What type of network would you recommend and why? The very fist thing that must be taken into consideration in setting up your network is what capabilities do you want your network to have. The relative ease and low cost to set up a Peer-to-Peer networking system to form a small Local Area Network is the recommendation I am making for your company. Peer-to-Peer networks offer no centralized data storage and eliminate the control over sharing files from one main server. Each computer system connected can share resources that they deem necessary. (Bird, D. , Harwood, M.

^aEUR" 2003) While a server network does offer more security and centralized data, there is no need for a small network of four computers to tackle such an endeavor. The cost of setting up a server network is also much more expensive in that one computer would need significant upgrades to be able to handle software such as Windows 2000 or Linux Red Hat and also to provide data storage and backups for the entire network. As you are currently using Windows 98, the need for additional software is not required to benefit from basic network functions such as shared use of directories, drives, or printers and can extensively simplify internet access at each terminal. (Bird, D. , Harwood, M. ^aEUR" 2003) What type of upgrades might be needed? The only upgrades that you would need to purchase for the systems are network interface cards (NICs), cables and a hub, switch or router.

Each machine on the network can be installed with a NIC that connects to the computer^aEURTMs bus, and to either 10 base-T (twisted pair) or coaxial cable. The Ethernet transmits data by means of packets and automatically adjusts to the addition of computers to a net. NICs all have a unique address built in at the factory to facilitate this. After you install the NIC in each system, you will then need to install the driver for the card by using the Windows 98 installation procedures and diskette supplied by the NIC manufacturer. NIC^aEURTMs can cost as low as $3. 00 for a 10/100 NIC PCI Card.

(About. com ^aEUR" 2005/Pricewatch. com ^aEUR" 2005) To make the connection to each system, a hub is needed. The hub is a device that connects the cables from computers and other devices such as printers in the local area network. Traditionally, hubs are used for star topology networks, but they are often used with other configurations to make it easy to add and remove computers without bringing down the network. Smart hubs or switching hubs are often used to improve performance by managing traffic.

The recommendation I would make is the use of a Router. While routers, hubs and switches all share similar physical appearance, routers differ substantially in their inner workings. Traditional routers are designed to join multiple area networks (LANs and WANs) on the Internet or on a large corporate network, for example, routers serve as intermediate destinations for network traffic. Routers receive TCP/IP packets, look inside each packet to identify the source and target IP addresses, then forward these packets as needed to ensure the data reaches its final destination. Additionally, routers contain several features beyond those of traditional hubs, such as providing DHCP server and proxy support and most have integrated firewalls built in to protect the network from outside intrusion. (Walthow.

com ^aEUR" 2005) What role would you assign to each of the four workstations and any other equipment you recommend? While using a Peer-to-Peer network does eliminate the central area of data control, each system can play an important role in your network. The Pentium II 533 MHz processor with a 16 GB hard drive can be used as a form of backup and storage for each system, with each other computer able to access and obtain the information to and from this one computer. This would then provide you with a simple backup of each smaller hard drive as well as additional hard drive space for each system by partitioning the larger 16 GB hard drive into small data storage areas. For instance, the 486/66 MHz processor with a 200 MB hard drive would only have 80 MB of storage capability after the minimum amount of hard disk space required to install and run Windows 98. 120 MB is recommended, but the actual requirement varies depending on the features you choose to install. (Microsoft Corporation ^aEUR" 2005) The last recommendation that I would make for your computers is in the way of data storage.

While the need for large storage space isn^aeurtms needed for the types of information your company stockpiles, the necessary space to run today^aEURTMs software is not present in two of the four computers. Microsoft Office 2000 needs a minimum of 217 MB in order to run Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Access. To increase the capabilities of the smaller systems I would recommend purchasing and installing 3 hard drives of equal or larger storage on the 3 systems with a lower hard drive space then that of the Pentium II. To give you an idea on the cost, a 20 GB hard drive from MDT sells for $24. 99 (Pricewatch. com - 2005) References Book ^aEUR" Bird, D.

Harwood, M. (2003) Network+ Pearson Education, Que Publishing Indianapolis, IN Web Page ^aEUR" About. com (2005) NIC Definition web nic. htm Web Page ^aEUR" About. com (2005) Computer networking at Home web Page - Pricewatch. com (2005) Router, NICs and Hard Drive prices web Page - Walthow.

com (2005) Glossary of Internet Terms ^aEUR" Hub web Page ^aEUR" Microsoft Corporation (2005) Requirements for Office 2000 web Page - Australian Development Gateway (2005) Setting up a peer-to-peer network using Windows 98 Second Edition web.