My Dental Software is Slow!
Is your Dental Management System running really slow? Are you waiting embarrassingly in front of your patients while the hour glass continues to flip over and over?
Dental offices have specialized computer needs. Mix your dental management software (Dentrix, Eaglesoft, Abeldent etc) with your digital imaging (Patterson Image, Dexis, Vixwin, etc) and you get a small number of workstations heavily utilizing a single server. While any computer company can struggle through setup and maintenance of your network takes a specialist to have you running at properly.
There are many reasons for a slowdown of your software; however there are a few golden rules which are mostly to blame. Not all offices are setup the same way and can be affected by one more of these common problems.
1) Anti-virus Software
It is suggested to run an up-to-date anti-virus on every computer in your office. But they are not all made the same. First off, stay away from the home versions of anti-virus software. These include Norton 360 and McAfee Total Protection. You'll also want to stay away from full Internet Security packages. These are great for standalone computer systems, but play havoc on networked computers. It is recommend using the Enterprise versions those companies such as Symantec and McAfee have available. Another product which works well in dental offices is AVG Network Edition.
An anti-virus configured improperly can also cause a major slow down. Be sure to configure your anti-virus to NOT scan your mapped network drives. This is extremely important for the use of digital imaging programs. Check every workstation! Even a couple of workstations scanning network files can have a noticeable affect everywhere. Look for the Exclusion setting within your anti-virus.
You'll also want to check for scheduled daily scans. These are scans that will check every file on the computer for a virus. The scan should be scheduled for a time your office is closed.
2) Overused Server
A common mistake is to use your server as a workstation. Although this works, it's highly not recommended. A server should have one function; be a server! Do not use it for email, web browsing, and image editing.
If you use a server as a workstation you're more likely to have it infected with a virus or malware. With the low cost of computer equipment it's not worth risking hours of downtime by allowing your staff to use the server as their personal home computer.
3) Multiple switches in the network
As offices grow they'll add computers to their network. It is all too common to daisy-chain their network switches. For the best performance possible only one switch should be used. So purchase a larger switch to accompany all of your workstation. This may also be a good time to upgrade from a 100Mb switch to a 1 GB switch.
4) Continuous Backup Software
Majority of backup software is scheduled to run once a day when the office is closed. However, there is some software that use a method called continuous data protection (CDP). The software continuously monitors your data for any changes. Once a change is made it'll take a copy of it. Not bad for files that are not changed very often. But your files can have thousands of changes performed over a regular day. Not only is this dangerous as it can cause data corruption, but it can also slow down your system.
Diagnosing a slow network can take a fair bit of time, even from an experienced technician. There are however a few main areas you can focus on to narrow down your problems.
First is to monitor your server while the office is in full swing. Open your task manager on your server and just watch for spikes in resource usage. If the server is under a fair bit of load you may want to look into upgrading or replacing it. You'll also want to check how much hard drive space you have left. Anything less than 20% can cause you issues.
Next is to check each workstation. Start at the stations with the most complaints. Again start the task manager to watch for excessive resource usage. Older systems may have become cluttered with excess software and junk. Perform a tune-up to clean off any unnecessary software. A few slow computers can affect the other ones by extending software load times and thus occupying the server for longer.
Slow dental software (Dentrix, Eaglesoft, Abeldent, and Tracker) can be a thing of the past. By checking the common areas of concern, performing general maintenance, and following the golden rules of a network, you're computers will continue to run smoothly.