7 Replies Latest reply on Jan 5, 2011 6:37 AM by Colin Brougham

    Building a small network with Windows 7 machines

    Colin Brougham Level 6

      This isn't necessarily Premiere or even video-related, but hopefully some of you hardware/networkin gurus can offer a bit of advice...

       

      I've been using my ISP's rather cob-job DSL/hub/WAP for awhile, with my two workstations cabled to it, and my laptop accessing it wirelessly. I frequently push files between the systems, but, since the hub is only 100Mbit ethernet, and the WAP is 11g, shoving large files around is an exercise in mind-numbing patience. On the software side, I just click a bunch of buttons until the various systems show up as accessible on the others--I really have no idea what I'm doing in this regard.

       

      I've got a GigE switch on the way, with enough Cat6 cable to connect all the computers directly to the switch, and then to the DSL modem, so at least the networking between my systems will be far faster. However, I'm still in the dark as to the best way to actually establish the network on the software side of things. How should I set up shares between the systems? I don't have a NAS yet--that'll be a later investment--so I need to be able to drop files from System #1 on System #3, etc. I've tinkered around with the Windows 7 "HomeGroup" funtionality, but that seems like it's more designed to easily set up swapping of music and documents and things like that.

       

      Another consideration is that my laptop usually goes with me to various remote locations, where I either plug in to a cabled network, or access it wirelessly. How can I maintain some semblance of security, both at home and in the field, without unnecessarily hobbling the connection?

       

      I appreciate any insight and advice you guys might have. Thanks!

        • 1. Re: Building a small network with Windows 7 machines
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          Colin,

           

          I have three servers, 01 and 02 and an ESX server. Two run plain vanilla Win2008 Server, the last one runs ESX/VMWare and Win2008 Server. They are physically miles apart but connected over a VPN. All local machines are either cable connected with Gb Netgear unmanaged or HP managed switches and the routers at both sides are Draytek Vigor 2820 Vn ADSL2+ modems or they are wirelessly connected over 801.11n.

           

          Some local machines are part of a domain, others are not.  Whenever one starts a machine, they are automatically logged in, using a vbs script, and the networked drives are automatically connected. Some of these drives are local, others are over the VPN connection.

           

          This gives me the following drives on my video machine:

          Drives.jpg

          but gives me the same networked drives on all other machines.

           

          One thing to note, drive K, named 'harm' contains My Documents. This is automatically synchronized with my notebook, so I can access all of My Documents when I work off-line and they are automatically synchronized when I get back on-line on the network. The same applies to my wifes My Documents and my daughter's and my son's files, all using active directory.

           

          Furthermore all networked drives are backed-up daily over the VPN to a NAS. To add to that, my daughter in Switzerland can connect to the servers here over a VPN so she can access our files here.

           

          The only thing you do not yet have is a dedicated server running Win Server 2008 and possibly Exchange Server 2010. That would make your life a bit easier. For example, I only have Office on my notebook, but sometimes need to check my mail on my video machine. Using Exchange Server and OWA (Outlook Web Access) I can easily consult my mail on my video machine, send, reply or forward without having Outlook installed.

           

          Check your PM for a graphical representation of my network.

           

          Sharing with two PC's on the same switch seems like the most down-to-earth approach that will do what you need initially. Forgive me for not remembering all the gory details, but this network here has been in operation for over 5 years now and is a bit beyond what you want to achieve now. Just set sharing and it should work.

           

          If you have difficulties, let me know and I will ask my son (MCITP, MCSE, MCSA, MCP, MCDP, etc.) what your best approach is.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Building a small network with Windows 7 machines
            ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

            BTW there is a new version of Server coming shortly from what I understand which will be very easy to setup and use. it is for small networks. You definitely don't need it though. Once you set the drives to share then they all should be available on each system on the network if you have the systems set correctly in Network and sharing options. Make sure you have Network Discovery enabled and File and Print sharing under the Home Profile. If you want security on the network then each system will have to have a user account password. Also designate the profile for your home network as home on all the systems and make sure the Profile settings are correct for sharing as stated above. Then when you take your laptop out and jump on a network, designate any of those as public. Make sure your Public Profile settings have network discovery off as well as sharing. Other than that it's a matter of setting up user permissions for each share. That explanation would take to long here. Look up user permissions for shares in Win 7. You should see more than enough info on that.

             

            Eric

            ADK

            • 3. Re: Building a small network with Windows 7 machines
              Colin Brougham Level 6

              OK, I think I'm following that. Just to summarize:

               

              Since I'm the only user of the machines here, I can set the profile to Home, and basically give myself unbridled access (no user account/password needed) to anything shared--I'm assuming that's explicitly shared and not implicitly shared. When I'm out-and-about, the laptop should be set to Public; that'll let me access the network-at-large but should prevent incoming traffic.

               

              Sound about right?

               

              Thanks!

               

              PS: For what it's worth, I had to figure out some networking/printer sharing issues at my folks' house this weekend; both of their computers are running XP, and I was AMAZED at how much easier this stuff has become in Win7. I consider myself reasonably technically astute, but XP networking is crazy difficult.

              • 4. Re: Building a small network with Windows 7 machines
                Harm Millaard Level 7

                Eric,

                 

                I know this is overkill for most, but I have the Enterprise Edition of Server 2008 with Active Directory set up. Works great.

                • 5. Re: Building a small network with Windows 7 machines
                  ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                  Hehe ya Harm that is definitely overkill for most. The Windows Server Aurora here: http://www.microsoft.com/sbs/en/us/beta.aspx has some really nice features for the small network environment and is meant for setup and hands off for the most part which is ideal for most smaller networks like Colin's. I would suggest anyone looking at a small network to consider this when it comes out if they decide they want a server.

                   

                  Yes Colin, that summary is what I meant although the password is up to you on the home profile. I personally password mine.

                   

                  Eric

                  ADK

                  • 6. Re: Building a small network with Windows 7 machines
                    Colin Brougham Level 6

                    Yes Colin, that summary is what I meant although the password is up to you on the home profile. I personally password mine.

                     

                    Cool; probably not a bad idea.

                     

                    Is there fundamentally any difference between the "Home" and "Work" profiles? They get lumped together in the Advanced Sharing Settings, so I assume that it's just a nomenclature thing, more than anything (otherwise they would have separate settings).

                     

                    I'll keep my eyes on the SBS. At some point, I'm going to have to step up to something like that; storage is getting to be a bit of an unwieldy mess, and I'm looking into CatDV as a front end for database management. Beyond that, I'm working with a producer who is separated many miles physically from me; we will eventually need access to the same media and database, and have a server is going to be the best way to manage that.

                     

                    Thanks again.

                    • 7. Re: Building a small network with Windows 7 machines
                      Colin Brougham Level 6

                      Just wanted to say thanks to Harm and Eric--I'm up and running with a nice lil' GigE network now. It's pretty amazing what a couple cables and an inexpensive switch can do for your productivity/sanity

                       

                      Are there any tweaks I can/should do to the NICs in my various machines to get the best network performance? Any tips for care and feeding of a simple network like this?

                       

                      Cheers