Working from Home: Tips for Optimal Performance

Instead of watching that buffering wheel spin like the wheels on the struggle bus, try rebooting your entire computer. It really does work.

While a lot of the world is practicing social distancing and working from home many are feeling panicked, worried or anxious. And their experience of trying to work from home isn’t helping. Anyone that works with sensitive data, like financial advisors, attorneys and well, anyone that works for a large company, should be using a virtual private network or VPN. Often that VPN may feel like a VPoff.  In these extraordinary times, there’s so much that’s frustrating that must be abided. Since we know advisors choose their profession out of a goal of helping their clients live easier, fuller lives, by reducing frustration with knowledge we’ve collected a few tips on how to make your work from home experience easier. Now, when clients are more anxious than ever, we hope these tips can help you meet that goal.

How does a VPN work anyway? A VPN sends information (a data packet) to your work’s server from your home server. That data packet is bigger than most of what you do on the Internet from home. That’s because of the encryption process used to send the data. Imagine that you take a folder home with you. That folder might only be 2 inches think. But if you mailed it back to work wrapped in bubble wrap, its now three inches think. Sure, encryption doesn’t add quite as much extra padding as bubble wrap, but you get the idea.

That process itself will slow down the speed of your computer in doing all the little tasks you ask it to do. That includes opening and closing documents, and yes, even scrolling through your email.  That leads us to our first set of tips, your home server and its health.

How fast is your home server? If your server at home is running slow, or possibly experiencing a few glitches, it will hinder that VPN working properly. One tip to try is checking your home device by using a service like Speedtest. Through that company’s easy to use web-based product, you can test the speed of a variety of devices. Based on the result you get, you may find that your download speed is less than optimal for running large files, like a VPN.

Even if your home server is pinging like a champ, your home office set up might not be quite so choice. That old adage about the closer you are to the server impacting the speed of the server? It’s partly true and partly not. In a test done by MacWorld, they found the following results: “At 6 feet away, the transfer rate from the client (MacBook Air) to the server (MacBook Pro connected to the Time Capsule via ethernet) was 547 megabits per second (mbps). At 26 feet away, that rate dropped by 17 percent to 456 mbps. At 54 feet, the throughput dipped under 400 mbps. Getting past 100 feet, the speed dropped precipitously to just 139 mbps—about a quarter of the throughput we saw from 6 feet away.” Put in other words, getting farther away from a wireless server will drop the transfer rate. If your wireless server is more than 26 feet from your home office, you might consider buying a wireless booster.  For $15 to $20 you can help improve the speed of your server relatively easily. If your wireless is still sub-optimal you might find that connecting to your cable modem via Ethernet connection actually improves your connection speed.

Let’s say your server is trucking along nicely and you’ve relocated so that your wireless router is cozied up to you as close as your cat and yet, your computer is still showing sluggish buffering. What can you do? Instead of watching that buffering wheel spin like the wheels on the struggle bus, try rebooting your entire computer. It really does work. As the experts say “Rebooting solves issues with the operating system either not connecting properly or improperly overriding a connection. Your device just needs the opportunity to carry out a fresh batch of programming instructions.” It’s possible that the VPN’s connection didn’t firmly connect on the first try. Rebooting can reset the connection and allow you to have a sharper connection. Many employees don’t shut down their computers at night at work, often at the direction of the IT department so that updates and patches can be installed while the least number of employees are working. This habit can decrease VPN performance. When in doubt, try to reboot.

To go deeper, its possible that other aps running on your computer could be making the VPN run more slowly. When using the VPN try having as a few other programs running on your computer as possible. Keep it simple, and your VPN experience may improve.

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