Setting Up a Computer Network for Your Office

By Joseph Boyle , last updated July 24, 2011

Setting up a computer network in your office can be extremely helpful in establishing business efficiency, especially if you have a large number of employees. Networking allows you to use your computers to their full potential, allowing you to share files and devices, and increase communication, data transfer and storage. At the outset you should decide whether you want your network to be wired or wireless.

When you are deciding on wiring, you can choose from either a peer to peer network, or a client-server network. Both ways allow for sharing resources between them, the difference lies in how they are set up.

A peer to peer network allows the computers to talk directly to each other. Each computer acts as both server and client. This allows for the transfer of files, just the same as a client-server network. The peer to peer method tends to be used more often within the home.

The only equipment you need in order to set up a peer to peer network is a router (with wireless capability if necessary). As for wiring, you need Ethernet cords to connect the router to your modem and to all computers you intend to connect.

Next you need to establish the correct settings to get your network up and running. Many operating systems already have inbuilt functions for networking. If you’re using windows, you have the capability of putting every computer into the same Workgroup or Homegroup, and enable print and file sharing, which essentially allows you to establish the network. Often the built in software will walk you through the peer to peer set up.

Should you decide to go with the client-server network option, the set up will be slightly different from the above peer to peer set up. Under a client-server set up, rather than being all connected to each other, all computers connect to a centralized server, which acts as the intermediary through which they communicate. Within this set up scheme, all relevant data and applications are installed only on the server, rather than each individual computer, and the clients connect to the server in order to access them. This type of networking tends to be far more common in office environments

The client-server avenue does require a bit more equipment up front. At the outset you will want to secure a server. If you cannot get a server, you should at least have a computer with a server-friendly OS. Windows Server Edition and Linux are both good options for this. A PC can certainly be used as a server, but depending upon the size of your office and the number of people who will be accessing the computer network, it may be worth your while to invest in a stand-alone server.

Once your server is set up, the process of setting up the network is fairly easy. Simply connect all office computers to the server. Each computer will have a client name, which you can use to grant access or restrict privileges.

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