Is Your Network Performance Slowing Down Your Team?
Understanding how and why your internet connection is slowing down staff members
Since the dawn of the internet, a slow connection has been the thorn in the side of business professionals across the world. A slow bandwidth connection isn’t just annoying either. It can result in huge periods of downtime, frustrated employees and missed business opportunities.
Nowadays, this struggle can be even more detrimental for business organizations of all kinds. As the workforce continues to become virtualized, making sure internet traffic is moving efficiently is critical to the success of any modern business. Making sure your company’s bandwidth is up to snuff should be at the top of your priority list.
First Things First: What Exactly is Internet Bandwidth?
Simply put, its best to imagine bandwidth as the ‘lanes’ on the information ‘superhighway’. Bandwidth is what allows volumes of traffic to move through at once, while still maintaining high speeds for everyone on the ‘road.’ The less traffic on the network, the less bandwidth is required.
However, in an increasingly crowded virtual office environment, internet traffic is busier than ever before. When more and more network requests are jammed into the bandwidth lanes, a low bandwidth connection will produce severely slow speeds. In turn, a higher bandwidth connection can better service high traffic environments and keep users moving without speed sacrifices.
Wait a Minute: What’s Causing Your Bandwidth Troubles?
Does your internet connection seem to slow right down when your entire team is working at the same time? Do you often have to wait for a co-worker to finish a task before you attempt to get something done using the internet connection? If this sounds familiar, you’re liking suffering from a poor bandwidth connection.
So, what exactly is causing so much traffic? Are there specific things you can identify to prevent the great network slowdown? Luckily, bandwidth issues are easy to identify because they are usually connected to a few high-traffic activities. These high-traffic culprits involve two key features: large amounts of data and extended duration. That means activities that involve the transfer of big data over long periods of time.
Here are some common bandwidth culprits that could be slowing down your network:
- Video streaming on YouTube, Netflix or other internet applications.
- Massive file transfers between machines – problematic transfers are usually more than 100MB.
- Continual video data streams from security cameras.
- Internet file downloads.
Therefore, as a first step, it’s critical to make sure these types of activities are only being executed on the network when absolutely necessary. Further, when they are happening on the network, they should be happening during low-traffic times.
Looking Beyond Bandwidth: Identifying Larger Network Problems That Are Slowing You Down
So, now that you know some of the key culprits, how can you be sure which are causing your network to slow down? While this is not always the case, poor bandwidth issues are often the result of overall poor network performance. Many organizations think the solution is to add more bandwidth whenever things slow down. This is a good idea sometimes, but simply adding more and more bandwidth can be an expensive quick fix that doesn’t get to the root of the problem.
To get to the bottom of your bandwidth problem, it’s best to try and get a ‘big picture’ idea of what’s going on in your network. This means monitoring your network to identify weak spots and strengthen your overall network performance. This monitoring can happen with the help of an IT expert and there are also countless applications that allow you to ‘rewind’ back to a slow network moment to determine the root cause. By taking a look at the bigger network picture, you’ll have a better idea of how to go about speeding up your network.
Taking Action: Strategies for Solving Bandwidth Issues
Once you’ve determined the cause or causes of your network slowdown, it’s critical to figure out how and when this problem may continue to happen. Before you start implementing solutions, determine which areas of the problem are in your control. Are you able to control the high-traffic moments when the network is slowing down? If not, how can you better manage these high-traffic periods?
If the problem is something you can control, identify it and talk with your team about it. Is someone viewing HD video in large quantities for training purposes? Are large files being downloaded when they could be viewed and shared online instead? Talk about these solvable problems with your team and develop detailed policies and procedures for eliminating or better handling high traffic activities. Getting on top of these identifiable bottlenecks is a great first step in tidying up your network traffic.
Finally, figure out if there is something concrete you need to change or upgrade to improve your network performance. If large file transfers and data streams are unavoidable, perhaps they can be set up on a separate network in order to avoid slowing down other team members. Further, if your connection speeds are consistently slow thanks to larger network issues, perhaps it’s time for hardware or software upgrades.
Facing Facts: Low Bandwidth Means Slow Network Performance
At the end of the day, as technology continues to advance, bandwidth connections will need to keep up with high-traffic environments. In an increasingly tech-based world, with the rise of virtualization and cloud computing, networks are more strained than ever. Whether we like it or not, bandwidth issues will remain at the forefront of technical problems for countless businesses and their IT departments.
The key is staying ahead of the game and recognizing traffic issues as they arise. Be open with your team about keeping network speeds optimal and have policies in place for high-traffic activities. When in doubt, talk openly with a managed IT provider about how to better monitor your network and improve its speed and performance. You never know, an industry expert may have insights on new solutions for optimal network speeds. You can’t make improvements without identifying the problem, so don’t hesitate to get your hands dirty and work with a partner to solve your lagging network problems.