by Frank Wright, Service Manager
It’s amazing how easily network problems can turn into a huge headache for businesses and home users. If you don’t have guidance when purchasing equipment, or don’t know how to properly maintain and troubleshoot issues, you could be down for hours or days.
While network problems and questions are very common, there really are simple solutions to them. This month we’ll take a look at the most common network problems and how we generally resolve them.
The first question we regularly hear, most often from home users, is “How do I know what kind of equipment to purchase?”
That isn’t that hard of a question. Generally, with network equipment, it comes down to the old saying “You get what you pay for.”
When you buy networking equipment, whether it’s a switch to expand the number of available connections on your network, or a router, don’t buy the lowest priced one you can find.
There’s a reason one piece of equipment is more expensive than another. Generally, the price difference means drastic differences in the speed of the unit, number of available ports, range, and in some cases security features.
So, when buying network equipment, don’t scrimp – you’ll end up with a slow network lacking in features.
Even when you have good equipment in place you can still run into network problems. The most common issue on a network tends to be a malfunctioning device.
It is normally much less expensive to try replacing a device as a first step to resolving a problem than it would be to have a tech go around and test every device on the network.
For example, if your network is having issues with slower than normal connections, high latency, etc. it is entirely possible that your switch or router has begun to fail.
With consumer grade network equipment, routers and switches can fail as much as once per year depending on the quality of the device and how well you’ve protected it from power surges.
If you’ve replaced your router and/or switch, and you continue to have high latency and strange issues, the next step is to check your network cables.
The cables you’ve been moving around over the years and putting stress on may have faults that are causing problems.
At this point, a tech would need to go through and test the cabling to make sure there are no issues with them.
A cable that is either wired improperly or is starting to fail can cause problems that will affect a network in many ways.
Sometimes, depending on the severity of the fault, it can cause intermittent failures resulting in spotty connections. If a cable fails altogether it can prevent a user from being able to connect to the network entirely.
Once all of the cabling issues are straightened out and we know our devices are good, you may still have a computer acting up on the network.
In that case, it is possible that the network interface card (NIC) is failing. Sometimes this can be a hardware problem where the NIC fails, but sometimes it is possible that the software on your computer is causing problems with it.
For instance, a NIC takes drivers for the operating system to allow it to communicate on the network. If you have the wrong driver installed, or the driver is corrupt, it can cause a lot of network problems.
Another possibility is a virus or other malicious software installed on the computer.
Depending on what the virus is designed to do it could be causing the problem with your computer’s ability to connect to the Internet.
Depending on the severity of the infection and what it was designed to do, it is possible that a virus could cause the entire network to run slowly.
What it all comes down to is that it is really best to have a professional diagnose network issues and work with you directly when trying to get equipment for your network.
With the number of variables involved, if you don’t deal with networking on a regular basis it’s fairly easy to be confused.
Feel free to contact us anytime for advice on network upgrades and help diagnosing problems with your network, firewall, switches or routers.