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© 2019 by ElyIT.co.uk - complete computing support

IT networks - fast, reliable, secure

Structured cabling

Structured cabling is, in no doubt, the best way to get the best connectivity. It's the only way to guarantee 1Gb per second (1000 megabits per second) connectivity. However, it's not the most convenient, having to plug and unplug all the time, plus being tethered to a cable.

 

We would absolutely recommend cabling servers, static computers and printers etc. for several reasons - 

  • Servers have multiple connections to multiple devices which need to be static and fast

  • Static devices do not need to be using WiFi if they do not move

  • The less devices using WiFi, the faster the connection for other WiFi users who have no other option

Cabled IT networks use either shielded or unshielded twisted pair cables (STP and UTP) with a RJ45 termination. Solid cable should be used to interconnect from the patch panel near the server(s)/internet connection to the sockets on the walls/flooring. It is paramount that the cable used from the sockets to the patch panel is solid, that the twisted pairs are kept twisted and minimal sleeving/shielding removed. 

We recommend 1Gb/second switches from renowned manufacturers, such as Netgear, and that these switches be protected via a UPS system which will protect the switch from power surges and power cuts. 

As per best-practice, we - 

  • Use solid cable from socket to patch panel

  • Take into account the environment and recommend based on reliability, performance and longevity 

  • Dedicate a cable per connection, a star topology, giving each device a dedicated 1Gb/sec connection

  • Recommend 1Gb/sec switches, not hubs

  • Managed switches for multiple server hosting systems

  • Dedicated switches for multiple switch connections

Super-fast, super-secure WiFi networks

WiFi solutions are often mis-sold, misconfigured and wrongly installed. They're then not taken as a serious alternative to cabled IT networks. Although cabling is always best, convenience is a massive factor. The ability to work anywhere, easily and seamlessly - to roam around offices on, what appears to be, the same wifi network, does not work by plug'n'play, but professionally installed, properly configured wifi using dedicated channels. 

We survey our client's offices and their surroundings, we find out who is using wifi in their neighbouring offices and design a solution which takes into account all the factors which may have a detrimental effect; such as other wifi networks, solid walls, steels, concentration of people, desks and working areas.

 

Depending on the requirement and demand, we may fit multiple, overlapping wifi networks separated by wifi channels such that PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets can seamlessly and automatically find the best wifi network and work reliably on them - seamlessly roaming from one wifi network to the other - all with one network name and simply but secure password. 

We use a variety of ways to connect to networks - cabled direct into the network, powerline systems which utilise existing power cables for network connection; wifi bridges to connect networks to each other using wifi - this could be to connect two buildings, for example. We're strongly against some technical "solutions" as they are simply unreliable and will only frustrate users due to data-rate peaks and troughs - we implement tried, tested and technically sound solutions. 

Guest networks

 

Keeping your corporate IT secure is paramount. Letting others use your wifi or plug into your network can open your systems up to any viruses or malicious software which may reside on the guest's laptop or PC. Much of the data flying around inside networks is not encrypted and is not secure, free tools can be downloaded to see and collect this data. Exposure of insecure networks can embarrass companies and cause real damage, both actual and their reputation. 

Many people assume places have public/guest wifi networks, especially in the hospitality sector, when ratings and reviews may be hit fairly hard simply because of poor public wifi. There's no mystery to it - networks need to be planned and properly installed to ensure they are secure, fast and reliable. We've securely wifi and network enabled small and large buildings, giving every inch fast, secure wifi access. 

Long range WiFi  

Long range wifi can be used to interconnect offices to share internet connections, allow server access and seamless office connectivity. Long range wifi can be bought off the shelf and installed on premises without the need for a license from Ofcom. Some longer range networks will require licenses from Ofcom. We can help advise, buy, install and manage your long range wifi connections. 

Some facts, figures and more info - 

Lengths of data cables

 

100m is the maximum, theoretical range of traditional UTP, RJ45 network cables. Cat5 can operate 100Mb/sec over a 100m run, Cat6 can run 1GB over 100m run, 10Gb/sec in shorter runs. In practice we'd use Cat6 where we can, and in places where the cable could be subject to high electrical current, we'd recommend STP (shielded twisted pair). Cat5 can usually run Cat6, but for data integrity we'd recommend Cat6.

PowerLines and Repeaters

 

Repeaters are inherently problematic as they interrupt/interfere with each other running on the same channels. Data flow is not streamlined due to these interruptions and suffers massively from peaks and troughs. Best practice would be to run network cable back to a network switch and separate the wifi networks using channels 1, 6 and 11 in a 2.4GHz wifi network.

 

5GHz offers a better, less commonly used frequency, but it's range is not as good as 2.4GHz. 5GHz frequencies do not overlap, unlike 2.4GHz, so any 5GHz frequency, as long as a neighbouring network isn't on the same, works well. If cabling is not an option, we've had great results using wireless bridges and powerlines - bridging a network to another using a wifi bridge, then PowerLine to wifi enable whole buildings, if structured cabling is not an option. 

PowerLines use the power cables in buildings to act as an IT network. They super-impose, on the 50Hz A/C signal, their own frequency and transmit data to each other. In the past we have wifi enabled large offices and homes which do not have structured cabling and do not require the quality of data to directly host server systems and data intensive applications. We usually use Devolo PowerLines due to their reliability and performance. 

IP addresses

IP addresses address everything on the internet to instruct where packets of data go. For example, if you were to visit BBC.co.uk your PC would need to know - 

  1. Where to find the IP address of BBC.co.uk

  2. The IP address of the server(s) hosting BBC.co.uk

  3. Where to exit your local network to get on the internet

  4. Where to go on the Internet to get to the BBC.co.uk servers

  5. Where to return the website BBC.co.uk and which PC originally asked for it on your local network

The IP address system routes data across the internet and inside your network.

Firewalls

Despite Hollywood, firewalls do one basic job - they are like a security door-man on your internet connection, "if you were not requested, then you are not coming in". They provide basic, but very efficient security for IT networks, whether at work or at home.

 

Sometimes, some firewalls are configured to allow applications into a network to use services hosted on a server or on a PC to allow them to be used anywhere in the world. These services could be webmail on an email server inside a network, behind a firewall, a remote desktop server to enabled users to securely connect to the network to work as if they were in the office...

We will be updating this page with more useful info asked by our customers...