Bandwidth is a very precious commodity. However, the more bandwidth a company boasts, the more its employees will find ways to make creative use of it. What is an administrator to do when it comes to regaining bandwidth in the enterprise?

Policies are the way to go
User policies offer one of the best methods of preventing the exploitation of precious bandwidth. As an administrator, you have the right to set a policy on what can and can’t be used over the company network.

If you investigate, you’re likely to find your network’s bandwidth being consumed by the following:

  • Video games
  • Video news clips
  • Streaming radio broadcasts
  • MP3 downloads

Begin by setting limitations on when games can be played. In addition, set guidelines describing permissible and prohibited uses of company equipment.
Check out these articles for more information:”Create system policies using the System Policy Editor“”Creating your own system policies“”Managing workstation desktops with user profiles
While this may sound like a way to greatly upset employees, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. If possible, hold a meeting with employees to generate ideas on curbing bandwidth usage. Explain the value of bandwidth and how using too much can interrupt workflow.

It’s always better to negotiate with employees than it is to remove privileges without explanation. You’re likely to find employees are more understanding and compliant if you explain a situation rather than set policies in stone with no ifs, ands, or buts.

Set up roadblocks to be safe
If you find that a particular Web site or server is draining bandwidth after you’ve made your pleas for help, an easy fix is to deny access to it. However, such a move can hurt morale, so do so only in the most extreme circumstances. Be sure to tell employees that the blockade is being implemented so they know there’s nothing wrong with your network.
Before configuring your proxy server to deny access to a Web site, you may want to conduct an audit of your firm’s Internet usage. For more information, check out “A work program for auditing an organization’s Internet usage.”
An example of the need for such roadblocks can be found in recent headlines. An MP3 trading software program, called Napster, has created havoc within corporation and college networks. Users on a network download and install the Napster software, thus setting up their machine as an MP3 server to send and receive audio files. In many cases, there were so many users running Napster that a few of the colleges and corporations were forced to place a block on the Napster server address, thus keeping users on the network from accessing the server.
If you’re looking for a tool to block access to certain Web sites or servers, you might consider using Proxy Server. To find out more, read “Control your bandwidth with Proxy Server 2.0 .”

Ed Engelking is a TechRepublic Web editor and co-owner of

Have you been having problems with bandwidth hogs on your network? If so, leave a post below or send us a note.