Friday, 15 February 2008

Accountants: Share data & printer while on-site easily

There are times where two or more members of our larger accounting firm clients need to be doing their work at the client site.

It used to be, they transferred data via infrared. Then, they would create an ad-hoc wireless connection between two laptops to transfer data. Recently, they have been using Kingston's Data Traveler Secure - Privacy Edition.

While these methods work, they can be cumbersome and time consuming especially for Caseware files.

When it came to sharing a printer, the USB cable was being passed along between users as each one needed to print. This method makes for a struggle when more than one person needed to print. It also endangers both the printer and the user's laptop to static discharge.

So, to facilitate the on-site accountant's efficiency, we came up with the following solution:
We choose to use the D-Link router because, unlike its competitors, one has the ability to set DHCP reservations in the router's onboard DHCP manager.

The process of getting everything working together is relatively simple:

  1. Put the Linksys together with the hard drives.
  2. Setup the D-Links with a short 1' Purple or other off colour patch cable
    • Keeping the cable short and a different colour makes it easier to figure out where it belongs.
  3. Power on the D-Links.
  4. Plug in the Linksys' network cable into the Gigabit switch and turn the unit on
    • Use an off colour 3' patch cable like Orange.
    • Note that the first time it is powered up with hard drives in it, the startup process may take a few minutes.
  5. Plug in the HP LaserJet printer's network cable into the router and turn the printer on
    • Use an off colour 3' patch cable like Green.
    • Connect a laptop to the Gigabit switch and pull an IP address.
  6. Log into the D-Link using the default admin account (192.168.0.1 in the browser):
    • Username: Admin
    • Password: Blank
  7. In the DHCP manager, there will be a list of devices that have acquired IP addresses. We need to set a static IP to the following:
    • Set the Linksys to a static IP of 192.168.0.110
    • Set the HP LaserJet to a static IP of 192.168.0.120
    • Any connected laptops will pick up the first 9 IPs
  8. Reset both the Linksys and the HP LaserJet (power cycle) to pick up the new addresses
  9. Connect to the Linksys via Web browser: http://192.168.0.110/
  10. Log onto the Linksys and setup drive mirroring and a folder share
  11. Run a print test page from the HP LaserJet to verify that it has the correct IP.
You now have a fully functioning network that will enable your users to share data and send print jobs to the printer.

A batch file can be placed on the user's desktop for them to use when they have their laptop connected to it:

  • net use r: \\192.168.0.110\foldershare
Note that they will need to authenticate against the unit. A very simple username and password would suffice when setting up the Linksys folder share. Saving the password when prompted for a username and password will eliminate this question after the first one if offered.

A little preparation will be required to get everyone hooked up to the printer.

We will install a dedicated HP LJP1505N driver just for the on-site setup. We name the printer:

  • ON-SITE HP P1505
  • The connected port will be IP_192.168.0.120
This leaves little room for error or support calls.

To keep things simple, depending on the size of the firm, they will purchase one, two, or even three identical sets of the above products. All sets will be setup exactly the same as far as IP addresses, DHCP reservations, folder share names, and user name/passwords for the shares.

It is important to do the setup of all needed sets at the same time so as to have identical products. Having more than one printer type, router, and NAS will cause pain points for connecting things up, for the users, and for us.

Some further suggestions:
  • A little hot glue or Duct Tape in/across the WAN port on the router will eliminate any calls by someone who accidentally plugs something into it.
  • 5' and 7' cables of various colours for users to plug their laptops into the Gigabit switch
  • Labels on everything to keep them together such as: SET 1 or the like
  • A decent carrying case with foam inserts, like a Pelican, that everything can be placed into in a tidy way
  • A user manual (we have created one for our clients)
Besides accounting firms, other professional firms, construction management companies, trades, and others that require two or more of their employees to go on-site can take advantage of this solution.

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

If the purpose is to share printers as stated, why would you go to all this trouble? My god!

The simple and logical method is spend about $75 for a wirless print router (Dlink DPR-1260 for example).

Plug printer into wireless router and your staff have access to printing and (with a compatible printer) scanning. So much simpler.

Philip E. said...

This setup deals with a number of issues:

1: It would be improper to setup a wireless configuration at a client's site. Any wireless setup could interfere with the on-site wireless setup.

2: Having everything wired makes everything fool proof. Ever try and setup a wireless configuration beside a boiler room?

3: Access to the NAS could be severely limited for data sharing with 2 or more users connected wirelessly. Again, traffic, environment, and other variables at work here.

We take care of the configuration. All our client's users need to do is pull everything out of the case, plug everything in, and they are up and running with a reliable connection to the NAS, printer, and each other if need be.

Thanks for the comment,

Philip

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