Network congestion can be a major roadblock in the smooth operation of digital systems. In this guide, we’ll explore effective strategies to prevent and reduce network congestion. From optimizing bandwidth to implementing traffic management techniques, you’ll discover key insights to keep your network running efficiently and data flowing seamlessly.

 

What is Network congestion

 

Network congestion is an overload of data that results in slowdowns across the company. If you’ve ever experienced slow connection speeds, faulty internet connections, buffering videos, or similar symptoms of a slow network, you know what a pain it can be.

 

Many businesses depend on a strong, shared online network. Your company’s network allows you to connect to the internet, compose emails, join video conferences, and accomplish any number of related tasks each day. When the network is tasked with more data than it can comfortably handle, congestion can occur.

 

Luckily, there are steps you can take in order to restrict the possibility that it may affect your productivity. Reference the below strategies for help in ending network congestion at your home or place of business.

 

What causes network congestion

 

To avoid network congestion, you first need to be aware of what’s actually causing it within your network. While there are many factors, the most common ones usually remain constant from network to network.

 

If you want to know how to reduce network congestion within your business, pay special attention to these factors and which may be contributing to your network overload.

 

Infographic of What Network Congestion

Bandwidth Issues

 

If your network is congested and aren’t sure why, one of the first things you need to look into is whether or not you’re experiencing issues with your bandwidth.

 

“Bandwidth issues” generally refers to bandwidth congestion, which is a main cause of network congestion. This is where the bandwidth of a network is not sufficient enough to support the data that is flowing through this network.

 

This could be because the amount of data in any given time is unusually high (e.g. if there are a large number of devices on the network, all streaming some form of video content), or it could be because the bandwidth is insufficient and needs to be increased.

 

This is where Atera’s remote monitoring feature can come in handy—having the ability to see who is connected to your network, as well as monitor the activity can help you prevent network congestion.

 

Broadcast Storms

 

A broadcast storm refers to unusually high activity on a network. For example, when an eCommerce store goes on Shark Tank, it will very often see a spike in web traffic and sales. If the network is not setup to handle this spike, this can lead to issues and network congestion.

 

Unneeded or Misconfigured Traffic

 

Another common cause of network congestion is issues with network traffic.

 

The first is unneeded traffic, which could be in the form of someone streaming Netflix or YouTube at work, which may be viewed as unneeded in many cases. This uses a lot of bandwidth of the network and can be a cause of network congestion.

 

The second issue is misconfigured traffic, which refers to the absence of a protocol to prioritize network congestion in the order it needs to be. There are a few types of business traffic—unicast, broadcast, and multicast. The three each are used for different functions and have different levels of importance.

 

Without a system in place that prioritizes this traffic, the lower-priority traffic sneaks in at the same speed as the higher-priority traffic, contributing to network congestion.

 

Outdated or Non-Compatible Hardware

 

In order to avoid network congestion, the hardware used within a network must be compatible, as well as sufficient enough to handle the network load. This hardware includes routers, servers, cable connections, switches, and other pieces of equipment.

 

How to fix Network Congestion

 

To solve network congestion, there are a few steps you can carry out. These network congestion solutions are simple in theory, but can get complicated when actually working through them.

 

If you’re looking to take your IT management to the next level, read more about how to reduce network traffic using Atera. Learn how we can help with our remote management capabilities, network monitoring, and IT automation capabilities.

 

1. Monitor and Analyze Network Traffic

 

In many cases, the first step in preventing network congestion is usually monitoring network traffic. Once you find a way to monitor and manage the traffic flowing through your network, you’ll be able to analyze it and take steps to reduce network congestion.

 

A common way to reduce network congestion is to look at the periods throughout the day that are generally the busiest when it comes to your network. For most businesses, this will be when the most people are in the office. That’s because this time period sees the most amount of devices connected to the internet or the largest activity regarding companywide calls.

 

If your company is experiencing network congestion and you don’t know the source, a network management system like Atera can help provide the necessary solution to fight the congestion.

 

In this case, a network management system can help determine how and where bandwidth is being used. This is important because, in many cases of network congestion, there are unnecessary devices and/or unnecessary network activity that is occurring.

