The IT Setup Checklist – Small Business Network Setup Checklist
Setting up a small business network is the first step every business takes to build a computing platform for business operations. Your business cannot operate without Information Technology Systems, and today more than ever, companies need to adapt and build reliable computer networks to support business operations.
In this article, we will describe the steps necessary to build a small business network and list the components required to build your business network. We have put together an easy-to-follow small business network setup checklist, but feel free to ask us questions at any time.
Building an SMB network is not always straightforward, and some people might have trouble understanding and configuring some of the components listed below.
Corporate Shields offers IT Consulting services to help you build and set up your business network and are available 24/7 to answer all your questions.
Now, let’s jump in!
Here is some pre-planning work you will have to do to build a successful business computer network.
1) Study your office or business floor plan
You need to understand your office floor plan to determine if you will need to install network cabling and where. It is highly recommended you hard-wire servers and computers for the best performance.
Although new wireless access points can support fast network speeds, the network cable is still king.
2) Choose an Internet Provider
Do your homework and choose the right Internet Provider. You want to look for an Internet provider that provides plenty of upload speed. Most ISPs will sell you on download speeds, but if you will be utilizing cloud technology such as Microsoft 365 or uploading your backups to the cloud, upload speed is essential.
3) Inventory your electric outlets and Network Jacks
This is related to studying your office floor plan, but you must plan your network infrastructure well. It is hard to move network jacks around after cables are installed. Make sure you inventory your network jacks and ports well.
Also, make sure you have plenty of power outlets available for all your computers and monitors. You also want to consider all your printers, scanners, and any other peripheral you will use with your computers.
What equipment do I need for a small business network?
To build your business network, you will need, at the very least, a few components. These components handle connectivity, business applications, and other resources your business will use. Choosing the right equipment for your business network can be difficult, but our small business IT support team can help you choose the right gear. Small businesses add the security and reliability of enterprise networks by implementing the products below.
Items you might need to complete your Small Business Network Setup Checklist
1) Firewall / Router
Corporate Shields recommends Fortinet Firewalls (Fortinet makes great firewall for small businesses and large enterprises )
THE FIREWALL – THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT IN YOUR NETWORK. The firewall is the one item in your network that will fight every outside attack trying to get into your office network. Firewalls are responsible for scanning every bit of traffic coming in and out of your systems. Your business firewall is your first defense line; it will fight everything trying to penetrate your network and keep it from making it to your users and computers. This is one component of your network you do not want to “save money” on. You can learn more about firewalls on our cybersecurity page or call our office for more information.
2) Network infrastructure ( cabling )
Corporate Shields recommends Cat 6 | 7 | 8 Network RJ 45 Cables
You will need to hire an IT Company Near you to help you wire your office with network cables, network ports, and a patch panel. You will need one network cable per device. Cat 6 ethernet cable is the modern standard and can support GIG speeds.
Important: For best performance, do not share a single network cable with multiple computers. Make sure you have one network cable for every device in your network.
3) Network Switch ( The switch should have one port per device )
Corporate Shields recommends Ubiquiti Networks Unifi Switches ( easy to manage ). We also recommend HP, Cisco, and Fortinet Network Switches.
Your network Switch is another important item in your network. The network switch is responsible for connecting all your devices in your network and ensuring all your devices can see each other.
Your network switch needs to be large enough to have a network port for every device in your network. So if you have 20 computers, make sure your network switch has at least 28 network ports.
4) Wireless Access Points
Corporate Shields Recommends Ubiquity Wireless Access Points
Wireless Access Points are the components of your network in charge of your wireless network. The size and layout of your office will dictate how many APs you will need in your office.
It is crucial to have ample wireless coverage in your office to avoid signal issues. You can contact Corporate Shields Network team to get a proper wireless survey for your office.
Corporate Shields recommends Dell and HP Computers
This might be an easy one! As far as computers, you will need to make sure your computers include Windows 10 Professional, not Windows Home Edition. In other words, look for business computers and not Home computers. A business computer will be built to withstands the daily duties of office work, outlast, and outperform a home computer.
