How Much Bandwidth Do I Have? How Do I Check Bandwidth Speed

Understanding how to check your bandwidth speed can make all the difference when your Internet connections appear slower than usual.

Sometimes, not everything works as expected. A video conference takes too long to load everyone's cameras; downloading a vital document starts at a snail's pace; webpages present the visitor with a low-resolution HTML version of their website.

Why do these kinds of issues occur in the office? Primarily, it’s due to a lack of bandwidth that creates, among other things, a slow Internet and application experience.

Bandwidth refers to the measurement specifying the highest capacity of either a wired or wireless communications link to transmit data over a network connection. In its most understandable form, bandwidth is usually represented in the number of bits, kilobits or megabits that are transmitted within one second.

Companies constantly need to grow their bandwidth and raise their network speeds, as they increase their workforce and offer remote working opportunities. According to Verizon, if a company has more than 30 users, it is best to choose a bandwidth speed of 940/880 megabits per second, which equates to 1GB.

Measuring a network's bandwidth is an essential part of a network admin’s responsibilities. The lowering of bandwidth affects not only your employees but a customer's experience as well. If they were business leads accessing your company’s website for the first time, they might be greeted with the not-ideal message of "509 Bandwidth Limit Exceeded."

With all that said, measuring your bandwidth is not a challenging task. If done on a regular basis, it has long-term positive effects. But, in order to create bandwidth monitoring practices, it is best to first ask yourself (or your IT team), "How much bandwidth do I have?"

How Checking Your Bandwidth Benefits Your Organization

One way to measure your current speed is by using a website like SpeedTest. These websites are free-of-charge and accurate on a surface level. However, they lack the insights necessary for IT professionals to see what is causing a slowdown in network speed.

If your IT team wants a more hands-on approach, IT professionals can break out a calculator and follow these four steps:

1. List which applications will be used.

2. Figure out what the bandwidth requirements will be for each.

3. Multiply the requirements of each application by the number of expected users.

4. Finally, add the bandwidth numbers together.

You can use the same calculations when it comes to figuring out the bandwidth for public or private clouds across your Internet. With that said, these calculations may take extra time out of an already-busy schedule.

Instead of using a free website or making calculations, the IT team's should deploy an application or utilize IT infrastructure monitoring (ITIM) software with the capabilities to measure a network's bandwidth. For example, Progress WhatsUp Gold provides IT professionals with a solution to regularly monitor and measure bandwidth speed. When deploying a network infrastructure monitor like WhatsUp Gold, IT teams can drill down on bandwidth usage and:

  • Determine which users and/or applications take up the most bandwidth
  • Make sure there is adequate bandwidth to distribute amongst connected devices
  • Identify bottlenecks in the network
  • Reduce the effects of non-critical or unauthorized network traffic
  • Assist in helping find unauthorized application usage due to security anomalies
  • Receive alerts about potential Dedicated Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks or externally initiated port scans

Progress WhatsUp Gold Helps Measure Bandwidth Speed for Your Whole Network

IT professionals are gaining additional benefits by utilizing tools to measure bandwidth and network speed. The numerous benefits of monitoring your bandwidth are as follows:

Gives Greater Visibility into Your Network Traffic

An IT team receives details about their network traffic via WhatsUp Gold. This deployment lets the team see which users, applications and protocols are consuming bandwidth or connecting to suspicious ports. Additionally, these insights allow you to set up bandwidth usage policies, maximize your return on ISP costs and ensure adequate bandwidth for critical business applications and services.

Provides Network Insights by Monitoring Traffic

WhatsUp Gold collects network traffic and bandwidth usage data from any flow-enabled device on the network. It supports Cisco's NetFlow and NetFlow-Lite and NSEL protocols, J-Flow, sFlow and IPFIX. Users can collect and view Cisco CBQoS (Class-Based Quality of Service) and NBAR (Network Based Application Recognition) data.

Alerts You to Potential Network Issues in Real Time

WhatsUp Gold provides threshold-based alerting to help you address bandwidth problems before they impact your users, applications and business. WhatsUp Gold sends a notification to IT professionals when senders or receivers exceed bandwidth thresholds, when entries for interface traffic are surpassed, when too many failed connections occur and based on the number of conversation partner thresholds.

Generates Revealing Reports on Bandwidth Usage

While adding more bandwidth could solve any ongoing speed problems, it is better to solve the problem without opening your wallet. WhatsUp Gold helps users identify the sources and destinations of their internet traffic, the applications consuming internet bandwidth and the users of those applications. IT professionals can double-check and ensure that their business-critical web applications receive the attention each application requires.

Let's Use a Hypothetical Real-World Situation to Describe Bandwidth...

Picture an apartment building with a working water system. Unfortunately, the tenants share water through the same piping.

If a person is running a shower (or tub, depending on the hypothetical person's preference for bathing), then the water pressure should be stable. But the pressure drops if it is left running, and the sink or dishwasher needs to run simultaneously. Now imagine multiple tenants doing the same thing. The landlord now has unhappy tenants with not-so-great water and cannot monitor how the pipes are affected. By hiring a contractor to look at how the piping works, they were able to fix the issue. And calm down some tenants.

It is the same as when an IT professional monitors a network's bandwidth, although with significantly less focus on apartment life. Without the proper tools (or "piping") they are ill-equipped to mitigate any potential speed issues. With WhatsUp Gold, professionals can see where the bandwidth problems are and "re-pipe" their networks.

“Monitoring bandwidth is one of the main reasons to perform network management, as it shows which applications, traffic types and network segments gobble the most bandwidth,” says Jason Alberino, Senior Product Manager, Progress. “With this knowledge, IT can make sure there is enough availability for business-critical applications and services—with as little latency as possible.”

Learn more about how WhatsUp Gold can help you monitor your company's bandwidth.

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