Read this scenario common to small and midsized businesses (SMBs) and see if it sounds familiar: You and/or your employees arrive at work, energized to take on the day, tackle new projects, deliver excellence for your customers, and be the pinnacle of productivity.
Alas, something gets in the way of your enthusiasm: slow computers—or, more specifically, a slow network.
Can you relate with the frustrating turn of events? Network reliability issues may be the biggest productivity killer for SMBs, more so than uninspired employees, economic factors, or other IT problems.
Moreover, a slow network and everything associated with it—slow-loading webpages, timeout errors, applications refusing to work properly—are incredibly morale-sapping to your employees. Often when the people are ready to be productive, the network doesn’t cooperate.
The technical causes of network reliability issues can be described in terms such as packet loss, bandwidth saturation, and latency, but this level of technical detail would be unhelpful for an office whose IT experience might be limited to rebooting, or turning computers on and off.
Avoiding all the jargon, the three most common causes (in no particular order) of network reliability issues are the following: poor/outdated infrastructure, congestion, and bad configuration.
With nearly 20 years as a leading Los Angeles IT support team, we’ve encountered each of these issues and have learned the best ways to prevent and overcome each.
Read on to learn how.
1. Poor/outdated infrastructure
The software and hardware employed by your network simply may be inadequate to handle the current level of organizational needs. Think about how much computing has changed over the past 10 years: More videos are streamed, businesses use more cloud applications, and people easily access the web from their mobile devices. If parts of your network installation and infrastructure are aged, reliability issues are inevitable simply because decade-old hardware can’t meet the demands of year-old software.
Even newer infrastructure might not be suitable for your organization’s needs. Small businesses with little or no in-house IT resources may attempt to piece together a network and unintentionally choose poor hardware or unnecessary software that subsequently affects network reliability. Unfortunately, without more technical expertise, fixing the mess is difficult …
Companies grow, but often, the network infrastructure required to support such expansion doesn’t grow with it or does so at a slower rate than needed. Before you know it, you have more users than bandwidth —and the system slows down. Moreover, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and cloud services may be added with the thought they will result in more efficiency, but without the proper network resources, productivity gains are lost because it costs employees too much time to take advantage of the new apps.
Congestion has also emerged as a serious reliability issue, simply because employees are connecting their smartphones and other mobile devices into the network. They do so because it may be faster, it doesn’t burn up their personal data, or the company’s mobile policies require a more secure connection.
As a result, each user may be connected to the network two or three ways, but your network may not be designed to handle that traffic.
3. Bad configuration
Configuration issues are often more than just which office closet holds your servers and routers (though these are valid concerns). The elements of your software stack must be configured in the right way to maximize the effectiveness of your network.
Any sort of deviation can result in a network slowdown and the inability to access apps and data when needed. Most configuration problems are the result of human error—something isn’t installed correctly, or the wrong infrastructure choice was made.
The configuration challenge is that SMBs with limited IT resources may not recognize the problem and how to fix it. This is where a Los Angeles managed service provider can deliver the expertise necessary to sort through network reliability issues.
The best outsourced tech support companies assess their clients’ needs, offer and implement solutions, and remain available to help with any problems. Such a strategy often costs less than hiring a full-time IT person, who may not even have the network experience you seek.
Furthermore, because poor network reliability can result in lost revenue, the investment in a third-party expert can save money in the long run.
Is network reliability an issue with your business? If so, give Be Structured Technology Group a call or contact us today to see how we can help.
People Also Ask
Q: How can I improve network reliability in my office?
A: To improve network reliability in your office, you can take several steps. First, ensure that you have a robust and well-configured network infrastructure in place. This includes using high-quality networking equipment, such as routers, switches, and cables. Regularly update and patch your network devices to ensure they have the latest firmware and security features. Additionally, consider implementing redundant network components, such as backup power supplies and alternative connectivity options, to minimize downtime.
Q: What factors affect network reliability in an office setting?
