So, I’m paying for High Speed internet –

But when I do a speedtest on my workstations I only get 85 mb download speed on 4 of my workstations, and about 286 mb download speeds on the rest. I should be getting 300 mb download speeds for all of them!

We hear this more often than not with the advent of affordable high speed internet availability to more and more businesses.

What we find when we take a hard look at a Customers network is they may or may not have upgraded their equipment to accommodate the higher speed network being delivered to their business. This means upgrading Routers, Switches, WiFi, and to some extent older workstations, printers, and scanners to handle gigabit speeds rather than the older 10/100 BaseT legacy network equipment we grew up with, well some of us…

One other thing to note is you will most likely never see the advertised network speed (ie 300 mb) using a speedtest app or webpage. Generally, there is enough network overhead that will take up about 15-20 mb of your speed values.  So seeing 85 mb speedtests would indicate that you have a 10/100 device on your network somewhere before your workstation, and that 15 mb of overhead is causing the test to read 85 mb.  This is an important clue to help you track down what is going on – keep reading…

Sometimes the Customer is savvy enough to realize they need to upgrade their network equipment – they do all the stuff you can think of to prepare the network for higher speeds, but they still have issues with a hand full of devices not communicating up to the full speed potential.

So what do you look for? – Start looking for those small 4 to 5 port network “pocket” switches tucked away under a desk, behind a desk, above a desk, in a bookshelf, under a carpet saver, in a closet, above the ceiling – you know the one – you see a wall wart plugged into the outlet with a wire going up the wall to above the ceiling, pop the ceiling tile and you’ll see the blinking lights looking back at you in the dark.  That’s the one.  Those pesky little switches are very likely 10/100 BaseT legacy Switches and they WILL bottleneck your network.

You have two choices –

  1. Do it right – get rid of the little pocket switch (potential future failure point), pay the money to have dedicated cat5e or cat6 cables run to those workstations and never have to mess with it again; or
  2. Replace the switch with a gigabit speed Switch, AND consider purchasing a UPS to put it on (keeps that part of the network up when power outages occur); or at the very least a surge protected power strip (keeps the nasty stuff on the power line from frying your equipment).

On your older workstations you may also have to check to see if they are running gigabit NIC (Network Interface Card ie Ethernet network connection) ports. If not, you’ll need to put gigabit NIC cards in the workstation, but frankly if you have workstations that are old enough to have 10/100 NIC’s you need to really consider replacing them with modern equipment.  One last thing, make sure those network card configurations in Windows are set for gigabit or gigabit auto, and not set to 100 mb or 100 mb auto.

WiFi –

On most newer WiFi systems for offices they do a great job of delivering high speed and high bandwidth internet to the masses via mode/Standard 802.11ac. It is when you are dealing with Legacy WiFi modules using the older modes of 802.11b, 802.11g, or even 802.11n (which is better than the b&g modes) where you may find it is bottlenecking your network speeds.  Be sure to check the label on your WiFi modules to see what 802.11 version(s) it supports, and consider upgrading if you feel it’s needed.

Once you have identified the culprit device, changed it, and tested the change; your staff will probably notice the difference in browser response speed, quicker response to inquiries, and faster data saves.

If you need assistance tracking down a network issue for your office – Please give us a call, we’d be glad to help!