IT guy fixing servers in a server room

Network Cabling 101

There is no one-size-fits-all method to networking and infrastructure. Businesses are unique, and a Band-Aid approach never solved networking problems or protected a business. When you consider the responsibilities and goals of your company’s network, you will soon discover why network cabling and strategic mapping is absolutely necessary.

 

What are Your Goals for Your Network?

When you are creating a new network for your business, don’t lose sight of your goals while still focusing on your company’s day-to-day operations. When you are planning a new network, consider a few factors first:

  • What are your business’s daily connection needs?
  • Do you need to plan for scalability?
  • What types and how many devices are on your network?
  • What type of data are transmitting on your network?
  • What does your network budget look like?
  • What type of applications and devices do you and your employees use most, and on what bandwidth do they rely?
  • What does your existing infrastructure look like? Are you replacing, upgrading, or replacing completely?
  • How does the set-up of the space your business occupies hinder or support your network? How can you optimize the space, such as door trims, walls, carpets, corners, and electrical outlets?

 

Types of Cables

You don’t just plug in and go. You need to consider connection types, devices, speeds and hardware that accompany each cable type. The common cable types include:

  • Coaxial cables
  • Fiber optic cable
  • Unshielded twisted pair cable
  • Shielded twisted pair cable
  • Wireless

 

Cables for Connectivity

When you are designing your network’s cabling system, keep in mind the depth or reach of your system. Depending on the size and nature of your business, you will probably choose one of the three most common scales.

  1. LAN (Local Area Network)

LAN is what you typically find in most single-building businesses that connect only their own computers and equipment together. A company may choose to go wireless, to connect directly to the net with an Ethernet, or to utilize twisted pair cables.

  1. WAN (Wide Area Network)

A wide area network is for larger companies with greater connectivity demands. WANs are used to connect companies or offices with multiple, locally or nationally. For example, banks and other companies that tend to have a home office utilize WAN, which relies on various connection methods, speeds, bandwidths and devices for effective and comprehensive connectivity.

  1. CAN (Campus Area Network)

This is the connection you think of when you talk about large campuses or businesses with multiple offices within a single geographic location. CAN is a network that connects multiple LANs.

 

Now, to decide which cables you need, the type of connection your company requires, and where it all goes, you can start brainstorming, hiring contractors, making phone calls and tackling most of it by yourself. Or, you can call the professionals at IT NOW for thorough, reliable and dedicated network cabling services and expertise.

How to Move Your Computer

Whether you’re simply changing the desk location of an employee or relocating your entire office, chances are that at some point your business will need to move your computer equipment. If the move is not done properly, you risk damaging the equipment or the data that is stored within the equipment. That’s why it’s important that you take the proper steps to move all your equipment correctly. While the proper moving steps are not difficult, they can potentially save you a lot of time and stress.

The first thing you need to do before you move your computer is make sure all your information is backed up on an external source. This can mean either in cloud storage, on a server, or an external hard drive. The back-up comes in handy in case any files are damaged during the move, ensuring that you don/t lose any important information.

When the day of the move comes, make sure everything is removed from your computer (including DVDs, flash drives, etc.) Once everything is removed, completely shut down all of your computer equipment (including the monitor and any additional equipment) before you turn it off. Once it is shut down and powered off, then you are ready to start disconnecting the cords.

The worst of unpacking is finding a jumble of cords and having no idea where they go. So save yourself a little time in the long run and label your cords as you disconnect them. This can be as basic as using masking tape to tell you which cord belongs to which machine. Carefully coil the cords and place them in a labeled plastic bag or box.

If you have a printer connected to your computer, once everything is unplugged, you will want to open the printer and remove or disconnect any ink or laser cartridges. Place them in a separate container that can be stored with the printer.

Once everything is disconnected, you are ready to start packing. The best packing material are the original boxes. However, if you don’t still have the original boxes, you can get boxes of similar sizes for each part of your computer. Pack them separately in order to prevent damage. Wrap each part of your computer with shock resistant insulation, such as Styrofoam or packing peanuts. Make sure your monitor has a covering over the screen to prevent the glass from cracking or being scratched. Your tower should be arranged in the box according to the manufacturer’s recommendation (usually upright).

Once every part of the computer is in its individual box, snugly wrapped and insulated, securely tape the box and label its contents. This way you will know where each part is located when you are ready to unpack.