There are many computer brands and options in the market, so choose the computer that fits your budget. Try to follow the newest computer specifications available, including at least 8 GIGs of memory, Intel Pentium i5 or higher, and at least 500 GIGs of hard drive space. These are basic guidelines, but anything similar or higher than these specifications will make for a good business computer.
You can contact our Desktop Department for specific questions on computer specifications for your business. You can reach our desktop support team at 888-909-0206.
Corporate Shields recommends Dell and HP Servers
Physical servers are the core of your network. Servers can host your line of business applications such as Quickbooks or Sage MaaS. Network Servers also support user authentication, DNS, and other network functions necessary for computer communications.
Your office network server can also be your centralized storage choice if you are not using cloud storage for your files.
Your network server needs to be the right size to support your network devices and computers properly. This is one component of your network that you might need help with. To know exactly what type of network server you will need, please contact our network team. There many variables we need to consider to give you proper server size specifications.
To size a server, things like applications, amount of users, storage requirements, and security requirements have to be considered. You can call our network team at 888-909-0206, and we can help you size your server free.
Software to Protect your Business
Protecting your business from cyber threats is paramount. Today more than ever, businesses have to take proper steps to protect their data and files from cyber thieves.
Your business will also need Microsoft Office tools to be able to process documents, spreadsheets, and email.
Buying a new computer and not purchasing AntiVirus software is like going out to the beach without sunblock. You will enjoy the sun for a while, but eventually, you will get burned.
Just kidding, but seriously, we all know that a good antivirus is the first line of defense against web threats and malicious attacks.
Endpoint Protection ( Antivirus )
Endpoint protection software is the shield and protection for your computers. Your firewall will protect you from outside threats trying to make it to your computers, but if a threat makes it to your computer, your Endpoint protection will stop it.
File and Disk Encryption Software
Many businesses fall victim to cyber-attacks, and the trends are growing. Businesses are also failing to recognize the importance of encryption software in an office environment. Simply put, encryption software can protect your business even when firewalls, intrusion prevention, and even antiviruses fail. If your files are stolen, they will be useless to the crook as the encryption will not allow the files to be read, and your data, although stolen, will still be protected.
- At the very least, you will need Microsoft Office to open and process word documents, spreadsheets, and emails. Many businesses also use Quickbooks and Peachtree applications, and you can get those directly from the vendors.
- Your Small Business Network Setup Checklist should also include productivity business applications that can help you run your business.
How do I set up a small business computer network?
- Wire every computer and server to the main network switch
- This might sound obvious, but an essential step in building your network is to connect all your devices and make sure they all can communicate.
- You will need to plug in all your computers to the network switch so all workstations and servers can communicate with each other.
- Remember that the goal is one cable per computer and one port in the switch per computer.
- Connect devices such as Wireless Access Points to the main Network Switch
- Test connectivity between computers
- You will need to have a DHCP Server giving out IPs in your network or assign static IPs to all your computers. Once every computer in your network has an IP, you should be able to send traffic across your network.
- Connect Firewall to ISP
- Configure your firewall per your firewall manufactures specifications. We highly recommend you get your firewall configured by a professional IT company to avoid leaving opened doors and have an ineffective firewall exposing your network.
- Connect Wireless Devices
- At this point, you should be able to connect your wireless access points to the network and program your wireless networks. When programing your wireless networks, make sure you choose a secure password for your wireless IDs. You can contact our network team for information on how to program your wireless networks.
Things to consider
- It is important you follow best practices and apply good security measures to protect your network. You can read a simple guide to network security on a previous blog post here.
- Your business computer network has to be reliable and operate 24/7. This is why we recommend you use a well-known brand and vendors for equipment and hire a professional IT company to help you with your network setup.
- Data Protection
- Building an IT Policy
Network Setup Service
Building and configuring a small business network can be a challenging task. Although it is not impossible for a business owner to build a small network, our recommendation is to always work with an experienced IT company like Corporate Shields. Our team of experts can offer Network Setup Service to any business owner and business type.
This article gives you good information to build and set up your small business network. However, setting up a network can be a large project and we recommend you get advice from a reputable and professional IT company. Feel free to contact our office at 888-909-0206 with any questions.