Composing a network-switches and routers

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Cabling
DataCenter
Desktop management applications
Hardware
Hubs
Network monitoring
Networking
Printers
Routers
Servers
Switches
Tech support
I am looking for information to help me decide whether to buy a larger Switch or larger Router? I think I need to get all equipment on the same device? I have a small business network with 2 desktops, 3 to 4 laptops, 2 multifunction Printer/Fax/copy/scanners via USB dedicated to PC?s; 1 USB Photo printer dedicated to a PC; 1 Lazer Jet on the network and a 250Gig external Drive as common storage. I currently have real problems getting the PCs to recognize one another, sometimes it works (generally one desktop can see all the others, but not the reverse??), at times I cannot see any of them. The network printer is fast from the one desktop, slow or failure from all others. At times, and from some PCs I can instantly see a Workgroup Directory and browse it, quickly? Other times this takes MINUTES to open? What gives??? I?m thinking I should put one big switch to replace the 4 port router and 5 port switch now used. (3 PC?s on the router, the others on the switch, plugged into the router?) Is this the right approach? Should I put a `server? in to handle the traffic? Seems like overkill? Though I would like to get all the peripherals onto the Network, but only if it works fast? My Internet access is 1.) a Satellite hookup Modem to Router to Switch (as above) and 2.) (my backup and for VPN?ing) an ISDN line on one PC? Any help would be appreciated

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Sounds like you might have more of a software config problem to me. But for a network of that size I would suggest having your Satellite hookup go into a switch (like a netgear or linksys) and config that as the uplink then plug all other node into the small switch. I would stay away from a server for now but i would hope that you have your Satellite modem device setup as a DHCP server for the rest of your internal network. Then all of your clients should get there IP Address from that. Stay away from netBIOS and WINS. Best of luck. PS at home I have a network a little bigger then that and I use a netgear prosafe switch.

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  • Boardinhank
    What kind of four port router are you using? just your Satalite connection router, if that is the case yea not a big fan, also your 5 port is what a lynxsys? At anyrate if you are trying to make things just work fast a switch that will put them all in the same vlan and hardware will be fine. If you want to look at managing your switch get one that is mmm 12 to 24 ports and is manageable meaning you can log into it, run statistics and also set port speed. All of which can be very very useful. Not to spendy really.. 300 - 500 for a good one. Maybe less depends on the deal. If you see a chance for growth the 24 is always the choice, dont sell yourself short but look at most any hardware I like to think has a 5 year life cycle, 5 years from now there is enough change to want to upgrade and get new in most enviroments. You do not need a server if peer to peer works just fine. the only benefit to a server is perhaps backing up the pc's and laptops personal files in case one crashes and printer sharing. If all pcs and laptops are in the same switch and in the same workgroup and u still have issues seeing each other. look up what is called master browser polling. U might need to make one of them a master browser. that should get u started though a good place to start.
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  • Dbnetsi
    You seem to have some configuration issues with your PC's. I doubt changin hardware would solve anything. You dont mention what the OS is that you are using. I agree that unless you particularly want to have a server on you network and are willing to take the time and effort to set it up then dont bother. If no server then make sure all PC's have the same workgroup. If you run local firewalls on each machine make sure you have configured the firewall software to trust the other machines. If your router is able to act as a suitable WINS server dont bother with it. If you do want a server and cost is an issue get a copy of Fedora or OpenSuse install it and configure it to be a domain controller and have it do all the work. Windows Server is probably easier but for the price I wouldnt bother.
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  • Jcan123
    Another thing to check could be the cabling. Verify that the cables comply with 568 standard (that you're following twisted pair and not straight through connections ) 1 and 3 is one pair and 2 and 6 is another pair. If your cabling does not comply with 568 standard then you'll have speed and cabling length issues.
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  • Chippy088
    Sounds like you could also have a lot of noise on the lan. Are all the devices in the same broadcast domain? Do you have vlans set up? Are the resources/printers etc accessed frequently by all the PCs (at the same time possibly)? I personally have a shared printer, 2 PC's each with a dedicated USB printer attached, and a networked scanner. All this goes through a 12 port brouter, which has Vlans and an internet connection via broadband modem. My son can sit on his pC and play an internet game, while I work, and the throughput is acceptable. I suggest going for the switch, and setting up vlans. The size of your network, imho, does not warrant upgrading the router. If you want to add more devices at a later date, then you will have to address the vlan situation anyway. "At times, and from some PCs I can instantly see a Workgroup Directory and browse it, quickly? Other times this takes MINUTES to open? What gives???" my guess data packet collisions?? hope this helps.