How to Add an Exchange Email Account to Your iPhone

Below are the steps on how to add an Exchange account to your iPhone or iPod touch. (Note: you can configure only one Exchange account per device.)

screenshot of Exchange settings on an iPhone

Step 3

screenshot of Exchange settings on an iPhone

Step 4

Exchange synchronize settings

Step 7

  1. On your iPhone or iPod, tap Settings
  2. In the Settings menu, tap Mail then Contacts, then Calendars, then Add Account, then Microsoft Exchange.
  3. On the next screen (shown at right), enter your complete email address, domain, username, password, and a description of the account (which may be anything you like). If you are unable to view your folder list, or are unable to send or receive email, leave the domain field blank.
  4. Your iPhone or iPod touch will now try to locate your Exchange server using Microsoft’s Autodiscovery service. If the server cannot be located, you will see a screen like the second one shown at right. Enter your front-end Exchange server’s complete address in the Server field.
  5. Your iPhone or iPod touch will try to create a secure (SSL) connection to your Exchange server. If it cannot do this, it will try a non-SSL connection. To override the SSL setting, go into Settings, then Mail, Contacts, Calendars, select your Exchange account, tap Account Info, then toggle the Use SSL slider.
  6. After successfully making a connection to the Exchange server, you may be prompted to change your device passcode to match whatever policies may have been set on your server.
  7. Choose which type(s) of data you would like to synchronize: Mail, Contacts, and Calendars. By default, only 3 days’ worth of email is synchronized. To synchronize more, go into Settings, then Mail, Contacts, Calendars, select your Exchange account, and tap on Mail days to sync.

**Note that after configuring an Exchange ActiveSync account, all existing contact and calendar information on the iPhone or iPod touch is overwritten. Additionally, iTunes no longer syncs contacts and calendars with your desktop computer. You can still sync your iPhone or iPod touch wirelessly with MobileMe services.

How Secure is My Password?

You hear all the time about identity theft and online fraud.  But you think you’re not at risk, right? Think again. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing Internet crimes!  The easiest way to protect yourself from identity theft is with a strong password.  You have one of those, right?

The best passwords, according to Microsoft, follow these five steps:

  • Don’t be complacent and use things like 12345, or something similar in a password.
  • Know what makes a bad password. Using your name or the names of a spouse or children makes it easier for hackers to break your password.  You also shouldn’t use words that can be found in the dictionary, even foreign ones.
  • Become proficient at creating good passwords.
  • Keep your password to yourself.
  • Change your password often, multiple times a year.

You still might be thinking, “my password is a good one.” If you really want to know just how secure your password is, visit this site. It will tell you just how fast a personal computer could hack a password. By all means, don’t use an actual password you use, but a similar one to give you an idea of how vulnerable you may be.

This writer’s favorite password, one he’s been using for years, could’ve been cracked in 52 seconds! Time for a new password!

How to Defragment Your Hard Drive

If your computer is running slower lately, it might be time to defragment your hard drive.   A computer’s hard drive has more moving parts than most of your computer.  And if you haven’t cleaned up your hard drive in a while (or ever), it can take a long time to load programs or data.  If you want a relatively quick way to speed up your computer, a defragmentation of your hard drive might be the best answer.

What is a fragmented hard drive?
A hard drive works by storing data on a spinning disk (unless you have a solid state drive). Your data is stored on the hard drive in rings, making it easier for the hard drive’s arm to read the data.  Over time, however, data can be stored in multiple rings because of updates and deletions, making it harder for your hard drive to access the needed information.  When you defragment your hard drive, you’re helping to repair the fragmented data, which makes your hard drive run faster and reduce wear and tear.

How do I defragment my hard drive?
Luckily, Windows has a hard drive defragmentation tool already installed on your computer.  Whether you have Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8, it’s a fairly easy process.  Here’s the easiest way to find it in Windows XP:

  1. Click on My Computer
  2. Right click the hard drive you wish to defragment, and click Properties.
  3. Find the Tools tab, and click Defragment Now.
  4. Click Defragment.

On Windows Vista or newer, it’s much easier.  Click on the Windows icon in the lower left.  Enter Defrag in the search box, and it will bring up the program.  Open it, and click Defragment Disk.

That’s it for Windows users.  It should be noted that a hard drive defragmentation consumes a lot of your computer’s processing power, so if possible, do it while the computer is not in use.

For Apple users, there are multiple third-party systems that can help with this process.  Apple claims that its operating system is designed to limit the need for hard drive defragmentation.  It does this by designing the system to download whole programs, instead of adding new pieces like Windows, and by using larger, unused hard drive space for new programs.  If you feel that a hard drive defragmentation is needed, a third party application should be used.

By defragmenting your computer’s hard drive, you’ll help increase your computer’s speed, eliminate unnecessary files, and help prolong the life of your hard drive.