View Full Version : Small Business Networking Issues

2014-01-18, 19:19
Well, I took the responsibility to re-wire our entire business and also redesign our network infrastructure. We're a commercial printer and also handle small walk-in customers. Like a Fedex Kinkos, but family owned (I'm 3rd generation in the business) and do higher end work but still service the whole spectrum of printing needs. I'm currently having some small issues that become a little bit larger as the small issues interact with applications. I'll give you some info on what the business was running before I came into play about a year ago.

Before rework:

Cat 5e backbone

1. Charter (like Comcast) Gateway receives internet via cable line
2. Gateway links to 4 port 10/100 wireless-N router - old linksys
3. Wireless router to 16 port 10/100 Netgear switch
4. 10/100 switch to all units and one separate 10/100 switch

Files hosted on 2008 iMac ~ 200 GB of PDFs, PSDs, Word documents, etc. General design and production files. Typically around 2 MB, but ranging from 20 KB - 50 MB.

After rework

Cat 6 backbone (all Cat 5e removed and discarded)

1. Charter (like Comcast) Gateway receives internet via cable line
2. Gateway links to 4 port 10/100/1000 wireless AC router - Asus RT-AC66R
3. Wireless router to 16 port Gigabit Netgear switch
4. Gigabit to 2 separate 8 port Gigabit Netgear switches on each side of the building

Files hosted on 2013 Dell OptiPlex Desktop - 225-300 GB of aforementioned file types.
(Newegg.com - DELL OptiPlex Intel Core i5 4GB DDR3 500GB HDD Capacity Desktop PC Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit 469-3195 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883155690))


Since we have more than just computers, I will give you a list of the devices that we have on the network:

2013 iMac
2013 Mini-Mac
(soon late 2013 Mac Pro)
2 x 2013 Dell OptiPlex (Newegg.com - DELL OptiPlex Intel Core i5 4GB DDR3 500GB HDD Capacity Desktop PC Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit 469-3195 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883155690))
2012 Dell OptiPlex
2007 Mini-Mac
2008 iMac
2002 Dell Dimension 4550

6+ Copiers, 2 with external Fiery devices.

Now, we used to have all of the files hosted on an Apple computer, which was used 24/7 since it is one of the designer computers. We don't have a very large file database, so I'm hesitant to move our files to a server computer (we may have the ability to do this once we have a POS system which will require a standalone server). Typical file use is opening a file (typically an InDesign file) on a Mac and manipulating it for 5-60 minutes. This file is typically from 2 MB - 10 MB and it also references multiple files when open. We have 2 designers operating 40 hours a week each. The files are stored on a computer that we use to process jobs - called Processor. Jobs are laid out and created on our Macs and then saved to Processor and the job is sent to the Fiery devices.

For those not in the industry, a Fiery is basically an advanced manipulator of jobs sent to the printer. It act as an intermediary between a computer and the printer and can hold a job for later printing, change the size, resolution, colors, collate order, finishing options, etc. The Fiery interface can be opened on any computer. An essential device for every printer. A file is around 3 MB - 2 GB. Typical is 100 MB.

The issue is occurring I believe because the files are stored on a PC and then being opened up on a Mac. Some things we see happening: No lag for PC to PC interface when browsing file folders on Processor. Variable lag for Mac to PC interface. This can range from 1 second to 10 seconds for files to appear in the Mac browser. Our Macs also often times get cut off while in the middle of work. This is a big issue because InDesign does not handle network interference very well. It causes an non-descript network failure error and forces you to restart InDesign. It seems like the Macs are losing connection with Processor for a very short amount of time, as our network isn't going down or anything, but just long enough to piss InDesign off.

I've gone into the router configuration and enabled "Xbox streaming", and that has helped with the disconnects, but I'm not entirely convinced they're done. I'm most concerned that down the road, since we are planning on really expanding, that this file sharing issue may cause other problems.

Anyone able to offer insight?

2014-01-18, 19:50
I would have stuck with CAT5e rather than CAT6, with the size and type of your network 5e would have been more than sufficient.

As you have a mixture of operating systems you will be getting clashes on the network. With each OS trying to up/down load information and convert it you will get lag and system drop outs. i would ave gone with one OS accross the whole system. Also makes it easier for software and hardware upgrades in the future.

I would also recommend a dedicated network storage device, rather than using a PC. Synology do excellent NAS units that are relatively cheap and can be easily expanded to suit your needs.

Also for your wireless, try switching channels, if there are other wireless units in the area on or near your channel this can cause some transmission issues which can cause data packet loss.

2014-01-18, 21:14
What's the big deal of CAT5e vs CAT6? I did some research and some of my wires run about 75 feet, so I thought CAT6 would give it better signal protection. Also, isn't CAT6 @ 550 MHz rated for 10 Gb/s, so it's better for the long run?

Well the thing about having both OS's present is that the Macs are required for all design work and any type of "quick printing" via a USB, CD or email is entirely PC dominated. It's all about speed with it comes to the small purchase customer.

The only reason I haven't tackled NAS is because I thought it would be somewhat of a security risk. If all my files are store on an external HDD, it's not too hard to just walk off with it. Creating a backup system more rigid than me bringing in my external HDD to backup all the data is something I need to work on ASAP. We only increase by about 40 GB a year (will probably increase dramatically), so if I bought a 3 or 4 TB HDD, I'd be good for a long time.

All devices are wired at the moment.

2014-01-19, 02:02
Not sure how much I can help, you should probably ask your artists to hit the Adobe CS and InDesign forums and ask this question,

I mean.. do you guys use the copy-file-to-local-machine-edit-save-then-put-back-on-server workflow?

Long term solution would be to switch to a server, and use a SVN program where a artist would check out a file or directory, copy it to his local machine, edit, save, then check in the file back to the SVN server machine.

And this is where my knowledge is lacking, I haven't used Adobe CS since CS2. IN CS4 Adobe made their own SVN, in CS6 they abandoned it except for Dreamweaver. I think...

But there are a handful of SVN forks made specific for your industry, specifically to do what you need:
Timeline - Version control for designers - PixelNovel (http://www.pixelnovel.com/timeline/)
Versions - Mac Subversion Client (SVN) (http://www.versionsapp.com/)

I think Pixelnovel Timeline is what you are looking for.

The Ultimate Guide to Version Control for Designers (http://sixrevisions.com/project-management/the-ultimate-guide-to-version-control-for-designers/)

Version Control for Graphics - Stack Overflow (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/29292/version-control-for-graphics)