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      Choose the right computer servers or print servers for your home office

      Any time you plan to have multiple computers in your home or office, a computer server is something you'll likely need eventually. Thinking ahead is important when you purchase PCs, laptops and printers, even if you don't yet need a server. Print servers allow multiple users to print on the same printer, often wirelessly. Other computer servers support networked PCs or computers so that the users can have access to a common drive. For instance, your family might want to share files like a budget or calendar. In an office environment, a company might want coworkers in one department or location to save their documents and files on a shared drive that everyone can access.

      Compatibility is key. You'll want to check and see what type of port and operating system your server supports, depending on whether you use Windows, Mac OS and Linux. There are three types of ports: parallel, serial and USB, and server might support one, two or all three of these. With USBs, there are multiple types of ports, so it's crucial that you make sure your new print server or computer server supports the USB port on your PC, printer or laptop. You will also want to make sure you have a cable that will work with your port and that it's long enough for the layout of your space.

      If you have a multi-function printer, such as an all-in-one with fax, scanner and copying capabilities, you want to make sure that the server will support that. Otherwise, you may end up with a server that only supports the print function. For computer networking, you can connect both computer towers and laptops through the same server, although you'll want to check on compatibility for both of these with your server, especially if you plan to move from a desktop to a laptop in the next few years.

      When you're setting up a network in your home office, you want to make sure that you have all of the networking accessories that you'll need to connect everything to your server. You'll want to consider the programming software that you'll need to manage your computer server. It's important to understand what software your server needs and whether that software comes with the server or must be purchased separately. Not adding software into the budget you set aside for your server can bring unwanted surprises when it's time to purchase your machine.

      Whether you're networking multiple PCs for your home or office, or you're setting up a print server, thinking ahead and doing a little research on compatibility will save you time and money down the road. Look to Sears for all of your computer networking and print server needs.

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