Office 365 Slow? Fixing Performance Issues in Office 365

Have performance issues with Office 365 got you in a tizzy? Are slow response times in your email and calendar causing you to lose valuable time…and maybe even customers? And can your customers even access the beautiful sites you’ve created on SharePoint? Before you make a panicked call to support, check out some of the most common issues and simple ways to troubleshoot problems in Microsoft’s cloud-based suite.


Can Office 365 Slow Down Your Network Speed?

Because cloud application data traffic has to compete with a broad spectrum of consumer traffic (specifically, high-volume traffic from ecommerce sites and video), it requires a significant increase in bandwidth to run productively and efficiently. There are some network resource requirements needed to achieve optimal performance. Bandwidth and latency are two major factors in network performance. 

Office 365 slow downs are also often plagued by network issues because it opens more and longer-lasting network connections, which can sometimes overwhelm a firewall infrastructure designed for shorter browsing sessions. While you may not have much control over network performance, the first thing you should to is determine if your speed issues are in fact cause by the network:

  • Check to see that your device is running well. In particular, run a scan for malware to ensure that there are no hidden bugs that are slowing down your system. 
  • See if you can upgrade or increase your device memory. 

If those steps significantly increased your speed, then the issue was most likely your device. If your device appears to be working well, here are a few things you can do to address network issues:

  • Check your internet connection. Sometimes the issues with Office 365 slow downs are due to unreliable connections or internet congestion. Determine whether your internet service provider is delivering the best they can offer to ensure that you can run cloud platforms with ease.
  • For browser speed issues, keep your browser open and don’t use multiple windows if possible. Work from a few tabs and try to avoid frequently opening and closing new ones. Make sure that the browser you are using is most compatible with Office 365 and run any new updates promptly. 
  • Disable any unnecessary browser add-ons or plug-ins, and increase the cache size for temporary internet files. Turning on Cached Mode can speed up Outlook if it is responding sluggishly.
  • Upgrade your firewall to one that is optimized for use with SaaS (Software as a Service) so that Office 365 will be protected and secure, run efficiently, and not have performance issues due to an interference from a sub-par firewall.

Microsoft has a handy list of incremental steps for optimization, perfect for small businesses that may not have the infrastructure, time, or finances to implement these changes at once. These steps all address latency and connectivity through methods that can stand alone but also be built upon incrementally to improve performance over time.

Computer with Office 365 slow

Office 365 Slow Down Your Outlook Performance

Are you experiencing decreased performance or slow load times in your email folders, particularly your Inbox, Sent, Deleted, or Junk folders?  Is a shared mailbox or account having issues with synchronization? Or is your Calendar performing inconsistently or not reflecting recent updates within shared calendars?

This can happen when you have folders that exceed the limit number of items per folder, or if you have too many folders altogether. This can be resolved within a few ways:

  • Apply a Retention Policy on your Calendar folder to delete items within a certain parameter, say, items that have not been modified within a certain amount of time. This will save space without deleting any important or recurring items, if you set the parameters carefully. 
  • Go into the Sync Windows Setting and adjust the number of months that data is synced for shared calendars.
  • Enable the Online Archive Mailbox and archive emails there to save space.

You can, of course, go through your folders one by one and see if anything is redundant or can be deleted or consolidated in fewer folders. You should also make time to automate or regularly empty your junk and spam folders. But we recommend going through the three prior automation steps to ensure that you address those issues before doing this last manual step as it will save time and allow you to work far more efficiently.


SharePoint Issues and Office 365 Slow Down

Luckily, SharePoint does have a free diagnostic tool for performance troubleshooting. This can save a lot of time and trouble, and is available through a free Chrome extension provided by Microsoft. The diagnostics tests can quickly identify factors that impact performance, such as large images, web parts that load slowly, page size and heavy elements, and the number of share requests submitted. 

Other steps you can take to optimize performance in SharePoint are:

  • Only use Modern SharePoint Mode, the Classic SharePoint is a legacy solution and significantly underperforms compared to the modern model.
  • Remember that high-res pictures can be very heavy and affect load time. While you of course want to use high-quality pictures for maximum impact, consider the size of screen that you’ll be displaying SharePoint on and see if a slightly lower-res, compressed, or resized photo will allow SharePoint to perform better without reducing the quality of your website.
  • Avoid using too many web parts on a single page, which will cause your site to slow down significantly. Consider moving some components to different pages. You can test out sites with five or ten web parts to see at what point performance begins to nosedive and use that number as a benchmark for future pages. You should also limit the number of iFrames to display external content. You should use three or less iFrame based web parts for optimum performance, as any more than that and you’ll risk significantly slowing down your SharePoint page.

Microsoft 365 is a fantastic cloud-based tool for small businesses, but there can be a steep learning curve for a company new to the cloud. Tech Masters offers several services that can support your transition to cloud-based systems. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about our 9-area evaluation process and our recommendations for the best value improvements for your small business.


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