Help me design a LAN for small office

Hi guys,

I have 5 workstations that need to be networked & I'm undecided on whether to setup 5 individual PC's or setup a server type architecture. So basically I would like a recommendation on a LAN that will:
1. Accommodate at least 5 users, each with their own office/computer & email address.
2. Accommodate at least 2 printers.
3. Have automated backups for emails & other selected files of importance (minimum daily)

The office is purely a professional environment, no gaming, just day to day emailing/web browsing & running MS Office type applications.

I realize this question is very broad so please ask for clarification if needed.

Thanks in advance.
Who is Participating?
Dave StringfellowConnect With a Mentor IT managerCommented:
I would agree with DeltaR7, installing Server 2008 R2 isnt much cheaper than SBS2008 but you dont get Exchange with Server 2008.

Make sure all your PCs are XP Pro/Vista Ultimate/Business/ W7 Ultimate/Business/Enterprise so they can join a domain and use all the features of a domain.

Printers are easy, I would recommend buy network attached printers rather than USB printers, as its one less USB device to install on a server using its resources.

SBS comes with a nice backup, but you cannot use Tapes, so its USB hard drives for back, but with the cost of removable storage nowadays you can get a few drives so you always have an offsite backup. Alternatively you could look at an offsite backup solution where you backup to the cloud.

I would recommend a SBS2008 server.
With this you can have a full policy, much is automated and is very easy to deploy and manage.
We usually work with DELL systems. You can easy scale your needs for storage and or performance.

I also suggest to install a decent firewall so your users can use Outlook webaccess or Remote workplace features.
A Cisco ASA 5505 is not too expensive and you will have lots of features. (VPN client is always handy)
Allthough this is very general, if you have more specific questions, we are happy to answer them

First thing I'd do is price BPOS its about 8euro per license.
What this will do is take email to the cloud and make backing it up and maintenance away from the local IT.

I would recommend installing a windows 2008 R2 Standard edition server with 4gb of ram and Raid5 Storage.
For redundancy and centralised backups.
Also using group policy you can enforce the fact that it is a professional enviornment by restricting users from installing games and wasting company time.

After you've installed the server i'd consider using an online backup. this will take away from switching backup tapes and remembering to store them offsite.

Hope this helps


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I like SBS but I'd suggest you automate as much as possible and put as much as you can out in the Cloud.
BPOS allows you to do this.
TonyCaboneAuthor Commented:
great thanks guys, tell me more:

1. what is "the cloud"
2. is my understanding correct: I buy SBS server which 1 person uses, and buy 4 other machines for other users that all connect to server for storage?

I must tell you that I am not highly technical.
TonyCaboneAuthor Commented:
points increased, 100 each :)
JaoibhConnect With a Mentor Commented:
ok... if you install a Small business server you are looking at a basic amount of administration.
Making sure you have backups and Antivirus running and making sure exchange service is up and working correctly 24/7 which in my opinion can take a lot of effort.

the other option is to buy a hosted exchange option basically Microsoft have a shared Exchange server up in a data centre usually resonably close to where you live in the world. but if your office burns down or there is a corruption in the mailbox its not your problem its Microsofts. they give you an service level agreement and you pay per mailbox per month a small fee.

I would then put a small server onsite for your daily work and backups and think about the amount of locking down you'd like to do for your staff. if any at all.

DeltaR7Connect With a Mentor Commented:
If you were to setup an SBS, i would not recommend having anyone working on it directly. It is a server and should be used as such. Users tend to need much other software, which is not recommended to install on servers. Remember if your server is having issues, all people will be impacted when the server needs rebooting.
Usually the SBS is setup so your users will have shared data on the server, also their own personal documents (ie My Documents) you can store here so you can take a backup from a single location.
@ Dave AND: you are correct about tapes & SBS, however the Dell RD1000 (Hard disk cartridge) offers a very nice alternative for removable backup media.
Depends how much money and administration/management you want to handle.

Another option rather than SBS, is an open source server solution very similar to SBS.  Only takes time to install and try it on an extra computer.  Pretty simple/straightforward installs.  I know of three options:

1. ebox (based off Ubuntu)
2. ClearOS (based off RedHat/CentOS and used to be called Clark Connect)
3. SME Server (based off RedHat/CentOS)

Another option would be hosted email and a small NAS box for documents.
D_VanteConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Go with something like Google Apps with gmail.   Keep all your documents and email on their servers and will also allow you to work from anywhere.
For the office get your basic internet service then setup a secure wireless network and get wireless printers or wireless print servers and this will cut down on wiring costs and cost for ethernet switches
Go with something like for Antivirus
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