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We just had one of our many 5-port network switches die on us and it took over a day to figure out what was causing our network problems. So now I have $200 to "fix" our network.

Our goal is a network that is less of a hassle to administer and that will operate more efficiently/faster that our current setup.

In the image below, from top to bottom we have:

  • Intellinet - 5-Port 10/100 Switch.
  • Netgear - 5-Port 10/100 Fast Switch (Model: FS605 v3).
  • D-Link - 5-Port 10/100 Fast Switch (Model: DSS-5+).
  • Linksys Wireless Broadband-G Router - 4 10/100 Ethernet Ports, 1 10/100 Internet Port. (Model: WRT54Gv6 w/ lastest firmware [v1.02.8]).
  • Comcast cable modem: 4 10/100 BASE-TX RJ45 ports (Model: SMC8014-BIZ).

We have will Cat-5e cables running throughout (switches, walls, computers/printers, etc).

One upgrade we are considering is a D-Link DGS-1024D Unmanaged 24xRJ45 port 10/100/1000Mbps Unmanaged Rackmountable Switch. It will cost about $140 USD. My idea for the network configuration is outlined in the following image:

We have 1 file-server, 1 web-server (port 80), 10+ machines with windows XP pro, a few with vista home, 1 with windows 7, and 5 or so networked printers.

Will replacing our current setup with my proposed setup make any significant difference?

Let me know if you need more information.

If you want to suggest other ways to spend my $200 budget feel free to share.

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+1 for pictures. –  Jed Daniels Jun 18 '10 at 18:26
    
+1, You win the award for the most bass-ackwards, problem-prone, cheap networking solution I've seen this year. –  Chris S Jun 18 '10 at 18:37
    
haha. you think that is bad? here is a shot of the network before I organized it: i49.tinypic.com/2ai1t7m.jpg (the image is upside-down..deal with it :-p ) –  David Murdoch Jun 18 '10 at 19:09
    
That second picture is the best. Did they just throw stuff into the room and hope something stuck? –  joeqwerty Jun 18 '10 at 20:26
    
The building was set on fire by some neighborhood kids about 5 years ago. When rebuilding/repairing/replacing not much thought was put into the electronics "closet" since there were much larger issues to deal with. The worst part is that there is still ash on many of the devices in the room that were installed before the fire. –  David Murdoch Jun 18 '10 at 20:46

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I can't speak to American pricing, but if there is a HP ProCurve Switch in your price range then you might want to take a look. I've found their products to be keenly priced (in the UK anyway), great performers, and very well supported products with a very good guarantee.

I'm not personally a fan of DLink in general but can't comment on the specific model you are looking at. Regardless of what model you buy in the end you have the right idea with going from a group of 'home' products to a business class switch, but also consider the environment - clean power, well ventilated, decent cabling will all help...

Your proposed setup looks fine to me, I think you'll certainly see an improvement in reliability and throughput by reducing the quantity of switches and improving their quality. Simple is nearly always better.

You do have to consider that any product, no matter how well built, how well recommended, how well cared for can fail occasionally. If an outage is unacceptable, then whatever product you buy then it might be worth trying to find the money for two in case of a problem. Whether or not the risk vs. investment makes sense for you is something only you can decide.

I can say that from running a major business network, just about every make of 'business class' switch I've used has been very reliable - as long as they're not dead on arrival they should last for a very long time. The ProCurve switches have had the best record in this area for me, which is why I like to suggest them to others.

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+1 - I'm not endorsing HP w/ the +1, but I do agree that the proposed setup looks fine. Heaping up little switches, like you did in the past, is a recipe for disaster. If you can afford a cold-spare, get one. I know nothing about the D-Link switch you're proposing to put in. I'm sure it'll work fine, though I'd put in a Dell switch, if price was a concern, before I'd put in a D-Link. The HP ProCurve switches are very nice, too, but I don't have any out there and, as such, can't necessarily "recommend" one. –  Evan Anderson Jun 18 '10 at 17:25
    
I just looked at the HP J9078A 10/100/1000Mbps ProCurve Switch and costs $267.99 USD on NewEgg.com. So, unfortunately it is out of our price range. And the 24port Dell 10/100/1000 switches I found are managed switches in the $1000s. –  David Murdoch Jun 18 '10 at 17:43
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@David, the extra $70 is worth it. How much time have you spent on this already? How much of you're manager's time? Start adding it up, it's going to be more than $70. This is the #1 pitfall I see in small businesses all the time, they spend $500 worth of man hours talking about the problem because they have it in their mind that they don't want to spend more than $XX on fixing the problem. I have worked with Cisco and ProCurve personally and love them; I've heard great things about Dell switches too. Stay away from consumer grade equipment though. –  Chris S Jun 18 '10 at 18:39
    
