What’s causing my internet to slow down? Vampire Apps may be to blame.

The Blue Fox Blog
The Blue Fox Blog
What’s causing my internet to slow down? Vampire Apps may be to blame.

Does your internet every feel like it all of a sudden became slow and sluggish than was fine after a few minutes?  Have you ever been on a call using VoIP and your call suddenly started to chop up, or even drop?  In today’s on-demand world we have high expectations and less tolerance for technology that just does not seem to work.

What is a Vampire App?

A vampire app is an app the runs in the background that utilizes either computing or bandwidth resources.  Many people run many apps like these and most of them are with good intentions or are definitely needed.  For example, many businesses use Microsoft Outlook and almost always have it running in the background.  Outlook is using resources and is running in the background, however, it is considered a necessary business application.  Another example that many businesses have started utilizing is synchronous internet storage apps (i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud Drive).  These applications are always running in the background to keep things synchronized.

How can These Apps Affect My Internet Speeds?

Applications that are set up to run in the background are always utilizing a small amount of your computer’s resources.   Many of these applications are optimized to have a minimal impact on your processor, memory, and battery life, as applicable.  This allows many applications to run at one time while allowing your computer to only recognize a small impact on performance, so much so that many users are often unaware they are even running.  This is not, however, the case for most of these applications in regards to internet bandwidth.

Allow Me if I May Paint a Picture.

You are in an office of 25 people who all use Dropbox because of the ease of sharing files between everyone in the office.  You also have a mobile user that works from their cell phone to share pictures with the rest of the office while they are out inspecting work.  Everyone has a shared folder so people can easily see and work on the same files, which is one of the great things about these collaboration tools.  When your cell phone user takes one picture, which is approximately 2MB, it is uploaded to the Dropbox cloud.  Immediately all of the computers that share that folder in the office start downloading that 2MB file.  Well, 2MB over 25 computers means that if your company has a 50MB download coming into your office, and your performance across other bandwidth using devices will be impacted.  If you are using VoIP phones there is a high probability that calls will chop up or even drop.  Other impacts will be felt throughout the office and this is not even taking into consideration the individuals that are streaming radio, watching a video, or sharing other large files.

3 Things You Can Do To Prevent Your Speed From Having The Life Sucked Out of it

1.Limit the Bandwidth Drain

Most of these tools have built-in settings that you can manage to limit the bandwidth of each individual application.  They are sometimes buried and require some knowledge of the setup and operation of the applications, and some of them though do not have settings like this at all and they must be managed at the network level.

 2.Get Help from a Security Appliance

One of the best tools we have found to manage these setups are Meraki Security Appliances.  These tools have a feature that allows for traffic shaping which will manage your bandwidth across your entire network.  When setup correctly these devices will manage your company’s bandwidth correctly, allowing for applications in the background, or the bored employee watching Netflix, to not have an impact on your company’s overall performance and operations.

3.Don’t go it Alone

Taking on an issue like this can be difficult without the technical knowledge and expertise of someone who has been there before.  Many times going into a business, technical professionals are able to notice things in relatively short periods of time that may have been plaguing the owners and managers for months. Companies such as Blue Fox Group have a collective knowledge in not only personal but also in the varying types of businesses we have been able to help already.  These issues can be nearly impossible to reproduce when you have someone that is there to help, so the knowledge to look for these type of issues is even greater.

What to Take From This?

Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to do what you need to do when you need to do it.  There are many moving parts that all have an impact on performance, from your network to sometimes giant cables laying at the bottom of the ocean.  Many times though you can have these vampire apps lurking in the dark corners of your network, suck up all your bandwidth at differing times, all the while avoiding detection.  Looking for these applications and ensuring they are correctly set up will allow your network to operate continuously and avoid those moments when you would like to throw your computer out the window.

Want to take a look at Meraki for Bandwidth Management? Watch a webinar by Cisco and receive a free Meraki Access Point.

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