With the ever-increasing importance of online and digital aspects of a business, it may be challenging to keep up with technological terminology. It is vital to have your website in today’s business landscape, no matter what field you are in. A term you may have frequently encountered is bandwidth. So what is bandwidth, and how does it affect the performance of a network?
What is Bandwidth in Networking?
Bandwidth, or precisely network bandwidth, is the maximum rate at which data transfer occurs across any particular path of the network. Bandwidth is a measure of the amount of data that can be sent and received at any instance of time. That simply means that the higher the bandwidth of a network, the larger the amount of data the network can be sent to and from across its path. Be careful not to confuse bandwidth with closely related terms such as the data rate and the throughput. Bandwidth is something that deals with the measurement of capacity and not the speed of data transfer.
How does bandwidth work?
The more bandwidth a data connection has, the more data it can send and receive at one time. In concept, bandwidth can be compared to the volume of water that can flow through a pipe. The wider the pipe’s diameter, the more water can flow through it at one time. Bandwidth works on the same principle. The higher the capacity of the communication link, the more data can flow through it per second.
The cost of a network connection goes up as bandwidth increases. Thus, a 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) link will be more expensive than one that can handle 250 megabits per second (Mbps) of throughput.
Why bandwidth is important
Bandwidth is not an unlimited resource. In any given deployment location, such as a home or business, there is only so much capacity available. Sometimes, this is due to physical limitations of the network device, such as the router or modem, cabling, or wireless frequencies being used. Other times, bandwidth is intentionally rate-limited by a network administrator or internet or wide area network (WAN) carrier.
Multiple devices using the same connection must share bandwidth. Some devices, such as TVs that stream 4K video, are bandwidth hogs. In comparison, a webinar typically uses far less bandwidth. Although speed and bandwidth are not interchangeable, greater bandwidth is essential to maintain tolerable speeds on multiple devices.
How much bandwidth do you need?
You can use these techniques to test the throughput, latency, and jitter between different points in your network, including between your endpoints and your internet gateway, giving you a clear picture of any bottlenecks to address.
Armed with this information, you can take care of chokepoints in your LAN infrastructure and ensure you’re using your bandwidth as efficiently as possible. Then look at your IT roadmap to determine whether you have enough capacity to support any planned changes.
Assess each application according to its projected throughput requirements per user and multiply this by the number of expected concurrent users.
What should you do if you don’t have enough throughput to support your plans? Buying more wide-area bandwidth is an obvious step. There are other potential options too, including WAN optimization, which uses deduplication, compression, and caching techniques to squeeze more out of the available pipe.
Other options include quality of service (QoS) technology to prioritize latency-sensitive traffic and more critical applications such as VoIP and video conferencing.
If you need more WAN bandwidth, it’s worth examining your network usage profile before negotiating your contract. If traffic only peaks above acceptable thresholds at certain times, consider bandwidth-on-demand contracts that let customers burst traffic during peak periods.
Finally, it pays to test your network throughput more than once. Try sampling the test several times over 24 hours to generate an average. This will also alert you to any large variations that could indicate a problem between you and your provider.
Performing these tests every few months will allow you to trend your network throughput over time, alerting you to any emerging networking issues before they become a problem.
How to monitor network bandwidth
Network administrators can use monitoring solutions developed explicitly for bandwidth monitoring to manage and monitor network bandwidth. Some solutions offer bandwidth monitoring as a capability in their broader network monitoring solutions. Using these solutions can reduce the number of tools required to monitor and manage an organization’s network. Other tools may offer dedicated solutions for bandwidth monitoring and management.
A comprehensive network bandwidth monitoring solution should help you:
- Monitor and analyze network traffic in real-time
- Identify traffic related to non-business activities
- Identify network issues and bandwidth hogs causing bandwidth bottlenecks
- Enforce policies to ensure the quality of service and prioritize bandwidth allocation to mission-critical applications and processes
- Assess network quality by monitoring network throughput and speed at regular intervals
- Apply bandwidth throttling to non-critical activities and users to avoid bandwidth hog
- Gain visibility into bandwidth utilization in terms of subnets, IP pools, protocols, users, endpoints, and applications
- Analyze traffic patterns and historical data to identify underutilization or overutilization
- Identify and possibly block traffic resulting from malicious activities
- Generate utilization reports to help better communicate and demonstrate efficient bandwidth management and any requirements for increasing overall capacity
How to increase Bandwidth for your business’s site
A great way to increase bandwidth for your business’s website is to invest in a dedicated server. A dedicated server ensures that an entire server will be devoted only to your site, providing you with the personalization, security, and bandwidth you need to keep your site running at optimal levels.
At GreenCloud, we provide colocation services, dedicated servers, and cloud and VPS services to Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo, Osaka,… Our team works tirelessly to ensure your website’s security, performance, and speed operates at the levels you need. Contact us today for all of your hosting needs.