Backing up Data on a Small Network: Dos and Don’ts

Backing up your data is important, and handling data on a small network presents unique challenges. Rather than try to handle a small network in a way that isn’t custom tailored to your needs, it’s better to put together a customized protocol. When you’re planning out the data backup on your small network, keep the follows dos and don’ts in mind. This advice will help save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

Do: Thoroughly Analyze your Network

Before you get started, you first need to analyze your network and decide exactly where the important data is. You should identify what data is important enough to be backed up, which computers create the most important data, and where this data is stored. This will allow you to quickly identify what areas need to be backed up regularly and what areas you can leave under the supervision of individual employees. Many small businesses try making a backup of everything on the network and either run out of space or wind up with a situation where they can't quickly identify the most important files that they need access to. Analyzing the network beforehand will avoid this problem.


Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)

What is DHCP?

A protocol is a set of rules used to determine how computers on a network communicate. The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a protocol commonly used to automatically generate an Internet Protocol (IP) address and other configuration details, like the Domain Name System (DNS) server address, subnet mask and default gateway to client host computers connecting to a network.

Before it can connect to a local or internet network a computer, or any other device, needs to be properly configured to communicate on the network. With DHCP the configuration takes place automatically instead of manually, and as a result DHCP is often used with numerous devices that connect to networks, like computers, smartphones, servers, etc.


What is a Network Administrator?

Virtually every business that has an IT department has a network administrator. Despite the common nature of this position, few people truly understand what such an individual does. By understanding what a network administrator does, you can communicate more effectively with your own administrator and also make sure that you know which qualities to look for if you are ever in the position where you need to find somebody to fill this role.

The Position at a Glance

A person in this position is responsible for performing support services for a variety of different information systems related to an organization. This may include the company's local area network, or LAN, a wide area network, or WAN, a company's internal intranet, or another Internet or network system. Individuals in this position can also perform general IT duties and systems repairs, but their specialty is in network operations. If you are having issues with your Internet or intranet, if you need to set up a new private network for specific individuals within your organization, or if you are looking to streamline your office's network activities, your network administrator is the person you should speak to.


Guide to Virtual Private Networks

Imagine leaving your home wearing a clearly legible sign around your neck that provides all of your most important and private information: your name, address, contact information, banking and other financial data, all of your shopping habits, places you frequent and what you do while you are there. Most of us would not want to share this information with complete strangers, for many obvious reasons. This data can put you at risk in any number of ways, including potential theft and physical harm. Yet, that is exactly what many people do every time they use internet.

When individuals and businesses use the internet without encryption they leave all of their information out in the open, and put themselves at great risk. A virtual private network (VPN) can ensure the security of your connections and your most important information. A VPN utilizes a public network (most commonly the Internet) to link distant sites or users. In the past computers had to be connected via hardwiring. A VPN uses "virtual" connections directed through the Internet from the individual or organization’s private network to the distant site or employee location. There are several advantages to using a VPN. As shown above, a VPN can be used to establish a secure connection to a remote network using the Internet. Many businesses use VPNs to enable employees to access to files, software, hardware, and other company resources. Individual users can also utilize a VPN to safely access their secure home network from a remote location.

VPNs are extremely useful to organizations that need to securely connect several networks. As a result, businesses of nearly every size depend on a VPN to connect and share servers and other assets between multiple locations around the world. Individuals can also utilize a VPN to connect their home or additional networks for personal use.


Port Forwarding and You

One of the most common techniques out there for people with a remote desktop is port forwarding. This allows remote computers to access a local area network (LAN) or specific router fr om an outside location. This technique is extremely useful if you are on the go a lot but want to keep using a specific network. It is especially useful to small businesses, which use it to connect satellite offices, provide remote access to employees on the move, and more.

What is Port Forwarding?

Port forwarding, also known as port mapping, is intended to open up access to network services for specific computers that are directly on a network. Typically, somebody logging onto the Internet actually has two IP addresses – the general address used by the Internet router and the specific, hidden address used by the specific computer. The computer feeds information to the router, which then handles all incoming and outgoing information. Port forwarding allows you to open up new channels on your router that allows the flow of information in different ways. Local port forwarding can be used to overcome firewalls for certain services, while remote forwarding can give outside access to chosen machines.


A Mediated Connection vs. NAT Traversal Techniques and Hole Punching

When it comes to accessing a remote desktop over the Internet, there are basically two options: a direct IP to IP connection or a mediated connection. In recent years it has been an increasing trend among major remote desktop software vendors to provide the latter connection type. For a customer it is much easier to use a simple number (an ID) for connecting rather than configuring a router and grappling with port forwarding.

Given the popularity of this technique, many users started to ask: “Is the traffic routed through the company’s mediation servers all of the time or is the mediation server used only once to initiate the connection?” This question is often followed by an immediate answer that such-and-such company utilizes a NAT traversal technique, such as UDP hole punching, in their software. And that with NAT traversal the mediation server only initiates the connection and then leaves both sides alone to communicate directly to each other.


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