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. Let’s discuss some common problems encountered in a network and how to troubleshoot them.

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.

  1. Hardware issues: Hardware unavailability and performance issues due to physical connections and hardware load
  2. Software issues: Service unavailability, process unavailability, OS issues, and slow service response time
  3. Bandwidth issues: Unstable WAN links, and poor VoIP calls due to jitter, latency, and packet loss
  4. Configuration issues: Hardware failure due to misconfiguration

Troubleshooting network issue become easier when you identify the source of the issue.

Network troubleshooting basics

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 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 and the troubleshooting process.

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 network issues before end users are affected.

OpManager: Network issue identification and troubleshooting software

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

Network issues and troubleshooting tips

Some of the common network issues faced by network admins are:

Troubleshooting network problems

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.
  4. Troubleshooting 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.

    Troubleshoot 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.

    Network Troubleshooting Issues - 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 OpManager to remotely stop processes in any server.

    Troubleshooting Network Problems - 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 identify network faults. 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 the tools for troubleshooting network issues include:

  • 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 network blip, OpManager's got you covered. Download OpManager now and keep network issues at bay.

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