If you're a business owner moving into a new office, or if you're a home owner looking to install a new network in your home, you'll likely be wondering, "What is the best network for me?"  There are many factors to building the perfect network for your home or office, and we'll cover the many different types of networks and equipment that may be the best fit.

Equipment You Will Need

There is a range of equipment that you need to build out your home or office network.  The main components to delivering internet to your equipment and computers includes: a switch, router, modem, and possibly some wireless access points to cover the space for wireless connectivity.  Your needs may vary based on what speeds your getting from your internet service provider and what the needs of your particular equipment can handle.

Switches and Firewalls

The size of your network will determine the requirements needed for it. You may need a switch to connect all of the devices in your new home or office.  Switches range in size and speed and can accomplish a number of tasks that your network may need.  Some are simple switches that can help connect multiple devices to your router or firewall. Other more advanced switches may be able to power your devices using technology called Power over Ethernet (PoE).  Advanced switches also offer the option to create a separate virtual network called a VLAN which can keep certain devices on the same switch in separate virtual networks.

Many Internet Service Providers (ISP's) will provide you with a modem that can also act as a router.  If your network is small enough, you can typically just use this device without the need for any other major network equipment.  If you plan on having a larger network made up of multiple computers and devices, like printers or other equipment that require a wired Ethernet connection, then you'll need to facilitate that with a switch along with a router/firewall.

If security is a major factor in your office, then we recommend always using your own router or firewall.  A network firewall allows for the secure distribution of the internet across your network.  Utilizing a firewall can help prevent spam, network intrusions, and provide a level of security and control in your network that a standard router or 2 in 1 modem otherwise may not offer.

Types of Ethernet Cable

When moving into a new office or home where you need to build out the wiring yourself, it'll be important to decide the right type of network cable to use for your needs.  There are many cable variations to consider like UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair), Plenum, Cat5e, or Cat6.  Unless building out the network entirely on your own, a company, like Natural Networks, that specializes in networking and cabling, can determine what the best cable type is for you.  Often times you can purchase the cable directly from the company that will install it for you as well.

Cat5e vs Cat6

The two major Ethernet cable types you will see in a networking project are Category 5e (Cat5e) and Category 6 (Cat6).  These Ethernet cables are similar in many ways, and they both deliver internet speeds up to 1 Gigabyte per second (gbps).  However where Cat5e tops out at 1 Gbps (1000 Base-T), Cat6 is capable of 10x those speeds.  Cat6 also offers other advantages over Cat5e such as less cross talk and signal interference.  Cat6 can also send signals in both directions at the same time taking advantage of a technology called duplexing.

Both forms of Ethernet cables are capable of sending signals of up to 100 meters, but Cat6e has a lower max length (55 meters) when used for 10GBASE-T (10 Gigabit Ethernet). In order to run 10GBASE-T for 100 meters, Category 6a cable, or Augmented Category 6, cables need to be used. Cat6a cables allow performance of up to 500 MHz.

Whether you are building out a completely new network or have more simple IT needs, Natural Networks can help you get your home or office set up the way you need.  We are one of San Diego's oldest Network and Managed IT Services Companies. If you want to learn more, we want to hear from you today.