Office networks have been coming under increased strain over the last few years as more activities fight to be first in line for bandwidth.
About 15 years ago, computers and servers were the main devices connecting to wireless business networks, and it was generally for email or to download a file. But today, networks have multiple devices demanding their attention, including smartphones, tablets, and IoT devices.
Another big demand has been the need to stay continually connected to cloud services throughout the day. Most companies have now switched to cloud platforms like Microsoft 365. This year has also seen a sharp rise in video conferencing due to the pandemic.
The average employee uses 8 different cloud applications in their workflow.
All this activity can cause bandwidth to run thin for some applications, leading to things like stalled backups, interrupted video calls, and problematic internet reliability throughout an office.
One way you can improve internet quality is through a feature that most routers have called Quality of Service (QoS).
What Does Quality of Service Do for Bandwidth?
QoS is a way to direct bandwidth traffic and prioritize which activities are most important.
When a router does not have QoS rules set up, it doesn’t know who to serve first when devices and applications are demanding bandwidth.
You can think of it as the dinner rush at a fast-food restaurant without any lines to organize the traffic. Everyone is just coming in and demanding attention and the staff doesn’t know who to serve first. Some will get their orders, others won’t. Some customers may start to order but end up having another order bump theirs.
This is what happens to your bandwidth allocation when you don’t have any Quality of Service rules. The router is like the restaurant staff with a lobby full of demanding customers and not knowing who to serve bandwidth to first.
What QoS does is put in priority rules that tell the router which activities should get top priority for bandwidth allocation and which applications can wait their turn.
Here are the basics of how QoS works.
Prioritize All Bandwidth Needs
Routers that support QoS will have an area in the router administrative settings for QoS rules to be added.
You will get to choose a variety of different priorities, which are basically your speed lanes for each online activity.
Router settings will vary according to manufacturer, but you will see options such as:
Choose Activities by Device, App, Port
You have several options for how you can prioritize bandwidth.
For example, you can designate that any activities happening on the CEO’s computer will get priority for bandwidth allocation. Or you can designate that whenever your VoIP phone system is being used by any device, it gets the highest priority, so bandwidth isn’t taken from it by a large download.
You’ll typically be able to prioritize your bandwidth by:
- Device (using the device’s MAC address)
- Ethernet port
- General activity (like “video streaming”)
- Specific application
Priorities Act as “Traffic Lanes” for Bandwidth
Say you set your video conference application as “highest” priority in QoS rules and your FTP activities (uploads/downloads) as “Normal” priority. This means that if you are on a video conference and someone at the office starts a large upload, the router will not allow bandwidth to be taken from the video call.
This stops problems like video calls suddenly freezing or dropping out due to loss of bandwidth that’s being allocated to something else.
QoS rules set up “traffic lanes” for your bandwidth keeping everyone in their own lane, so the most important applications are being served their bandwidth first, before less important internet activities.
By putting in these priorities, you help your entire network to run more reliably and bandwidth is available on a more consistent basis.
Further Improve Your Network by Monitoring Activity
Using QoS, you can also monitor bandwidth usage throughout the office, which can help you identify any timing problems when it comes to things like large cloud backups or other bandwidth-heavy activities.
By knowing how different apps and devices are using bandwidth and how that may impact other critical functions, you can better schedule certain activities to avoid bottlenecks.
Monitoring also gives you insight into any suspicious bandwidth activities that might point to a breach of your network.
Limit Bandwidth on Non-Work Activities
QoS also gives you more control over how bandwidth is used by allowing you to limit bandwidth on certain non-work activities. For example, you may decide to limit the total bandwidth that can be used for gaming, which employees may be doing when on breaks.
YouTube streaming might be another target application that you don’t want taking bandwidth from more important activities.
How Reliable is Your Wireless Network?
Digital Crisis can help your Houston area business get a handle on your bandwidth use to improve the speed and reliability of your network.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Call 713-965-7200 or reach us online.