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Knowing Your Network

A store’s network is crucial to the success of its daily operation. The dictionary defines network as “a system containing any combination of computers, computer terminals, printers, audio or visual display devices or telephones interconnected by telecommunication equipment or cables used to transmit or receive information.” In short, it’s how all of the computer equipment in your store is connected together.

 The most common form of network today is Ethernet. It combines Ethernet cables and devices called hubs, routers, and switches to connect devices to each other. The cables vary in color but tend to look like over-sized phone jacks. These will connect from the equipment eventually in to a port on the back of the hub, switch, or router. This allows all of the devices plugged in to it to “talk” to each other. You can also chain these devices to each other, so that a computer plugged in to one can communicate with a different computer plugged in to another network device. This is the basic format of an Ethernet network.

Most of the common hubs and switches today have indicator lights on the front for each respective port in the back that the cables plug in to. A green light will commonly indicate the device plugged in to it is on the network, and a blinking light means there is activity on that line.

It is good practice to label the source of each cable in the back of the hubs, switches and routers. This way if you are experiencing a problem with one particular component that may be network related, we will know exactly how it’s cabled in to the network without having to trace everything. It can also be half the battle simply knowing what these devices look like and where they are located.

 Take the time to know your network.  It could be the difference in minimizing high impact downtimes due to some network cabling or devices issue.

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