A: Several factors can affect network reliability in an office setting. These include the quality of network equipment, the configuration of the network, the number of devices connected to the network, the bandwidth available, and the presence of any physical or environmental obstacles that may interfere with the network signal. The distance between devices, the presence of electromagnetic interference, and the overall network traffic can also impact reliability.
Q: How can I troubleshoot network reliability issues in my office?
A: When troubleshooting network reliability issues in your office, start by checking the physical connections and ensuring all cables are securely plugged in. Restarting the network devices, such as routers and switches, can often resolve temporary issues. Verify that the network settings are correctly configured, including IP addresses, subnet masks, and DNS servers. If the problem persists, consider using network diagnostic tools to identify and resolve any specific issues, or consult with a network specialist if needed.
Q: What are the common causes of network outages in an office environment?
A: Common causes of network outages in an office environment include power failures, hardware failures, software glitches, network congestion, configuration errors, security breaches, and external factors such as natural disasters or construction work. It is important to have contingency plans and backup systems in place to minimize the impact of such events on your network reliability.
Q: What steps can I take to ensure a reliable network connection for my office?
A: To ensure a reliable network connection in your office, start by conducting a thorough assessment of your network infrastructure. This includes evaluating the capacity and performance of your network equipment, ensuring proper ventilation and cooling, and addressing any physical or environmental factors that may degrade the network signal. Implementing network monitoring tools can help you identify and address issues proactively. Regularly updating and maintaining your network devices, as well as educating your staff about best practices for network usage, can also contribute to improved reliability.
Q: Are there any specific network equipment or technologies that can enhance office network reliability?
A: There are several network equipment and technologies that can enhance office network reliability. Redundant networking components, such as dual power supplies or backup routers, can provide failover options in case of hardware failures. Implementing Quality of Service (QoS) mechanisms can prioritize critical traffic and minimize congestion. Load balancing and link aggregation techniques can distribute network traffic evenly across multiple connections, improving performance and reliability. Additionally, investing in enterprise-grade networking equipment from reputable vendors can offer advanced features and better long-term support.
Q: How can I minimize network downtime and ensure continuous connectivity in my office?
A: Minimizing network downtime and ensuring continuous connectivity in your office requires proactive measures. Regularly monitor your network infrastructure for performance and potential issues. Establish proper backup and disaster recovery mechanisms to quickly restore network connectivity in case of failures. Implement redundant internet connections from different service providers to ensure continuity even if one connection goes down. Properly train and educate your staff on network usage policies and security measures to minimize human error.
Q: What are the best practices for maintaining network reliability in an office setting?
A: Best practices for maintaining network reliability in an office setting include performing regular network maintenance tasks, such as firmware updates, security patches, and equipment checks. Implementing network segmentation can help isolate and contain potential network issues. Regularly monitoring network traffic and performance can help you identify and resolve bottlenecks before they impact reliability. Conduct periodic network audits to ensure compliance with security standards and policies.
Q: How can I optimize my office network infrastructure to improve reliability?
A: To optimize your office network infrastructure for improved reliability, start by assessing your current network design and identifying any potential single points of failure. Consider implementing redundancy at critical network components such as routers, switches, and firewalls. Evaluate your bandwidth requirements and upgrade your network connection if necessary. Properly manage and prioritize network traffic to ensure critical applications and services receive adequate resources. Regularly review and optimize your network configurations, such as VLANs, subnetting, and routing protocols, to improve efficiency and reliability. Implement robust network security measures to protect against unauthorized access and potential threats.
Q: Are there any reliable network monitoring tools or software available for office networks?
A: There are several reliable network monitoring tools and software available for office networks. Some popular options include SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, PRTG Network Monitor, Nagios XI, and Zabbix. These tools provide real-time monitoring of network performance, bandwidth utilization, device health, and can send alerts or notifications when issues are detected. They often offer comprehensive reporting features to analyze historical data and identify trends. Choose a monitoring tool that aligns with your specific requirements and budget to effectively monitor and ensure the reliability of your office network.