Troubleshooting network issues

Computer networks form the basis of digital businesses. To ensure business continuity, the IT infrastructures behind these networks need to be monitored and managed night and day. IT admins often run into problems while managing IT infrastructure, a key part of their work. An even more important part is troubleshooting network issues. While reading further, we will discuss: 

What is network troubleshooting?

Network troubleshooting is the systematic process of identifying, analyzing and resolving network issues. In other words, troubleshooting network issues refers to rectifying problems related to connectivity, security, performance and other aspects of networks. Network troubleshooting is essential to reduce MTTR, restore network uptime and regularize network operations.

Network troubleshooting basics

Types of network issues

Network issues range from device or service unavailability to slow response time, poor server health, and subpar network performance. The issues arising in a network can be extensive, so we’ve grouped network issues into four categories based on their origin. Based on the category, suitable network troubleshooting techniques can be employed.

Hardware issues

Hardware unavailability and performance issues due to physical connections and hardware load.

Software issues

Service unavailability, process unavailability, OS issues, and slow service response time.

Bandwidth issues

Unstable WAN links, and poor VoIP calls due to jitter, latency, and packet loss.

Configuration issues

Hardware failure due to misconfiguration.

If a systematic process isn't followed during troubleshooting, it can often do more harm than good. Network troubleshooting problems can then overwhelm you on top of the existing issues. Troubleshooting network issues is much easier when you can identify the source of the issue and follow up based on some set guidelines.

How to troubleshoot network issues?

IT admins need to be prepared to handle network issues and reduce their mean time to repair (MTTR). To achieve a lower MTTR, you should have a clear understanding of network issues. The four-step method discussed below can help you better understand underlying network issues, prevent network troubleshooting issues and maintain a five-nines network.

Step 1: Identify the network issue.

Step 2: Gather information and track the root cause.

Step 3: Troubleshoot the issue.

Step 4: Document the issue, the process and the network troubleshooting solutions.

By following the routine above, you can clearly understand network issues and teach other network technicians about possible network pitfalls and the necessary troubleshooting steps. However, the real challenge is identifying and troubleshooting network problems before end users are affected.

OpManager: Diagnose and troubleshoot network issues faster than before

ManageEngine OpManager is comprehensive network monitoring and network troubleshooting software. It helps you diagnose network issues in switches, routers, servers, and storage devices for availability, health, and performance. OpManager also monitors response time, services, processes, and other hardware metrics, along with packet loss monitoring. By providing real-time insights into your network, OpManager helps you identify and troubleshoot network issues before end users are impacted.

Common causes of network problems and how to fix them with OpManager

Network admins commonly have to troubleshoot network problems involving:

The underlying causes of these network issues, as well as their solutions, are discussed below.

1. Slow internal network speeds

  1. Jammed requests: A large number of requests at the same time causes slow network speeds. This can be fixed by adding more bandwidth to your network, usually by renegotiating with your ISP.
  2. Multimedia streaming: Streaming or downloading large files over extended periods causes a network slowdown, affecting other critical business functions. You can block media streaming sites behind the firewall. Apart from blocking such sites, you can identify the top talkers via OpManager.
  3. Outdated hardware: Outdated hardware has a severe impact on network speed. Using OpManager, you can continuously monitor network devices and identify hardware with high CPU and RAM utilization over extended periods. Once identified, upgrade the hardware after weighing current and future requirements.
  4. Switching loop: A switching loop occurs when there are multiple connections between two switches in a network or when two ports in the same switch are connected. This floods the network with broadcasts and increases the time it takes to reach the destination. Using OpManager, you can monitor individual switch ports, proactively detect broadcast storms, and resolve looping issues faster.

2. Poor WAN and VoIP performance

    1. Latency: Latency is the time between a request and its corresponding response. When latency is higher, the response time for requests increases and the end-user experience is greatly affected. OpManager's WAN RTT monitor lets you configure thresholds for round trip time and instantly notifies you when a threshold is breached.
    2. Jitter and packet loss: Jitter is the result of asymmetric data packet transmission. It makes audio and video calls choppy. Packet loss in a network is usually due to network congestion. One to 2.5 percent packet loss is acceptable; anything above that will result in dropped calls. Using OpManager, you can set thresholds and receive real-time alerts on jitter and packet loss.
    3. Mean opinion score (MOS): The MOS is a collective measurement of call quality. It’s calculated based on parameters such as latency, jitter, and packet loss. It ranges from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). Using OpManager, you can set a lower limit for MOS and get alerted when the call quality drops beyond the set limit. This helps you immediately look into network congestion and improve call quality.

Troubleshoot Network Issues - ManageEngine OpManager

3. Slow application or server response time

Slow network speeds and poor WAN performance mostly affect the internal team, but the repercussions of slow response time for an application or application server can be disastrous. Slow response time not only impacts your revenue and reputation but also ends in legal disputes, as you might have a QoS agreement with your clients.

  1. Increased server load:Increased load on your application servers might cause high CPU and RAM utilization, making the server incapable of handling all incoming requests. Naturally, the response time increases, affecting customers. Using OpManager, you can set thresholds for identifying server performance issues early and get instant alerts on server performance problems.

    Troubleshooting Network Issues - ManageEngine OpManager

  2. Services:Some applications or application servers require certain services to be running in the background for successful request handling. When these services are no longer available, the applications might fail to respond to requests. Using OpManager, you can monitor services that are critical for the hosted applications, and get alerted in real time when any of the services are unavailable.

    Troubleshooting Network Problems - ManageEngine OpManager

  3. Server processes:Some processes running in the application server might consume more RAM and CPU, causing slow response time. Also, processes might be listening to important ports that applications need. This blocks the applications from listening to critical ports, causing slow response time and application failure. This network issue can be addressed with OpManager by proactively monitoring server processes. Apart from monitoring, you can also use OpManagerto remotely stop processes in any server.

    Network Troubleshooting Issues - ManageEngine OpManager

How to troubleshoot network issues with ManageEngine OpManager?

You can see how important it is to identify network issues for faster troubleshooting. OpManager is one such tool that helps you with identifying and troubleshooting networking problems. For example, when OpManager alerts you of an application server's CPU utilization, you can:

  1. Immediately locate the application server.
  2. Analyze the CPU utilization spike.
  3. Track the processes responsible for the CPU utilization spike.
  4. Remotely kill the processes.

OpManager saves you ample time and resources when troubleshooting network issues, all while giving you peace of mind. With OpManager, you can also generate systematic reports on multiple aspects of your network, which helps you understand network performance.

Troubleshooting toolkits within OpManager

OpManager also has handy built-in tools for troubleshooting network issues. These network troubleshooting tools include simple command-line-based troubleshooting utilities that allow for a systematic, efficient approach to network troubleshooting. Some of these network troubleshoot tools are:

  • Ping
  • Traceroute
  • SNMP Ping
  • DNS Resolver
  • DHCP Scope Monitor
  • WMI Query Tool
  • CLI Query Tool
  • SNMP Tool
  • Cisco Tools

Whether it's a critical application server issue or a harmless network blip, OpManager has got you covered. Troubleshooting networking issues have never been easier, download OpManager today!

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