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Small Office Networking

Most small businesses begin with one or two computers. The growth of the business is the big priority and often times not much consideration is given to the data. All those documents, spread sheets and customer files. They start life on the first computer, then some end up stored on the receptionist's computer. The QuickBooks company file probably lives on the bookkeeper's computer. But with our data spread all over the office how do we avoid duplicating files, losing files and how do we back all this mess up?

When a business grows to five or six computers, it is time to start thinking about a file server for data storage, but many smaller businesses are justifiably resistant to spending thousands of dollars to setup a corporate-like network environment. If you work in a small business, here is a setup that may work well for you.

There are several steps to complete here that you may or may not already know how to complete. We do not have room for detailed instructions on each step, but you can enlist the help of someone tech savvy if you get stuck.

1. Choose the computer to be used for all your file storage. This computer can still do double-duty as a workstation. Typically this will be the newest, most powerful computer or the one with the largest hard drive capacity.

2. Change this computer's name to "FILESERVER" or something similar and join it to a workgroup. You can make up the workgroup name. Perhaps the name of your firm.

3. Create a folder on FILESERVER called C:\DATA and share it so other computers can have access to it. Make the share name "DATA". Be sure to allow other computers to change files on the share.

4. Join every other computer in the office to the workgroup you created in step 2.

5. Run this command (without the quotes) from a command prompt on every computer including FILESERVER: "net use S: \\fileserver\data /persistent:yes"

Every computer should now have a common S: drive on which to store data. Move all of your company files onto the S: drive. You can make an accounting folder on S: for your quickbooks and whatever other folders make sense for your company. Be sure all your users store anything important on the S: drive.

Now that all of your important files are all stored in the same place, purchase two external hard drives. Keep one connected to FIELESERVER and setup automatic nightly backups. Swap the drives every few days and keep one offsite to keep your data safe. One common mistake in a scenario like this is to forget about Outlook. If you use Outlook for your email, be sure you know where it stores it's data and move that to the S: drive as well so it's getting backed up.

Do you know someone that needs help with their office network? Send them to SugarLandPC.

Posted by Charles Swihart on 10/1/2011

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