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.
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.
Fortunately, you can take steps to help limit the ways it may affect your productivity. Reference the below strategies for help in ending network congestion at your home or place of business.
1. Monitor and Analyze Network Traffic
One of the first steps in preventing congestion is usually monitoring network traffic. Once you find a way to monitor network traffic volumes, you’ll be able to analyze network traffic and take steps to reduce congestion.
To diagnose network congestion, look for times during the day when traffic loads are particularly heavy. This might occur during peak office hours when many devices are connected to the same network at once, or during companywide calls.
If your company is experiencing network congestion and you’re not sure where it’s coming from, the right network discovery tool can help provide answers. For example, your network discovery program can scan your company’s virtual networks, cloud servers, and all other wireless networks and devices. This process will help you identify devices, servers, and even users accounting for significant portions of the available bandwidth.
Once you’ve identified any issues, you can update your network’s infrastructure in ways that help to better allocate bandwidth during busy times.
2. Prioritize Network Traffic
To ensure that important online processes run smoothly, you can prioritize network traffic in ways that reserve bandwidth for certain users, devices, or platforms. When you prioritize network traffic, you’ll often reclassify internal traffic in ways that reserve certain bandwidth amounts for different purposes.
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.
You can also prioritize network traffic by scheduling any activities that require large amounts of available bandwidth. For example, if you know that your company’s intranet needs a major update, schedule the update for a time when users will likely not be using it. Many companies schedule internal network updates for early morning hours, to avoid network downtimes and keep network bandwidth high during the day.
3. Increase Bandwidth
You can often reduce network congestion simply by increasing the available bandwidth. When you increase your network’s bandwidth, the network itself will be able to handle more data — and more devices — at the same time. Once you take steps to increase your network’s bandwidth, users will typically enjoy faster connection speeds and fewer interruptions.
Similar to a wider highway that can sustain more cars, a “wider” bandwidth can handle more data flow without compromised speeds.
To improve your company’s bandwidth, consider the following options:
- Change router locations;
- Update routers to the latest settings;
- Purchase routers with additional bandwidth lanes;
- Use wireless repeaters to boost reception;
- Use broadband accelerators to boost signal speeds;
- Use VPNs to optimize traffic flow.
Many companies will increase their bandwidth because of the direct effect bandwidth has on data processing. Even though upload and download speeds likely won’t increase, improving network bandwidth essentially allows for more simultaneous data use.
4. Assess Your Devices
The type, number, and bandwidth usage for each device can affect data processing across the entire network. Though it’s a time-sensitive process, scanning each device can help you reduce, even prevent, 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 contribute to network congestion.
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 — where 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 company’s executives or IT department 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.