Entrepreneurship & Small Business

small business: networks, servers, phone systems???

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  • May 10th, 2006 9:46 pm
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[OP]
Newbie
Nov 14, 2004
52 posts

small business: networks, servers, phone systems???

I have a few questions. What should i be looking at purchasing to fulfill the following requirements:

- i need reliable storage/backup of master files. The current amount needed isn't too large --- under 100 gigs, but that will change as we get busier, plus i want to have everything scanned through into master files in the computer. do i need a server? what kind should i look at?

- i need the 3 or 4 computers in the office to share the files. Currently the windows shared network works well, but it seems more of a temporary solution.

- we have used logonme.com to access our pc's info from remote locations and this is something that we will be utilizing more in the next few months. i would like to remotely access my pc and access shared folders or the server. what should i be worried about in terms of security?

- we need a phone system. Our current 2 phone line on Staples phones is not what we are looking for... especially as we grow. I don't know too much about the phone systems available, except they can be expensive (even for a used system). I found this at costco, but i am skeptical that it would be what we are looking for. http://www.costco.ca/en-CA/Browse/Produ ... pnav=&cat=



any insight/help would be appreciated.....
10 replies
Sr. Member
Oct 8, 2003
619 posts
249 upvotes
Toronto
It sounds like you may want to set up a client-server kind of network. You can pick up some servers nowadays for around $1000 (there is one on [rfdlink=/forums/autolink/redirectpage.php?linkid=167]dell[/rfdlink]). Things to consider are level of security, availability (how much would it cost you if this goes down), room for growth.

As for backups: You can purchase a tape drive for the server to do your backups. I think they are pretty cheap nowadays. This is something you install physically on the server and use a software to run your backups. It allows for a more automated setup as you can set schedules so all you need to do is load a tape everyday. For a cheaper solution you can always buy an external hard drive and just copy all your information to that. Another cheap solution: DVD Burner. Allows you to backup your more important files on a regular basis, but you are limited in the amount you can back up.

With regards to security there are many levels of precaution that you can take all depending on how secure you need your info to be. The first things you need to start with are physical security of your data (i.e. server). It should be in a locked room where only certain people have access. You may want to install a security camera as another measure. With regards to accessing the data if you set up a domain where users have a logon to the network, then it will allow you to control who has access to what. It'll make it a lot harder for people to access your information than just using windows file sharing. For remote access once again it depends on how secure you want it. You can use what you have now, or spend a lot on a remote access server or network equipment.
Realtor at Blue Elephant Realty focused on the Toronto Condo Market and Real Estate Investing
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 14, 2004
52 posts
thanks for the reply and to those who pm'd me....

I am going to look into a lot of what you stated, bmwguy. i appreciate the detailed response and i will reply back to this thread when i have looked into some of these options a little more.... most likely i will be searching [rfdlink=/forums/autolink/redirectpage.php?linkid=161]dell.ca[/rfdlink] for different server options.


if there is any other feedback, please reply.
Sr. Member
Oct 8, 2003
619 posts
249 upvotes
Toronto
No problem and good luck!

Also one other thing regarding accessing data remotely, if possible it may be better to use a laptop and copy the files you need to work on to your local drive. After they have been edited, upload them back to your server.

Are you going to be doing all the work yourself? It may be worthwhile speaking to a professional. There are a lot of things you should consider when starting to build a network. I only scratched the surface with the stuff that needs to be considered. You should try to make it so that it is scalable and can be added to for future growth. If you just want something very basic, just pick up a server from somewhere like [rfdlink=/forums/autolink/redirectpage.php?linkid=167]dell[/rfdlink] or [rfdlink=/forums/autolink/redirectpage.php?linkid=262]ibm[/rfdlink] (prices have come down from what they once were), install a server operating system (probably windows 2003 server or similar in your case), and get a tape drive.

As for the phone system, I have worked on some more fancier phone systems, but nothing for a smaller company. I am sure that if you talk to Bell or another provider they would be able to help you with any questions that you might have. Here are some companies that sell those kind of systems I found after a quick google search: http://www.talkswitch.com/pbx_phone_system.html
http://www.phonesource.ca/
or you could try a VOIP kind of solution such as [rfdlink=/forums/autolink/redirectpage.php?linkid=315]Vonage[/rfdlink].

