Are these business bandwidth hogs clogging your internet connection?

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Slow Internet connections can slow down your business. Heavy demands on your business bandwidth can come during times of peak productivity, pressing deadlines and intensive collaboration, but non-work related activities can also clog your company’s bandwidth and slow down everyone’s workflow. Here’s a look at some common, but often overlooked, business bandwidth hogs – and what you can do to stop them.

What’s a bandwidth hog?

Bandwidth refers to the capacity of a computer network to transmit data from one point to another, and it’s usually defined in terms of bits per second. A given amount of bandwidth should be sufficient to carry out the usual tasks of the workday, but when it’s overloaded by multiple users or bandwidth-heavy applications and file types, fewer bits per second can be transmitted over the connection as a whole, which makes the entire system run slower than normal.

That results in problems such as sluggish page loading, timed out or interrupted connections, and videos that stop and start. Assets that place too heavy a demand on a network’s bandwidth are called bandwidth hogs – using too much bandwidth for themselves and leaving less available for others.

Video and multimedia files

Video now trumps photographs and other kinds of images as the preferred media type for many kinds of business-related activities. Now, video, animations and slideshows are a staple of workplace presentations, training and video conferencing that allow members of remote teams to collaborate in real time.

But video files are large, and whether downloaded or streamed, they can use a large amount of available bandwidth. Video and other kinds of multimedia can be important tools for doing business, so consider compensating for the added load on company bandwidth by downloading them during off-peak computing times, or scheduling video conferencing or streaming video for training and workshops at the start or end of the business day when other kinds of computing tasks are light.

Large data files

Along with video, large document files can also hog bandwidth. When large files or batches of files are being uploaded or downloaded, they place a heavy burden on the overall bandwidth available to the company as a whole. That burden increases, too, if those files contain images or other kinds of media. Moving data files is essential for doing business, but to keep them from hogging too much available bandwidth, consider compressing large files before sending, or storing them in the cloud for easier access from all kinds of devices.

Media and streaming apps

Workplace surveys reveal that a surprising amount of bandwidth hogging in the workplace comes from Internet activity that isn’t related to workplace needs. Although streaming a movie or watching a cartoon on company time is an obvious misuse of the business Internet, employees may take advantage of workplace Wi-Fi to download media from apps like Netflix for watching or listening later at home.

And while many workplaces allow employees to listen to music during the workday, apps like iTunes, Pandora and Spotify can also consume a considerable amount of bandwidth, and that can contribute to slow connectivity overall. Even social media use at break or lunchtime can nibble away at the company’s available bandwidth. Making employees aware of the issue and limiting access to non-work related applications can help keep bandwidth available for company use.

Bandwidth hogs can clog internet connections and slow workplace computing to a crawl. But if you know where to find them, you can take action to keep them from gobbling up more than their share of your company’s business bandwidth.