• Network Diagnostics and Troubleshooting

The Best Network Troubleshooting & Diagnostics Tools

Best Network Diagnostics & Troubleshooting Tools

Network troubleshooting and diagnostic tools help network administrators and technicians identify and resolve issues.

These tools are designed to analyze network performance, identify problems, and provide insights into the functioning of the network.

Network analysis can show you the leading causes of network problems such as; slow speeds, network connection problems, packet loss on overloaded network devices or missing information in your routing table and other system databases.

Here’s our list of the best network diagnostic tools and troubleshooting software:

  • Datadog Network Performance Monitoring EDITOR’S CHOICE A cloud-based network monitoring and management service that includes autodiscovery, topology mapping, performance alerts, and troubleshooting tools Start a 15-day free trial .
  • SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (FREE TRIAL) An essential system security and administration tool that automatically checks on device settings. The NCM will gather all device configurations, allow the creation of standard settings, and ensure that any unauthorized changes are immediately rolled back. Start a 30-day free trial .
  • N-able N-sight (FREE TRIAL) A remote monitoring and management tool that enables central IT departments to manage networks on several remote sites. Get access to a 30-day free trial .
  • ManageEngine OpManager Plus (FREE TRIAL) This bundle of seven ManageEngine tools provides full network monitoring and analysis capabilities. Installs on Windows Server and Linux. Start a 30-day free trial .
  • Site24x7 Network Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based service that monitors network devices, tracks traffic patterns, provides capacity planning support, and offers troubleshooting tools. Start a 30-day free trial .
  • Paessler Network Troubleshooting with PRTG Infrastructure management system that includes port monitoring.
  • Ping Simple command-line utility that checks on the speed of connections.
  • Tracert Free command-line utility that lists the probable hops to a network or internet destination address.
  • Ipconfig This command-line tool reports the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, subnets, and default gateways for all network adapters on a PC.
  • Netstat This tool displays active connections on your computer.
  • Nslookup Available for Windows, Unix, Linux, and Mac OS, this tool gives you DNS server diagnostics.
  • Uptrends Uptime Monitor A free online tool that will make repeated checks on the availability of a website.
  • Sysinternals Set of Microsoft tools for Windows that help troubleshoot and configure Active Directory.
  • Wireshark Free packet sniffer that will help you analyze traffic flows.
  • Nmap Network security and monitoring tool that needs a companion utility, Zenmap, as a user interface.

The best network diagnostics tools & troubleshooting software

When curating this list, we considered the reliability of the tool in use in diverse situations, ease of setting up and use, documentation and support, and how up to date the diagnostic software is kept.

Our methodology for selecting a network diagnostic tool

We reviewed the market for network diagnostic tools and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:

  • A package of several useful tools accessible through a single interface
  • Methods to reconcile addressing issues with DHCP and DNS servers
  • Connection testing systems
  • A system of alerts that allow technicians to get on with other tasks if not notified of problems
  • Automated system sweeps or useful tests that can be launched on a schedule
  • A free tool or a trial period for risk-free assessment
  • Value for money from paid tools and worthwhile functions from free tools

Five of the tools in our list ( ping , tracert , ipconfig , netstat , & nslookup ) can be executed directly from a Windows command prompt (cmd.exe) without installing any additional programs for advanced troubleshooting. The rest of the network analysis tools can be used alone or in combination for network discovery.

1. Datadog Network Performance Monitoring (FREE TRIAL)

Datadog Network Monitor - Network view

Datadog is a cloud-based monitoring system for IT resources that is available as a menu of modules. The base package of the service is an Infrastructure module that covers network monitoring. However, this service can be enhanced by adding on the Network Performance Monitoring module.

Key Features:

  • Drill down into network flows and traces
  • Locates traffic hogs
  • Can monitor containers, pods, and deployments
  • Great visualization and mapping

Why do we recommend it?

Datadog Network Performance Monitoring is a SaaS package that provides device discovery, network mapping, and traffic analysis. This tool can be slotted together with a Network Device Monitoring service to get full, automated network monitoring. Infrastructure and application monitoring tools on the platform provide the opportunity to create a full-stack monitoring system.

