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Upgrading Network Capability

Upgrading Network - when measuring network speed you have to take into account the transmit and receive speed not just one or the other...

Considerations for Upgrading Network capability - Speed, more computers, security.

Speed, if your computer is under five years old it and it has a Network Interface Card (NIC) or embedded network capability the chances are it is 1 GBPS. If you know that your card is a 10 MBPS card then it is time to upgrade. Upgrading to the Gigabit (1000 MBPS) card with out having a gigabit network is a waste of your money unless you are upgrading all of your network.

A word here about Cable and DSL modems and internet access: the maximum speed currently offered for cable or DSL users is 40 Mega Bit, this is not MEGA BYTE. 40 megabit, divide your current speed by 8, this will give you the current speed you can transfer data to your ISP (your upload speed will be 1788 Mega Bits Per second MAXIMUM). I have 7 Mega Bit DSL, I can only transfer at 796 Kilo Bytes per second. I think the reason the cable and phone companies advertise their connection speed at Mega Bit speeds is to fool us. Wow 3 meg!! or 7 meg!! In reality it is Kilo Bytes.

Why do I say this? Because we are human not computers, we think in characters, and one character is 8 bits, computers are digital they "think" in ones and zeros, bits. So one character is 8 BITS, that equals a BYTE. To realize the true speed of your network connection you would have to go geek and think in bits, a little hard to do, no? So think of your speed in bytes, and divide your advertised speed by 8 to arrive at a speed humans can comprehend.

Upgrading Network components

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If you have a network in your home or small business with more than three computers you should consider the network cards installed. Are they 100 MBPS or 1 GBPS. Do you transfer documents back and forth between the computers? Is it slow? If it is you may want to consider the overall network speed. If all the computers have 100 MBPS network cards it isn't the network cards it may be the hub/switch or the length of the cabling from the computer to the hub or the hub or hardware configurations. If your hub is fairly new and has 100 MBS Full Duplex (it transmits and receives at the same time) and is set for 100/full then you may be having cabling problems. It is beyond the scope of this document to troubleshoot network hardware and cabling problems. If on the other hand you have a very old network and mix of network cards (10, 100, 1000 MBPS) and an old hub then you should do the upgrading network by upgrades to the hub and cards to the same speed.

Adding more computers to a network will increase the demand on the network components. You may want to add a hub in between your current hub and the furthest computer, you may also want to consider a powered hub not a little non powered workstation hub. A powered hub will boost the signal which will degrade after a certain distance from the first hub. Network topology is beyond the scope of this document.

Gigabit cards - this is the latest and greatest from the makers of network products. These cards have backward capability to 10 MBPS. If you are buying new you may want to consider the Gigabit if cost is not an determining factor, later on the cost will go down and you can upgrade all the computers and your hub(s) to gigabit.

Note: If you are upgrading network and want to keep older network cards consider splitting those devices off in to a separate network by using the same type/speed switch as the rest of the network. By using a separate 100 MBPS or 1 GBPS switch for the 10 or 100 MBPS devices will not slow down the 1 GBPS devices on a different switch. The idea is to keep the slower devices separated from the high speed deceives and to do this all the switches need to be the same speed, on a 100 MBPS network all the switches need to be 100 MBPS, on a 1 GBPS network all switches need to be 1 GBPS. You can set the slower devices to their highest speed and the switch will compensate but the connection from that switch needs to match the high speed switch other wise you may as well not separate the speeds by switches.

Such as I have two 1 GBPS switches, all 1 GBPS devices connect to the # 1 switch, for the #2 switch only 100 MBPS devices, the crossover cable between the two switches is a Cat6 cable and the connect speed is 1 GBPS at Full Duplex. (Hope this makes sense...)

Security - In this day and age security is on everyone's mind. How do you secure your network from hackers/thieves/criminals? One way is to put a firewall between your network and them. Another is to have a server when Upgrading Network that requires a user ID and password to access the network and the computers.

Upgrading Network Considerations:

On the left sidebar I have a little note: "Your network is only as fast as your slowest device." I experienced this phenomenon a couple of months ago when I upgraded my network from 100 MBPS to 1 GBPS, not all of my devices are capable of 1  GBPS, that is my older laptops (three of them that I use for servers) have embedded in 100 MBPS network interface cards, I have a HP Laser Jet that has a 100 MBPS network card also. When I upgraded four other computers and added two new laptops (with 1 GBPS NIC's embedded) I ran in to this problem. To over come the problem I split my network in to two separate sections (nodes) using 1 GBPS switches. One switch has all the 1 GBPS network connections and the other switch has all the 100 MBPS connections.

This splitting of the network connections insures the slower devices are not interfering with the faster devices.

So if you are going to mix slower speed with higher speeds on you network it is better to group them in sections where the slower devices don't interfere with the higher speed devices.

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