(Frustrated by your slow network’s hidden costs? Here’s how you can boost network performance.)
The hidden costs of dealing with a slow network can be like death by a thousand paper cuts for many businesses. Files take longer to send, cloud apps take longer to load, calls are dropped, and everyone loses productivity while waiting for tasks to complete.
Because of the importance of having a reliable network connection, many businesses react quickly by throwing money at a network upgrade that may or may not work. While fibre Internet is more affordable than ever, it is still necessary to diagnose alternative solutions to ensure peak performance.
- Determine that your network is at fault.
Is your network actually slow, or are your computers slow? Because you can’t prescribe a cure unless you understand the disease, it’s best not to jump to conclusions. Before investing in an infrastructure upgrade, ensure that the slow response time is more than just a localised problem.
- Offer guests a different network.
Guest behaviour can sometimes cause network slowdowns. While a single guest streaming a YouTube video in your lobby is unlikely to be the source of your problems, you may encounter issues if you frequently host a large number of guests who require Internet access. Instead of risking them inadvertently slowing down your operations, provide them with access to a guest network.
- Educate personnel about user behavior.
Employees require downtime, and many prefer to spend it on their computers. If you notice a slowdown during lunchtime every day, it could be because a couple of coworkers have taken advantage of the opportunity to play a video game or watch a Netflix show. (Yes, it has been reported!) They’re probably unaware of the network resources they’re consuming during work hours and are simply trying to enjoy their lunch. Most people will gladly choose a different lunch activity if you take the time to talk to them about network performance.
Poor file sharing practises, such as emailing large PPT files to multiple contacts rather than editing them via a shared cloud file, could also be causing a slowdown. If you have employees who frequently (and needlessly) share large files, teaching them how to compress the files or use cloud drives can reduce the strain on the network.
- Use VLANs to segment low-priority traffic.
VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks) are an excellent way to partition your network resources so that the most critical traffic is prioritised. A VLAN, in essence, provides the benefits of a completely separate network without the need to rewire the entire office. VLANs can be grouped based on computer use and function, even if they are in different parts of the office.
VLANs can also increase security by isolating your systems from one another. As a result, even if one part of your network is compromised, the VLAN can act as a barrier, protecting the rest of the network.
- Check for viruses or system defects.
When it comes to viruses, malware is notorious for slowing down networks and impeding workflows. If you suspect that your network slowdown is the result of malicious network activity, you should contact an emergency IT specialist right away.
Slowdowns can also be caused by various network components becoming old and defective. Replacing these broken components is often less painful than upgrading the entire network.
- Monitor for bottlenecks.
Network monitoring is essential for identifying potential bottlenecks or traffic jams in your network. System backups, for example, typically consume a large amount of resources. As a result, most networks run backups at night, when employees are not present.
However, sometimes the backup scheduling is incorrect, or a backup takes longer than expected and extends into the workday. Remote Monitoring and Maintenance (RMM) services can identify these bottlenecks, allowing IT staff to devise more effective workarounds.
- Update software and firmware.
Advances in technology and the software that runs on it do not always keep pace. You may have new programmes running on old machines, or old programmes running on new ones; in either case, they are unlikely to work well together.
If you’re stuck with an old software system because that’s how it’s always been done, it’s time to retire it in favour of something more compatible with current technology. Otherwise, your nostalgia for old software may relegate your company to the stone age.
- Upgrade your network.
Last but not least, you may simply need to upgrade your network. While you should certainly do your due diligence in looking for other solutions, the truth is that networks do wear out and sometimes need to be replaced.
As previously stated, fibre Internet has never been more affordable. If you’re still using old cabled Internet, a new wired connection may be able to smooth out your worst delays.
Networks don’t stay perfectly optimized forever.
No matter how efficiently you configure your network today, nothing stays the same. Your applications will change, your business will upgrade devices, customer demands will shift, and your network will fall behind.
Efficient, high-performing networks require oversight and maintenance. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Brightline Technologies offers RMM services to businesses that require network monitoring. We also work with companies to diagnose network slowdowns, create optimal network configurations, and improve network performance.