 

Once you’ve identified any problematic devices and/or network activity happening, you can update your network’s infrastructure in ways that help to better allocate bandwidth during busy times.

 

2. Prioritize Network Traffic

 

To address network congestion and ensure that the functions required to run your company have the necessary bandwidth to be carried out, you can prioritize network traffic. This will help reserve the necessary bandwidth power for the devices and functions that need it.

 

Many companies will prioritize network traffic for software programs or devices considered critical to company operations. For example, you might prioritize network traffic to a server storing all of your company’s secure files. If your company is set to host a large-scale webinar or video conference, you might prioritize network traffic for a specific video communication platform.

 

Prioritizing network traffic means you might need to slow down network connections for non-essential functions or devices. Inform individuals who fulfill lower-priority tasks, or with multiple devices connected to the same network, that they might experience slower connection speeds.

 

Another great way to limit network congestion is by prioritizing network traffic by scheduling or carrying out any activities that require large amounts of available bandwidth in off-hours.

 

For example, if you know that your company’s intranet needs a major update, you can reallocate bandwidth usage by scheduling the update for a time when the network is not already under stress, like through the night. Many companies schedule internal network updates for early morning hours, to avoid network downtimes, network congestions and keep network bandwidth high during the day.

 

3. Increase Bandwidth

 

Another network congestion fix is, if you find that there is little to no wasted bandwidth within your company’s network, you may simply need to increase the available bandwidth. This simply means that your network will have the ability to handle a larger volume of data and more hosts (also known as devices) at once. Increasing your bandwidth will allow your company’s network functions to run faster and smoother, if your bandwidth is insufficient for the current load.

 

Bandwidth can be viewed as the number of lanes that a highway has. The more lanes a highway has, the more cars it can handle. The more network congestion bandwidth a network has, the more activity it can handle with minimized interruptions.

 

To enhance your network’s bandwidth, here are some steps to take:

 

  • Change router locations
  • Ensure your routers are constantly updated
  • Invest in routers with a higher bandwidth capacity
  • Utilize repeaters to enhance the network reception
  • Use broadband accelerators to boost signal speeds
  • Utilize a VPN to optimize your network browsing

 

Many companies will increase their bandwidth because of the direct effect network congestion bandwidth has on data processing. Even though upload and download speeds likely won’t increase, improving network congestion bandwidth essentially allows for more simultaneous data use.

 

4. Assess Your Devices

 

There are a number of factors that can affect your network congestion with regard to the devices connected to it. These include the type of devices, quantity, and amount of bandwidth usage. Although it can take a significant amount of time, going through a device list of your network can be pivotal in reducing network congestion.

 

Through no fault of their own, some network users might be using devices incorrectly. In other cases, these same users might be using “legacy devices” that are a number of years old. Inefficient device usage and older devices can easily make network congestion worse.

 

To assess device usage across your network, consider employing network discovery processes that help you diagnose device health and assess bandwidth usage rates. Even a quick network security scan can help you identify unsecured devices, protect remote access connections, and identify any outdated disks.

 

If you can help network users correctly use devices from day one, you’ll protect your company long-term against network congestion. When onboarding a new client or employee onto a network, familiarize them with network use best practices. Make sure they understand how to assess and correct their own network usage rates.

 

After onboarding new users, run instant scans to regularly ensure that devices stay within an acceptable bandwidth usage range.

 

5. Assess Your Network Architecture

 

Your network’s architecture — the framework in which devices are organized within a system — should be constructed in a way that allocates appropriate network bandwidth to each user.

 

Incorrect network architecture often leads to network congestion. For example, if your large company deploys a “peer-to-peer” network. All users have equal network bandwidth. Employees may be able to access files reserved for executives.

 

That same large company should instead use a “client/server” network architecture, where workstations are allocated access to specific “tiers” depending on employee needs. Users have access to all files required for their position. The internal IT department or company’s executives control file access levels, processing speeds, and other network permissions. This helps to preserve network access across all users and reduces the potential for network congestion.

 

Utilizing Atera to fix Network Congestion

 

If you need to control network traffic that’s being plagued with congestion, you can turn to Atera for help. With our remote monitoring and management solutions, you’ll be able to stay on top of what’s going on within your network and stay ahead of possible stressors before they can cause issues to your network.

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