2020 has seen a year more dependent on the internet than perhaps any before. The global pandemic and resulting stay-at-home orders left Fresno area businesses looking for ways to stay connected and operational, and the internet is a key player.
Other factors that have increased internet use overall over the last few years include the growing popularity of virtualization, cloud computing, video meetings, and IoT devices.
Internet traffic is projected to triple in volume between 2015 and 2020.
But as more devices are added to a business network and more offline activities are taken online, networks can get overloaded. There is only so much bandwidth to go around and without any organization to how it’s allocated, it’s a “free for all” when it comes to your internet activities.
When internet demand outstrips bandwidth capacity, you see the following problems:
- VoIP service that lags or drops calls
- Video calls that continually freeze
- Wi-Fi that goes in and out and has to continually be rebooted
- Lost data packets during downloads and uploads
- Overall, inconsistent internet strength and reliability
Improving your internet quality can be done by utilizing a router setting called Quality of Service (QoS). This setting is like an organizational tool for all the internet activities at your office.
How Does Quality of Service Work?
Imagine that all the tasks you have to get done in a week weren’t prioritized, but rather come at you unexpectedly at any time and you had to juggle that task as you were working on another.
This would cause you to leave a higher priority task half finished to move to a lower priority task, and your entire workflow would be very inefficient.
Most people prioritize their weekly tasks. Ensuring the highest priority get their attention first and that lower priority ones are handled when they have the time and capacity. This prioritization keeps everything much more efficient and improves the overall quality of your work.
This is the same concept behind QoS. It’s designed to increase the overall quality of a wireless network by prioritizing which internet tasks should be given priority. It designates which activities should be allocated bandwidth first and which should wait until there is enough to go around, and not interfere with high priority tasks.
For example, if you use Microsoft Teams for video conferencing and you prioritize your Teams app using QoS on your router, you’ll have a much more consistent video conference experience. This is because a lower priority activity, such as a large download, won’t be allowed to take bandwidth away from the Teams application.
What You Can Prioritize
Quality of Service is set up on a router using QoS rules. You can typically prioritize by a few different categories including:
- General Activity (streaming, video conferencing, etc.)
- Specific Application
- Ethernet Port
How You Can Prioritize
Each router will be slightly different in the number of priority designations that they give you. However, you will typically have about 3-5 different priority types that allow you to organization how bandwidth is allocated throughout your office.
These may include:
- Highest priority
- High priority
- Normal priority
- Low priority
Here is an example of a NETGEAR QoS rules setup from Laptop Mag.
By organizing each activity according to importance, you can keep video calls from being cut off, ensure consistent VoIP call quality, and create a more reliable internet connection for everyone.
QoS rules also allow you to limit how much bandwidth a particular activity can use. For example, if employees are streaming YouTube or Netflix on their breaks, you might want to limit that activity to ensure it doesn’t interfere with important activities like cloud backups
Limiting bandwidth can also be done as a cybersecurity measure by putting a cap on FTP activities to ensure hackers aren’t able to download thousands of files from your server at one time.
Monitor Your Internet Use
QoS has another helpful function, it can allow you to monitor internet use throughout your office. This can be helpful both to time certain high bandwidth activities and for detection of any insider threats.
For example, if your team notices that the internet seems slower around 10:00-10:45AM, you may see when monitoring bandwidth that at that time your server is uploading a daily backup.
Because you can pinpoint the bandwidth usage by activity and device, you’re able to find the problem and can have the backup process moved to earlier in the morning before the workday begins so it’s not using needed bandwidth.
If you notice any unusual activities using a lot of bandwidth at odd hours, this could be an indicator of an insider threat that having visibility into bandwidth use can help you root out.
Looking for Ways to Improve Your Internet Quality & Speed?
Your internet quality is at the heart of any online activity at your office, ensure it’s efficient, reliable, and fast. Unity IT can help with expert network solutions.
Contact us today to schedule a network consultation at 559-297-1007 or reach out online.