Guide to Backup Internet for Businesses
Guide to Backup Internet for Businesses
The internet has shifted the way businesses operate. Companies that once kept cabinets full of paper files and relied on face-to-face communication with clients and staff now accomplish the same tasks online. The internet connects businesses to customers, company data, cloud-based software and much more.
However, such heavy reliance on the internet and internet service providers (ISPs) presents a unique challenge — what does a company do when it loses its internet connection?
Disconnecting from the internet inhibits a business’s functionality. Some operations can manage without the internet for a brief time, but many others must cease work entirely until they restore their connection. The downtime from lost internet connection can cost a business thousands of dollars and prevent it from meeting its obligations to customers.
Businesses that rely on information technology (IT) systems recognize the value of redundancy. In IT, redundancy is the concept of having a separate way to achieve the same goal so that if the primary option goes down, the operation has a backup. Internet redundancy is crucial, which is why many companies establish a backup internet option for their facilities.
What Is Backup Internet?
Backup internet is a secondary connection that automatically kicks in if the primary internet source fails. Businesses often choose a different type of connection and different ISPs for primary and backup internet. A company that uses cable internet as the primary source may use cellular internet as its backup to avoid overlapping issues.
Common backup internet options include:
- Coaxial cable
- Regional fiber
- Direct fiber
- 4G LTE
What Causes Internet Disruptions?
There are numerous reasons your facility could lose its internet connection. Some of the most common include:
- Extreme weather
- Equipment malfunction
- ISP failure
- Insufficient bandwidth
- Solar flares
Why Invest In Backup Internet?
Establishing a secondary internet connection will benefit your business in numerous ways if the primary network fails:
- Reduce downtime by connecting to a new network immediately
- Maintain customer satisfaction through consistent digital services
- Avoid financial loss from missed sales opportunities and productivity lull
How to Determine Which Type of Internet Backup to Use
Weigh these factors when determining which type of backup internet is best for your business:
Redundancy and Reliability Considerations
Redundancy is the first key consideration when choosing backup internet. Your business should select a backup option that is different from its primary source. If your facility uses cable internet, establish redundancy by choosing a fiber optic or wireless solution.
Reliability is also important. Choose a backup option you can trust to withstand the circumstances that impact connection to your primary type. Fiber is the most reliable internet option in today’s market due to its light-based transmission method. Wireless internet is highly reliable as well because there are fewer physical components that may suffer damage in bad weather.
Investing in backup internet will save your business money during a primary outage. Still, it’s important to choose an option that fits your budget. Pick a backup plan that costs less than your primary ISP’s rate. Some ISPs offer basic internet plans with enough options to meet your needs in emergency situations.
Availability in the Area
A business’s location can impact the type of backup internet option it chooses. Connectivity is limited in remote locations without 4G or 5G cellular towers. ISPs are yet to run fiber optic cables to some areas. Research the carriers in your region to see which backup options are available to you.
The term bandwidth describes the rate at which data can travel across a given internet transmission medium. If a network’s maximum bandwidth is 50 megabits per second (Mbps), it can handle tasks that require up to 50 megabits of data to transfer every second. Low-bandwidth networks can still accomplish high-bandwidth tasks, but they take much longer to complete them.
Bandwidth is important because certain functions require more data than others, so your bandwidth availability impacts how quickly you can complete them. Sending an email requires less than 5 Mbps. Downloading a file up to two gigabytes in size requires upward of 100 megabits per second for efficient completion. Larger files may require 1,000 Mbps or more to download.
Bandwidth also controls the number of devices that can operate on the network. The greater the bandwidth, the more computers and smart devices it can accommodate. Offices and similar operations typically need a network that can allocate 10-15 Mbps to each employee.
