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Working from home has its benefits: Lunchtime is any time you want, dress pants are optional, and you can skip the frustrating commute. One downside to working from home, though, is online meetings. The endless video conferences fill up the calendar and can make the workday considerably busier. Add in slow computers and connections that can stretch even the briefest video conferences into overtime, and it's enough to make you want to put "out of office" on your calendar.
Here are seven ways to prevent annoyingly slow internet connections during video conferences:
Tip #1: Check to make sure you’re using the most current software
Life moves fast, but software updates move even faster. Web browser and operating system updates can shift icons to different parts of applications — and the last thing you want is to be frantically searching for an app right before you join a meeting online.
“Be familiar with the controls, especially if there has been a recent update,” Richard Roth, founder and CEO of technology solutions firm Progressive Tech, tells Yahoo Life. “Things tend to move around in software, so always be prepared before the call.”
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Tip #2: Use the best Internet connection you can
According to LiveControl, there’s a definite hierarchy when it comes to desirable internet connections, especially for video conferencing: Wired connections are better than wireless (WiFi or cellular) ones, but WiFi connections are often better than cellular (3G/4G/LTE). So it's a good idea to think about which available connections are your best bet before hopping on a video conference call. As often as possible, join online meetings from a location where you can use a speedy, dependable, wired internet connection; otherwise, you’re at risk of a slow connection.
Tip #: 3 Make sure you’re using the right device
Your smartphone may work well for impromptu calls with your family, but you don’t necessarily want to rely on it for important video conferences with work or school. For one thing, using a smartphone can make it harder to participate in group discussions, especially those that require many video feeds at once. In addition, you won't be able to use your phone during the meeting to troubleshoot any issues that might arise.
Tip #4: Mute your microphone when you're not speaking
When your microphone is on, video conferencing dedicates a portion of your internet connection to your audio stream, even if you aren't saying a word, according to LiveControl. So if you’re not participating in the online discussion, mute your mic. It will help video conferencing apps use your web connection more efficiently.
Tip #5: Stop your HD video, if you don't need it
While it may be tempting to enable high definition (HD) when you're doing a video conference, you don’t need it for the most part — especially if you want to maximize your computer's internet speed. That's because transmitting HD video requires more bandwidth than standard definition.
Better yet, turn off your webcam during video conferences, if you can, according to Cornell University's information technology service. Or at least stop your video and then turn it on only when you need to show yourself during the meeting. Disabling all video helps free up your bandwidth and use less data during an online meeting.
Tip #6: Close other unneeded applications on your computer
Video conferences require a chunk of memory and processing power from your device. Head over to the control panel and see what applications you can close, in particular ones you do not need during the session. Doing so will help video conferencing apps run better.
Cornell University advises that data-intensive programs that could steal bandwidth might include streaming video or music sites, or other websites with dynamic content. You can also double check to make sure you’re not in the middle of emptying a massive amount of files to your recycle bin. If your device seems slow, you can check your system usage by powering Activity Monitor on the Mac or Task Manager in Windows to detect which programs are data drains, or if there are any startup programs you can temporarily switch off.
Tip #7: Have a backup handy
Even the most dependable devices can occasionally let you down. To avoid glitches that can sideline audio and video meetings, try to have a tablet or even a smartphone nearby in case you need to quickly switch to another device. Android Central makes a great case for having a second device on hand, even if you've never had a device problem in the past.4
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