Internet Downtime in Business: Part 2
Part 1 of Internet Downtime in Business explained what downtime is and how it could affect a business. This guide will continue to shine a light on the tricky and often frustrating downtime black hole by pin-pointing a variety of causes.
In part 1, downtime, latency, jitter and packet loss were discussed. These can be caused by a standalone issued or by a combination of factors. Usually, whatever the cause of your connectivity issue is, it will either be due to an internal or external factor. Internal factors can be controlled by the business, external factors cannot.
Inadequate bandwidth is an internal issue. It is caused when a system is trying to do too much at once. Bandwidth is essentially getting data to and from your computer. Imagine bandwidth as a hose; the wider the tube the more information can be passed backwards and forwards. The smaller the tube (but with the same amount of information) the more likely it is that the hose can become clogged. You only have a certain amount of bandwidth available, and trying to do too much at one time will use up your allowance. This can result in problems such as jitter, packet loss, and latency.
Most of the time this is a short term issue, such as too many members of staff trying to stream a video, or uploading/downloading large files and documents. It can become a long term issue if you have too many staff trying to use the network.
Equipment Age and Faults
Another internal problem could be the age and quality of your router. This is often overlooked but has the potential to cause issues with connectivity. An outdated router is more prone to faults and they should receive regular maintenance and be replaced as and when is appropriate.
Firewalls can also cause problems. Some firewalls can be so protective that they stop staff from accessing the internet, resulting in downtime. Replacing or fine-tuning firewalls can resolve downtime issues immediately.
When you think about your businesses internet connection, you often just think of a cable running from the router to the exchange. However, you must remember that you are one hub in a huge web of infrastructure. The more people harnessed into that network at once, the more likely there is to be strain and the potential for slower internet speeds.
In your local area, external connectivity issues are likely to occur between the exchange and the local cabinet. If lots of homes and businesses in the vicinity are using the internet at the same time, the network can be overworked.
Some internet providers purposefully put a cap on the speed their users can reach. This is called throttling and helps ensure that everyone receives roughly the same speeds, instead of some having excellent service whilst others struggle.
Those who live or work in remote or rural areas can sometimes struggle with internet connectivity issues more than those in towns and cities. Urban areas have well maintained infrastructures which are upgraded regularly. In less built up areas, upgrading is often is much more expensive and locations with more homes and businesses are targeted first for improvements as there are simply more people. However, those in rural areas are less likely to suffer from slow download speeds and high contention ratios as there are less people battling for connectivity.
Third Party Issues
These are the biggest external foes, as often there is little a business can do about them. There are a multitude of third-party-related issues that could occur and damage the network structure, inevitably resulting in downtime.
Many businesses are affected by road or building works. Workmen can often be unaware of internet cables, and can slice through them unknowingly. In this scenario, most businesses send staff to work from home as the internet will not be working any time soon. Accidents do happen, but fire and flooding are two of the biggest internet killers.
This is used to describe internet speed. Envisage a data connection as a tube and each piece of data as a grain of sand. If you pass too much sand through a narrow tube, it will take longer for the sand to flow through. However, if you pass the same amount of sand through a wide tube, it will be much quicker. Essentially, the wider the cable, the more bandwidth a connection has.
Download speed refers to how quickly a file can be downloaded from a remote source via the internet. Those who benefit from high download speeds often find web browsing, watching videos, and sending/receiving emails much more seamless.
This is the word used to describe video and sound discrepancies. Often with jitter, video and sound will be out of sync and can result in frozen images during video, or fragmented speech if in a VoIP call or video conference.
In simple terms, latency is network speed. High latency has long delays and processes information more slowly, whereas low latency processes information quickly with minor or minute delays.
When networks get congested they can lose information, this is packet loss. These losses will prevent web pages from loading properly.
This is the opposite of download speed and is how quickly a file can be uploaded to the internet. This can be in the form of photographs, videos etc. High upload speeds are important when uploading data to a website.
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It allows users to make very low cost calls over the internet. It can be achieved by plugging a phone system into an internet line, or by using a software such as Skype.