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Old 08-29-2003, 06:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Internet Cafe: Specs

I'm looking into setting up an internet cafe in my area. I'll be looking at offering internet services (such as email, web access etc) as well as LAN and internet gaming.

Would any of you have any pointers on the specs of the pc's, and the type of internet connection I'd need to run about 8 pc's for the services im offering. I've searched around on some websites, but they all seem to be out of date. Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Old 08-29-2003, 10:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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lol, this is sooo funny because i have actually been thinking about the same thing in my area, (where do you live?) id be really interested in any info you guys could give me as well

i would definately go with higher-end (P4, Athlon XP) machines and like a cable or t1 connection

my biggest questions are bout like what should i charge and how do i keep track of people and how do i keep people from running out on their bill, or how do i keep people from coming in, using the computer for an hour and then saying, "well i cant pay for it, i have no money" so, should i charge in advance and if so, how do i keep people from going over their time limit? also what would be the best kind of internet filtering software (i dont want some 15 year old kid coming in and looking at porn) and what kind of firewall should i put myself behind?

if any1 knows about internet cafes id be really interested in what they have to say, thnx in advance

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Old 08-29-2003, 01:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have though about this alot.. You need to determine what internet services you want to provide. Is this going to be something that you want to lean toward college kids doing research papers or gamers or business people on thier lunch break..

With the exception of gamers, you really don't need very powerful PCs. They aren't going to be doing anything that requires that level of performance.. Word processing and internet services (www, ftp, email, etc) don't tax a system that much.

As to security.. I was thinking of using swappable drive bays and having the option of a customer renting a hard drive by the month, and including a liberal amount of time with that rental.. However, it would be adviseable to use distributed applications, something like Lotus notes so that the customer can't access anything other than the program menu (which would have only links to server side applications) without "checking in". Charging the rental by a recurring charge to a credit card and it is a fairly reliable monthly income.. This is an option if you have a large college very close by (as I do). This would allow the college students who don't have computers to be able to do what they need to do without having to deal with going to a computer lab that might not be open at 1 in the morning the night before their term paper is due.

In addition, even though you are setting up swappable drives, have them log into a server and when they check it, you set the access control for the server (I know this is possible with 2k server) for the amount of time that they pay for. If they need more time, they have to come back and pay for more time.. The good thing about 2k is you can set it to give a message (not sure on whether you can adjust the timing or not) that will let the user know that in a certain amount of time the computer will shut down and they better save thier work.. If they come up and pay for more time, you just change the settings..

As to jumping on the ticket... They have to check in and pay in advance, the computer shuts down when thier time is up so that isn't a big consideration.. Also, for the "casual user" who comes by for a snack and wants to read the headlines.. A section is set aside for those customers.. The waiter/waitress comes to the table and they place an order for the food and the computer time.. You then "turn on" the computer by allowing it access to the network for the amount of time that they ordered from the waiter/waitress.. If they try to jump on the bill then the cops can be called and it's just like jumping out on a restaurant ticket.. which means big fines and possible jail time..

Access control for pron.. Just lock it down.. There is NO reason for anyone to surf porn in a public location.. There are many quality server side "nanny" type programs that will let you allow specific sites that would normally be blocked (good for those pesky medical students). That and making people who request that consideration show ID for proof of age should be sufficient.. Not to mention that if you do that, mom and dad will have no problem letting jr come down on a slow tuesday for a lan party (should you chose to do that kind of thing).

Personally I wouldn't get too in depth into the gaming scene. Most of the kids who would want to play don't have any money and those would be the one who would try to skip on the bill. A sponsored and well advertised lan party from time to time with an entry fee would be fine, but adults don't want a bunch of teenagers and preteens running around when they are trying to get work done or shoot off a business email.

As to after hours security.. That's easy.. ESPECIALLY if you have a college nearby.. Don't close.. a 24hr computer lab for college students with food readily available would be a godsend to ALOT of students.. I know it would have helped me immesurably as I was too poor to purchase my own computer, but would gladdly have spent $20-$30 if I could have walked in at 3 in the morning and gotten 2-3 hours of work done.. If you can't stay open 24 hours.. INVEST IN INSURANCE AND A GOOD PHYSICALY SECURITY SYSTEM!!! With that many computers laying around it is a very tempting target for the unsavory element of society. Paying insurance premiums suck until you are left out in the cold because some jackass descided he needed another crack rock or a new pair of shoes..

