There are several tools out there to help you build your cafe from scratch. There are packages like those from Smart (a major telecommunications provider in the Philippines) which caters to a hassle free set up. All you have to do is pay them an amount as down payment and they do everything for you; from supplying you with computers to the installation of games and other programs. You can also hire someone to do all the work for you; a technician perhaps for all the hardware and software installations and an interior designer to impose a certain “coolness” in your cafe. Plus, having a second opinion on things are a great asset.
However, if you don’t want to have other people do these things for you. Here is a do-it-yourself guide on hardware and software installation, as well as some tips on maximizing space and profit.
First, get a reliable and honest supplier who can endow you with the different advantages and disadvantages of buying the different models of hardware and spoftware out there at the market. What you would need are:
1. Personal Computers, your PCs. I would advise getting those with the latest specifications so you won’t have to upgrade soon. Having dual core processors are best, as well as 1-2Gb RAM, and 256-512Mb video card. LCD monitors are a must, so you can save on your monthly electric bill.
2. A good router. Pick out at least a four-port router. This type has the least number of LAN ports which is ideal for a small to medium sized internet cafe.
3. A switch. You have different choices for the type of switch you should get for your cafe. I suggest getting the 24-port switch for a small to medium sized cafe. It can serve 24 computers. If you have less computers in your cafe, it won’t hurt to invest for the future. Having more slots means more room for expansion.
4. Headsets/earphones or speakers? Depending on your preference, you can choose between headsets/earphones or speakers. I, for one, would opt for having headsets/earphones because they make the cafe less noisy (considering how DOTA players communicate with all their screaming, haha). The only drawback is that they get easily mishandled and break down easily. So, if you choose on having earphones, make sure that you inform your customers of the fragility of the accessory.
5. Reliable Cafe management software. Good cafe softwares make sure that you won’t have to do things manually in your Internet Cafe. You can monitor and regulate time limits for your customers as well as calculate their total bill automatically. Here are some software that I recommend you use for your Internet cafe.
- Anti-spyware. I like using this free anti-spyware called Spyware Terminator. It is reliable and efficient at detecting and removing spyware from your computers.
- Anti-virus. Keep your system safe with a good anti-virus software like Avast. It is free and easy to use.
- The cafe management software that I use is HandyCafe. Like the other softwares listed above, it is absolutely free.
- Word processing software such as those from OpenOffice. Click here to download.
- Operating systems. Now, this is the tricky part. I, personally, don’t recommend using Microsoft Vista. It needs too much tinkering, in my opinion. Microsoft XP is good. However, it may cost much acquiring licenses for your computers. You can opt for Linux too. It’s free and also reliable.
6. UTP cables. Get the correct cable lengths for your computers. Before you buy them, make sure that you have estimated right the lengths needed to connect your CPUs to the switch as well as the switch to the router. Always include a little more length of cable for sag.
If you are not a tech person, you can have someone connect and install all those software and hardware stated above. But, if you want to do it yourself, here are some tips:
- Arrange your computers in such a manner that you can save on cable lengths. Place the switch and router near each other and in a well ventilated area. Use cable ties or other tools to keep the them tidy.
- If you know how to crimp your cables, I suggest that you do so to save on costs and increase your efficiency. If not, have a friend who knows how to do this for you. You can also have the people at the PC store crimp your cables for you, but they might charge a bit for this service.
- Place LCD protectors on your LCD monitors. It helps protect your monitor at the same time allows for an easy cleaning.
- A freezing software really helps if you do not know how to remove viruses and spyware. You can buy these softwares on the internet as well as at the nearest PC stores. They keep the state of your computer “frozen” in such a way that every time you restart your PC, it will return to its original state (the state before you had it frozen). This means, that all those viruses and spyware get washed out during restart. Also, this means zero maintenance on your part.
There you have it. I hope you are able to put up your Internet cafe by yourself. This gives you a first hand’s know how on it’s done and more importantly, how it is run.
If you missed part 1 of my tips on putting up your own Internet Cafe, click here.
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