by Craig Sharp
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Ever got a raise at work then a few months later at the end of the month thought “I don’t seem to have any money left”? Its probably happened to everyone and it’s a natural process. If you earn more money its only natural to spend more money. Few of us can say that all the pay increases we’ve had since our first job have been pushed into a savings account because we will buy a better car, a bigger house, nicer clothes and have better holidays.
Well as the World Wide Web moves into its second decade of being ‘everywhere’, all of us are facing a similar challenge with internet bandwidth; that’s the amount of information you can send and receive over your link to the Internet. Very much like our income, as we get more internet bandwidth into our offices we just use it to do more things; we don’t end up with an excess of internet bandwidth , we just push up to the new limit every 12-24 months by adding more functions or better services. Video conferencing, Cloud storage, web streaming etc are all services that eat up all the bandwidth we install.
It may be that businesses look to get more internet bandwidth to deal with this rising need for Internet services, but this presents 2 problems. Firstly, many businesses will be contractually stuck with a service they had 12-18 months ago and which seemed to meet their needs, but with 12-18 months to go its no longer enough but they can’t upgrade unless they pay a large exit fee; or secondly you may be based in an area where the only option to increase your speeds is to jump up to a Fibre Service or similar which is going to be a huge jump in price from the broadband you’ve been paying £30-£60 per month for up to now.
Over time you will certainly need to increase your internet speeds because the old rule of life’s certainties (Birth, Death and Taxes) has been updated recently to include another, namely that you’ll use more internet bandwidth today than you used yesterday. But before you spend a huge amount on a new service it is worth looking at the use of your current service as you may be surprised what you find. There are ways to get more out of what you’ve already got……… But the first thing you’ll need is a reporting solution.
You would be amazed by the number of people who have no idea what or who is using the company internet connection. It is not unusual to find people running small online businesses on the company internet link, using Facebook excessively, downloading illegal movies or doing untold things that are not work related.
So, with a reporting tool in place, long term or as a snapshot for analysis, what are the 3 key issues you are most likely to find ?
- Email……….. yes, email
Email was the big ‘killer app’ that got us all using the Internet, but in recent years its become a medium which is frankly miss-used. People send large documents to each other by email (internal or external) and these fly around the network eating up valuable internet bandwidth.
- Virus’s and Malware
Yes I know many IT company wheel out the scary virus or malware trick every time you speak to them but its true – so many companies have low level and non intrusive malware on their PC’s and network which they are unaware of and that takes internet bandwidth. Few of us understand the reason why this sort of software is created but it is, and it ends up on your PC(s) often through basic internet browsing. However, once on the PC it attempts to ‘talk back’ to a central location or to replicate itself by sending itself to other locations and for that it uses your internet link. Keeping malware and virus’s off your network will reduce the internet bandwidth being wasted
You may not be surprised to learn that in most businesses of 15-20 people, there will be 15-20 corresponding PC’s or laptops which staff use for ‘business purposes’ – but, each of those staff members bring in a smartphone or/and a tablet so it may be a shock to consider that when you look around and say “well there are 15-20 ‘things’ using the internet” that this number may be more like 40-60 devices. Each device is not taking a huge amount of internet bandwidth but there are a lot of them so it builds over time. It is worth considering if you want to allow staff members to have access to the company WiFi, or you may want to setup your internet router to limit bandwidth available to WiFi devices, prioritising the traffic to the PC’s and laptops
We started by talking about how our money, after a wages raise, never seems to go any further and we remain ‘short’ at the end of the month. To push this analogy further then consider the use of bandwidth in your business as a process that requires regular budgeting. You can’t just keep using more and more or you’ll get into difficulty – the same way that if you keep spending and spending you’ll eventually run out of cash. Before looking to spend money on more bandwidth, look at what you have already and see if it could be better used………. For a little while longer anyway.
About the Author
Craig Sharp is a stakeholder and driving force behind Midlands based IT Support provider Abussi Ltd. Founded by Craig in 1995 as a database supplier, Abussi has transitioned over 20 years from software into Managed IT Support. Craig has always sought out clients who have between 5-35 employees because he believes passionately that when you work with SME’s you have the best possible opportunity to affect positive change. Most importantly Craig has a passion to educate and inform. Leaving university to be a teacher because of his overwhelming desire to impart knowledge to others has never left – it informs the way Craig talks to clients about new services which will transform their business or in how he puts across the benefits to clients of updating business processes with an emphasis on IT.