Bandwidth monitoring: What is it, and do you need it?
A slow internet connection might be costing your business a lot of time and money. It could be the result of your network’s bandwidth issues. Thankfully network performance monitoring tools exist to help you solve the problem. But how much do you really need them?
What's the biggest cause of frustration in your business?
If you're reading this right now, the answer is likely: slow internet speed. And you wouldn't be alone in thinking that. According to a survey, poor internet connection is the number one reason for employee frustration in business. With almost 40% of respondents stating they experience better connection at home than at work.
So what's happening there? The answer might have to do with your office network's bandwidth. Improving that issue is vital for your business.
That's because poor connectivity can cost you a lot of money, both in lost sales and reduced productivity. It's been reported that slow internet loses employees at least one week of productivity each year. What's more, you could be losing revenue due to poor response times.
With all the disadvantages caused by poor internet connectivity, you might be wondering if there was a way to check your own bandwidth. Fortunately, there are several solutions that do just that. The question is, do you really need them?
We can help answer that question. At ITS, we've helped hundreds of clients connect to the web with our business internet. We've also helped them manage bandwidth bottlenecks.
In order to help you better understand your bandwidth and whether you should be monitoring it, we'll touch on the following:
- What is bandwidth, and why is it important?
- Why you may want to monitor your bandwidth
- Why you may NOT need a bandwidth monitoring tool
What is bandwidth, and why is it important?
Bandwidth is often mistaken for internet speed, but that's not the case. It's actually the volume of information that can be sent over a connection in a measured amount of time – calculated in megabits per second (Mbps). While it can directly influence internet speed, they're not interchangeable.
To better understand the concept, try to think of your connection's bandwidth as a freeway and your data as the cars traversing it. The wider the freeway is, the faster the cars can travel from point A to B and back again. On the other hand, if you have low bandwidth, that means the freeway has fewer lanes for your data to go through, causing congestion.
Furthermore, your actual bandwidth is often less than your maximum bandwidth. So you might be overloading your own network. The reason your actual bandwidth is lower is due to network congestion, network overhead, and other external factors.
For example, you may have an internet connection that supports a bandwidth of 1000 Mbps; however, your internet plan might be limiting your bandwidth to 400 Mbps. In addition, there are other causes of network congestion that may further decrease your bandwidth, like local cabling issues. That will leave you with just around 300 Mbps to work with.
Simply put, making sure your bandwidth matches the amount of data traffic will greatly improve your network speed.
Why you may want to monitor your bandwidth?
There are a lot of benefits that you can gain by monitoring your bandwidth. Take a look below at some of the reasons why you might want to consider it:
Stay Ahead of Network Outages
Monitoring your bandwidth gives you the ability to stay one step ahead of potential issues. A reliable network performance monitoring (NPM) tool can help you identify issues that could cause bottlenecks for your business. It also allows you to determine whether an outage might be caused by human error, configuration problems, or other external factors. That can help you prevent issues from happening or fix them much faster.
NPM tools allow you to prioritize traffic within your network. It allows you to configure your bandwidth usage depending on what your business needs. Particularly useful if the bandwidth you have is limited. For example, you can set your network to prioritize traffic for your Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), ensuring better connectivity for communication.
Detect Suspicious Network Activity
Your bandwidth usage data has the potential of revealing security threats that may already be lurking in your network. Suspicious activity such as bandwidth usage during holidays and office closures may indicate that your network has been breached. These activities can show up in your bandwidth monitoring tool's data.
Tools like SolarWind and others are capable of helping you manage an ever-changing IT environment. Monitoring tools can give you the information you need to make better decisions, such as when you might need to upgrade your tech.
Why you might NOT need a bandwidth monitoring tool?
Bandwidth monitoring tools are not cheap. While they may add value to your business, you might not even need one at all, depending on your industry or your current capacity.
Take a look at some of the reasons you might want to forego a bandwidth monitoring tool of your own:
Not the Right Fit
Tools like SolarWinds and other NPM software can provide you with a lot of data regarding your network. However, in reality, all of that information won't always be relevant for your operations. It all depends on the nature of your business and what you intend to do with all of that information.
Not Cost Efficient
As we said earlier, bandwidth monitoring tools can be a costly investment. For large enterprises with robust network environments and a fully staffed IT department, NPM tools might offer great benefits. However, if you're a small to medium business, the cost of the tool may not provide a good enough return on investment.
That's because the information these tools provide is only relevant for specific purposes and won't always affect your day-to-day tasks. It's the equivalent of buying an X-ray machine to perform an annual checkup on yourself instead of visiting a radiologist for a fraction of the cost.
It would be better to ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or your Managed IT Service Provider (MSP) for your bandwidth data when the need arises.
Not as Effective as Other Security Solutions
While NPM tools can theoretically detect suspicious network activity, it requires heavy investment to do so effectively. You will need someone to devote their time to constantly check your bandwidth data.
Also, hackers are already quite aware of bandwidth monitoring tools and might try to avoid detection by minimizing bandwidth usage.
Your resources would be better spent on investing in more effective cybersecurity measures like a firewall or even cyber insurance.
Ready to improve your network's performance?
For large enterprises and service providers like ISPs and MSPs, bandwidth monitoring tools are great investments. However, small to medium businesses might find that they won't get the same ROI.
Thankfully, that doesn't mean smaller organizations can't take advantage of the benefits provided by NPM tools. At ITS, we're always open to help our clients out when they seek advice regarding their network's bandwidth. We can even provide reports and recommendations when the need arises.
Want to experience consistent, fast, reliable business internet? Fill out this form for a free tech consultation to find out if our business internet is the right choice for your organization.