The Network Performance Monitoring module of Datadog adds on analytical functions to the Infrastructure package and includes capacity planning and troubleshooting utilities. While the Infrastructure module looks at device statuses, the Network Performance Monitoring service examines traffic flows .

The Datadog system uses agent software on-site, but all processing and data storage is implemented on the Datadog server. Systems administrators access the Network Performance Monitoring console through any browser in order to see live statistics on current traffic flows on the network. Given that the service is based in the cloud, it can easily monitor remote networks, just as long as that network has the agent module installed on it.

DataDog Network Performance Monitor

The service doesn’t just display live network traffic data. It also stores that information for analysis . Administrators can trace the journey of a packet, view conversations between endpoints, segment traffic statistics per application or per origin or source, and identify the major bandwidth hogs on the network. The service can unify both onsite, cloud-based, and remote networks to give a complete picture of all network traffic generated by the business. The tool includes live network maps with traffic flows shown on them and it is also possible to see overloaded links or bottlenecks.

Who is it recommended for?

Datadog Network Monitoring is reasonably priced and so accessible to any business. The service is charged for by subscription and there is no setup fee. Charges are levied per host, so even the smallest business will be able to afford this package.

  • Operates in the cloud, making scaling your troubleshooting efforts easier than most on-premise solutions
  • Offers excellent visual reporting that are fully customizable
  • Agent software can be installed on multiple operating systems as well as in the cloud to monitor container-based services
  • Live data can be stored for later view, or forwarded to other systems such as a SIEM
  • Pricing options are flexible, making DataDog a good choice for both small and large size networks
  • Platform offers infrastructure, network, and application monitoring services, making this a feature-rich option that may take time to fully explore

Datadog has a single plan level for its Network Performance Monitoring module. Charges are levied per host per month with a discount for paying annually in advance. The service is available for a 15-day free trial .

EDITOR'S CHOICE

Datadog Network Performance Monitoring is our top pick for a network diagnostic and troubleshooting tool because it includes a lot of automated activity tracking that takes care of performance analysis for you. The system maps all devices and shows live statuses in the topology layout so you can instantly see where problems are arising. A system of alerts also draws your attention to problematic devices and cuts down the time it would otherwise take you to work out why the network is not operating at peak performance.

Download: Get 15-day FREE Trial

Official Site: www.datadoghq.com/free-datadog-trial/

OS: Cloud-based

2. SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager

The SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager offers the opportunity to automate system troubleshooting and problem resolution. Busy systems managers often overlook the settings of network devices. The network could be performing badly because you don’t have all of the settings of your devices coordinated. The Network Configuration Manager saves you time by seeking out all devices, the network device health, importing their settings into a central manager, and allowing you to create a standard configuration for each device type and make .

  • Standardizes configurations
  • Backs up configurations
  • Rolls back unauthorized setup changes
  • Spots intruder activity

SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager scans a network and identifies all devices. It then enables the network manager to create a standard setup for each type of device and then roll that out. Those authorized configurations are stored by the Network Configuration Manager and then the tool performs constant checks on devices. If any changes occur to settings, the system automatically restores the standard configuration by applying the stored image.

The configuration manager rolls out the standard configurations that you write into the central dashboard. This standardization should fix a lot of the problems that you experience on your network because it will wipe out inappropriate settings for network devices, such as routers and switches that might be slowing down data transfers. Once the standard configurations have been stored, they can only be changed through the password-protected dashboard of the Network Configuration Manager.

This system configuration troubleshooter is an important security tool. Unauthorized intruders can be traced or blocked through the network devices of the network , so altering settings is a common intrusion strategy. The Network Configuration Manager constantly monitors the configurations of all network devices and automatically restores the authorized settings, stored as images, should any change be detected.

Solarwinds Network Configuration Manager

SolarWinds produces a range of IT whole infrastructure monitoring and network management tools, and many of these are created on a common platform, called Orion. This makes it possible for the independent tools to interact, and the Network Configuration Manager is one of these Orion-based utilities. The central network monitoring tool in the suite is the Network Performance Monitor and this is usually the lead utility in any monitoring system, which is complemented by the Network Configuration Manager. However, SolarWinds NCM can also be used as a standalone tool.

This is an on-premises package for Windows Server. There isn’t a scaled down version for small businesses. So, the Network Configuration Manager would be suitable for larger businesses.

