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Q&A

Q1:How does a network ensure file integrity?
A1: Consider what happens if you use the same program, such as Microsoft Outlook, on your kitchen PC as you use in your upstairs office. What if you record a new contact's name and phone number upstairs and then, two days later, you want to call from the downstairs PC? The second PC will not have the name. What do you do? You can walk upstairs to make the call, manually look up the name once again and type the information in the downstairs PC, or you can make a backup of your upstairs PC's PIM files and copy those files to your downstairs PC.

Neither of those solutions is adequate. As a matter of fact, they leave too much room for error. You might type the name and number incorrectly into one of the PCs. If you restore one file on the other PC, you might overwrite information someone had just typed in the second PC! Without a network, your files can lose integrity and contain different information.

By utilizing a shared, networked-based disk drive, both PCs will use the same data file. You'll install the program to the shared disk drive and any PC on the network will then be able to use that program and access the shared file's information. If you make a change from one PC and then walk to the other PC, that change will appear there as well.

Q2:If I build a new home, should I install network cabling if I think I'll network, or will high-speed wireless be here soon?
A2: By all means, install the wiring. It appears that wireless network technology is getting better, faster, and less expensive every day, but the king of networks is the hard-wired system. As wireless speeds get better, wired speeds do too, so you still win if you have the wire.

Wire-based networks don't allow for as much freedom of machine placement as the wireless devices allow. Nevertheless, the low-cost of hard-wired networks makes them attractive alternatives for many years to come. When you install the wiring at the time you build your home, the added cost of the installation is negligible compared to the cost of having the cabling installed in an existing structure where sheetrock might have to be patched. Therefore, if you have any reason to believe you'll network your home, install the wire when the walls are still exposed.


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