Anyway, if you need any help or have any more questions just send me a PM.
Realtor at Blue Elephant Realty focused on the Toronto Condo Market and Real Estate Investing
Jr. Member
Nov 11, 2005
139 posts
There is a pretty good resource for computing issues for small businesses. Its a US based site, but it covers storage, back-up, networking, VoIP and other technologies commonly used by SMBs. They have easy-to-understand and rather functional reviews and information. I know they do cover quite a few different storage and back-up systems/options for small biz budgets as well. Maybe you'll find some info in here....

http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 13, 2002
4156 posts
38 upvotes
Toronto
if youre looking for phone systems still send me a pm
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 30, 2003
3908 posts
119 upvotes
Toronto
here's some great advice - hire someone to do it for you.
you look like you are going to purchase some major equipment. there are a number of companies out there that assist in setting up small businesses. give them your needs, tell them to go ahead and purchase the equipment and throw in the network set-up w/ it. ditto phones.

reason I'm saying is - unless you really do have the time to buy, plan & set-up, it's not worth it since that's time you could be working on your business. Some of these systems companies are only around 30/hr of time if you buy in blocks.

I realize that it's a good thing to do things yourself but there's also a point where you should sometimes realize that paying someone to do something is cheaper if your time can be put to better use elsewhere.
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There is no happy ending
Deal Addict
User avatar
May 14, 2002
1965 posts
26 upvotes
Mississauga
A few of my consulting contracts were exactly this kind of stuff so here's my 2 cents:

For storage you have few options, as was mentioned tape drives are your 'storage standard'. If you don't foresee too fast of a growth you might get away with dedicated hard drives, internal or external, for added security/fault tolerance you can go with redundant arrays. The layman's backup would be dvds but I would be careful with that without having a 'backup' plan :)

You don't need to buy server machines to run your office but if you feel like that it important [rfdlink=/forums/autolink/redirectpage.php?linkid=167]Dell[/rfdlink] does have some good deals once in a while.

For sharing, what OS do you use? I am guessing it's a non-server OS like windows XP? This will determine what you can/should use. So far I've found that VPN is the best way to create remote networking, but there are other ways like split DNS and so on but always be aware of security implications, do your research. Most of the 'programs' that let you do remote sharing are not industry standards and might have loopholes that tested and true products don't have.

For phones there's only one choice in my opinion - PBX.

I've never had an unhappy customer if they were reasonable in their expectations (even then, I made sure that they understood and were somewhat happy :) ). Funny how this advice (well obviously a lot more detailed) on the clock would have cost a pretty penny for my client but on rfd everything's free :) Talking about my client, I should probably get back to work.
Deal Addict
Aug 1, 2005
1703 posts
57 upvotes
Windsor
if you know your way arounda PBX, nortel pbx's are cheap on ebay.. you can pick up an 8 line in, 24 lines out PBX for about a hundred dollars.. and a voicemail system for about 200. 7310 and 7208 phones go for about 30 each.
Member
Jun 13, 2004
292 posts
21 upvotes
Saint John
Just to throw a few more thing out there and not to repeat. I would advise to hire someone to help set things up. Second for server backups. The cheap and easy way would be using ntbackup to either a tape drive or external drive or network storage device. Using tapes I'd suggest LTO1's as with 100 GB of data one tape per full backup should do for awhile. Or cheaper but require more media would be DLT4's and you would have to swap tapes mid way through your full backups. Or go with a HD or storage device. The nice feature with at storage device is restoring data is a lot quicker and easier. No loading and swapping media.

Also to note calculate the cost of tape media. As you will probably have weekly and monthly full backups and have to retain them for a month to a year or more as well as daily incrementals. This type of rotation will cover your butt. You'll have to weigh the pricing of tape media and tape drive vs. external / network storage device.

For networking I'd also suggest VPN for remote access. Again if on a budget find a cheap cisco vpn router on [rfdlink=/forums/autolink/redirectpage.php?linkid=78]ebay[/rfdlink]. I'd also suggest a decent switch for your office.
Member
User avatar
Jul 4, 2005
264 posts
5 upvotes
Markham
I've got the Talkswitch 48-cva phone system. It is ok. There are a couple of bugs but the price tag of $2000CDN is relatively cheap compared to others. I've looked at Avaya and Nortel both around $5K. Software updates are also free vs paying $800 for an update with Avaya.

I actually didn't need the 48-CVA (VOIP capable) and could have saved $400 buying the 48-CA instead. I'm using Primus Voip that need's it own gateway. I think if you get [rfdlink=/forums/autolink/redirectpage.php?linkid=315]Vonage[/rfdlink] your talkswitch can be the Gateway/SIP.

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