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Guidelines for designing a LAN

Before you start designing a network, you must identify what the company needs are. This guide will help you through the process and make sure you don't overlook any important details.

What is the best design for a LAN network of 75 workstation and 3 file servers all running Win2000? What steps do I have to go through to implement this network?
Planning for a network installation is one of the most important steps. Before you start designing the network you need to identify what the company needs are. This will help guide you through the process and make sure you don't overlook any important details. A few important points that you should consider:

  1. Security. What type of data will be stored on the servers and which workstations will require secure connections to them in order to prevent others from obtaining access. Also consider creating access policies which will restrict access at sensitive areas.


  2. Splitting the network. I always allow up to 50 workstations max in one network in order to preserve the bandwidth and reduce broadcasts which can cause a lot of trouble, especially if the network is a busy one! Check your requirements and see if you can split the network into 2-3 networks and allow relevant networks to access the servers they require.


  3. You can also consider using VLANS, which could work quite well, depending on your needs.


  4. Firewall. If the network will have Internet access, or any type of access to other remote networks, I strongly suggest you consider a firewall or some type of packet filtering device to stop unwanted people from accessing local workstations, servers and other services which will be available.


  5. Connectivity. Make sure not to use any Hub in your network design. Switches are the most efficient communications devices when it comes to network connectivity. When planning to connect hosts, computers, devices to a switch, don't forget to allow enough room for future growth. Most of the times, network designers and systems administrators find themselves quickly running out of ports simply because they didn't foresee the network expanding!

The above guidelines should help you produce a neat sheet to allow you to start planning your network setup!

This was last published in August 2003

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