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The Big Picture—Planning Your Windows 2000 Network

The Big Picture—Planning Your Windows 2000 Network

In This Chapter

  • Determining your networking needs

  • Hardware considerations for Windows 2000 Server

  • Picking a file system

  • Figuring out client licensing

No one really likes to plan (except maybe for vacations); it can lead to headaches and acid reflux. However, when a good plan comes together and results in a major success, it's definitely worth all the hassle. I mean take a look at the A-Team; they always had a plan, and even when it looked like Murdock would drive Mr. T totally crazy, things always worked out. (I know what you're thinking; that things always work out on television, but the A-Team was so much more than just another television show.)

So in honor of George Peppard and all those other actors who threw away their careers appearing on the A-Team, we'll hunker down in this chapter and take a look at how you plan your Windows 2000 Server implementation. And just be thankful that I couldn't think of some sort of tie-in with The Dukes of Hazzard, because Boss Hog and those Duke boys were a lot more annoying than Mr. T or Murdock.

Piecing Together Your Network Puzzle

Although you might never be responsible for designing the actual physical infrastructure for your network (all that cable and other devices), it may not be a bad idea to talk about some of the connectivity issues related to putting a network together. Most importantly, you need to decide on a network medium.

The network medium dictates how data is moved on the network. A bunch of different technologies are used for moving data, ranging from light pulses on fiber optic cable to microwave transmissions. But you will find that an electrical pulse over copper wire is still the most common way to move network data on a Local Area Network (LAN, which is a network confined to a particular location). So, with this in mind, let's take a look at some of the hardware that would play a part in connecting your network devices.

Moving Data Through the Mystic Ether

Ethernet is the most commonly used network architecture in the world. Ethernet provides access to the network using CSMA/CD (carrier sense multiple access with collision detection). This strategy of network access basically means that the computers on the network listen to (sense) the network and wait until the line is clear. The computer then sends its packets out onto the line. If there is more than one computer transmitting, collisions result. Sensing the collisions, the computers stop transmitting and wait until the line is free. One of the computers then transmits, gaining control of the line and completing the transmission of packets.


Copper cable is the most commonly used medium for LANs. Copper cable comes in several different types; however, the most commonly used copper cable is category 5 unshielded twisted pair (twisted-pair cable comes in five categories with categories 3–5 being data-grade cable). This cable looks like a regular phone cable on steroids.

Network Interface Card (NIC)

The NIC provides the connection between the PC and the network's cabling. Data travels in parallel on the PC's bus system; the network medium (the cable) demands a serial transmission. The transceiver (a transmitter and receiver) on the NIC card can move data from parallel to serial, and vice versa. Network cards come in different speeds: 10Mbps (megabits per second) and 100Mbps network cards are the most common. If you are going to use 100Mbps cards (known as Fast Ethernet cards), you will also need to use hubs and repeaters (described in the following sections) that will support Fast Ethernet. Otherwise, just go with the 10Mbps cards (Ethernet cards), which will save you some money.


The hub provides the central connection for all the computers on the network. A basic hub contains no active electronics and cannot be used to extend the network. It basically organizes your cables and relays signals to all the connective devices. In cases where the network needs to be extended, a repeater can be used. Repeaters take the signal that they receive and regenerate it.


You will need to provide client computers and servers for use on your network. Connecting different Windows client operating systems to a Windows 2000 network is discussed in Chapter 12, "Adding Client Computers to the Network." You should make sure that your client computers provide ample memory and storage so that your users can get their jobs done. The number of domain controllers and specialized servers that you need to provide on the network depends on the number and types of resources that you are providing the users on the network (Chapter 5, "A Recipe for Server Roles," discusses the different roles that a Windows 2000 Server can play in a Windows domain). We discuss the minimum hardware configuration that you will need for your Windows 2000 Servers in the next section.


You need to supply print resources to your users. There are so many printers available that you should probably do a fair amount of research before you actually choose the printers that you will use on the network. Remember that the printer needs to accommodate multiple print jobs, and that print resources should be convenient for your users. Purchasing one mega printer and placing it on the network might not work well for your users if they have to climb five floors to retrieve their print jobs. Deploying multiple cheaper, lower-capacity printers might be a better bet when the network is spread throughout a building.

Mapping the Network

The items listed previously provide you with basic connectivity for a modest-sized network confined to a single location (a LAN, as discussed earlier). Other devices, such as bridges, routers, microwave dishes, leased telephone lines—all sorts of high-tech stuff—enter the picture when you are dealing with very large networks or have to extend your network over a larger geographical area.

Even when you are building a small network from scratch, you should sit down with a piece of paper and map out how you will connect all the devices and how the network wiring will run through the walls or ceiling or whatever, before you jump in and begin setting up your network servers (by installing Windows 2000). Taking some time to think through the network layout may make it easier for you to run your cables, situate your hubs, and connect all the client and server computers together. A map of your network (even the simplest network, as shown in Figure 3.1) also serves you well when you need to troubleshoot a connection problem (which is something we will discuss in Chapter 21, "Call 911—Troubleshooting Your Windows 2000 Server").

Figure 3.1 Even a simple network map can help you keep track of your computer connections.

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