Why business WiFi networks fail and how to prevent outages

Why business WiFi networks fail and how to prevent outages

“The network is down again.”

Those words unleash nightmare scenarios for many business owners and their employees. When networks go down or suffer serious lag in connection speeds, productivity takes a hit and businesses have to scramble to make sure operations don’t grind to a complete halt.

Troubleshooting wireless network issues is not something anybody hopes to find on their to-do list, but nevertheless, it appears on those lists all too often.

As with most issues, though, prevention is the best defense to keeping your business’s wireless network up and running for all users who rely on it to do their jobs. And let’s face it, that’s probably just about everybody.

In this post, we will cover some of the most common issues that affect WiFi networks, whether they are private, public or a hybrid of both.

The costs of slow WiFi

Before we get to those issues, though, we should emphasize just how critical a strong WiFi network is to a business’s operations.

One study has found that slow WiFi connections over the course of a year can cost one week of productivity for employees. Business owners and managers know that WiFi issues can also create levels of stress and frustration that are detrimental to morale, which only makes productivity problems even worse.

Lower morale among employees has a very real cost to a business, too: lower revenue. This is why IT departments and managed IT services providers often find wireless network troubles on their lists of high-priority problems to address for companies.

Now, let’s get into what may cause wireless issues.

Not enough bandwidth

One of the most common reasons your company may run into wireless network issues is that there is not enough bandwidth available for every user – and every device – that needs to access the network. Bandwidth is how much data transfer activity a network can accommodate.

In a perfect scenario, a business has enough bandwidth for each user and device that needs it and nothing more. If that’s the case, then your business won’t be overspending on network capabilities.

However, this scenario doesn’t occur in reality as much as many would hope. Having enough bandwidth at all times without paying for too much can be a hard balance to strike.

The result is often businesses that find their users trying to transmit too much data at once, which results in slow upload and download speeds, as well as internet connectivity issues.

The solution here is to closely monitor bandwidth usage on the network. This is something an IT services provider can offer, though there are network monitoring services available elsewhere, too.

When a network’s bandwidth usage is being monitored, users can be alerted when the load being placed on the network is nearing problematic levels that could affect performance. This should help identify what amount of bandwidth is necessary for your business or organization to operate efficiently and remain productive.

Equipment could be the problem source

As is the case with any technology, equipment is often a source of problems. When it comes to networks, the router could easily be the reason for slow performance.

Old equipment is a frequent offender in reports of slow networks. If there is an outdated router, then it may not be capable of handling the amount of traffic on the WiFi network. This also applies to newer models that are meant for personal or home use, not with an enterprise-level network.

Equipment that has not been updated can cause bottlenecks in your network. This is when the equipment, a node or connection, doesn’t have the same bandwidth capabilities of other devices. It’s the cause of your network’s issues because it slows down the rate of data transfer.

Once again, actively monitoring a network can help identify slow or weak points.

Network is not secured or isn’t password protected

Security is always an issue for companies of any size. We’ve covered at length the importance following security best practices in several previous posts for this blog. More secure networks don’t just keep your company’s data safer, they also allow for faster, more reliable performance.

While you can read those posts for more information directly pertaining to security, it’s important for this post’s purposes to note how much a network’s performance can rely on password protection. This is because there are some individuals out there who will try to exploit network security flaws, especially on networks with routers that don’t require a password for access.

However, even people who mean your business or its customers no harm can also weigh down a network. Take for example coffee shops or any business that allows public WiFi access. These businesses should still require passwords for access to these networks as a way to limit users to employees and customers. Too many users or devices on a network will quickly cause bandwidth issues, reducing connection speed for everyone else on the network.

Make sure routers are well-positioned

Businesses need to plan out how they intend to keep networks up and running smoothly. This can involve knowing exactly how much of an area needs to be within reach of a router or how many routers need to be placed in an area – and where – for network signal strength to remain strong and consistent.

It’s important to take stock of how much physical space your business covers so that you can invest in enough equipment to keep all employees connected at all times. This is where we get into the topic of properly designed your network infrastructure, another task a managed IT services provider can accomplish.

Equipment positioning is also important, especially for routers. Keep routers away from electronics and other devices that emit radio waves. Try to centrally locate the router to allow its signal to reach as much of your business as possible. Invest in more routers if connectivity suffers in areas further away from the router.

Improve your business’s network performance

While it’s critical that business owners and managers are able to focus on actual operations, maintaining network connectivity is nearly always critical to some or all facets of those operations.

That’s where Advanced Network Professionals can step in and take care of all of your company’s IT needs, freeing you up to focus on what matters most – running the business.

Contact ANP today to discover what technology solutions we can offer for your business.

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