Image of data resembling fiber optic cables.

How to Improve Network Efficiency Before Upgrading Bandwidth

Your network is slow. Do you upgrade your bandwidth, or troubleshoot other solutions?

As more businesses move toward distributed offices and a greater dependency on the cloud, their ability to efficiently access and transfer large amounts of data becomes ever paramount. This is true not just for businesses that have large files to share, but for those who depend on a clear connection for video conferencing

A slow data connection or poor data management practices can have a ripple effect across your business, hampering not only your efficiency, but your data security as well. If it takes too long for an employee to backup files—or if the process becomes too complicated—they may avoid performing that task. Similarly, if a task takes too long to complete, there is a greater chance of it being interrupted and never completed.

Businesses looking to improve the flow of data through their networks can focus on two things: their network efficiency, and the way they manage data. If this is a concern for you, here’s how you can start.

Use a wired connection.

As convenient as Wi-Fi networks may be, they still have significant downsides for anyone handling large files over the Internet. Not only are they usually slower, they also are less stable. Their speed and strength often rely on their proximity to the router, objects which might disrupt the signal, or the number of people on the network at a given time.

Ethernet cables are less portable, but the direct connection provides a level of speed and stability that may make the tradeoff worthwhile.

Look for network bottlenecks.

Network administrators should monitor data traffic to spot congestion points. This might involve a large quantity of traffic moving through a single network point. For instance, most businesses experience greater traffic across their network during certain times of the day, such as right after lunch.

You can optimize your network to accommodate for these high-demand periods by adding another router, or assigning different levels of urgency to tasks based on their importance to business functions.

Prioritize operations based on class of service.

Not all tasks are equal. Some tasks are more urgent; others require more stability. To accommodate these various requirements, you can assign different priority levels to certain classes of service. This will ensure that the most important functions are guaranteed greater access to bandwidth.

For instance, VoIP requires a certain amount of bandwidth to maintain a stable, low-latency connection. Similarly, employees who need continuous access to a large database may need a higher priority access than those who merely need email access.

Schedule automated workloads for after hours.

Some tasks which take up significant bandwidth could slow your network down during the day. These might include system updates or large data backups. By scheduling them during hours of lower activity, you ensure the smooth running of the business by day.

Backups are a prime candidate for this kind of data backup. A full data backup may take significant resources. If you need a more-than-daily backup, you can run a partial backup of the most recently accessed or changed files during the day, then run a full backup at night.

The same can be said of system updates. Update management software can differentiate between the most critical security updates which must be performed right away, and complete system updates which can wait until the small hours of the morning.

Examine your hardware and software.

While it’s easy to focus on the network every time your operations slow down, it’s possible that your hardware is the real culprit. This could mean old modems and routers, but it could also mean your computer hardware, or even its software.

It’s worth restarting your modems and routers to see if it clears up traffic. Then take a look at your computers to see if they’re still running at efficient processing speeds. If your computers have slowed down substantially, or if they have begun to freeze regularly, it may be time to replace them.

Similarly, old software can be causing bugs which might create a jam in your system. In the very worst case, a slow network could indicate the presence of malware. It’s critical that you properly diagnose the cause of the slow performance before putting your resources to bandwidth.

Invest in greater bandwidth.

Bandwidth is another usual suspect for businesses struggling with Internet speeds. However, it should not be your first resort. Many businesses upgrade their bandwidth before troubleshooting other network solutions, and the result is that they pour money into the wrong problem.

However, if you do discover that low bandwidth is causing your network to slow down, it might be time for an upgrade. After all, bandwidth is one of the limiting factors when it comes to the rate of transfer for your data across the Internet. Whatever bandwidth you have for your office is what you share with everyone on your network.

If your current broadband connection is too slow, consider investing in a fiber connection. While this used to be expensive a few years ago, prices have since dropped enough to be affordable for your business.

Network efficiency is a key component to business success.

As we said previously, a business that cannot keep up with the demands of large data across its network will struggle to survive in a business environment where data is king. Helping improve the transfer of data across your network will help employees perform more efficiently, ensure that security updates happen on time, and guarantee that files are backed up regularly.

If you need an expert assessment on your own network efficiency, we can work with you to diagnose possible issues which might cause your network to underperform. Contact us today for a free assessment.