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Bandwidth Requirements for Hosted Desktops: Lower Than You Think

In most cases, you will only need about 100 kbps of bandwidth to able to access and use your hosted desktop. Most internet connections these days are at least 2 Mbps, so you should be able to access your hosted desktop from almost any internet access point (including cable, DSL, and 4G mobile connections).

Bandwidth is the measurement of the speed of your internet connection. The average internet speed in the US is 18.2 megabits per second (Mbps) according to the Washington Post, and the average speed of a 4G mobile connection is between five and 10 Mbps. To give an example of bandwidth requirements, to watch a movie on Netflix you need at least a .5 Mbps (or 500 kilobits per second, kbps) connection, and to watch a movie on Netflix at the highest quality setting (1080p high definition) you’ll need at least a 3 Mbps connection.

The bandwidth you’ll need to be able to access a hosted desktop may depend on what you’re using the hosted desktop for. If you’re using the hosted desktop to access basic business productivity applications like Microsoft Office or Intuit QuickBooks, you’ll probably only need a connection of about 100 kbps.

You’re going to need more bandwidth than 100 kbps, though, if you’re watching standard or high definition videos or accessing graphics-intensive applications like AutoCAD or Adobe Photoshop. Your bandwidth requirements will probably be in the 200-500 kbps range if you’re watching a standard definition video, and 2 Mbps or more if you’re watching a high definition video or using a graphics-intensive application. You may also have to set aside some extra bandwidth for occasions when a higher-than-normal amount of bandwidth is required, such as when employees are all watching a training video at the same time.

The bottom line is that if you are connecting to the internet via a broadband (cable or DSL) connection and you are only using the hosted desktop to access basic business productivity applications and the occasional standard definition video, you should have plenty of bandwidth to access your hosted desktop without running into connection or performance problems. Most business-grade internet connections are at least 10 Mbps, and the lowest cable and DSL speed that most internet service providers offer for the home is 2 Mbps. Most businesses should therefore be able to support at least 50 hosted desktop users on a basic 10 Mbps connection, and most employees should be able to access their hosted desktop from home without a problem.

However, if you’re running a business that has users that will need near-constant access to high definition video (a video production team at an advertising agency, for example) or graphics-intensive applications (employees at engineering companies that do most of their work with 3D modeling software), a basic broadband connection may not be enough. If you’re one of these businesses, you will probably want to get an estimate of your bandwidth requirements from a hosted desktop provider to find out if your current internet connection will be sufficient or if you will need to upgrade to a higher speed connection.

The bandwidth requirement of an average hosted desktop is only 100 kbps because the only data that is transferred to your device when you are using it is the video and audio output of the desktop. The hosted desktop itself isn’t streamed to your device; it remains on the hosting company’s servers at all times. It’s also technically possible to access videos and graphics-intensive applications on a hosted desktop from a connection capped at 100 kbps, but the visual quality of these videos and applications would be so low that they likely wouldn’t be of any use.