Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Alright – we’re all pros at working from home now, right?

Okay Gladys, I see you over there – still working at your office.  I’m not talking to you. 

Actually, I still am talking to you because even though this might not affect you work wise, you might still want my tip for your normal life.

I digress……
Even though we’re working on week five thousand and three of self isolation (at least it feels like it), you might still be able to tweak a few things to make yourself more productive.

Today I want to talk about QOS on your home network.

What is QOS?  It stands for quality of service.  It’s how your router chooses which devices in your home get to go to the front of the wi-fi line. 

Have you ever been right in the middle of a Zoom call when the apple of your eye decides it’s time to start his online game championship and your Zoom call suddenly becomes choppy and pixelated?  Or are you trying to upload that important report at the same time that your teenager is downloading all of the Twilight movies in order to have a marathon binge watching session?

 
You can change all of this by giving your work computer or device priority in the QOS settings on your router.  That way, your device will always be at the front of the line.  Most routers support QOS settings and can be accessed through your router web portal or an app. 

And of course, we’re here to answer any questions.

Slow Internet or Slow Site – Part 2

In the first part of this post I detailed how we actually get on the Internet and started detailing how you might have to drive to your favorite restaurant in another city.

The Internet is actually very much like getting to these retail locations and restaurants. Much like driving to downtown Los Angeles, you have some choice over the freeways you take. Much like driving into downtown Los Angeles, there is a chance (or certainty) that you’re going to hit some traffic along the way. Much like we use our GPS or routing app to select the best freeway, our ISP has tools to send your traffic on the best route. If we need to get to Phoenix, hopefully they aren’t going to send us there via Chicago.

Speedtest from Fast.com showing 150 Mbps.

Speedtest from Fast.com showing 150 Mbps.

When we feel that the Internet is slow, we need to get a bit more specific in order to troubleshoot this. One of the first things we will likely want to do is run a speed test on the connection. While this test is subjective to its own set of limitations, it can be a good indication of where problems might be. Two sites that I use are fast.com and speedtest.net. Fast.com is powered by Netflix and it works on any device and works as soon as you go to the page. It also gives you a single measurement. Think of this like taking your temperature. Speedtest.net gives you a bit more information about the quality of your connection to their servers. Most ISP’s have their own test that measures the speed on their network, which is most relevant if you’re concerned about your local connection to their network.

If these tools show the speed is what we are expecting, i.e. what we are used to seeing on a good day, then it seems that our Internet connection is working fine. If the tests are abnormally below our standard speed or what we are expecting, it might indicate that something in your connection is congested (much like I-5 in Los Angeles). If you’re in an office with other users, it is possible that other users are downloading large files, watching 4k videos on YouTube or binge watching their favorite shows on Netflix. Business or enterprise class networking devices will have reporting abilities to show what connections are being utilized.

In the event that speed tests are showing good results, but you’re having problems accessing a site or the site is slow, the problem could be with the site you’re trying to connect to or the road the traffic is taking to that destination. It might be best to try and contact the company of the site you’re trying to reach or find out if it is slow from another location that uses a different Internet connection (typically in another area or state). We can also work with the ISP to try and identify issues, but once the traffic leaves their network they can’t control it.

Your IT managed service provider should be able to monitor the ongoing Internet usage and see troublesome signs indicating that additional bandwidth is needed or controls need to be put into place to conserve the available bandwidth for business activities.