When you create a computer network, you connect all of your computers together, as well as other equipment (i.e. printers). A successful computer network allows those individuals that are part of your business to easily share resources, access data, effectively communicate, and get online.
After paying for your computers, the extra computer network costs can be relatively small. You can combine a maximum of 20 computers in a single network for a few hundred dollars, less if you are okay with a wireless network. Since your computer network costs can be minimized, it makes sense to keep it simple.
The basics of computer networking
Today, it is far easier to get started with a simple computer network than it was in the past. The fact that being able to share your company’s internet connection with employees so easy is often good enough reason to create a computer network.
Be aware that when you get started, there are many other functions you may also need:
- Collaboration tools – use your computer network to effectively work together. For example, numerous individuals can be viewing and editing a document at the same time.
- Central file storage – once your computer network is set up, you can save all your employees’ work to a central location that is secure and backed up regularly.
- Remote access – this lets the employees to connect to your computer network even when they are out of the office, because they are able to access central applications and files.
- Centralized applications – programs can be used by a number of people at the same time. For example, CRM software works best when ran on a computer network.
- Permissions control – computer networking allows you to increase security by restricting file, folder, and/or software access.
- Shared resources – a computer network makes it easier to share hardware, such as scanners and printers between all employees.
However, there are also some drawbacks.
There is an additional complexity of managing a computer network that usually requires specialized computer knowledge. This is especially true when you have a central file server.
You might have to install network cables in your building, and this can be very expensive. However, you have the option of creating a simple wireless network which has only the cost of a wireless router.
Usually, it is worth taking the time to get IT expertise from either your own IT personnel, an IT supplier, or your IT consultant to help you completely understand what is needed to build your computer network, and the benefits you can expect to enjoy.
When you plan your computer network, give some thought to whether you need a server. A server is a high-powered computer that provides you with the flexibility by centralizing applications, but it can be difficult to manage and it can cause your computer network costs to increase significantly.
If you are not interested in the extra cost and extra effort to manage a server, you might want to look into cloud computing services, which might better meet your needs, letting you achieve the same things, but cheaper and with less hassle.
Cloud computing lets you access IT resources on the internet, instead of managing them within your business. For example, rather than running an in-house database on your own server, you sign into an online service.
Think about your network security as well, because you do not want a hacker breaking into your computer system and stealing data. Make sure you take the necessary security precautions: keep valuable hardware secured, install a firewall, and use adequate passwords.
The cost of your business computer network
The cost of your business computer network depends on your particular situation: the number of computers you have, the complexity of the network, and the physical area your network needs to incorporate.
As a general guide, you can expect to pay your IT supplier about $1,000 to build a simple network that has no central server and a maximum of ten computers. If you need a more complex network with a server and a maximum of 50 computers connected, expect to pay $5,000 to $10,000.
Computer network management
All computer networks have to be properly and regularly maintained. For smaller networks, there might be someone in your organization who can take on this job on a part-time basis. However, the management of big networks is often a full-time job. If you do not have computer network management expert in your organization, contracting these duties out to your IT supplier would be the best choice.