IT for Donuts: How to cope if your internet goes down

By: John McGarvey

Date: 16 February 2015

IT for Donuts is our regular feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

Inspired by the recent failure of my own broadband connection, today, we take a look at how to cope if your internet goes down.

The internet is essential

Have you ever been in an open plan office when that company’s internet connection has failed?

It usually starts quietly. Someone will ask a simple question of a colleague: “Is your internet working?”

In minutes, it spreads across the office. People stop what they’re doing, just to see if they can load the BBC website. And then it’s all they talk about.

Quite simply, when your internet goes down, your business suffers – no matter whether you have one employee or 100. So, if yours fails, what can you do to keep working while you wait for it to get fixed?

1. Find a hotspot

When your internet connection goes down, public Wi-Fi is your friend. If your own premises are covered by a public network then you have a ready-made backup for your own connection.

Sometimes you can pick up Wi-Fi via a service like Fon, which allows you to piggyback on a local internet connection for a small charge.

Alternatively, think about decamping to a local café or pub that offers Wi-Fi. You don’t have to stay there for hours, but it’s a good chance to catch up on email and take care of important tasks.

2. Get mobile Wi-Fi

The emergence of 4G mobile internet means that – as long as you’re in an area with good coverage – these days using a mobile internet connection is less likely to be an exercise in frustration. In fact, access speeds can rival those of standard broadband connections.

The easiest way to get online is to buy a mobile Wi-Fi device, like the EE Osprey or Vodafone R215.

These connect to the internet via a mobile phone network, then share that connection through a wireless network. You can get several devices online through a single 4G Wi-Fi device.

Pay-as-you-go tariffs are great for occasional use. Consider a contract if you think you’ll use the device regularly.

3. Borrow a neighbour’s connection

Are your company’s neighbours friendly? If so, ask if you can share their internet connection if you run into a problem.

It’s only fair to afford them the same opportunity, but that way you’ll both have a backup for when something goes wrong.

Just make sure you get your internet services from different providers – otherwise you could both be stuck without a connection.

If all else fails

Having your internet fail for a short period of time can be a blessing in disguise. Sure, there might be emails piling up in your inbox, but they can wait.

Take a long lunch. Go for a walk. Or get everyone together and discuss where you really want to take the business in the months ahead.

Who knows, maybe an internet outage will spark your next great idea.

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