Best Practices for Optimizing Bandwidth When Working From Home During COVID

By Corey Simpson posted 03-19-2020 09:07


We are all grappling to adapt to the changes Coronavirus has presented, and it is unlikely your working conditions haven’t been impacted in some way. Whether you are no longer able to go into the office, have your kids home from school, or simply have more neighbors working from home, work changes have impacted nearly all of us. 

One of the most major impacts you may notice is to your internet bandwidth. In other words, you may see a change in how much data can be sent over your home internet connection over a given amount of time. Bandwidth is necessary for many of your work-from-home activities, such as checking email, video conferencing, and accessing files from a document management system. Without it, your work can be interrupted more than it already is. To best position yourself for an important online meeting or to participate as a panelist on a webinar, walk through the tips below to help optimize your bandwidth. 

 Tips to optimize your bandwidth are separated into four categories:

  • Applications on your laptop
  • Home devices
  • Activities you can move off your laptop
  • A proper work from home environment


  1. Applications on your laptop
    1. Close applications that are not in use or are using a lot of bandwidth. Many of today's applications use bandwidth. A best practice rule is if you are not using an application, you should close it. This will ensure your bandwidth is consumed by only the applications you are actively using. If you are not sure which applications use the most bandwidth, follow these steps:
      1. Windows / PC: Task Manager
        1. Right-click the taskbar, and click Task Manager.
        2. Left-click the App History tab.
        3. If you see the smaller version of the Task Manager, click the More details button on the bottom left corner.
2. Apple/Mac: Activity Monitor (OS X) 
        1. Hold Command + Spacebar for Spotlight Search.
        2. Type Activity Monitor.
        3. Click Network tab.
  1. Instead of emailing a file, send links to the file from your Document Management System. This is already a best practice for security reasons, but I’ll take this opportunity to reiterate the value of sending links rather than files from a bandwidth perspective. A link is simply smaller than the file. One caveat, the receiver of the link may need access rights to your DMS to view the document.
  2. Aggressively scan for malware. Malware can rob you of a tremendous amount of bandwidth by turning PCs into bots. Take steps to make sure your computer is clean.


  1. Home devices
    1. While you may not be binge watching Care Bears The TV Series, if your kids are, a lot of bandwidth is being consumed. Streaming services such as Netflix move more data by volume than any other widely consumed Software as a Service. Netflix alone uses ~1 GB of data per hour for each stream of standard definition video and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video. If multiple family members are watching different shows at the same time, that is 1 GB of data per show. Alternatives to streaming include checking out DVDs from the library or using a TV antenna.
    2. Internet of Things (IoT): e.g. SmartTVs, Smart Thermostats, Google Assistant / Alexa. The data consumed by these devices is likely minimal. The issue comes with how your wireless router handles devices. If your wireless router is not sophisticated or configured properly, it may be allocating bandwidth beyond the device needs -- in essence tying up bandwidth that will never be used.


  1. Activities you can move off your computer
    1. Cell phones: Most of us have a cell phone. Using your mobile device instead of the VOIP solution (such as Zoom calls or RingCentraL VOIP) moves the data from your internet to the cell towers. One caveat, make sure WiFi calling is disabled on your phone.
    2. Messaging apps: On one hand, it is great that regardless of platform (i.e. Windows, Mac or Chromebook user) you can send and receive messages across multiple platforms from your computer. On the other hand, sending messages uses data. Text messages use minimal data; picture messages likely use multiple megabytes, and video messages exponentially more. If you need to message, consider doing so via your phone. Again, the goal is to move the data off your home bandwidth.


  1. A proper work from home environment
    1. For those who are used to working from home, but now find family members or friends who are not normally home during the day are also working from your home, Those who are used to working from home, but who now have other members of the household home, may find these tips helpful: two best practices from Michael Ertel’s blog post; Working From Home—Best Practices and Suggestions
      • Appropriate Home Workspace: Working remotely has many benefits for you and your firm alike, but only if you are efficient and can work well at home without distraction.  To the extent possible, you should set up a clean and quiet workspace with minimal distractions and sufficient lighting for video calls. If appropriate, a printer, scanner, and external monitor(s) may be useful—though these are not generally provided by firms.  
      • Home Rules: When working from home, it is important to establish ground rules for family members and roommates.  When you are working, everyone should respect your space and your need for a professional environment. Whether that means reducing noise during a call or refraining from asking for favors during work hours—the fewer distractions, the more effective you will be.  It is also important for you to maintain your own internal formality when working from home, so you do not fall through a rabbit hole of time loss. For example, set a specific time period for lunch and stick to it, or limit coffee, tea, and other breaks to specific time limits.


1 comment



03-19-2020 10:47

30 minutes ago, CNN reporting the European Union is urging streaming services to stop showing video in high definition in an effort to reduce bandwidth strain.