Bandwidth, speed, and other terms that carry a lot of meaning come with a fair amount of confusion too. It is critical that you get your speed right for any website. An underlying issue with speed may be your bandwidth.
How can you figure out what bandwidth is right for you, and how much speed you need for your business? Look at the basics. Bandwidth is not as complex as it seems at first.
What is Bandwidth and How Does It Work?
In very simple terms, bandwidth is the measurement of data used for anything. You could equate bandwidth to calories. Everything you do uses a different amount, but the overall picture of the measurement is just as important as the use of it.
Things such as internet browsing, uploading and downloading from a cloud, hosting cloud storage, and even opening email uses bandwidth. Bandwidth is never the direct problem, but the lack of bandwidth will directly impact your speed and then your business or site.
The common way to refer to bandwidth is to reference the capacity available. It’s not that purchasing the highest bandwidth will lead to peak performance or top speeds, although that concept seems easy to put into motion.
Bandwidth operates very much like plumbing. Low bandwidth will have a strong flow, and high bandwidth will have a more dispersed flow. Additionally, as more demand is put on the bandwidth, the remaining capacity will diminish. Essentially, the bandwidth in this example is the pipe and pipe system, while the data that you’re uploading, downloading, or streaming is the water.
In an example that is closer to home, if you and everyone else in your family are streaming movies in different rooms, it’s likely you’ll see a bit of lag. The problem here is that the pipes or bandwidth can’t accommodate the water, or data, that is trying to process through the system.
It’s easy to put bandwidth into context within a household, but difficult for many businesses to conceptualize. You can determine how much bandwidth you need with a generally simple formula.
How Does Bandwidth Impact Speed?
Running a speed test is a standard procedure to help diagnose problems. A speed test will show you how your bandwidth is doing in conjunction with all the expectations and demands of your users.
As small businesses offer more functionality through their intranets and websites, they’ll see a poorer performance if they fail to increase their bandwidth.
For example, if you have a reasonable amount of bandwidth to handle your employees and personal internet use and suddenly offer free Wi-Fi to your guests, you’ll see a massive drop in performance. The issue in this example is that there isn’t enough bandwidth to support the users and their demands.
Too little bandwidth is like heavily congested traffic.
How Much Do You Need?
So, if too little bandwidth is the same as a congested freeway, then wouldn’t it be best to get as much bandwidth as possible? Not quite. As a business owner, you still want to control your costs and make smart decisions about the technology you use.
For example, if you have ten users and your speed is at 100 Mbps, each person is receiving 10 Mbps if all your users are working at the same time.
For most people, 2Mbps will feel fast, but when it comes to video streaming, hosting a video conference or holding a webcast, you’ll need at least 10 Mbps per user.
To estimate how much bandwidth you need, calculate each person’s usage. You can generally estimate most users at 3 Mbps. Then accommodate your video streaming and editing users to determine an ideal bandwidth for your staff and guests.
Difference Between Mbps and MBps
Much like tsp (teaspoon) and Tsp (tablespoon), these abbreviations are easy to confuse. As mentioned before bandwidth is a measurement, but it’s a measurement of capacity, and it has various units to available for measurement.
Your internet service provider or ISP will likely operate in one measurement, but a video streaming service might use a different measurement. How can you bridge the gap and make everything easier to understand? Start with a base understanding of the two most popular measurement units.
Mbps and MBps will impact your speed, and knowing the specifics of each will help you get your speed right. Knowing how to convert between these two units can help you to avoid overpayment and avoid ordering too little bandwidth.
Mbps is megabits. The bits are really important as these are substantially smaller units than MBps. MBps stands for megaBytes. There are 8 bits in each Byte.
People who work within the metric system won’t have any problem with conversions, while Americans will have a little trouble. Anyone can avoid doing the math by hand and get easy conversions, with an online calculator.
Need for Bandwidth and Speed On Your Site
Users are becoming more demanding when it comes to handling sites. Team members that work remotely can put a huge strain on your bandwidth without even being present. Their uploading and downloading through your cloud can impact all of your other systems.
To help the speed of your internet connection, you’ll want to balance user demands with bandwidth. While you can put tools to use for bandwidth metering and restricting the availability of bandwidth to a specific application, it is arduous to set up those applications.
If you’re having speed problems, consider reviewing your bandwidth, and possibly increasing it. Users with high streaming demands or many users with lesser demands can tax a standard bandwidth. Adding more bandwidth is the equivalent of adding more lanes onto a freeway or increasing the size of a water pipe.
Ultimately you will always have data caps to work with just as there are speed limits on freeways. When using a speed test to make decisions on your hardware pay close attention to download and upload metrics as they can tell you the most about how much capacity you have available when it comes to transferring data.
Emily Jacobs is Happiness Ambassador for SpeedCheck.org
She loves to write latest technology trends and love to share her knowledge through her articles.