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New Office - Seeking Network Setup Help

SDub
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Hey guys! 

 

I recently moved into a new office and am considering how best to set up the network. I run a small youtube channel and have an assistant editor. Editing off of a NAS is a consideration I am making so sharing project files is easy. I had a contractor come and place ethernet ports at key locations where I plan to have PCs (CAT 6, not 6E unfortunately), and he installed a CAT 5E patch panel in a little wall mounted 6U rack. I have a modem and router setup, and the router is doing switching for 3 of the ports at the moment as a temporary fix. I also have a QNAP NAS loaded up with ~20TB of storage that I currently use for network available data and a first layer of backup. 

 

I believe what I need next is a switch, but what switch is kind of confusing to figure out. Honestly, I'm not even sure the best place to buy networking equipment. I think for my needs, a 24port, unmanaged switch would be good but what brand and are other features valuable? I don't believe I need PoE and since I basically am IT for this small company, unmanaged sounds preferable because I can't afford the time to correctly setup a managed switch.

 

I'm looking for any and all answers. Maybe I should buy a CAT6 patch panel and a NAS that has CAT6 functionality? Both editing machines have 2.5GB functionality so maybe I should redo everything in 2.5GB? Maybe a simple switch for now is good and then when my business expands I can take my networking more seriously? I'll take any advice. Thank you!

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12 minutes ago, SDub said:

I think for my needs, a 24port, unmanaged switch would be good but what brand and are other features valuable?

Yup thats what you want here. Basicaly any gig 24 port unmanaged switch will work. Brand doesn't really matter, there all basically the same.

 

12 minutes ago, SDub said:

Maybe I should buy a CAT6 patch panel and a NAS that has CAT6 functionality?

A nas doesn't use a specific cat rating, it using the rj45 ends that all the different cat cables have. 

 

Also you can get 2.5gbe(and likely more) off of old cat 5/5e so your cabeling should be fine for 2.5gbe.

 

13 minutes ago, SDub said:

oth editing machines have 2.5GB functionality so maybe I should redo everything in 2.5GB

2.5gbe switches are very expensive, so Id get a 5 port 2.5gbe for the devices that need it, and do the rest on 1gbe.

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1 hour ago, SDub said:

Maybe I should buy a CAT6 patch panel

On a lot of the cheaper patch panels, the difference between a CAT5e and CAT6 panel is the sticker, and that's it (sometimes an additional $5 for the privilege). There's a good chance you'll be fine with the existing CAT5e panel - I know that I've terminated CAT6 on a 'CAT5e' rated panel previously, and still negotiated 10Gb/s links.

 

1 hour ago, SDub said:

what brand and are other features valuable?

TP-Link and Netgear both sell extremely affordable and reliable switches.

In terms of the managed switch vs unmanaged argument, most cheap 'smart' switch from tp-link or netgear will be plug and play and act as an unmanaged switch until you start playing around with settings. This may be a good idea if you plan to segment your network in the future (e.g. connect a wireless access point and restrict access to your NAS to only the editing PCs), however this may require additional business grade routing hardware to setup (router with VLAN support), anyway.

1 hour ago, SDub said:

maybe I should redo everything in 2.5GB?

as said above, CAT5e supports 2.5Gb/s so the only choice you'd have to make is ensuring that the network interface card (NIC) on your NAS supports 2.5Gbe and whether to purchase one if not. Depending on the resolution of your footage, I would imagine that two people editing off a 1Gb/s link to a NAS may be a little painful.

{
    "PC": [
        {
            "Part": "CPU",
            "Spec": "i7-2600k @ 4.4GHz"
        },
        {
            "Part": "RAM",
            "Spec": "32GB 1600MHz Corsair Vengeance Pro CL9 9-9-9-24"
        },
        {
            "Part": "GPU",
            "Spec": "inno3d 980Ti"
        },
        {
            "Part": "Motherboard",
            "Spec": "Asus P8Z68-v Pro"
        },
        {
            "Part": "Storage",
            "Spec": "1x 500GB 860 EVO, 2x MX500"
        },
        {
            "Part": "PSU",
            "Spec": "Corsair GS800"
        }
    ]
}

 

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If there's one thing I can't stand it's managed switches in small office environments. Going to VLAN each workstation from each other because some cybersecurity MSP sez it's safer ?   / sarcasm. Worked in this industry a long time and never seen a damn VLAN protect against a legit external threat. Vertical network segmentation is next worthless for security. Next e will be talking about VLAN'ing printers because it's safer. Visions of Skynet taking over printers and attacking office workers like a seen from Maximum OverDrive. Also, don't forget VLAN's 'reduce trafic' by reducing broadcast collisions. That's what I'm hearing from comp-sci majors that just graduated with BA's. The Cisco mind police already got to them.

 

You also don't need a patch panel. Nice to have when the back end room starts growing wires, but for right now it's a total waste of time. Just get an unmanaged small 2.5Gb switch as mentioned above and see where things go.

 

Put your money into your NAS because it's going to be the primary bottleneck. At 2.5Gb is where you start to see spinning drives hit the wall and SSD shine.

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You guys have been super helpful, thank you! I actually didn't know you could pull faster speeds through CAT6. I thought that they would artificially limit it to incentivize you upgrading. I think for now I'll grab a 24port unmanaged switch and just run cables from my patch panel to the switch seeing as how it's already there and installed. I do agree with wseaton, however. When I saw the guy installing a patch panel, I didn't know why I needed that v.s. a normal switch. 

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5 minutes ago, wseaton said:

If there's one thing I can't stand it's managed switches in small office environments.

I can kind of see why... VLANS on their own will not protect a network unless firewalls and ACLs are setup correctly to match, which is often overlooked, but they make it easier to manage. Even a small business can have this requirement to maintain compliance with PCI for card terminals (more cyber security of course), and separating a guest network from business etc...

 

Back on topic; 

6 minutes ago, SDub said:

I'll grab a 24port unmanaged switch and just run cables from my patch panel to the switch seeing as how it's already there and installed.

Sounds like a good idea, and if your youtube channel grows exponentially all of a sudden, it's one less job to do!

{
    "PC": [
        {
            "Part": "CPU",
            "Spec": "i7-2600k @ 4.4GHz"
        },
        {
            "Part": "RAM",
            "Spec": "32GB 1600MHz Corsair Vengeance Pro CL9 9-9-9-24"
        },
        {
            "Part": "GPU",
            "Spec": "inno3d 980Ti"
        },
        {
            "Part": "Motherboard",
            "Spec": "Asus P8Z68-v Pro"
        },
        {
            "Part": "Storage",
            "Spec": "1x 500GB 860 EVO, 2x MX500"
        },
        {
            "Part": "PSU",
            "Spec": "Corsair GS800"
        }
    ]
}

 

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