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Understanding basic networking

Understanding networking is essential for ensuring that your hardware and Lightspeed Restaurant work as intended. Devices like printers and payment terminals use a local area network to communicate with one another and your Restaurant POS. In this article, we'll dive into networking basics so you can best understand how your devices connect and interact.

Basic networking

What is a network?

A local area network (LAN) refers to the shared connection between devices within a physical location, such as your restaurant. In order to communicate important messages back and forth, your devices need to be on the same local area network with unique IP addresses to help them find each other.

What is the difference between the Internet and a local network?

Even though internet and local network connections both allow electronic devices to communicate, there are important differences between them. "Local network" refers to the connection between your devices within your establishment, but "the Internet" refers to the connection between your router and the outside world. The Internet is also a network, but your local network is what connects your devices to your router and to each other.

When your iPad sends a receipt to the printer, it uses your local network to communicate with the device. In comparison, when the Lightspeed Restaurant app downloads your Back Office configuration, it uses the Internet to retrieve your settings from the cloud.K-series-understanding-basic-networking.png

Both your iPad and printer should connect to the same modem/router. The iPad connects via WiFi, and the printer should connect using Cat 5, 5e, or 6 Ethernet cables.

IP addresses and DHCP Reservations

What is an IP address?

An IP address is a string of characters that are used to identify a device on a network. Just as mailing was made possible by implementing a system where households could be identified by a civic address, a similar process has been created with the Internet called Internet Protocol (IP). It's common for IP addresses to appear as four sets of numbers separated by periods, (e.g., “192.168.0.XXX,”) with the last three digits changing based on the device. When setting up new devices in Lightspeed Restaurant, such as LAN receipt printers, you may need your device’s IP address to connect it to your account. 

A screenshot of Back Office highlighting example IP addresses.

What's the difference between a public and private IP address?

Your modem receives a public IP address that connects you to the Internet. You can find your public IP by searching "What's my IP?" in any web browser. You'll notice your public IP address is not the same as the IP address on your local area network. Your public IP address is used to connect you beyond your local network, which is why an iPad on the wrong local network can access the Internet but cannot find a printer on a different local network. All devices in your establishment must be on the same local network to communicate with each other. Since Lightspeed Restaurant relies on knowing the devices' IP addresses to send them messages or commands, you'll generally want these device IP addresses to remain unchanged. You can enable fixed local IPs for your devices through DHCP reservations.

What is a DHCP Reservation?

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a network management mechanism that automatically configures devices and assigns them IP addresses. Before DHCP, configuring a new device so that it could communicate with other devices on your network required a networking expert on-site. Since IP Addresses assigned through DHCP are automatic, these IP Addresses may change in some specific instances, such as a power or network outage.

DHCP reservation is a tool that all modern routers have that lets you reserve a fixed local IP address for specific devices. With DHCP reservation, the DHCP lease never expires and you don't need to update the device's IP address in Lightspeed. Follow our guide on Enabling DHCP reservations for more information on how to set up a fixed IP for your devices.

What is a static IP address?

A static IP address is a unique fixed number that you can assign to remain constant on your network. In contrast, a dynamic IP address can change, like during a network outage. This could mean reconfiguring your devices after power is restored. Using a static IP or DHCP reservation means you only have to set up your devices once, avoiding such hassles.

When should I use a static IP or DHCP reservation?

We recommend setting a fixed IP address for devices like printers and payment terminals using DHCP reservation. Please reach out to your IT or networking team to arrange this, as the process can differ depending on your network setup. Follow our guide on Enabling DHCP reservations for more information on how to set up a fixed IP for your devices.

If you can't use DHCP reservation, then setting a static IP address for these devices is a good alternative. Make sure to choose an IP address outside the DHCP range to reduce the risk of IP conflicts, especially during network issues or outages.

Lightspeed Support and networking

If your hardware suddenly stops working, it may be related to networking issues. Our Support team receives training for supported networking products that we can remotely access. Nevertheless, some hardware connectivity issues can, unfortunately, stem from factors beyond our reach.

While we may not be able to assist with every problem, Lightspeed Support will make its best effort to determine if your issue is something that we can help with or if it’s beyond our scope.

Our Support team can help with:

  • Troubleshooting network connectivity for supported hardware devices
  • Troubleshooting Unify and IgniteNet connectivity issues.
  • Troubleshooting connectivity issues between Lightspeed and payment terminals.

Our Support team cannot help with:

  • Physically broken hardware.
  • Any issues (networking or otherwise) for hardware not supported by Lightspeed.
  • Connectivity issues originating from your Internet service provider.

Another common issue may arise from your devices being unable to connect to Lightspeed because your router is preventing them from accessing your account. If the router was purchased or leased from your internet service provider (ISP), your ISP Support agents are usually able to remotely adjust these settings to resolve the issue. If you bought the device yourself, you could contact the manufacturer for more information on troubleshooting router settings.

If your network was set up by a third party and the connectivity issue comes from one of your network devices, you might need to contact the installation company or internet service provider (ISP). Your ISP may have configured your devices specifically for your establishment and we do not have access to these specifications.


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