Advice on a new small business network

In the past I've always recommended wired networks.  That being said its been a while since I've implemented a "new" network so I'm open to wireless if its just as reliable and fast.  

I have an office that will have 4 devices on the network.  This room is 22' x 15' with no walls.  Its an older building and the layout of the office isn't conducive to wire molding, overhead ceilings etc. without spending a ton of money.  All this being said I'd like to implement a wireless network but I want to cut down on bottle necking and other issues that are normally associated with wireless networks.  I've listed the important information below.  Thanks in advance.

Two PC's.  One using Windows XP Pro and one using Windows 8 Pro.  One HP 8500 wireless printer and one HP DesignJet 500 24" color plotter.

At some point the PC's will backup their entire drives across the network to a NAS using Acronis.  CAD drawings will be sent to the DesignJet.  The DesignJet will be connected to the network via USB to Ethernet adapter.  Files are shared between the two computers.  Some of the files are 100's of megabytes.

The PC's will need WiFi cards preferably internal as I think those are more reliable and would offer more throughput.  The router should offer content filtering.

I'll also need a reliable device that will interface the USB/LPT1 connection on the plotter with the network.  This device does not have to be wireless as it will sit near the router and be physically connected.

I'm not afraid of using a router with a subscription service that stops viruses, malware and all other sorts of nasty critters at the router.  I won't require VPN.
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What I recommend for deskjet 500 connect to an old PC and setup print sharing. I tried using jet direct card and had issues with large files.  As for internal WiFi card I recommend the Roswell rnwd-n9000epce card they are 29$ each.

As for router Cisco aironet. About 299$


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1namylnAuthor Commented:
That is how the plotter is setup now and I have issues when printing to it from the different Operating Systems.  Its connected to an XP machine and shared.  Connected to that share are one Windows 7 machine and one Windows 8 machine.  The XP and 7 machine print OK but the 8 machine gives issues sometimes with certain programs.  I don't see a way on the machine its connected to to install Win8 drivers.  That being said I assumed that having each machine connect directly to the device over the network would enable me to specify what drive I want.s
For windows 8 I not tested with this printer. But there is updated HP driver found at HP website.

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1namylnAuthor Commented:
I saw the drivers there also.  Plus when I connect to the printer via the share Windows pulls the drivers from the Windows update servers.
Those are some big files. Consumer grade wireless is not up to the task. Can you run Ethernet cables on the ground inside those rubber cable covers? I would recommend gigabit Ethernet. Failing that, 802.11ac wireless gear is supposed to rival gigabit Ethernet. You can probably use wireless for the print devices.

I hope you have plans to replace the Windows XP box in the next few months. There will be a barrage of Windows XP exploits released April 2014 for which there will be no security updates.
I have to be honest:  while wireless has come a long way in the past few years, I don't think it will be the best solution in your scenario.

If the users were simply using the Internet, email, and basic printing I would go with wireless.  

Unfortunately, your users will be pushing CAD drawings across the network ( for saving, backup, and printing ) and sharing large files between each other.  I think implementing wireless will not provide the most efficient throughput in that scenario.  You want happy, productive users in a stable environment.  

Wired is still the best option for your scenario.  It isn't the "prettiest," but speed and stability trump all else in a business environment.
1namylnAuthor Commented:
OK.  So I'm going to find out the average size of the CAD drawings.  Instead of saving the Acronis backups to the NAS (which is up in the air any ways) they can save to an external HD.  I know that cad drawings can be large but as fast as I've seen these open on these very basic computers they can't be that large.

As for Windows XP no longer being supported I'll remind my user of this.
Craig BeckCommented:
Cisco Aironet devices aren't routers - they're just Access Points.  They can't do filtering or AV (for example).  If you want a router which will do AV, filtering, etc, look at a UTM device or a business-class router such as this:
For windows 8 I not tested with this printer. But there is updated HP driver found at HP website. Also I recommend a watchguard  WiFi router too.

1namylnAuthor Commented:
Printer is printing from Windows 8 OK...Kind of.  The program not printing properly might not be compatible with Windows 8 and the printer combined.  Will have to verify this.

The largest CAD file is 7 MB.  One QuickBooks 60MB file.

There is one door that I'll need to go by with the network cable if I go that route.  The door doesn't open.  What I don't know is how I can change from the baseboard conduit to something that is pleasing to the eye to run in front of the door then back into the baseboard conduit.
WIFI based networks have many issues, but in some cases it is the only way.

Don't forget the following downsides with WIFI over cabled networks:
a) WIFI is generally slower (eg 54<mbps vs 1000mbps (although N-wifi is a little bit faster)
b) WIFI can only handle traffic to/from ONE machine at a time, whereas cabled networks allow large numbers of devices to talk at once
c) WIFI signals can be affected by many electrical devices and structures in the building

First recommendation is therefore to cable where you can find a way.
If you feel this is not an option and WIFI is your only choice then you may just need to allow for the performance issues your system will encounter.
I'd certainly avoid letting more than one machine run it's backup at the same time as this will flood the WIFI and kill everything else.

If you have problems, try setting a PING running between several devices during your testing. these pings will show you any slowdowns, drops or problems with the traffic.
If the pings remain stable and OK during a problem it suggests the WIFI isn't the cause.

Some of your files are quite large so you are very likely to see performance issues and possibly some drops.
1namylnAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the advice.  I'm gonna stick with wired.  Might not be as pretty but much faster, reliable and easier to support.
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