5 Essential Things You Need to Know Before Setting up a Home Office

Besides determining your budget, careful preparation is crucial before you assemble a home office computer network.

Planning to manage a new enterprise from the cosy confines of your apartment? Setting up an operational and effective computer network is a vital component in today’s Small Office Home Office (SOHO) business environment. Of course, you can always leave the planning and implementation to an IT solutions firm, but if you would like to trim your overheads, there is always the option of building a SOHO network on your own. Here are a few practical tips to consider before you jump in:

1. Residential Or Corporate Broadband?​​
​If you have a business entity registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), then you are likely to be eligible for a corporate fibre broadband plan with your internet service provider. In comparison, residential plans are relatively cheaper, but corporate accounts offer you peace of mind and uptime assurance with a contracted Service-level Agreement (SLA). In most cases, premium corporate offerings also include the allocation of static IP addresses — an important feature to have if you are hosting a server or associating a fixed IP address with a domain name. Speak with your preferred service provider to determine which broadband package suits your business needs best.


​​2. Stay Wired Or Go Wireless?

With the proliferation of high-speed routers and mobile devices, it is tempting to choose a full wireless design for your home office network. Benefits of going wireless include greater mobility like hot-desking options and reduced cable clutter. Even so, Wi-Fi connections are susceptible to dead spots, dropped connections, and varying throughputs at different zones within your home. Ideally, go with Ethernet-based solutions for workstations as wired connections are more dependable, and a snappy 802.11ac router for wireless devices. If wiring access between devices is a concern — for example, there is no data point near the workstation at the other end of the room — use powerline adapters to circumvent this.

​​​​​3​. ​​Router Placement

Optimal placement will ensure you obtain the best performance out of your router in terms of signal reach and throughput. To do so, ensure the device is centrally situated, preferably in the middle of your living space. Elevation wise, the router should be positioned midway between the ceiling and the floor. Since wireless signals propagate best in an open environment, a good rule of thumb is to keep the device in an exposed space — such as on the table top — rather than enclosed in a cabinet or drawer. Metal, mirrors and electronic devices will impede or interfere with wireless signals, so keeping them away from your router is highly recommended as well.

4. Understanding Hardware And Software Firewalls

A firewall is designed to protect your network from external intrusions and malicious attacks. Hardware firewalls are ideal as a single security barrier to protect multiple workstations. However, they can be costly, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the security features they offer. Furthermore, installation is a challenge unless you are savvy in this area. Alternatively, there are software firewalls. Common operating systems such as Windows and OS X are shipped with a rudimentary firewall, meaning they can be activated on your notebooks, desktop computers and servers. For a more robust security solution, however, it is advisable to invest in a third-party application, which screens both incoming and outgoing data transmissions. Popular security suites such as Bitdefender Internet Security 2016 and Symantec Norton Security Deluxe offer a competent firewall as well as malware protection.

​5. Printing Solutions

To ensure greater flexibility and productivity in your business engagements, you might want to opt for a fast All-in-One (AIO) printer that offers wireless and cloud networking features as well as network storage. In other words, something that gives you the option of printing from cloud storage services such as OneDrive and Google Drive, or storing your scanned data on a designated network folder at your convenience. A printer like the MAXIFY MB5370 by Canon also supports mobile apps on both Android and iOS platforms, which enables you to print remotely from your smartphone or tablet. Such practical features will save you precious time if you have a business partner or client waiting for a print job at your home office whilst you are away. Happy networking!