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A Simple Networking Solution

June 2020

by Richard Lee


A Basic Home / Small Office Networking Solution

In this blog, I'll be discussing how we can implement a simple networking solution for use at home or a small office . This solution would suit home users and small home offices as well. To implement this solution you would need to have some skills/knowledge/experience working with I.T. gear.


However even if you're not tech savvy or have the required skills/experience to set this up yourself, you can always get in contact and we can do this for you. In most cases it can be done remotely (by phone and remote connection to your PC) within the hour.


As there are differences between Brands/Models of ADSL/NBN modem router you would need to consult the users manual for the specifics of setting up external storage.


So whats this solution about?


Many homes and offices have ADSL or NBN modem router that has a free USB port. The USB port is typically designed to be able to accommodate external storage such as USB memory stick or USB hard drive.


The diagram for this simple networking solution is:

[ADSL/NBN Modem Router]---------(Hard Drive)

/ | . . ^ USB Connection

/ | .. ..

/ | .... .... <Laptop2>

[PC1] {Printer} ...... <Laptop1>


Example Implementation of Simple Networking Solution


Key to Symbols

----------------------

| or \ or / : Network UTP Cable

.... : Wireless connection

[PC1] : Desktop PC

{printer} : Network printer

<Laptop1> : Laptop Computer

[Modem Router]: ADSL/NBN Modem Router

(Hard Drive) : external USB Hard Drive


It is a simple solution because it is easier to set up than a Peer to Peer network. Before we delve into the details lets consider what the pros and cons of this set up are:

Advantages

⦁ relatively easy to set up

⦁ no ongoing maintenance required

⦁ work independently of internet access (for local access)

⦁ more secure than using public cloud

⦁ access to large files may be faster compared to public cloud

⦁ great as a back up destination

⦁ cheaper to implement than a true NAS


Disadvantages

⦁ requires some I.T. skills/know how to set up

⦁ typically no access control to files/folders

⦁ concurrent access and performance not as good as a true NAS

⦁ data stored is not automatically backed up

⦁ typically no external access (from outside of network) to data

⦁ not a scalable solution


This solution essentially makes use of ADSL/NBN router modem and a USB Hard Drive. It is effectively providing the services of a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device. NAS is the implementation of a private cloud. Data stored on a NAS can be accessed within the network and also outside via the Internet.


From within the network you use a mapped network drive to access the NAS. From externally this is normally done using a web browser to log into the NAS. For our simple networking solution you can access the data from within the network only*. This is a great solution if you have a need to share files with others at home or for a small SOHO (small office home office) set up. Even when your internet is down, the modem router can still continue to share your networked hard drive. This is certainly one of the main strengths for the Simple Networking Solution. Another is that its more secure compared to using Public Cloud.


For backing up using the Simple Networking Solution would be a great idea. It is because if you've got stuff stored on multiple computers how do you back them up effectively? You could of course stick in a USB hard drive directly into each computer or you can use the Simple Networking Solution that we're discussing here.


(See my earlier blogs on Why You Should Back Up and How to Back Up)


If you're using the Simple Network Solution as your primary storage you could back up

the data to another Hard Drive which is connected to your PC.


If you need specific access control to files folders. ie ability to set permissions such as Read Only, Modify, Write, Access Control then you would need to look at using a proper NAS instead. A NAS would tend to be better at file serving than a modem/router. This is because the NAS is a bit like a server computer. It has built in CPU, memory and control logic to access its hard drives more effectively than a modem/router. It is designed for file serving whereas the modem/router is typically designed to be a router/modem first and then any file serving as secondary function.


One caveat when implementing the Simple Networking Solution is where possible connect the external Hard Drive into a USB3.0 port rather than 2.0. This would effectively increase data throughput by a factor of ten times. The speed improvement would definitely be noticeable when you access even medium sized data files.


* Whilst its usually not feasible, it may still be possible to access your Simple Networking Solution from external indirectly using remote control software to connect to your PC (via the internet) which has a mapped drive to your ADSL/Modem Hard Drive.

You might then use the file transfer capability of remote software to access the data.



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