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  • VenPhil
    I agree with the others in that the problem probably is not your router. I've been through this before. We had two problems: 1) The PCs and server were not configured properly (or got mis-configured, how we never found out). 2) One of the cables travelled the length of a metal I-beam in the ceiling, then crossed over the power feed to the building. While the cable was supposed to be shielded, we got interference on that cable, causing multiple resends. Look at the lights on the router when someone is trying to do something. If they are active for a while, and nothing is happening, suspect line interference. If they are not busy, and nothing is happening, the problem must be with the PCs and/or server. Good luck, Phil
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  • Astronomer
    Are the four ports on the router a hub? This was common on many of the cheaper routers. A single jabbering interface on a hub renders everything on that hub unreachable. I recommend getting a managed switch to plug all of the systems into. This will minimize collisions and allow you to track errors on the switch ports. I would set the switch to store-forward instead of cut through or fragment free so only intact frames are forwarded to other ports. It makes the switch slightly slower but cleans up your traffic. Another thing you may want to try is putting a sniffer on the net. This can show abnormal traffic. You shouldn't have any fragments if you followed my previous suggestion but you may have excessive broadcasts choking up the net. You didn't mention any patterns in how the problem systems were connected. Are the problem systems mostly connected to the router or the switch? Another issue I have seen is when you connect two network infrastructure devices together you often have problems with MDI-MDIX or duplex mismatches. Many switches now autosense MDI/X but I still run into a lot of problems with full vs half duplex. If you have problems with a specific connection, check this on both ends to make sure the duplex settings match. Often the errors are only reported on one end. These suggestions should get you most of the way if the problem is really the network infrastructure. If it is browsing, follow the advice in the other responses. You may also want to do some pings to verify layer three connectivity when you can't browse at all. rt
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  • Ursulus
    Hi! The fact that you have a router and a switch shouldn't be causing the kind of behaviour you are getting. If you have the budget, always go with a switch as it has intelligent switching technology which will over time optimise traffic. Also, if you have a large storage device on the network, if it has a Gigabit card you might buy a switch with at least one gigabit port to connect the network storage device to. In a Server 'Less' environment PC's will often lose each other as there is no central repositry to store all DNS information. In cases such as yours I generally edit the HOSTS file on one PC to contain a complete list of all PC's and devices on the network and copy that file too all PC's thus removing the constant search that is probably going on, on your network. Malcolm
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  • Kfink04
    How does the Hosts file help if I use a Switch, as suggested? Doesn?t a switch use MAC Addresses to route data, where a Router uses the IP address? Does the IP Address (from the Hosts file) get translated to the MAC Address and get stored somewhere the Switch can use it?
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  • MikeGB
    The hosts file is for the PC's not the switch or router. The PC's communicate via IP address and/or host names. Setting up a host file on all of the PC's will ensure that the PC's are aware of the names and addresses of the other machines on the network. If you are running Windows as your OS you should make sure that a) all of the PC's are in the same Workgroup b) that two of the PC's, and only two, are running the computer browser service c)the PC's all have correct IP addresses d) that file and print sharing is enabled on the PC's and e) that the server service is running. If everything checks out then setup a hosts file on each PC.
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  • Bobkberg
    As many other folks have pointed out, it looks more like a software configuration issue than anything else. But a few points are in order. 1) Routers and switches serve entirely different purposes. A switch (similar to a hub, but smarter) redistributes local traffic locally - which would include the router as one of its connections. A switch (but NOT a hub) is aware of the MAC address of its "clients" so that it can make best use of bandwidth by not sending traffic where it isn't needed. The purpose of a router is to direct traffic to somewhere NOT on the local network. In small networks the two are often packaged in the same box, but there is no necessity for this one way or the other. 2) The problem with your variable performance is likely due to several possible factors: - Which system is the "Master Browser" is likely shifting around, and elections are constantly being forced. The usual solution of adding a "server" is because the server automatically gets a higher "vote" in such things, thereby keeping the browse list stable. Check with Microsoft's Knowledge Base on help in this regard. If you have one of the desktop systems, then you can change or add a Registry setting to make it always "win" the browser election, which will help with the stability of your network. - You should visit every single workstation, regardless of type and make sure that the workgroup name is IDENTICAL. This can especially be a problem if some of the laptops are personal property and have been set to the users personal workgroup (like WORKGROUP or MSHOME) - Also check to see if some systems are trying to use DNS to resolve NetBIOS names - this is a known performance killer if you don't have a DNS. - The ability of one system to see another, but not the reverse is often due to the individual firewall configurations (XP vs. Norton/Symantec vs. McAfee vs. etc.) Again - check the firewall configurations for each system. - Check first on the "problem children" on your network by reading the Event Logs on each system. This will also provide you with helpful information. That should help somewhat. I'd also recommend that you download and learn to use Ethereal to sort out any other remaining issues. Write back after you've gone through these suggestions and let us know what thing(s) it turned out to be. That way we can all learn from your experience. Bob
