Technology drives business and, from payroll to inventory to marketing, so many operations rely on connection to the internet. And the increasing adoption of cloud computing has made a host of enterprise-level applications accessible to small businesses. This means companies’ dependence on the internet continues to grow deeper.
A slow or inconsistent internet connection, therefore, will have a negative impact across all areas of your business. While your internet service provider can offer many solutions to make sure your connection keeps pace with your business needs, there are some things you can do yourself to ensure optimal performance and perhaps even boost your internet speed.
Devaki Parma, senior manager for SMB Internet Solutions at Charter Communications, offers six easy-to-implement tips for making sure you are getting the full value of your small business internet service.
1. Wireless is great, but not for everything.
Odds are, you have a broadband router that can accommodate ethernet cables that run directly to computers and other devices, as well as provide WiFi. While many people are accustomed to using WiFi all the time, there are benefits to using ethernet cables to connect stationary computers to the internet.
“As a user, you’ll always get the best connection and internet experience if you have a hard wire,” Parma says. At the same time, WiFi devices like smartphones and tablets will get better service when fewer devices are trying to connect wirelessly, she adds.
2. Give your hard-working hardware a break.
Periodically reset modems, routers, laptops and other internet-connected devices by shutting them down completely. Called a “hard reboot,” this requires that no power flows into the unit for a few moments. Because many devices, including routers, have batteries to prevent the interruption of your service, remove them if they are accessible.
“A lot of people don’t think to reset their modem and router. You simply turn your devices off and turn them back on. That eliminates ‘digital clutter’ and allows the devices to perform at a more optimized level,” Parma says.
3. Clear the way for the wireless signal.
There are three physical considerations to review when you try to optimize your wireless service. First, WiFi is a radio wave that moves easily through open spaces but can be interrupted or stopped by physical obstacles such as walls or doors. Parma explains that this can be a particular problem in older buildings with metal mesh, pipes or wires in the walls.
Second, the wireless signal becomes weaker as the distance from the router increases. Although it might not always be the best aesthetic choice, you will get the best wireless service throughout a space if the router is in a central location. Another tip is to elevate the router.
Third, keep your router away from electronics and appliances that can interfere with WiFi. These include microwave ovens, devices using Bluetooth connections, security cameras and older cordless telephone systems.
4. Manage data hogs.
Depending on the work they do, some people in your company might be uploading and/or downloading large files that eat a tremendous amount of bandwidth. Video is probably the largest data hog, Parma points out.
She adds, however, that internet service providers such as Charter make Quality of Service adjustments that prioritize certain bandwidth uses over others. Voice connections will be given preference over data transfers, for example, because signal interruptions during a phone call diminish the user experience much more drastically than a slight increase in download time.
If it is critical to your business to move large amounts of data and also connect multiple people to the internet, consider getting a second internet connection for the data hogs, Parma suggests. Another remedy might be to move large files early in the morning or late in the evening when the network is less busy.
5. Look for unwanted applications and plug-ins.
You and your employees might want to use some of the many software applications available for download from the cloud. Be aware, though, that free and trial versions of some of this software can come with unwanted browser plug-ins or tag-along applications. “When you have things running in the background on your devices, they use up bandwidth, and they can create an experience that feels like the internet is slow,” Parma says.
To find these bandwidth parasites, periodically look through your computer for programs you did not intend to install, and check your browser settings to make sure you don’t have unwanted plug-ins or extensions. Have your employees do the same thing on their devices.
6. Be vigilant about security.
Whether your network is wired or WiFi, it must be password-protected to ensure that you are not sharing your bandwidth with anyone you don’t want to. If you have WiFi, use the more secure WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access II) encryption when more than one option is offered.
Don’t use your phone number, address or business name for your password. Although it can be annoying to have a long and hard-to-remember password, it’s much better than having an intruder decode it.Print this article