through the fiber to allow the clients in building 2 to run at the same speeds as the people in building 1. Or, could it just be a performance issue with the switch and hub setup?
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TNL_EngrCommented:
If you haven't tried it already, you might consider testing by connecting a single system to the switch, and disconnecting everything else.  Remove the hub and all other workstations from the equation and see if you have the same performance issues.  The hub will affect the performance of systems attached to it.  But, if is connected to a switch, the hub shouldn't severely impact anything else.  It may not really be a part of this particular problem.

If you are still having problems while running with everything else disconnected, the issue probably exists within the link between buildings (or the directly attached equipment...ie. media converters, switches).

If the problem goes away, then add devices back in, one at a time, until you find the offending system.  A packet analyzer might be helpful to speed the troubleshooting process up.  ( www.wireshark.org )
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TNL_EngrCommented:
One more thought.  I have had problems in the past with a customer running media converters which were not set correctly for the switch link.  Make sure that the media converters are set the same on both ends, and that the link to the switch is set the same as the switch port setup.  If the switch auto-negotiates the port only, then hard set the media converter port speed/duplex.  If there is a mismatch, or if both the media converter and the switch are trying to autonegotiate, the link may be bouncing.  This might not be apparent if the switch is not a managed device.
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Robcarter10Author Commented:
I checked the media converters and the switch and neither of them have anything to set.  I will try wireshark first. Is there anything specific that I should watch for with it?
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TNL_EngrCommented:
Wireshark will give you a ton of information.  If you are unfamiliar with it, try simply to get an idea of where the most information is coming from and going to.  If one system is generating significantly more traffic than the others, there may be a problem with it.  

Bear in mind, Wireshark will capture only the packets that can be seen by the NIC.  If you connect the PC to a switch port, you will primarily only see traffic to/from your PC, and broadcast traffic.  This will not help you much.  It sounds like you don't have a managed switch, so you cannot mirror the uplink port, which would be the preferred method.  

If you connect to the hub, you will see traffic to and from all of the devices connected to the hub since the hub will rebroadcast everything it receives out every interface.  

If you have the opportunity, I would still suggest testing without devices attached on the remote site.  This will help isolate the problem the quickest.  Good luck and let me know how it comes out for you.  
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