When do I expand or upgrade the network?

Overview

Networks provide the connections and features that are required now, while remaining flexible for growth in the future.

There are three common reasons for expanding and upgrading the network:

  • More ports are required
  • More bandwidth is required
  • Peer-to-peer networking has become complicated

Note: When adding equipment to the network, you must be aware of the Ethernet and Fast Ethernet rules.

More ports are required

When you need to add more users to the network, you can simply connect another OfficeConnect hub to provide more ports.

More bandwidth is required

An Ethernet hub-based network is ideal for most small networks. However, if the Ethernet network is suffering from continual heavy use (check the Network Utilization LEDs on the unit, if available), you may need to:

  • Add an Ethernet switch — If there are more than 25 users on the network or most of the users have Ethernet-only NICs in their PCs, adding an Ethernet switch between the hubs will divide the network into smaller, less congested sections.
  • Upgrade to Fast Ethernet — If many large files (such as graphics files) are being transferred across the network, upgrading to Fast Ethernet will provide ten times more bandwidth. This extra bandwidth speeds up file transfers and other network activities, allowing greater use of the network.

Note: Upgrading to Fast Ethernet requires Fast Ethernet NICs and PCMCIA cards (in network PCs and laptops). If the NICs and PCMCIA cards are not capable of Fast Ethernet, they must be upgraded. If you are not going to upgrade the whole network in one go, we recommend that you use Dual Speed Hubs or Switches. The Dual Speed Hubs or Switches provide auto-sensing Ethernet and Fast Ethernet ports, which allow you to connect both existing Ethernet and new Fast Ethernet equipment to the same hub. This keeps all users connected and allows you to upgrade the network at your own pace.

Peer-to-peer networking has become complicated

As the network grows, it can be harder to implement peer-to-peer networking:

  • If there are many shared folders, it can be difficult to keep track of the folders’ locations, and who is accessing them.
  • If shared folders and local printers are accessed heavily, it can make the PCs (that contain them) run slower.

If peer-to-peer networking has become too complicated, it may be necessary to move to a client/server network. A client/server network has centralized resources (such as network drives and printers) which are controlled by one or more servers (in effect, a larger PC). The users (the clients) access the servers to gain use of the network drives and printers.

How can I add more users to the network when there are no more free ports on the Hub?

Most hubs are designed for flexibility. When you need to add more users to the network, you can simply connect another hub to the existing hub, to provide the extra ports for the additional computing equipment.

The ports on most hubs are MDI-X ports, which are normally used with straight-through (the most common type) twisted-pair cable to connect the PCs to the units.

To connect hubs together, you can:

  • Use straight-through twisted pair cable to connect one of the units’ MDI/MDI-X port (made MDI by the MDI/MDI-X switch) to the other unit’s MDI-X port.
  • Use crossover twisted pair cable to connect two MDI-X ports (one on each unit).

Note: When connecting hubs together, you must be aware of the Ethernet and Fast Ethernet rules and avoid network loops.