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17 Ways To Speed Up Your Network -- For Free

Got a sluggish network, but don't want to break the bank speeding it up? We've got free and relatively inexpensive help for you. While some of the steps we recommend might include minor hardware upgrades, they are far less expensive than large consulting contracts or "forklift-type" IT upgrades.

To get our tips, we've polled three networking specialists for their advice. They've come up with 17 tips -- here's what they have to say.

Tom Leahy, product marketing manager for IP services at Pittsburg, Pa.-based TelCove, an integrated communications provider that offers Internet, voice, and data solutions, recommends these steps to boost network performance:

1. Assess traffic loads on the network, including the destination and source of all traffic. By moving around some network resources, a company many be able to improve network performance. For example, in a campus environment, if a particular server is being used by people in a common location (i.e., a particular building), the obvious thing to do is to make sure that server is actually located in that building. Otherwise that traffic will bog down other communications that must go between buildings.

2. Optimize IP addressing. This helps minimize the load on routers. The shorter the lookup table a router needs to determine where to send packets, the better.

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