  • Built for medium to enterprise size networks, with features designed to streamline troubleshooting and improve TTR and overall productivity
  • Can automatically discover new devices on the network and provide templated health reports for immediate insights upon installation
  • Offers configuration management, allowing teams to quickly backup and restore changes that may have impacted performance
  • Can monitor settings for unauthorized changes and specific teams or managers
  • Offers a customizable dashboard that has a host of different options for visualizing network performance
  • Not designed for home networks, this is an enterprise tool built for system administrators and network technicians

The Network Configuration Manager is a paid tool. However, SolarWinds makes it available on a 30-day free trial .

SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager Start 30-day FREE Trial

The Network Configuration Manager is also part of a super-bundle offered by SolarWinds, called the Network Automation Manager . It includes all of the provider’s network monitoring and management tools. The other modules in the bundle are Network Performance Monitor, Netflow Traffic Analyzer, User Device Tracker, VoIP & Network Quality Manager, IP Address Manager, and SolarWinds High Availability. All of these systems appear in a single console that runs on Windows Server . SolarWinds provides a 30-day free trial of this package.

SolarWinds Network Administration Manager Start a 30-day FREE Trial

3. N-able N-sight (FREE TRIAL)

N-able N-sight

N-able N-sight is a cloud-based remote monitoring and management software package. As this system monitors the network, it also stores metrics for analysis. Having access to all aspects of a system, including endpoints and servers, N-able has many channels of data for diagnostics and troubleshooting.

  • Data retention for analysis
  • LOGICcard advice
  • 30-day free trial

N-able N-sight is a cloud-based service that provides remote monitoring systems for networks, servers, and applications. This service includes a troubleshooting guide that identifies security problems and other issues with networks, endpoints, and software.

Among the benefits offered by N-able N-sight is a service called LOGICcards . This is a data source for a wide range of diagnostic projects. The main value of these feeds lies in security. However, they also give insights into how to improve efficiency and avoid system management mistakes.

LOGICcards gathers data from 5,000,000 endpoints on 4,000,000 networks. Comparing the data extracted from these studies, the LOGICcard system analyzes a network and is able to point out factors and settings that are missing from that system, compared to the organization of the majority of other networks.

Another LOGICcard service is a feed of warnings to look out for, such as patches that cause problems and should be held off or new internet-based scams. A guidance aspect to this service also identifies errors to avoid in network configuration and tips on how to optimize bandwidth usage. Furthermore, the topics covered by a LOGICcard feed adapt according to your responses to past advice.

The dashboard for N-able N-sight is resident on the cloud. It doesn’t require any special equipment to use the service – any standard web browser will do and there is also a N-able N-sight mobile app available.

N-able N-Sight Network Troubleshooting

The N-able brand produces tools for managed service providers (MSPs). The company has two remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools and N-able is one of those. N-able is marketed as a suitable package for small and mid-sized MSPs.

  • Cloud-based RMM solution, great cloud alternative to Network Configuration Manager
  • Leverages LOGIcards to find security and performance issues in any size or configuration of network
  • Accessible from any web browser and available via mobile app
  • Aims to provide a complete RMM solution and integrates well with their other MSP focused offerings
  • Flexible subscription-based pricing
  • Designed for larger networks, specifically managed service providers

N-able N-sight is a subscription service. This is a great attraction for startups because there are no upfront costs for getting set up. There are no setup fees and there is no need to fork out for a software package Instead, the subscribing company pays a little each month. Interested potential customers can access a 30-day free trial of N-able N-sight.

N-able N-sight Start 30-day FREE Trial

4. ManageEngine OpManager Plus (FREE TRIAL)

ManageEngine OpManager Plus Business View

ManageEngine OpManager Plus gives you all the tools you need to monitor networks and servers. These tasks are complex and could involve tracking the statuses of containers, virtualization, file storage servers, firewalls, and IP address-related issues. OpManager Plus takes care of all of those tasks and also adds on an application performance monitor to provide the full stack of IT services.

  • Traffic analysis
  • Device monitoring
  • Configuration management

ManageEngine OpManager Plus combines automated monitoring for networks and servers. The tool is also a good choice for its VM monitoring capabilities. Troubleshooting tools in the software include troubleshooting tools, such as NetFlow and other packet data extraction protocols.

