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Upgrade to a Gigabit Network?

By lee ·
I administer the network for our small company and learning on the job.

We currently have a SBS 2003 server and a handful of workstations with with a Gigabit Network cards. A little over half of our workstations only have 100 mbps cards at the moment.

Right now we have a 24 port 10/100 switch and things run fairly smoothly around here, but I assume we'd see a bit better performance if we upgraded to a Gigabit switch. It seems like just moving to a gigabit connection from the server to the rest of the network would help.

Questions:
Is there anything else I should look at performance wise before doing this upgrade?

Most of the workstations with 100mbps cards are laptops. I've seen USB 2.0 to Gigabit ethernet adapters for less then $50. How well do you think those would work to upgrade those computers?

What switch would you recommend? We are maxed out on our 24 port switch so I'm thinking recommending going to a 48 port switch.

Thanks for your help.

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Overkill?

by Kjell_Andorsen In reply to Upgrade to a Gigabit Netw ...

If the network is as small as you describe, going to a gigabit network is probably overkill. Are you pushing very large volumes of data over the network between your worskstations and servers? I really have a hard time imagining a handful of workstations and one server coming close to using the bandwidth available on a 100Mbps network. If you're experiencing performance issues it's more probable that other hardware on the server is causing it such as CPU, RAM or HDDs. I would monitor the performance of these, and also the network traffic on the server NIC to determine where the bottleneck is.

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The weakest link

by JamesRL In reply to Upgrade to a Gigabit Netw ...

Your ability to transfer data to one computer to another depends on a number of factors, and the speed/bandwidth of the network is but one (major) factor.

Gigabit is probably overkill unless you are moving huge files around. Typically you spec Gigabit for the lan in a datacentre where you are shuttling huge amounts of data between application servers, backup servers etc. Gigabit to the desktop is overkill unless your desktop are working with huge files - CAD/3D rendering etc.

You don't have to buy a 48 port switch if you have outgrown your 24 - you can buy another 24 port and chain them together. To maximise this you can try and balance out over two switches - put the most demanding users on the same switch as the server, and the least on the "other" switch.

You might be better off adding more memory to the server than upgrading the network - depends on where your performance issues truly lie. Finding the sweet spot is not an exact science.

James
James

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Try this simple approach...

by claudiocurcio In reply to Upgrade to a Gigabit Netw ...

I?ve writing this, assuming that you don?t have a bandwidth monitor.

If the network is properly wired, it shouldn?t be the source of the performance problems.

Nevertheless, I suggest you to turn on the workstations one by one to find when the performance problems begin. Try to turn on the workstations in a different order to determine if the performance problems are ?volume related? or ?workstation related?.

If you could associate the performance problems with the number of PCs connected to the server, you will need to determine if you have a server problem or a network problem. Start with the server. Right button in the desktop tool bar and select the ?task manger?. Select ?performance?, and see how many page fault it have. For guideline, it should be around 50%, if not, you should analyze virtual memory or RAM memory size. If its OK, and the average server CPU% don?t modulate around 70%-80%, you probably have server sizing problem.

If all this seems OK, upgrade the network switch, for one that should support 10/100/1000 auto sense.

As James wrote, a 24 port switch is enough, and then, rearranges the workstations in your network.

Claudio

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Just buy one

by mg_roberts In reply to Upgrade to a Gigabit Netw ...

We have a 24 port SonicWall 10/100 for our 100mbps connections, then I got a 10/100/1000 dell web managed switch for our PC's with gigabit cards. It made a huge difference in loading roaming profiles and syncing folders. as well as nightly backups. plus it's only like $250. best IT investment we ever made.

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