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eBiz Thursday: The Do’s and Don’ts of Upgrading Your Network
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Should You Upgrade?

Most of us live by the mantra “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, this mindset can cost you dearly when it comes to your network. Like many small businesses, you probably don’t think about upgrading your network until something goes wrong.

Maintaining your business network should involve more than disaster control and recovery; ideally, it’s based on your company’s business goals and plans for future growth. This kind of network planning will save you time and money in the long run, ensure your business’s success, and help you avoid short-term “gotchas.”

Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when considering upgrading your small business network.

Do invest in business-class products: To save money, a lot of small businesses buy consumer products. Although certainly cheaper, they don’t provide the features adequate to run and support a more complex business environment. Routers, switches, and other core networking products built specifically for small businesses will provide a secure, reliable platform for your business.

Don’t ignore bandwidth needs: When planning network equipment purchases, you should estimate your business’s future network use. Knowing your bandwidth needs will help you select the right network products to support your business and avoid future bottlenecks.

Tip: Work with your IT partner to be sure they know the size and type of files that will be hosted and the number of users you expect to view them.

Don’t wait for something to break: Even a minor network glitch can bring your business to a standstill, and this downtime can cost you plenty—more than just the price of a replacement device. If you’re customers can’t reach you, you’re losing revenue, too. Planning ahead to replace older networking gear before it fails will keep your business running smoothly.

Tip: Keep an inventory list of all network equipment with the date purchased, serial number, etc. to track the age and performance of each.

Do pay attention to performance: Are your employees complaining that the network is slow? That feedback along with other performance analytics you may be using to monitor network performance is a good indication that your network needs upgrading. Pay attention to it.

Tip: Monitor your network performance regularly. Keep a log and look for patterns that could indicate trouble spots.

Don’t be short sighted: If you’re fixing network problems when they occur as a stopgap then you’re losing sight of the bigger picture. Consider your company’s longer-term goals when creating a network upgrade plan to ensure the products you choose can grow with the business.

Tip: Meet regularly with key players to review the company’s mid-term goals and make sure your network can support those plans.

Every small business has been waylaid by a network hiccup at one time or another. What’s been your worst network failure? Did it change the way you plan for network upgrades?

Diana WongWeb Marketing Team, Cisco Systems
Diana specializes in marketing and social media related to helping small businesses grow and succeed.
www.blogs.cisco.com | Facebook | More from Diana

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