The odds are good that a company that has two or more computers has them networked together in some fashion. This could simply mean that the computers are sharing a connection to the internet, or they could be doing significant file sharing and analysis of data stored in common databases.

When most people think of networks, they think of highly complex combinations of hardware, software, and computers that take a staff of full-time professionals to maintain, and hopefully, keep running. Although this is generally true for large and even some medium sized companies, it doesn't have to be that way for small companies.

For instance, a legal office with four computers and employees may primarily need their network to share case notes, email, attorneys schedules, and the increasingly important connection to the internet. Such a network is fairly simple to create and operate, and can easily go for months or longer without a "computer person" working on it.

Although such a network can be created by going to an office supply store and buying a few cables and equipment to connect the individual computers, and then changing some settings on the computers, it's best to have some experienced help with this. The simple act of allowing computers to talk and share data can inadvertently expose the company to risk of hackers from the internet, viruses, or even loss of critical company information.

The pages linked to this page are an attempt to outline some of the issues that need to be considered when creating a network. Often it is easier and cheaper to hire a professional to lend expertise in a few areas, rather than trying to do everything in-house, and learning as you go.