The OpManager Plus system gives you the tools to scrutinize and manage network devices. The system automatically detects all devices connected to the network, logs them, and then maps the network . The system then provides constant performance monitoring through SNMP .

You also get a bandwidth analyzer with this bundle. You can see live throughput statistics per link and get the system to assess utilization of full capacity. Performance thresholds will generate alerts if tripped. You can channel these through email, SMS, or a service desk ticketing system. The package lets you run tests to ensure constant system availability.

Device management services include an IP address manager that integrates a DHCP and DNS server. You also get a switch port mapper so that you can see exactly how many ports are occupied on each device. A configuration manager lets you standardize the settings of all of your devices, restoring stored configurations automatically in the case of unauthorized tampering.

ManageEngine OpManager Plus Network Troubleshooting

There are five editions for OpManager Plus and these include a Free edition. This monitors networks with only three devices, which could only be for the very smallest businesses. Large organizations and multi-site businesses would benefit from the OpManager Plus system. There is also an edition built for MSPs.

  • Network device monitoring and management
  • Server and application monitoring and root cause analysis
  • Traffic analysis with Netflow, sFlow, jFlow, IPFIX, NetStream, and AppFlow
  • Network traffic management with Cisco NBAR and CBQoS
  • Manage virtual systems, wireless networks, and multiple sites
  • This is a very large package and you might not need all of its modules

The software for ManageEngine OpManager Plus installs on Windows Server or Linux . The bundle offers a lot of services and so you will spend a lot of time learning all of its functions. You can perform that investigation for free with a 30-day free trial .

ManageEngine OpManager Plus Start a 30-day FREE Trial

See also: Network Configuration & Backup Tools

5. Site24x7 Network Monitoring (FREE TRIAL)

infra-maps-link-monitors

Site24x7 Network Monitoring discovers all of the devices on a network, creates a hardware inventory, and draws up a network topology map. The package implements continuous device performance monitoring and also records traffic patterns to guard against system overloads.

Key features:

  • Network discovery
  • Network inventory and map
  • Device fault detection

Site24x7 Network Monitoring uses the Simple Network Management Protocol to identify all devices and create a map. The inventory and map help with troubleshooting but the package goes further, offering alerts when problems are detected, allowing time to fix problems and identifying where the issue lies. The bundle also provides Ping and Traceroute utilities to test connections.

The device agents scan each switch and router and raise alarms when faults are discovered. These alarms get translated into alerts in the Site24x7 dashboard. A traffic monitoring unit in the Site24x7 package will also generate alerts if traffic volumes rise close to the full capacity of a switch interface. The Site24x7 system can be set up to forward alerts as notifications to technicians by SMS, voice call, email, or Slack message.

site24x7 Network Monitor

The alerts of the Site24x7 Network Monitoring service provide immediate root cause analysis if network problems arise, so many times, there won’t be any need for troubleshooting. However, the package also includes Ping and Traceroute utilities.

Site24x7 offers SaaS packages and all of them include the network monitoring system. You can’t subscribe to just the Network Monitoring unit by itself. Other utilities in the plans include server and application monitoring systems and also network configuration management and log management.

The Site24x7 platform is accessible for any size of business. Plans are offered in a base package with capacity expansions available. The based package is sized and priced to be suitable for small businesses but the expansion upgrades make it suitable for larger companies as well.

  • Bundled in SaaS plans with server and application monitoring
  • Alerts for performance problems or traffic overloading
  • Ping and Traceroute for troubleshooting
  • No on-premises version

The Site24x7 plans offer different capacities of each module but all editions include all of the modules on the platform. There is even a plan for use by managed service providers. You can experience Site24x7 with a 30-day free trial .

Site24x7 Network Monitoring Start a 30-day FREE Trial

6. Paessler Network Troubleshooting with PRTG

Paessler Network Troubleshooting with PRTG

Paessler’s PRTG is a complete monitoring system. It can help you with troubleshooting because it can diagnose network issues right down the protocol stack and identify the root of the problem. Port monitoring is one of the network diagnostics techniques that you can use with this tool.

  • TCP port auditor
  • Port range checker

Paessler PRTG is a very large package of monitors that include network, server, and application monitors and has sensors for network troubleshooting including Ping implementations and a TraceRoute facility.

