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The Year in Review: the Top 10 Posts of 2011

It’s hard to believe another year has come and (almost) gone. Every year seems to speed by ever faster, much like the pace of technological advancements. We understand that it’s a challenge keeping up with the latest technologies that impact your small business. So we were curious to find out what topics caught your eye this past year on the Small Business Blog.

Security was by far the most popular topic; and security in all forms—from your core network to personal devices to the cloud. That’s not surprising when you consider all the ways in which you can now access data.

Here’s the list of top 10 posts for 2011:

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Mythbusters: More Bandwidth Doesn’t Always Improve Performance

Combine an increase in the type of traffic running over your network—such as voice, video, and data—with an increase in the users accessing that data, and your network could easily get bogged down. When that happens, your first instinct may be to throw more bandwidth at the problem. In this second installment of our Mythbusters series, we dispel the myth that faster networking gear will solve your performance woes.

Installing faster equipment may improve your network’s performance, but it may not entirely unclog your data bottlenecks. Before you spend money upgrading your network with faster devices, look to see if the switches you already have offer network intelligence features. If not, your switches are handling traffic on a first-come, first-served basis, which means voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls can still drop, video streams can still hang, and data can slow to a crawl.

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5 Steps to Improve Wireless Connectivity

Optimize your network to provide faster speeds and greater reliability for a variety of mobile devices

When you first built your company’s wireless network, you had to support just the desktop PCs and laptops you chose for your small business. Now, your wireless network is probably host to a more diverse array of mobile devices from different vendors. On any given day, you may have tablets, iPhones, and Android-enabled devices accessing your network. Instead of trying to control the personal devices that employees bring to work, it may be easier to optimize your wireless network to better support these devices. (If you’re just building a wireless network for the first time, this post can help.)

We offer five steps to help improve the performance of your wireless network and provide a better user experience regardless of the devices employees are using to access company data.

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The Importance of Security in Switches

Smart and managed switches can help secure your network from the inside out

Managing who can hop on to your network from the inside has become more important than ever, now that almost everyone who enters your building is carrying a laptop with an Ethernet port, a Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone, or a tablet computer configured to locate the nearest wireless network. Likewise, you may want to give visiting partners or other guests an Internet connection without giving them access to all your network resources. Bottom line: you need to secure your network on the inside. A switch with built-in security features adds another layer of defense for your network, protecting the devices on your LAN from internal threats.

Switches are the foundation of your network, connecting computers, servers, printers, and other peripheral devices. There are three types of switches—unmanaged, smart, and managed. Smart and managed switches both include security features, but managed switches give you the most control over network traffic with more advanced security and features.

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Don’t Let Home Networks Compromise Your Business Network

Follow this basic checklist to ensure employees are safely connecting to your company LAN

When you combine almost ubiquitous high-speed Internet connections with affordable wireless networking gear and mobile devices such as laptops and smartphones, many of your employees will create home networks that allow them to work remotely. However, many people don’t have security on their personal networks. Before you allow your employees to access your business network remotely, you need to be sure their home networks are secured.

This isn’t as tricky as it seems. Many of the security measures you’re currently using on the local network can be applied to employees’ personal networks, such as requiring strong passwords on laptops, mobile phones, and home routers. Even if employees are using their own equipment to work remotely, you can enforce specific rules for accessing company resources. For instance, you can require that everyone use an encrypted virtual private network (VPN) to connect to your business network. Also stipulate that every computer, including smartphones and tablets, that accesses business data has antivirus and antimalware software installed and is working with the latest threat updates.

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