fast networking

  LC 14:43 27 Sep 2005

I have 3 desktops in different rooms, the wireless network that I have set up uses netgear products (super range 108mbps) everything works ok and I can access the internet. However I use some software that manages my clinic (I m a doctor) i.e. patient appointments etc however it keeps crashing and when i talk to the tech support they seem to think that small packets of information are lost when the signal strength fluctuates (although I seem to be achieving a very good signal and good speed readings at most of the time). They have suggested that I revert to a wired network and go for cat 6 cable and a 1 gig network.

I did not know that this was possible, and what products would you suggest(rough costs would be helpful) i want to connect the 3 computers and have internet access on each. ANy ideas would be appreciated.

  howard63 20:26 27 Sep 2005

you do not say how you connect to broadband. An adsl modem router would be one way if you have adsl. Then you would need an rj45 socket in each pc. If the pcs do not have an rj45 a network card can be had for about a fiver. Standard patch cables are then needed from the router to each pc. If they are a long way apart it would be simpler to have the cable run in to a socket by each pc. My experience of most support staff is that if you do all this and then still have the problem they might look into it properly.

  LC 09:06 28 Sep 2005

Thanks for the reply howard, I currently connect through a netgear wireless router with a modem built in to broadband. What do you think of the relative merits of 1 gig over more classical 100mbps?

  Thalmus 12:01 28 Sep 2005

10 times faster, more stable, less trouble, more secure

  Taran 20:23 28 Sep 2005

CAT6 is all well and good but the additional speed will be noticeable only in sustained large file transfers and only if ALL networking components are CAT6/gigabit capable. Any gigabit capable switch (or router) will automatically drop to the lowest detected speed on the network, so if you have a 100 Mbps or an old 10 Mbps network card in the mix the entire thing slows to that speed for all machines.

Most routers are 4 port 100 Mbps switches as well. A few routers feature gigabit ports, but most do not and stay with 100 Mbps.

You could use a dedicated gigabit switch and CAT6 cabling with a gigabit network card fitted to each PC, but by doing so you would simply end up with a gigabit network of three computers connected to a 100 Mbps router which, in turn, will typically be fed by a 1, 2 or 3 meg broadband/ISDN connection.

In plain English that's 1000 through 100 to 1, 2 or 3.

Seem logical at all ?

Not for external to internal traffic it isn't, although I appreciate from what you've said that this is not the issue and that internal to internal is the problem.

I honestly can't see any requirement for gigabit on a wired network for a small medical practice. Any support tech that recommends it must have a better idea than most of the software requirements behind the recommendation. I do quite a lot of work for small practices and larger health centres and I've yet to see one or encounter a software application that dictated gigabit.

A strong signal wireless network or standard CAT5 100 Mbps wired network will (or should) handle anything you throw at it.

The giveaway here is where you say that "small packets of information are lost when the signal strength fluctuates (although I seem to be achieving a very good signal and good speed readings at most of the time)."

Any signal drop or fluctuation can cause havoc where you are shifting data that a software application requires.

In the case of a web page request, if your wireless signal drops quality for a moment you may experience a time out or page load error, or just a short wait for the page to load. For software applications though, if you are losing data packets then it just won't work properly at all.

Costs are impossible to offer without inspecting the property. In very general terms any IT engineer worth the name could wire three rooms in the same building and have your network cards fitted and all PCs talking to each other in a couple of hours tops, depending on whether you have two foot thick stone built listed building walls of course ;o)

Seriously, as long as you are not spanning building to building, or as long as there are no complex construction/building layout issues to overcome, less than half a day would see you with a properly fitted set of cables, network cards and no dropped packets due to signal fluctuation.

100 Mbps network cards are inexpensive (£30 sees you with a relatively good card or under a tenner for entry level kit) while gigabit cards are a touch more.

CAT6 cabling isn't much more to buy than CAT5 and wiring it from point to point is more or less an identical process.

After you get it done, be sure to give your tech support a good tongue lashing next time you have to call them due to software problems - you will be smug in the knowledge that at least your fast wired network can't be blamed...

Perhaps you should suggest an improvement to the software, where if a data transfer is not completed it automatically resumes. That should send them into collective apoplexy.

  Taran 20:25 28 Sep 2005

Just to clarify the point about your thread title "fast networking".

Standard 100 Mbps IS fast - very , very fast in fact.

The problems with speed over networks is the type of data being sent, sustained data transfer or short burst and so on.

Reast assured though that 100 Mbps is very quick off the mark when properly set up and used.

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