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Posted 20 Dec 2007

Managing Small Office Network Computers - General Structure and System Definitions

, 20 Dec 2007
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The management and creation of a simple office directory structure, for development


Hello all. This is my first article here, so excuse my "greenness". I hope I labeled it correctly.

This article is simplistic, it's goal is to give the inexperienced office manager general guidelines towards building an efficient office network. I wrote this article as part of my job and it is intended for small offices.

Most office systems are chaotic in nature, every employee saves his/her files as he/she sees fit. This method of file structure creates an inability to replace personnel, or add new personnel to the office without the previous computer owner having to teach his replacement his directory system or his "method".

This "normal" method of work has several key disadvantages:

  1. The employee might not be available to teach the newcomer his "system". (Disgruntled, deceased, etc.)
  2. The old employee might not remember his whole system.
  3. The process is time consuming.

Also, the normal method "Save as is feels" makes it very hard to rescue damaged computers or bugged operating system, making system recovery a very difficult task.

In this article, we represent two distinct and easy solutions for the above problems, addressing the 2 main problematic systems in current office computer file systems.

1. Easy to recover?

In order to create a system that recovers easily, one must separate the two different authorities in the computer realm:

  1. The operating system
  2. The user file system

To do this, we must divide the hard drive into two different parts called partitions (In most cases, this means saving you information and reinstalling the operating system). Then, install the operating system into the main partition, label it as the main partition, and label the remaining partition as Data (or any other name, but set an office wide name, so you'll know where the information is when you look for it. In case you have enough hard drive space, you can also create another drive for "junk", stuff you'll save in the old saving method of "Save as you feel").

When creating the new office system, follow the guidelines for dividing the hard drive space:

  1. Windows: 10% Hard drive space + 2GB as a main partition (Hard drive part, should be called C:), and the rest save as the Data partition. For older systems: use about 10GB (take this as a minimum for XP, other operating systems are detailed below) for the Main, and rest for Data.
  2. Linux: (If you don't know what I'm taking about, skip.) Use about 2GB as swap partition (Correct at the time the document was written), and, 10% of hard drive space as main partition for OS, and the rest for data.
Also follow these rules and apply them to all the office computers:

  1. Save your files ONLY on the data drive (as shown below in section 2).
  2. Install all your programs on the main drive, and do not use it for anything else.
  3. Create a ghost of your main drive after finishing the installation of all programs. (See appendix "Ghost").

Using the ghost, you can recover your systems very fast, and "copy" a new instance of Windows on the crashed computer. It is recommended to reinstall the ghost at least once a month. (for less sensitive systems - about once every 3 months).

2. Setting Up the Office (So you won't say "Hum.. now where did I put that...")

Creating an office wide directory structure could be a very difficult task, partly because it means you have to enforce it, and partly because it means that in various hard drives around the office, you might have empty directories that don't contain anything, which might make your employees wonder why they are required. Well - it's mostly to keep the system whole.

As a general notion, the office is divided into several parts:

  1. Management (the boss, mainly you and your department heads)
  2. Administrative (secretary) work
  3. Development (programmers and projects)
  4. Office procedure and general instructions
  5. Accounting

For each part in the office, you should have a directory at every computer in the system, and save the files according to the place they originated from. Also, in every part, you should have a "work" directory (also with a global constant name) where you save various files that you work on, all the actual files, the files that you will keep, you save in the directory itself.

In the Development directory, create a new directory for each project, with a predefined name - that you set, and in it add a work directory, and a release directory.
When adding to the release directory, you create a new directory and add a date to it, so you can recover your old work.

An example of directory structure:

Main (Usually C:) - Operating system and software, you do not add anything else.
Data :

Management -> Management\Work.
Admin(Secretary) ->Admin\ [Name of person], Admin\[Name of person]\Work.
Development -> Dev\Project [Name] , Dev\Project [Name]\[Date of save].. , Dev\Project [Name]\Work.

If you follow these simple examples, recovery and system management will become easy and fast.

Appendix 1: Ghost

A ghost is a copy of the hard drive, as it was at the time of the copy. After the system crashes, or even slows down, you can just reload the ghost back and you have a clean copy of the OS, without all the accumulated (or downloaded) bugs.

Appendix 2: Recommended HD (hard drive) Sizes for Different Operating Systems

  1. Windows XP, Main - 10% of HD + 2GB (for OS, total minimum of 8-10GB), rest is Data.
  2. Windows 2000, Main -15% of HD + 1GB (for OS, total minimum of 5-8GB), rest is Data.
  3. WIndows 95-98, Main - 5-10% of HD + 0.5GB (for OS, total minimum of 2-5GB), rest is Data.
  4. Linux (Fedora 5), Main -10% of HD + 2GB Swap, rest is data.

NOTE: Make sure you have enough disk space to install all the programs on the OS drive. If you have software that requires more disk space than usual, add them to your calculations.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Team Leader Spiderweb
Israel Israel
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