The PRTG system includes two port monitoring sensors . One homes in on a specified port on a particular device, the other will check a range of port numbers. This tool only monitors TCP ports. The port range sensor has one extra feature that the single port sensor does not have. You can set it to check the port with TLS protection. Both sensors report on the response time of the port and whether it is open or closed.

Paessler PRTG Network Monitor

PRTG includes network traffic analysis tools to help you troubleshoot delivery speeds. The tool includes a range of traffic monitoring techniques including route tracing to a destination with Traceroute and a Ping sweep , which will give you the response times to each node on your network. A packet-sniffing utility can tell you which applications and endpoints are producing excessive traffic and you can query the health of the network devices to see which are congested to the point of queuing.

Paessler built a tool that covers servers and applications as well as network statuses, port response times, and services to monitor all conditions that can cause software performance issues. If you’ve got VMs on your network, PRTG can sort through their underlying connections, services, servers, and operating software. That monitoring is constant, so you will be able to trace back through events to spot the source of any performance issues.

PRTG is a flexible package. All customers get the same software bundle containing thousands of monitoring tools, which are called “sensors.” Each buyer decides how many sensors to turn on and the price for the package is levied as an allowance of sensors. This is a good package for large businesses and small companies can use the system for free if they only turn on 100 sensors.

  • Built for professionals and enterprise use
  • Offers monitoring templates for quick insights into network and device performance
  • Can check device health through a series of checks such as ICMP and ping
  • Makes great use of visualizations to map out more complex wireless networks
  • Pricing is based on utilization, making it a predictable and scalable option for any size network
  • Offers a wide range of monitoring options, requiring time to fully utilize all features

Paessler delivers PRTG as a cloud service or you can install the diagnostic software on your premises. The tool installs on Windows Server environments. You can use the system for free for up to 100 sensors.

Ping is the ideal command to use when you need to confirm network connectivity, at the IP level, between two hosts, or to confirm the TCP/IP stack is working on your local machine. A successful ping confirms network connectivity between the two hosts and it also gives reports on packet loss.

  • Widely used
  • Connection error detection
  • Free to use

Ping is built into every operating system and it is the basis of many of the network monitoring and troubleshooting systems on this list. The utility can tell you the time a packet takes to get to a specific destination across a network or across the internet. It will also give you information on jitter and packet loss.

Using Ping with Examples

Below is an example of a successful run of the ping command to the “google.com” remote host.

In addition to confirming IP connectivity to “google.com”, these results confirm that we are able to properly resolve domain names (i.e. DNS is working on the local machine).

That Loss figure that you see in the last line of the ping output is the number of lost packets followed by the packet loss rate in brackets.

A few pro-tips for working with the ping command for advanced troubleshooting:

  • Use ping –t to ping a host continuously. For example:

would continue to ping google.com until the ping was interrupted. Press control-c (the “CTRL” and “C” keys) to end a continuous ping.

  • If you cannot ping domain names like google.com, but you can ping IP addresses on the Internet like 8.8.8.8 (Google’s DNS servers), you may have a DNS-related problem.
  • If you cannot ping IP addresses on the Internet like 8.8.8.8, but you can ping hosts on your Local Area Network (LAN), you may have a problem with your default gateway.
  • You can use “ping localhost”, “ping::1”, or “ping 127.0.0.1” to test the TCP/IP stack on your local machine. “localhost” is a name that resolves to one of the loopback addresses of a local machine, “::1” is an IPv6 loopback address, and “127.0.0.1” is an IPv4 loopback address.

Ping is a part of every network engineer’s toolkit. It is free to use and provides quick answers.

  • Built directly into Windows command prompt
  • Easy to use, simple syntax
  • Can quickly identify if there is a problem with a device
  • Allows you to easily see if there are any network drops, latency issues, or jitter over the connection
  • Does not work if ICMP is turned off on your target device
  • No visualization features
  • Not a proactive form of monitoring
  • Limited output options for reporting

Tracert is similar to ping, except it leverages Time To Live (TTL) values to show how many “hops” there are between two hosts. This makes it a helpful tool in determining where a network connectivity breakdown is occurring. Basically, tracert helps you understand if the router or network that is down between your computer and a remote host is one you control or not.

