Tips for a More Efficient Network

Network performance can suffer due to a number of details. Following are a few things to check to help insure performance is optimal, or nearly so.

Pay attention to how bandwidth is used. There is a lot of streaming video and audio content available. Use of this throughout an office will dramatically reduce overall network performance as well as broadband performance. Some network, router, and firewall tools have the ability to control this kind of use. Anti-virus platforms such as Symantec Endpoint Protection can help to reduce or eliminate selected sources of this kind of data.

Reduce the number of computers that are set up as a server. Many Windows workstation machines come set up as a server. This increases the bandwidth that the computer uses. Multiply this by the number of computers in an office and you’ll find that performance degrades even though there may be nothing obviously causing this. By only having a workstation run the server service if it needs to, network traffic will be reduced, and security improved at the same time!

For larger networks, consider segmenting your network. Segmenting is the process of separating computers into different IP subnets. This change reduces traffic across the network and also helps increase security. Segmenting requires that the switches and routers you use are capable of this function.

Reduce the number of auto-updating programs. This has become a wide spread problem, affecting not only individual computers but entire offices. Many application and utility programs will automatically configure themselves to get updates. There seems to be countless numbers of programs which do this. Sometimes a company has to keep up with the latest updates due to industry compliance standards. Most companies, however don’t have this requirement. The reason to install updates is to solve a problem or add functionality. If you don’t have problems or need added functionality, installing updates itself opens a door to potential problems. Many programs will permit configuration of the update option. Unless you know a program needs regular updating, disable this option.

Install faster network switches. Recently there has been a major revolution in network performance made possible by so-called Gigabit capable network switches that run with standard CAT5 or CAT5e network cable. These are excellent tools that are very cost efficient and can make for up to a 10x performance boost.

Add or audit security. Security is typically a centralized way of restricting who can access what. By properly configuring security, loads on servers is typically reduced and the possibility of odd problems may be greatly reduced.

Check server performance. Often there are inexpensive ways to increase server performance. These include installing more RAM and faster drives. Sometimes just installing a separate drive for a so-called page file can make a dramatic improvement in performance. If, for example, you install Gigabit network switches, make sure that the server and workstations also have a Gigabit network adapter card installed.

Check workstation performance. Often a workstation which puts the greatest demands on a server’s database application, as example, can slow down the entire network if the workstation not fast enough for the work it does. If a workstation puts a lot of demands on a server, it’s a really good idea to have the workstation be at least as fast as the server. As is the case wtih a server, adding RAM memory or a faster drive will typically make notable improvements.

Check the loads on your SQL, Exchange and database servers. Often servers for high performance databases can be optimized to increase performance. There are a wide number possible areas to increase SQL and other database applications.