If your internet connection is so slow that it’s driving you to distraction, don’t panic.
There are things you can do to speed it that don’t involve spending a lot of money.
Before you start, it’s best to MOT your setup by investing in robust anti-virus software, more memory, and a maintenance check by an IT professional.
Reposition equipment, such as your router, may be all that’s required to boost your office’s internet access. Configuring computers to download and install necessary updates outside of office hours will also relieve the workload on your bandwidth.
Although these are common issues in offices, they’re unlikely to be the main reasons behind your snail-pace connection. Here are some other culprits:
Cloud services free up space on hard drives, which is a great benefit, but the more a Cloud service is used, the more bandwidth is consumed, slowing down how quickly employees can access their data, and potentially leading to bottlenecks. The movement of email hosting to the cloud (through Office 365 and Google Apps) also impacts internet speeds.
After you’ve migrated all of your system to the Cloud, identifying how much of your office bandwidth is used, and upgrading if necessary.
You can also tweak your Cloud service. For example, Dropbox is a very useful tool, which is designed to be smart about using bandwidth, but you can also manually adjust its bandwidth settings to choose Download and/or Upload rates you prefer.
If you have to send 5GB of attachments, then chunking the attachments down and sending them in a number of emails is better, zipping the attachments is better still, and no attachments but including a Dropbox link is even better. Invest time to educate your staff about the most efficient ways to send information.
Spam can also be a big problem: many companies find that for every megabyte of mail traffic, there is twice as much spam.
If you’re a corporate body, there is nothing to stop other bodies sending you marketing-based emails, although many will comply with an unsubscribe request. However, corporate email addresses that identify individuals (firstname.lastname@example.org) have Data Protection Act rights, which means that, just like a private email address, any request to cease sending marketing emails must be respected.
If you’re already using VoIP, or you are considering it, there are many advantages including; streamlining your business (e.g. one supplier for voice and data); allowing calls to be diverted to field workers anywhere in the world; the ability to place outbound calls through Outlook (or other email clients); and savings in installation, maintenance and call charges. But it does rely on hardy internet connections.
Video conferencing allows people to be involved in meetings from any location with internet access. But that does use more bandwidth: for a low-quality desktop endpoint, video conferences can require anywhere from 128 Kbps, and for an immersive three-screen telepresence suite you’re looking at up to 20 Mbps.
These days people have multiple devices; phone, laptop, tablet and Kindle. There are many ways your staff will connect to the internet; they even need an internet connection to sync their Fitbits.
They may be merely keeping an eye on Social Media and/or news services, which are relatively easy on bandwidth, but the radio station that plays in the background could be being streamed from Seattle or Nashville. And if the work environment allows private offices or the use of earphones, each member of staff could be listening to a different internet radio station or listening to Spotify or Amazon’s Music Unlimited. And during breaks they may be watching YouTube or Netflix – both of which are bandwidth heavy.
It’s important to review your internet connection. Assess your bandwidth usage by first determining how much your actual business needs. Then look at the overall use by your employees, estimating the time they spend online and working out which parts of the working day sees the heaviest use. It may be that the only way to improve your internet connection is to spend more money, but it may be that by reorganising when certain tasks are carried out, by making tweaks to equipment and software, and by raising staff awareness of how to get the most out of your bandwidth, you will resolve your issues, or at least limit any extra spend.
About the author
Peter Southgate is from Frontier Voice and Data providing businesses with working, flexible, bespoke and price competitive communications solutions for more than thirty years. FVD is an independent supplier and carries a comprehensive, business grade suite of products to suit any type or size of company. See: http://fvdata.co.uk/