The Internet has become a vital part of communication and information gathering for virtually any organization. So what do you do when your internet connectivity has issues? Here’s some tips I’ve compiled over the years:
Internet Service Provider
Your internet service provider actually provides internet connections to your location. Purchasing a plan with a good download speed is a good start, but upload speed is also very important because it can be a very small fraction of the download speed. Saturating the upload can prevent you from fully accessing the download speed. It’s quite the issue on DSL, but not nearly so much with a fibre connection.
A lot of issues start at the router because it is the point in your network through which all internet traffic must travel. Here are some tips for improving this part of your network:
1.) If at all possible, don’t use a home router in an office setting. As you get more and more staff pounding packets against the router, home routers can get overwhelmed and crash.
2.) Update your router firmware. The manufacturer of your router will have put out fixes that help prevent router crashes since the edition included on your router.
3.) Install a third party firmware like dd-wrt. Third party firmware like dd-wrt can boost some higher end home routers to commercial grade but it does require some know how to determine whether or not a router is capable of handling third party firmware and then properly flashing that router.
4.) Build your own router. Believe it or not, routers are basically computers and building your own router is as trivial as building a computer. Projects like Untangle, Zentyal, ClearOS, pfsense, Endian, etc. will all help you build a router quite easily.
5.) Install a proxy that caches websites. A proxy that caches sites helps by keeping copies on your own network so the network connection won’t be utilized as much. This is a lot more important as networks get larger.
Sometimes things that clients are doing can slowdown networks or contribute to router crashes. Here are some things to try:
1.) Check for viruses and install good antivirus protection. Viruses, malware, rootkits, and other malicious software can quickly saturate your router by participating in a botnet for spam or ddos.
2.) Restrict peer to peer applications. Peer to peer applications like torrents can drag down an internet connection quickly because they have a tendency to establish a lot of connections simultaneously. I tend to ban them outright, but if they are going to be used at all, the connections need to be limited to prevent the peer to peer client saturating and possibly crashing the router.
3.) Restrict access to video sites. Higher end routers and firewalls can help with this by limiting bandwidth available to each client, or content filtering can be applied to block some sites entirely. The previously mentioned build your own router can help do this as well.
4.) Uninstall applications that require internet connections. Having all the computers connected to Skype or other always connected applications may cause an issue if there are enough of them all working at the same time on a large number of systems so it’s worthwhile to architect services to be a hybrid cloud plus local model for high traffic services if the other items on this list haven’t worked.
5.) Cache updates. When you have 10 computers that all need to be updated with the same updates it makes sense to only download those updates from the internet once and then have it applied within the network for all the systems.
1.) Predominantly with servers I recommend only running services that are necessary as that will decrease network traffic.
2.) Secure your servers because they can also be used for spam or other nefarious activities that will saturate your network connections.