Computer lab network standards

Every computer lab and network should have standards that administrators must follow. If you’re a small organization with no IT staff or you know  little about your technology, you should make sure that whoever helps you follows some of the basics here.  These recommended basics  are good standards, regardless of the computer lab/network type.

Network Type

Be aware of how your network is configured.  When troubleshooting, it is helpful to know what is on your network and how those devices interact. There are two main types of networks: Peer to Peer (P2P) and Client Server (CS).  If you plan to manage or share more than just files it is best to use the Client Server model below.

Peer to Peer

To configure this, you must have a router to provide network access.  Each computer will be managed on its own.  You can have one of the computers become a file server so you can share data.  Username and passwords are not shared throughout your network causing every device that connects to have to enter their information each time.  If you have a really low budget, this is best, however you will spend more time  managing your computer lab and network.

Client Server

To configure this, you would need a server.  With a server you can allow access from both outside and inside your network.  Things a server can do are  username and password, file sharing, email, resource permissions, and much more for both inside and outside of your network.  You would then need to configure the server to provide network access through it to the Internet, or have a router on the same network that has access.

Printers

Printers can be set up where you print through a network resource or directly.  The advantage of printing through a resource, such as a server, is that it would have administrative rights by default to delete large print ques and it can store the drivers, making it easy to install a new computer.

BACKUP, SECURE, BACKUP!

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure you back up your data.  Each computer or device on your network should have antivirus software running on it.  Please note that most free antivirus software are not legal for labs.  For KIOSK type of workstations, I would recommend you install DeepFreeze on those computers.

User types

Most administrative things should be handled by an administrator account.  Each user should have the rights of the previous user.

Users
Normal or shared users of your network:

  • Have access to the computer
  • User access to application but no install rights, i.e., MS Word
  • Internet access
  • Print & and delete their own print jobs

Staff
It is best to have a different user account that has administrative rights that are used only to make administrative changes.

  • Power user
  • Install access of applications
  • Add printer

Admin
You should not have the administrator account be a normal user.  You want to ensure backdoor access to your network that you are aware of,  in case your primary account is compromised.

  • Full rights to computer

Drive Sharing
In a P2P network you can share a computer so that others can access resources.  You would have to manually map each one of these drives.  In a CS environment you can use active directory to auto configure the directories.  For organizational purposes you create drive maps that make sense for your organization.