Bandwidth varies with the type of internet you choose. When selecting a backup internet option, choose one with enough bandwidth to temporarily support your business’s essential functions:
- Fiber: 6,000 Mbps
- Cable: 1,000 Mbps
- 5G: 1,000 Mbps
- 4G LTE: 100 Mbps
Steps to Set up Internet Backup
Follow these steps to get your backup internet up and running:
- Assess your current network infrastructure
- Identify the most appropriate backup solution
- Install and configure the backup system
- Test the backup system
1. Assess Your Current Network Infrastructure
Performing a network assessment is a crucial first step when establishing backup internet. Your business’s network comprises various hardware and software that contribute to its performance. Understanding each component, the role it serves and its performance requirements will help you determine the ideal backup internet option for your business.
Inspect the cables, routers, device drivers and operating systems that comprise your network infrastructure to determine the likelihood of an internal issue causing a network disruption. Then, assess other network considerations such as bandwidth needs, cybersecurity risks and file security methods. The backup internet you choose should be comparable to and compatible with your current network infrastructure.
2. Identify the Most Appropriate Backup Solution
Identifying your ideal backup option is a critical step. There are numerous internet backup options at your disposal. Your network assessment will help you understand what you need from a backup solution in terms of type, performance and security. The next step is to find and compare ISPs that offer the type of backup internet you need.
Each ISP offers a unique range of capabilities, price points and terms, so comparing your options is important. Your internal IT team and financial decision-makers can collaborate to analyze options available from different ISPs. You can also pursue recommendations from a professional IT consultant.
3. Install and Configure the Backup System
After choosing a backup internet system, it’s time to install and configure it. Your backup internet provider can handle most of the installation process, particularly if they need to run new cables or wires to your building.
Inside your facility, you’ll need to install new routers that will distribute signals to the devices on your network. You can configure these routers for failover, meaning they will become the primary connection when the main system turns off. Ensure all network devices are connected to the secondary network ahead of time so the transition is as quick as possible.
4. Test the Backup System
You should test your backup internet system soon after installing it to ensure it works and that all devices connect to it.
Turn off your primary internet system and allow the secondary backup to take over. At this time, direct all devices to connect to the new network for the first time so they remember it in the future.
Monitor connectivity across devices and make sure the backup system is performing as you expect. Then, resume using your primary internet system until an outage occurs.
Testing is also important well after installing your system. Test your backup internet at regular intervals to ensure it is ready to perform if your primary network goes down.
Best Practices for Managing Internet Backup for Businesses
Having a backup internet option can save your business from costly downtime if your primary network experiences a disruption. Follow these best practices to see the full range of benefits from your backup service:
- Establish protocols for switching to backup internet
- Monitor the backup internet connection
- Test the backup internet
- Maintain contact with ISPs
1. Establish Protocols for Switching to Backup Internet
Your backup internet network needs to know when to take over for your primary network. Likewise, all devices on the network should recognize the backup network and connect after failover. Your IT team can program the backup network to engage in specific situations. This way, the transition will occur automatically and your staff can continue business as usual.
2. Monitor the Backup Internet Connection
While you’ll rely on your primary network for most everyday internet needs, it’s still good to know the backup is functional. Your IT team should keep tabs on the backup network and verify its readiness to engage whenever necessary. As long as your backup routers appear to be connected to your backup ISP’s network, everything should be fine.
3. Test the Backup Internet
Beyond monitoring the connection status, your IT staff should test the backup network and all of its components. Testing the network on a regular basis will give you confidence that the backup will engage when you need it. Work with your IT department to plan a testing schedule that fits your operations.
4. Maintain Contact With the ISP
It’s important to remain in communication with both your primary and backup ISPs. Communicating with your primary ISP can help you determine the cause of a disruption and learn when you can expect the connection to resume. You can contact your backup ISP to confirm that your secondary network is functional. Reach out to either ISP promptly when its network fails.
Set up Backup Internet for Your Business
Every modern business should establish ways to prevent network interruptions and respond when one occurs. Setting up a backup internet connection will ensure your work can continue even if your main source fails.
At Kirbtech, we help small and midsize businesses maintain fast, secure networks. Our network management services and managed IT capabilities position businesses for success in a digitally dominated marketplace. For more on the ways Kirbtech can assist your company, please contact us online today!