The Real Problem: Part 1 – Getting Back to Basics
So many clients believe that they need to upgrade all kinds of equipment, including every desktop computer, in order to regain the speed they remember enjoying earlier on. All in the name of “Investing in Communications” or “Improving our Business Infrastructure.” The truth is hardware generally doesn’t get slower over time. Software does – and not all software. It is very likely that core configuration could be improved simply giving real benefits to your bottom lines – time and money.
So, here are the basics:
less memory, less cpu and less disk = less network utilization
less network utilization = faster response and more available bandwidth
Apply the basics (concepts) to your workstation, server, local and wide area networks and Internet connection. Simple is better. Use caching where it makes sense so that your clients get a response locally. DNS cache, web cache, Windows Update cache (or WSUS) – on a local server. One or more servers cache slow connection information, clients use fast network to pull from local server.
Easily increase reliability and performance today in three steps:
1 – Tune DNS for Performance and Reliability
Use a local DNS server that caches and use OpenDNS for forwarders. In most cases, the router, server or firewall is responsible for DNS caching and DHCP. Configure the DNS servers in this device (not your PC) to use forwarders pointing to OpenDNS servers closest to you. Make an account with OpenDNS if you would like further protection and features.
If you are hosting services on your network that use DNS without direct interaction from your client computers, such as SMTP, set these services to use different public DNS servers directly. Meaning, do NOT set SMTP to use your internal DNS server or the forwarders your internal DNS server is using.
2 – Uninstall Everything From Your Computers!
Well, not *everything!* Use IOBit Uninstaller or Revo Uninstaller to remove obvious unnecessary items. All toolbars get removed as well as anything that runs while you are not using it if possible. Reboot if necessary and cleanup the remaining bits with Piriform CCleaner. Remove unnecessary startup items for system and browsers. Remove search engines and extensions from your browsers that you are unable to identify after researching them.
While you are at it, install Adblock Plus and ensure it is from “adblockplus.org” to Firefox and Chrome. Ensure you turn on the options for Malware Blocking, Remove Social Media Buttons and Disable Tracking. Prevention goes a long way.
3 – Minimize Cloud Sync and Services
Many applications that you can install on your PCs or servers will consistently synchronize or poll internet-based cloud services. Many native Windows services are set to automatic doing things you don’t need them to be doing. These are moving parts. By removing or reducing the moving parts we have something more reliable and well- performing. In some cases, you can adjust how much bandwidth is used by these services – minimize it if they just need to stay on. Computing power and focus is only on what is important to you or your clients when, and if, necessary. Luckily, policy and/or scheduled scripts can be set for the remainder after cleaning up.
Some examples include:
JungleDisk and Carbonite – These cloud services use bandwidth consistently for copying data to the cloud for many reasons. They both include the ability to schedule bandwidth utilization during certain hours.
Windows Update and Background Intelligent Transfer Services (BITS) – Many computers only reboot once every ten years or so (you know who you are). No doubt we find more problems with computers that rarely reboot because of this. Somehow, they have narrowly avoided Windows Updates that seem to have accumulated over the last ten years that are ready to be applied and they have heard the recent “bad patch” news. Suddenly, they have an issue and are forced to reboot. They login and report their “computer is slow” (or unavailable) for the next hour only to find upon investigation that Windows Updates are still applying – “in the background.” Either disable them, but do the updates weekly, or reboot at the end of every day with a policy of setting timeframes and wake-ups. You get the idea.
But These Aren’t All Network Things!
In some cases, you are right. But, they touch my network! They plug in, They use it. Most of all, they impact my users. Can we improve the life of business people through optimization? Sure we can. Can we reduce time and money spent on a network through planning, execution, management and training? Absolutely!
This was meant to be a very high-level overview of some concepts and to get some feedback. I’d love to hear from you below – any comments at all. “Like it” if you like it, give it the big thumbs down if you don’t. Say something! We would love to write about what you would like to see. Tell me your role in your organization. Tell me what you would like to read about. Tell me what you are interested in. I’ll likely address it soon.
What if you apply these concepts to every piece of your own network? Is it better? Has it improved? Has it gone down like the Titanic? Let me know and we’ll write more.