5 most common network problems and how to fix themNovember 14, 2017
Networks have been indispensable in improving business productivity and communications, keeping devices (and the people who use them) connected with each other, even over great distances.
However, managing a network is difficult—even for experienced IT professionals. Since they rely on so many different variables, all working functionally in unison, it’s easy for one small error to result in a system-wide issue.
Fortunately, most network problems can be easily resolved—so long as you’re able to identify the root causes for those network problems. So what are the most common network problems that arise, and how can you address them?
Is This a “Real” Network Problem?
First, you’ll need to determine whether this is a “real” network problem, or whether it just appears to be a network problem. For example, if there’s a specific app that’s resulting in slow connections or errors, it could be a problem with the app itself—not the actual network.
The best way to determine the difference here is to use packet sniffing software to ferret out the main root of your problem. From there, you can use diagnostic tools or your own investigatory findings to figure out what’s really going on (and correct it).
The Most Common Problems
These are some of the most common problems you’re going to experience:
Slow internet. Slow internet is the bane of every worker’s existence. It could be caused by a number of problems. For example, your router may not be working properly, you may have too many devices attempting to access the internet at once, a specific app might be drawing too heavily on your total bandwidth, or your internet provider itself may be experiencing service delays. Unfortunately, the only way to address these potential issues is to investigate them and attempt to fix them, one by one, until you find the root of the problem.
A signal without a connection. Occasionally, you’ll see a signal from a router, but your device won’t be able to connect to the network. There are two potential causes for this; first, your device might be out of range of the router. Move the device close to the router, and see if you can connect then. If you still can’t connect, there’s probably a problem with the hardware. You may be able to replace the network card you’re using, or update the drivers associated with it, but in some cases, you’ll need to replace the hardware entirely.
Periodic outages. Few networks operate perfectly 100 percent of the time, but if you’re seeing periodic total outages—a complete inability for any devices to connect to the network—you have a problem that requires action. There are many root causes here, but you may be seeing a NetBIOS conflict (especially if you’re using an older system). If you disable WINS/NetBT name resolution, you may be able to clear things up. You could also try renaming computers and domains to resolve the issue.
IP conflicts. Windows usually makes sure that there’s only one IP address per device that has access to the network at any given time. In rare situations, however, two devices may end up with the same IP address; when this happens, one device will usually be “blocked,” which prevents the device from accessing protected files. To make matters worse, it can cause lag for all connected devices—not just the ones with the IP conflict. Avoiding this problem is relatively easy if you reconfigure your DHCP setup to exclude static IP addresses. This should reconfigure IP addresses so that all machines can access the network without issue.
VOIP quality issues. Issues with voice calls—including delays, interruptions, and quality issues—can be caused by many variables (including some of the ones listed above). However, you may be experiencing a network stutter. Install jitter buffers, which create small caches or packets of VOIP information, to ensure a smooth stream of information from one point to another. You could also install new playback codes—preferably ones with packet loss concealment as a main feature. While you’re at it, update your drivers.
Connections with limited access. If you have a connection with limited access, you’re likely receiving a Windows error message that’s caused by a technical glitch. Windows has released updates that should prevent the majority of these errors from occurring, but if you encounter this situation, your best bet is to do a hard reset of your network router and the device trying to connect to it.
These IT problems might give you a headache, but they shouldn’t last long if you know how to diagnose and resolve them. Keep your best IT professionals nearby, watch carefully for any interruptions in service, and keep tinkering until you can get things running again.