We’re not all blessed with lightning fast broadband but there are a few tricks for staying productive when you’re stuck in the slow lane.
The National Broadband Network is slowly making its way across the country, but the patchwork nature of the roll-out means that it could still be years before it reaches your office door. Big businesses can often afford to pay for a business-grade fibre connection to their office, but not everyone’s tech budget stretches that far – especially if you work from home.
Struggling to work on slow and unreliable broadband can be infuriating, but there are a few things to try that will help ease the pain.
Firstly, make sure that your Wi-Fi network isn’t the cause of your problems. Try working with your computer plugged directly into your broadband modem via an Ethernet cable. If the situation improves considerably then a little Wi-Fi troubleshooting is in order.
Placing your Wi-Fi router up high and away from other electrical gear can help. Consider whether cordless phones, baby monitors, microwave ovens or other wireless equipment might be causing interference.
Also check whether another nearby Wi-Fi network is running on the same channel. Upgrading from a 2.4GHz network to 5GHz often helps address Wi-Fi interference problems.
If you’re certain that the broadband connection to your premises is to blame, rather than your Wi-Fi network, give your internet service provider’s tech support line a call.
The help desk should be able to run a check to see whether there are issues with the line, as well as talk you through an isolation test to see whether your telephone or fax machine are upsetting your internet connection. They can also help you experiment with your DSL profile, trading off speed against reliability to find the best setting.
But don’t expect miracles if you’re stuck on ADSL a long way from the nearest telephone exchange. For now you might just have to make the best of a bad situation.
Chances are the nearby 4G mobile broadband networks offer faster speeds than your fixed-line DSL connection, but mobile data can be expensive so use it sparingly if you’re on a tight monthly allowance. Jumping on mobile broadband occasionally, such as to quickly upload a large file when an important client is waiting on it, can make life less stressful.
If you regularly need to share the same large files, such as a multimedia gallery, it might be easier to keep those files in the cloud and simply email a link to people rather than uploading the same large email attachments time and again.
Slow upload speeds are the real killer for business users, especially if you want to take advantage of online backup which can easily choke a slow connection.
Cloud sync software tends to be pretty basic, so it’s worth investigating dedicated backup software, which lets you throttle upload speeds as well as schedule backups so they don’t interfere with other important activities.
Also consider splitting your backups into segments. While some important files need to be backed up after every change, most could probably be backed up once a day or even once a week.
You can schedule these backup for after hours when you’re not trying to use the internet to get things done.
Life should get easier once the NBN runs down your street, but until then you’ll need to treat your office bandwidth as a precious commodity.
Anthony Hill is the head of technology at Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and tech support company.