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Recommendation For Hardware Please


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The owner of an old small business is friends with my boss and has a new issue that they need to resolve:


They have 5-6 computers. The OS ranges from Win 98, Win XP home (most of them), Win XP Pro and a new Vista laptop.


The XP pro has a wireless router connected to it so it shares the internet (RR Cable) with the laptop.

One of the other computers has a cable running from the pc to the router also to get internet so three can communicate with email.

No server. No real network. And funds are very tight so they are not looking for a server yet.

I have not seen any of this. Only reporting here what they tell me.


1) They would like to all connect to a large printer/copier that has an ethernet port.

2) They would like one of the machines to have a folder on it that everyone can use...transfer files in and out of that folder...share within the company without having to email (external)


How would you suggest they do that CHEAPLY? Any suggestions would be welcome!


We use a small Linksys PrintServer in our office to connect several pcs to one printer, but we are all networked.

Would that still work for a non-network environment? If so, how?

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HP makes inkjet printers that have an ethernet port, I have one, they also make lasers. I hooked it up to the router and can see it from all the machines using that router. But to share a disk is going to require at least an internal network (peer-to-peer at least). But if they are going to share a folder on one machine why not just attach the printer to the same machine and share it?

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I told him that just plugging that copier into a cord will not necessarily get the machines to print to it.... they would need drivers installed and getting them to see each other. He is looking for the disks/software that may have come with the machine...


The XP Pro (at least he THOUGHT it was Pro) that has the wireless router connected is the most likely machine to have the folder that everyone will be able to access.


But when it comes to the printer.... He said its a big floor model, a copier with printer capabilities.

(Haven't seen it. We have a large floor model that I must be more complicated than theirs...but ours requires an IP address for network use).


The wireless router is plain ole net gear or linksys with standard 4 ports.

Already using 2 ports for 2 pcs. Laptop is wireless.

Third port could be printer.

But that still leaves 3 pcs that need to connect and only one port left on the router.

So to accommodate that, connect a hub to those 3 machines, then connect that hub to the router on the last port on the router?

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Hi Samatha, You have several options and they the cost will vary and the pros and cons for them will also vary.


Hub, yes this will work and may be the cheapest solution. Thats the pro...the con would be it will take a little work and a little more know-how. A hub is dumb device and you need to configure the equipment attached to it and assign IP's so everything will know where to go and not conflict with things over on the router which uses DHCP. DHCP likes to be in control and will assign things as it sees fit.


2nd Router. This maybe a little more expensive and a little more work. You MIGHT need to assign two networks to get it going and then separate the computers/devices onto one or the other depending on what each needs to use. When you want to share a drive this maybe the more secure option. You could put the PC with the shared drive and the PC's that need it on one network and then put the internet access over on the other. This will keep the Internet away from the data on the share drive.


Wireless cards. The simple way to increase the number of devices on a wireless network is to just buy more wireless cards. This might cost more but its easy. You may also have a problem with distance and the signal not reaching.

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