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Computer Network Guide for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Dan earned his CompTIA (CIOS) certification in 2010 and worked in the computer repair/networking industry for several years.

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The prospect of working from home or starting a business is compelling— inherent freedom is worth it. This is especially true in the wake of the great resignation in which many are practically forced to leave their jobs or pursue more feasible options.

Chosen occupation could necessitate using two or more computers connected to a network. It’s generally the case if more than one employee will be using a computer. Business owners with no employees sometimes need multiple computers for different tasks, however — all of which need to be interconnected.

When setting up a network, the overall model of it must be determined for optimal use and administration. This includes equipment and should be determined by the needs and budget of the owner. There are situations where specific setups are recommended and practical. The following is a guide for what’s available, although not a rule.

Peer-to-Peer Networking

With relatively few people using computers on a network, a peer-to-peer setup is implemented. Each computer in the network will connect directly with others for accessing resources. This type of model in Microsoft Windows is known as a Workgroup — the default name given to it by Microsoft.

The operating systems Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS have similar facilities for enabling peer-to-peer sharing. Each computer is individually administered in this type of network, by the devices’ owner. Enabling and administering these types of networks is relatively simple.

Server-Based Networking

For networks with a relatively large number of users, server-based setups are implemented. Each computer on the network is administered via an account on a computer server — called a domain controller. Employees access resources through the server. With this model, dolling out access privileges is easier —especially if a large number of computers and employees exist.

For example, resource access can be given through what is known as group policies. The administrator may create a policy on the server and add network users to the policy — as opposed to configuring permissions on several, individual computers. Different policies with different resource access can be created. Computer users in the network can be assigned to policies depending on the level of access the owner wants them to have.

Network Scenarios

  • Workgroup
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A business owner who works out of a home — by himself — takes on four employees. He will need four additional computers for the employees, each with different duties. The company workload/documents on each computer must be accessible by all other employees from their computers, however.

The original account setup by Microsoft Windows, on a computer, is an administrator account. It must be used to create a separate user account for the employee, giving them permission for using certain resources and settings. The group policy feature is available in peer-to-peer setups to configure the resources.

However, security best practices are to implement a paradigm called least privilege. It lets employees use only the resources necessary to do their jobs. Through the separate administrator account, various settings can be configured for an ideal, limited level of access.

  • Server-Based

Businesses or operations can grow. When it happens, more computers are needed in the network. Administering several computers in a workgroup model can become stressful, necessitating a server-based model.

Vendors provide server versions of operating systems to address the issue of large-scale administration. Microsoft Windows Server is a specific operating system licensed out for this purpose. Tasks including but not limited to software installation, updates, virus scans, password policies, time restrictions, group policy permissions, and employee user account settings can all be handled through the server model.

Server operating systems can come with various functions and services. The domain controller service, specifically, must be turned on and configured if opting for this type of network — in Windows Server, it’s called Active Directory. After the accounts are set up and activated on the server, users can gain access to their resources by logging into the server — via their individual computers.

Advanced Networking

Said models are common network schemes in use today. With the internet providing increasingly fast speeds and computers becoming more powerful, however, the features can be obtained on the internet — through vendors. As opposed to buying network equipment or a server computer, they can be accessed through internet subscription-based services.

Keep in mind that need and budget are not the only factors at play. Security should also be considered. Some businesses require — in some cases by law — specific setups where certain network schemes would not be appropriate.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Dan Martino

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