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Is Cloud Storage Stealing Your Internet Bandwidth?

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After publishing our latest blog article,Yacht Computers: Mac vs. PC, we got lots of feedback via Linked In about peoples'’ computer preferences. Funnily enough, yacht professionals seemed to come out just about 50/50 in terms of preference for PCs or Macs.

One reader's comment touched on a subject we thought would be interesting in its own blog article: the relationship between remote data backups and vessel Internet bandwidth.

Vessel Internet bandwidth-a review

A few months back, we posted an introductory blog article about yacht Internet bandwidth called Vessel Internet Bandwidth: Are you Addicted? In it, we discussed the reality that many people today are hooked on their Internet-enabled devices and the bandwidth on which they depend.

In another post, Monitoring & Managing: 2 Ways to Optimize your Vessel Internet Connection, we reviewed steps you can take right now to improve your vessel Internet connection's performance.

vsat bandwidthThe proliferation of cloud storage backup

Often, new computers come with software for cloud storage built in. A cloud backup and storage package may include a limited amount of storage at no cost, or be free for a trial period.  Today, many businesses and many consumers use remote computer backup services.

Regular data backup is very important for any serious computer user and cloud storage is a convenient way to achieve it. Cloud backup and storage services include, Carbonite, Cubby, DropBox, iCloud, and SugarSync, just to name a few.

The cost for additional storage or to continue after a trial period is often only a few dollars per month. So due to the convenience and low cost of cloud storage, its usage is growing rapidly.

The downside of off-site or cloud-based backup systems

Off-site or cloud-based backup systems can be a valuable component of an entire backup strategy. BUT, in a marine environment, offline backup can have the unintended consequence of using a large percentage of a vessel's available bandwidth.

Users may not realize that they are continuously accessing the yacht's Internet connection to send data to their cloud storage, especially those with large media libraries (music, photos, video) that are regularly growing and changing.

So with the proliferation of cloud based backup services, crew members and guests are often inadvertently "stealing" bandwidth from more critical or time-sensitive activities. 

Some Captains, Engineers, and ETOs may be completely unaware of the problem. But if cloud-based backup is to be used, it must be managed carefully, first by establishing on board policies regarding their use and then by having tools in place to enforce those policies.

internet box

Two things you can do to preserve bandwidth:

1. Create a Crew Cloud Usage Policy

Your crew accesses multiple devices each day that are connected to the vessel's Internet. But they probably don't realize that many activities, even uploading photos from a camera to the computer, may be using a good deal of Internet bandwidth when photos are automatically sent to a cloud storage service.

So in order to preserve vessel Internet bandwidth, it's your job to educate crew about bandwidth use and what they can and cannot do with their devices.

Decide what Internet-related activities are permitted on board and prohibit websites that use too much vessel bandwidth. You can even specify the times of day crew can use cloud-based storage areas for data backups.

To make it official, consider putting bandwidth use policy terms in writing and have the crew sign off on the agreement. Item number 2 below will help you sort out the details.


2.  Monitor and Manage Your Vessel's Bandwidth

Along with a backup policy educating the crew on expectations regarding Internet usage, you can take steps to actively manage your bandwidth.

For instance, there are several bandwidth management devices on the market that monitor and manage Internet bandwidth. These devices help free up the bandwidth necessary for critical tasks and priority users.

Bandwidth optimizers let you monitor bandwidth use so you can see if crew are following the vessel's Internet Use Policy described in item number 1 above.
Bandwidth monitoring allows you to stay aware of: 

•Vessel bandwidth use by time of day
•Internet sites accessed by individuals on your vessel
•Devices on your vessel accessing specific websites

You can also set rules for bandwidth use with these devices. For instance, you can allocate bandwidth to high-priority users, such as the Owner, Guests and Captain.

Get an idea of your vessel's current bandwidth use by downloading the MTN Satellite Communications' bandwidth calculator-just click on the document below.

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Want to learn more about internet bandwidth management? 

The NAS3000 is Great Circle Systems' Internet Bandwidth Optimization device. To learn more about the NAS3000 Internet Bandwidth optimizer, download the product sheet by clicking on the gray button below.

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Great Circle Systems was founded by Scott Strand and Andy Levy in 1999. Scott and Andy are uniquely qualified to serve the luxury yacht industry, combining extensive software development and network system integration experience with many years of hands-on yachting experience. Over the years, Scott and Andy have assembled a team of experienced and skilled yacht engineers and network specialists. Together, the company has built an impressive array of products and services to assist in the construction and operation of vessels 30 meters and larger. These products include Triton Administrator yacht management software and the NAS3000 Internet management appliance. GCS has provided IT solutions for many of the most beautiful yachts in the world, including M/Y Cakewalk V, M/Y Lady Sheridan, M/Y Jemasa, M/Y "A" and M/Y Katara. 

resizedimage15799 Great Circle Systems logo2


Contact:+1 530-546-3736

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