Thanks Chris, I'll see what I can do to stretch the budget some more. Its not about having $XX in their mind, but rather $XX in the bank. :-) –  David Murdoch Jun 18 '10 at 18:45
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I'd agree with Chris, but if you can't then definitely get the DLink one anyway rather than let things get stalled, you'll benefit from that over what you have now. –  RobM Jun 18 '10 at 21:17

I've used the exact DLink switch you've referenced in your question. My experience is that they're reliable, but the web interface is buggy and troublesome. In some cases, it refuses to allow you to log in until you power cycle the switch. If you can live with that, then they are a reasonable choice.

We've moved to entirely HP switches now.

Other than that, your diagram looks good.

I would consider using the WRT54G in bridged mode (perhaps with DDWRT) and connect it to the switch using one of its 4 "internal" ports. The way you have it wired in your diagram, you may end up with an additional layer of NAT which you probably don't need.

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Thanks, my favorite answer so-far! I've considered using DDWRT before...is it really stable enough to use outside of a home network? Also, could you elaborate on connecting the WRT54G to the Switch in bridged mode? Also, what do you mean by internal ports? Are you recommending we physically connect the modem, router, and switch in a different configuration? –  David Murdoch Jun 18 '10 at 20:42
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Your diagram shows the WRT54G connected to the LAN via its "Internet" Port. It should be connected via one of the group of 4 'internal' switch connections unless you're purposely isolating the wireless network from the wired. As for DDWRT, I don't personally consider that stable enough to use for a home network, so you can probably guess my opinion of it for business. –  RobM Jun 18 '10 at 21:19
    
@Robert +1. Thanks for some clarification. –  David Murdoch Jun 18 '10 at 21:32

Ridiculous crap you have so far ;) Here is how I solved that (being in a similar situation):

  • NetGear has a nice small passive 16 port switch. Stackable. 1gbit - forget the 100mbit crap those days, every motherboard of the last years supports 1gbit anyway.

  • The good thing on that one is that it is SMALL, SILENT (no moving parts) and METAL.

Never looked back ;) The other lower end products looked - hm - "cheap". This one at least had the money for a sound metal outside.

Check http://www.netgear.com/Products/Switches/DesktopSwitches.aspx

I have the GS 116, and will soon get one or two smaller ones for in room cabling (stupid me having 4 computers on my desk now - easier to just run one cable into the room (the others are currently lying on the ground) and use an internal switch then).

You normally do NOT need managed on that level ;) Seriously ;)

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It seems netgear's website is acting up, the product pages are sending me to their error page. Anyway, we were hoping for a 24 port switch. –  David Murdoch Jun 18 '10 at 18:24
    
newegg.com/Product/… -- I agree with TomTom on the Netgear switches. They're metal and I use them professionally when I don't need a managed switch. –  Warner Jun 18 '10 at 18:31

D-Link's products have come along way: not only is the gear itself solid, but they now offer a lifetime warranty similar to ProCurves; they also offer free tech support so you can call up an engineer and get configuration assistance for the lifetime of the product.

I'm learning as I go now about isolation at Layer 2 (VLANs) and Layer 3 (routing/packet filtering) and am leaning heavily towards D-Link's products with HP's ProCurve's a close second.

As far as your configuration, your switch selection and configuration is fine, however, $200 is border-line ridiculous for a budget for upgrading your network infrastructure no matter how small your organization is. I would try to bump that up to $300 and get yourself a managed switch to give you some flexibility with regards to setting up VLANs (perhaps for your Web server now) in the future.

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Thanks, we don't need anything complex or managed. –  David Murdoch Jun 18 '10 at 19:02
    
You say that now... –  WuckaChucka Jun 18 '10 at 19:31

Keep the wireless AP and replace aging un-managed switch with a Dell PowerConnect 2224 (should be under you budget???). I don't know what device you use for DHCP but judging by the size of your network, the WRT54G can handle that if your Windows server isn't.

share|improve this answer
    
You don't think I should try to get something with Gigabit speeds? –  David Murdoch Jun 18 '10 at 19:24

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