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  • Kfink04
    I replaced the mess with a multiport switch. I found that some of the issues seem to be Win2KPro vs. XPPro issues. I can see the W2K machines, file structure, etc. OK from the XP machines, but not the reverse... I purchased a Router for wireless but have not installed yet. A remaining question on this - should the router go between the modem and switch or off of one of the switch ports? I do know that I need to make the Router a 'dumb' terminal, so as not to have multiple DHCP activities. I also found out yesterday that I must not have any PC's use Internet Connection Sharing or I will have another DHCP activiy going on... What do you folks think about this statement? I have also discovered or realised that because I leave these machines on 24x7, as their leases expire, the conflicting DHCP's issue come into play - is this correct? THis may explain why the system sometimes works fine after a shutdown/reboot of everything, but it degrades over time... What have I missed??? I still notice that some machines get a rapid response to a network directory structure display and others take up to a minute to open the workgroup list... Oh, by the way, the new 250gig Simple Tech network drive failed at startup... getting a new one. Thank You
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  • Bigshybear
    There is a setting in Windows XP that you should look at called Netbios over TCP. This is hard coded to always be turned ON in Windows 2000 and by default is turned OFF in Windows XP. This is the code that is used by the part of the operating system that figures out what computers are on the local network so the computer knows what systems to display. On the Windows XP computers try turning it on and see if this lets the XP machine display the other computers. In the Control Panel, Network Connections, property of the ethernet adapter, scroll down in the box until you see Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Click on it to highlite, properties, Advanced button, WINS tab, enable 'Netbios over TCP/IP' This may take up to 20 minutes to show the other computers. This is the software that turns on the Netbios browse master procedure referenced in a previous message. There are other settings in the TCP/IP protocol you can check. Click off 'Use LMHOSTS file' in all computers, do not have a WINS server specified and make sure the only protocol your computers are loading is TCP/IP - no Netbios (also sometimes called 'netbeui')and no IPX/SPX. Also remove the 'Client for Netware' if it is installed.
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  • Astronomer
    Your information on internet connection sharing is correct. For your environment you only want one DHCP server running. For a larger environment, multiple DHCP servers are useful in case of failure but require non-overlapping scopes. Even then you can have problems. When you think you have removed all but one DHCP server take it off line and try doing ipconfig /release then ipconfig /renew on a client system to see if there is still a DHCP server running somewhere. Once you have a single DHCP server you shouldn't have renewal problems. The algorithm for lease renewal normally works well. If you need more information on how leases work and the problems with multiple servers, send me a private message. It gets pretty involved. The last response about netbios over TCP/IP isn't quite correct although his recommendations are. With XP the default is to get your netbios setting from the DHCP server if there is one. Unless you can set this at the DHCP server, the plain enable setting is best. As far as seeing win2k shares from XP but not the other way around, can you see the XP shares from other XP systems? If not, my best guess would be the personal firewall on XP systems. Try turning the firewall off and see if that fixes the problem. If it does, you can leave it off if you have a good internet firewall or turn it back on and configure it to allow file sharing. rt
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  • Kfink04
    1. How does the Hosts file help? It holds IP addresses and the switch routes to MAC addresses, as I understand it. 2. What's a VLAN and how do I use them with my setup? 3. Where do I place the wireless Router - between the Satellite modem and switch or off a switch port? Thank You
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  • ComputerSolutions77
    Buy a netgear fsv318, firewall router that has 8 rj45 10/100 mbps ports. about $150 to connect all devices AND provide you a little protection as well as port forwarding for PCanywhere, terminal services, etc. Also the fsv318 supports VPN connections, can be managed remotely. I would assign each computer a fixed IP, then you can connect with f: = 192.168.123.222SharedHardDrive using net use or mapping. Put everyone in the same workgroup. Also the computer with the shared hard drive should have XP pro because XP home limits the number of concurrent AVAILABLE connections to 5 while PRO allows 10. Best Regards Bill William C. Krause, CDP, MCSE Transystems Services, Inc. 7744 Asterella Court Springfield, VA 22152 Pager 703-515-7018 (Immediate response) 703-913-7021 Office or message 703-913-5774 Fax
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  • Astronomer
    1. The hosts file holds a static name to IP resolution table. This is useful if DNS, WINS, or browsing doesn't resolve a name to the correct IP. The NetBIOS equivilant is lmhosts. You may want to try these for debugging purposes. I normally strongly recommend a permanent central solution like DNS but your environment is small enough that browsing should work. 2. Virtual LANs are used to divide up networks independant of the hardware. These separate networks are then connected by a router. Unless you need to keep systems separated for security reasons I see no reason to use VLANs in your environment. 3. If this wireless router is only to provide connectivity for wireless clients within your company I would connect it to your central switch. Don't confuse things by putting it between the outside and your main network. On the other hand, if you are providing wireless services to some sort of customer base, you may want to put them between the internet connection and your internal net. This way you could put firewall rules in to isolate you internal net from the customer net. It all depends on what you are trying to do. rt
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