Troubleshooting

Why Is My Office WiFi So Slow?

Most offices use WiFi today to provide alternative Internet access for staff and visitors. It can be very frustrating when WiFi performance becomes a problem – especially when WiFi speeds are no longer fast enough to meet business needs. Read on to diagnose your slow WiFi, and learn exactly how to speed it up.

How WiFi Works

To figure out why your WiFi may be slow, it helps to have a basic understanding of how WiFi works.

WiFi speeds are directly related to the underlying Internet service speeds provided by your Internet service provider (ISP). If your Internet service has a maximum speed of 5 Mbps, then your maximum WiFi speeds can only be 5 Mbps – and realistically, WiFi speeds will typically be slower.

WiFi is always less reliable than wired Internet access because of the inherent limitations related to wireless technology.

As the density (number of devices accessing WiFi) of a wireless network increases – not only in your office space but also in the surrounding spaces – the quality of your WiFi connection can decrease. Here is a normal scenario that plays out in offices all the time:

You start an office with five employees, who bring smartphones, laptops, and tablets that connect to your WiFi. There are no other tenants in the office spaces around your suite.

Over the next 12 months, you increase to 15 employees who connect to WiFi. Now all the surrounding office suites are also occupied, and each of those offices have 5-10 people accessing WiFi.

You decide to allow your guests to access WiFi, and you provide them with a guest password.

At this point, the WiFi density has increased dramatically and everyone is vying for the same wireless frequencies. Even though the other office suites are on different ISPs, the Internet is being broadcast over the same frequencies and everyone is sharing those frequencies.

It’s hard to catch this gradual increase in usage in your own office – but it’s even harder to notice it in the offices that surround yours. But this overall increase in WiFi usage is going to deteriorate your WiFi performance – and the technical setup that used to work for your business may now needs some upgrades.

The Limitations of WiFi

Businesses and WiFi users often expect WiFi to do more than it can do, too.

You may want to use tablets throughout your building, or wirelessly access software in the cloud while also doing VOIP (voice over the Internet) calls. While these things are technically possible, the WiFi performance will likely be poor. As you move around, you may enter dead zones (areas where the WiFi signal is poor). Also, the basic technical limitations of VOIP solutions ensure that wireless Internet calls are not going to deliver the same consistent quality that you’ll experience from a wired Internet connection or a landline phone (though this technology is improving quickly!).

More companies are also wanting to provide better WiFi access for their guests, who are often important customers. This is a great idea – but it does put additional pressure on the WiFi service. The more guests you have using your WiFi service, the less WiFi service is available for your internal staff.

How to Speed Up Your WiFi

So what’s a modern business to do?

Here are five tips:

  1. Have your IT service provider perform a detailed wireless assessment of your office space. Doing so will tell you
    1. The density of usage in your office and surrounding spaces
    2. What areas in the office have poor coverage
    3. What frequencies are used and how much
  2. Based on the wireless assessment, have your IT team make improvements by adding or moving wireless access points (WAPs) to cover dead zones. They can also fine-tune WAPs to use the frequencies with the best coverage.
  3. Cap your guest WiFi. First, make sure you guest WiFi network is secured by its own password. Then, segment it from the company WiFi with a “cap” configured to keep guest users from hogging all the WiFi bandwidth. For example, if you have 5 Mbps total bandwidth available, cap the guest WiFi to use no more than 1 Mbps to ensure employees always have the bandwidth they need to do their jobs.
  4. Evaluate how your office is using WiFi to confirm your current setup can actually meet expectations. If you are asking it to do too much, you should lower your expectations accordingly.
  5. If you have done all of the above and still want/need better service, go to your ISP and ask them to provide options and pricing for an increase in service. Going from 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps doubles the available bandwidth for everyone to use – and that includes WiFi.

In most cases, the best approach to increasing your WiFi speed is to educate yourself. Find out how your office is using WiFi and confirm what is actually possible with your current setup.

The smartest way to do this is to get a wireless assessment. We perform this assessment using very specific hardware and software tools. Once you’re armed with this information, you can figure out exactly what to do to improve your WiFi performance.

7 Ways to Get Faster IT Support

Things you can do to get your IT guy to work more effectively with you

Requesting technical support doesn’t have to be a painful process. There are things you can do to ensure you get faster, more accurate responses from your IT service provider. And even though we here at Fluid pride ourselves on great customer service and painless small-business IT support, the following tips help us help you faster, too.

Tips to Help Us Help You

HELP ME HELP YOU!

1.   Describe the issue or problem in excruciating detail.

Put on your creative writing hat when you submit a support request. Get as descriptive as you can, right out of the gate. Describe in detail the  hardware or software you’re struggling with. Even if you don’t know the terminology, IT support technicians are trained to translate statements like “the blue thingamajig on my Epson M2530 printer.”  Just give us as much detail as you can.

2.   Detail everything you did leading up to the issue, including anything you’ve tried in effort to resolve it.

In your initial support request, walk us through, step-by-step, what you were doing before you encountered the problem. Then detail all the things you did to try to fix it (including throwing it at the wall). This eliminates the need for us to walk you through actions you’ve already tried.

