When businesses think of network efficiency, they tend to leap straight to bandwidth expansion or paying for faster internet. While those methods undoubtedly help, they can be costly, and if you don’t solve the underlying issues then even they won’t be effective.
1. Prioritize wired connections
We live in the age of wireless connection. Although WiFi is convenient, it isn’t really designed to handle the demands of an extensive IT network. It doesn’t cope well with large file sharing operations, is slow and prone to downtime. Ensure that at least the most important parts of your network are connected using ethernet cables. They might not be as convenient and can create issues around office layouts, but they’re much faster and more stable. Generally speaking, the more wired your network, the better.
2. Automate tasks for outside office hours
Some tasks take up far more bandwidth than others. Downloading and installing updates, for example, or uploading backups, consumes bandwidth and can bring your network to a grinding halt. That’s especially true if they’re performed during office hours when other users are online. These tasks can easily be scheduled to occur automatically at night. Set them for when your employees are at home, the network is quieter and there’s less congestion.
3. Monitor for bottlenecks
Keep a careful watch over the performance of your network and look for problematic areas. You’ll likely discover that slowdowns and dropouts occur at specific points, perhaps early in the morning when employees download files for the day or after lunch. These are times when there’s a lot of traffic online and people are trying to perform several tasks in unison. Once you’ve identified these hotspots you have two choices. You can optimize your router for high intensity periods or reschedule the workday to distribute traffic more evenly.
4. Consider management solutions
Managed IT services like outsourceIT can make a huge difference to the efficiency of your network, perhaps more so than any of the other points on the list. Outsourcing the management of your IT network to a third party can seem like a drastic step, but the process is often more straightforward than you might imagine. IT specialists will monitor your system 24/7, optimize performance and reduce issues associated with downtime. If you do encounter any problems, access to a support team makes it much easier to get things up and running again.
5. Prioritize traffic according to importance
Sometimes a contentious issue, it’s nonetheless advisable to prioritize network usage according to how important individual tasks are. For example, an employee tasked with uploading large files, who needs continuous access to cloud storage, should be prioritized as important traffic. VLANs are useful tools for segmenting traffic in this way. They allow you to establish separate networks for different groups of users, depending on their priority. A VLAN has the additional benefit of boosting security, too.
Segmented systems make it harder for viruses and malware to spread through the whole network.