And the biggest thing. REGISTER YOUR SOFTWARE and make sure that, in the case of server side applications, that you have licences for each and every seat that has access to those applications. The amnesty is over and the D.A.s office will hammer you..

Hope this helps,
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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thanks alot alex, that really helps, so you think that i shouldnt do much gaming stuff? i guess that makes sense since most "poor" gamers would try and jump a ticket and id waste more money trying to catch em

there are at least 7 colleges in Wichita that i can think of

wichita state university (3 campuses)
wichita area technical college (8 campuses)
newmann university
wichita technical institute
friends university
butler county community college
southwestern college

so having some office-type software would be a must, and yeah i would definately license it all, as MS or the DA would make mince meat out of me if i didnt, lol so i think im gonna wait till after i have started my data recovery business and have a little money saved up, i mean cuz im gonna have to buy a crapload of stuff, heres how id budget it to start

internet access $50 a month
computers $600-1000 apiece (i want at least 8)
tables, chairs, desks $1500
software another $1000 per computer
server $1500
cables, routers, switches $750
battery back ups $500

im looking at around $12000 just to get started, and thats not including building rent + electricity + phone + advertising + water + food services + salaries (cuz i will have to hire peeps)

so ima wait a while, i dont want to take out a $20000 loan to start a business, lol
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Old 08-29-2003, 03:46 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I actually did a business plan on this a couple years ago. And I'm not one to give all my secrets away, but here's what I suggest.

Go with barebones systems for the Internet PC's. Don't spend a lot on them. They will be soley to surf the net and maybe write a paper or 2, so you don't need much. Get a 1 gig cpu with enough ram to run the OS. Put more of your money into the displays. Don't go CRT because of the room they take up. Spend the few extra $ on LCD's. Smaller foot print, and in retail, that is the key.

The key to security is not software (well, that's a big part of it) it's storing the computers where the customer doesn't have access to it. You also want to make a user account on each where they only have access to a few progs and can't make any changes to the system it's self.

I had a desk designed that would seat 5 people and all the towers would be in the middle pedistal with fans on the doors to keep them cool. With LCD monitors, this would be easy and you would maximize your floor space.

As far as an internet connection, it all depends on what's available in your area. Do you have wireless? That would be your best bet. It's cheaper and the bandwidth, if in the right area, is comparable, if not better, then a T1 line. You'll have to go with what's more cost effective.
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Old 08-29-2003, 07:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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well if you really want to have a gaming internet cafe I'd say either use AMD's or one of the lower speed P4's which are not too expensive

and if you use dialup on all of them it would end up being more expensive than if you shared Cable interneton all of them.
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Old 09-02-2003, 09:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
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i never even considered dial up, that would be retarded, id prolyl go with cable as i will be downtown in wichita, (lots of tall tall buildings, so wireless isnt an option as you need a clear view of the southern sky) can COX cable is only like 2 miles from the spot im thinking of, i would prolly not go with many gaming rigs as they would be cost-prohibitive
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Old 09-04-2003, 05:21 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Where could I get some Info on learning how to recover data from storage devices?, Instead of sending a HD etc.. off to some company for weeks before getting it back.
Dethangel, do you have any experience within this field?

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Old 09-04-2003, 05:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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you should post another topic exit12 to avoid changing the topic, but since its too late...

there are some data recovery programs. one of the higher end ones being . my personal experience with these programs are not so great. they don't work 100%. the best way i think is to simply back it all up on another partiion, disk, or removable media. i wonder what you spent on recovering your makes me cringe.

about the internet cafes i found this piece or software that seems interesting for managing an icafe:

this software from souned even better: and

CyberCafePro seems likely what you need.
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Old 09-04-2003, 08:38 AM   #10 (permalink)
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thanx for the info EK, thats awesome, i cant stop reading it now, lol

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