Whether you’re moving to a new office, your contract is up or your business is growing, determining how much bandwidth you need is more stressful than it should be. Overshoot, and you could be stuck in a contract overpaying for years. Go with too little, and you could be revising your contract long before you’d like – or worse, you might discover that your contracted vendor doesn’t have a plan that meets your needs at all.
So how much bandwidth do you need? It’s fairly standard for small- and mid-sized businesses to purchase a connection providing 5 to 10 megabits downstream, and 1 to 4 megabits upstream, per office employee. But that’s not a magic formula – there are plenty of things that could cause you to need more or less than that. Here are five factors that can put you in the “high bandwidth” category; meaning your internet expenses are likely to be higher than average.
1) Your files are stored in the cloud. Businesses are starting to move more and more services to the cloud, and that means that the company data used by these services is stored in the cloud as well. Most businesses have email in the cloud. Marketing and CRM software are commonly in the cloud. While these services can have attached media with large file sizes, it’s not the norm. These types of services mostly use text and image files, so the bandwidth need isn’t too high.
But what if your company’s file storage system is in the cloud (such as Dropbox or OneDrive)? And what if you rely on large media files that are cloud-based, such as CAD files or Video files? If you do either of these things, you probably have team members that rely on large media files stored offsite throughout the day, and it will increase your bandwidth needs substantially.
2) You have two or more offices that share data or network infrastructure. If your employees are using software that resides on servers in another office, your bandwidth needs will be much higher. The same is true if employees are using software that is stored locally, but that software is accessing data on a server in another office.
There’s good news, though – you can probably save money by bundling a higher-speed “site-to-site” connection with a moderate amount of internet bandwidth. While it might be “easier” or safer to just buy a high-speed connection to everything, it is definitely going to cost more, and you may never get any benefit from it.
3) Many employees use video streaming (including videoconferencing) simultaneously.
This one is especially relevant in 2020, and will continue to be relevant going into 2021. While videoconferencing doesn’t require as much data as large data transfers, there are far more businesses that have high bandwidth needs due to videoconferencing. This is especially true right now, so make sure to account for video streaming bandwidth for each new employee if you’re planning to expand your staff.
4) You create, and back up, large amounts of data. We can’t recommend data backups enough. There are so many ways to lose data, and if retrieving it is time-consuming or impossible, it can be financially and operationally devastating. At the very least, companies should have an off-site backup solution that doesn’t rely on users (or their computers) doing anything to initiate the process.
If your business creates a large amount of new data each day, however, you’ll need the bandwidth to move that data offsite daily. In addition to increasing your backup costs, this can also increase your bandwidth needs. Delaying your offsite backups until after the workday ends can help with this. But it means that any drive failure, user accident or external network attack can cause a day’s data to evaporate – which will still be a major problem for many businesses.
5) Uptime is paramount. If your business cannot afford for the internet to fail, then you’ll definitely need to buy more bandwidth. But that’s a bit misleading, because what you will actually need is a backup provider.
Many business internet connections guarantee 99% uptime, and some lack any guarantee. Even if your provider promises 99% uptime and meets this promise, there could be 90 hours each year your company lacks an internet connection.
If internet is essential to your business, you should select different providers for your primary and backup connections. In some cases, there’s only one good choice for the primary connection; in other cases, there are two good choices for the primary connection, but only one choice for the secondary. Regardless, you want to use two different providers because you don’t want to lose both of your connections because the provider has an issue that affects both of them.
If none of these apply to you then you’re more likely to need a standard amount of bandwidth. However, there are other factors that can increase bandwidth needs, too. You should consult your IT staff or IT services provider, who should be able to provide an objective perspective on what you’re likely to need not just today, but over the course of the entire contract.
To learn how WingSwept can help your business make technology work better for your company, call us at 919-460-7011 or email us at Team_WingSwept@WingSwept.com.