No doubt you’ve had frustrating experiences with support technicians, where it was obvious they were following a script. We hate that as much as you do, so we can honestly tell you that a good support technician will take note of what you’ve already done and not waste your time repeating those actions unless absolutely necessary. This is one of our Fluid promises: we won’t waste your time.

3.   Provide a good contact number in your submission.

This seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many times we’ve received support requests that include an indirect phone number – or no phone number at all. If we can’t reach you quickly, we may not be able to solve your problem quickly.

4.   In relation to number 3, be available to work with your support technician should they need to troubleshoot over the phone following your support request submission.

If your technician needs further information, or believes it will be faster to walk you through support steps over the phone, stay available as much as you can. “Phone tag” will extend the time it takes to get your problem solved.

5.   If you are unsure of why something is being done, or you want to learn the process or procedure, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Sometimes you just want to understand why your technician is doing things a certain way. Maybe it will help you in the future if you encounter the same problem again. We get it. This is completely reasonable! A good IT service provider will happily answer your questions.

6.   State it clearly in your support request if the issue is urgent or an emergency.

If you are working with Fluid, you can be assured that urgent requests are quickly moved up to the top of the priority list. If you’re not a Fluid customer yet, make sure your current provider has the same policy.

That said, submitting a support request ticket and then calling in actually increases the response time. This is especially true if you happen to reach a different support technician on the phone than the one who is already handling your electronically-submitted request. Give your technician time to read your request, prioritize it properly and respond to you.

7.   Most importantly, please remember that your support technician is on your side.

We know that IT issues are extremely frustrating. At Fluid, we want your experience to be as pleasant and seamless as possible – and we hope whoever you use feels the same way. But even if you deal with one of those annoying, script-following technicians that other companies sometimes have, remember that their sole purpose is to solve your problem.

Of course, the only way we can guarantee that you’ll have a great IT support experience is if you’re a Fluid IT Services customer. So if you’re ready to work with a team of IT professionals who value customer satisfaction above all else, give us a call at 214-245-4117 or email us at support@fluiditservices.com.

Our Internet is Slow…HELP!

Slow Internet? Let’s Walk Through It

slow_internetOne of the most common (and frantic!) calls we get at the Fluid IT Services Help Desk support line is when a customer’s Internet connection has slowed down.

We know how frustrating that can be, of course. Technology is light-years away from dial-up modems, now – we expect our Internet connection to be fast enough to keep up with business in this always-on market. When your Internet is slow, you simply can’t get things done. We completely understand.

But there are so many reasons why an Internet connection can slow down. And as frustrating as it is, we do have to ask you a lot of questions when you call in. These questions help us gauge the situation and make more effective recommendations to fix it.

Here are some of the typical questions we ask, and why we ask them.

When did this occur?

This gives us a timeframe to consider. Sometimes high Internet traffic volume or even a cable company’s broken line can be a culprit.

What program, if applicable, is this slowness occurring in?

If it’s only happening in one program, this helps us eliminate an overall Internet issue and narrow down on the issue with that particular program.

What internet browser are you using? Do you have any add-ons that could be slowing your performance?

Internet browser companies are often more interested in adding functionality (and keeping your attention) than improving your Internet speed. Sadly, sometimes their updates and add-ons can slow you way down.

How old is your computer?

Like a car, a computer wears out over time and your ride gets…well…bumpier.

When is the last time you restarted?

Don’t strangle us for asking this one. You would be amazed if we told you how many people call us without rebooting their computers first. When you’re in a panic trying to get a project done, sometimes simple steps like this one are easy to forget.

Is it only that website? Can you test with http://msn.com or http://microsoft.com? (These are two high-profile pages with multiple points of data.)

Again, don’t strangle us for asking this one. It’s common for sites to slow down during high-volume traffic periods – and yes, sometimes more than one site can slow down at the same time. We’ll have you check a handful just in case.

When is the last time you scanned for malicious files? Or did a full antivirus scan of your entire hard drive?

We hope this isn’t the problem, because viruses and malware can do a lot of damage. Check out our post on 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Protect Your Data for more information on how to prevent these attacks.

Last time you installed Windows updates?

Windows usually prompts you when there are updates – but sometimes those prompts fail. It’s a good idea to check for updates when you are having any kind of computer issue.

How many processes/services are running at startup? How many are you currently running?

Running too many processes or services can slow your system down right off the bat.

How much hard drive space do you have left? How much RAM is in use?

Oddly enough, when your hard drive space runs low, your computer’s speed slows down. Even if you have a little bit of space left on that hard drive, clearing out some unneeded files and emptying your recycle bin can help immensely.

We hope this gives you some insight as to why we ask the questions we do when someone calls us with an issue like a slow Internet connection. We’re a small business, just like you, and we know how frustrating this problem can be. We welcome you to call us at 866-542-3077 – we would love to help you with any of your computer issues.