  • Connection path trace
  • Spots overloaded links

Tracert is the Command Prompt implementation of TraceRoute and it provides a list of nodes across the internet to a given destination. While this can’t tell you the exact path that previous transmissions have taken, it follows the path that routing algorithms currently use to reach a destination and shows the transmission times to each node.

Using tracert with examples

Again using google.com as an example, we can see there were 10 hops between our PC and google.com.

TraceRoute is available on all operating systems. While it is implemented by the tracert command on Windows, it is called traceroute on Linux, macOS, and Unix. The tool is free to use and accessible to all network managers.

  • Displays gateways that your traffic passes through
  • Can see if where a bottleneck occurs during the route
  • Does not provide any root cause analysis or features to aid technicians

9. Ipconfig

Determining the IP settings on your computer is an essential part of network troubleshooting. The ipconfig command helps you do just that. Entering ipconfig at a command prompt will return IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, subnets, and default gateways for all network adapters on a PC. This can help determine if your computer has the right IP configuration. Additionally, ipconfig can be used to change or update selected IP settings.

  • Lists interface statuses
  • Shows gateway address

Ipconfig is another widely-used free command line utility for troubleshooting networks. The tool shows the addressing information for each network interface on the computer. It will also show the gateway address and the address for the network’s DHCP and DNS servers.

Pro-tips for working with ipconfig:

  • If ipconfig returns an IP address that starts with 169.254 (e.g. 169.254.0.5), your PC is likely configured for DHCP but was unable to receive an IP address from a DHCP server.
  • Use ipconfig /all to get the full TCP/IP configuration information for all network adapters and interfaces.
  • Use ipconfig /release to release the current DHCP assigned network parameters.
  • Use ipconfig /renew to renew the current DHCP assigned network parameters.
  • Use ipconfig /flushdns to clear the DNS cache when troubleshooting name resolution issues.

Ipconfig is free to use and already installed on your computer. On Linux, macOS, and Unix, it is called ifconfig.

  • Shows basic network configuration such as gateway, DNS servers, and subnets
  • Can be used with other syntax to perform functions like flushing DNS or renewing an IP address
  • Can take a while for new users to learn all of the different ways ipconfig can be used to troubleshoot
  • Can only apply fixes to one machine at a time

10. Netstat

Netstat allows you to display active connections on your local machine. This can be helpful when determining why users are unable to connect to a given application on a server or to determine what connections are made to remote hosts from a computer. Entering netstat at the command prompt will display all active TCP connections. Adding parameters to the netstat command will extend or alter the functionality.

  • Lists active ports on the device
  • Highlights port issues

Netstat lists all the connections that are currently live on the computer on which the command is run. The output show every TCP and UDP port that is currently active, even though the connection might be in a closed state.

netstat commands & example

Here are a few helpful netstat commands and what they do:

  • netstat –a displays all active TCP connections and the TCP and UDP ports a computer is listening on.
  • netstat –n displays all active TCP connections just like the netstat command, but it does not attempt to translate addresses or port numbers to names and just displays the numerical values.
  • netstat –o displays all active TCP connections and includes the process ID (PID) for the process using each connection.

You can combine different parameters to extend the functionality of netstat. For example,

would display all active TCP connections and the TCP and UDP ports a computer is listening on, use numerical values, and report the PID associated with the connections.

Every network administrator will probably use this tool at some point in time. The tool is free to use and it is built into the operating system for Windows, Linux, macOS, and Unix.

  • Can quickly show which connections are actively established on a machine
  • Can find suspicious connections quickly if you know how to interpret netstat information
  • Can filter by TCP connections to limit your scope on noisier networks
  • Doesn’t provide geolocation mapping for connections found
  • Requires training to understand how to properly use netstat in a meaningful way

11. Nslookup

nslookup is a useful command-line utility that enables DNS troubleshooting and diagnostics. Nslookup is available on Windows and *nix operating systems. There are a variety of use cases for this flexible utility and it can be run in interactive mode or by entering commands directly at the command prompt.

To help you get started, we’ll review some nslookup commands that are helpful in three of the most common use cases: finding an IP address based on a domain name, finding a domain name based on an IP address, and looking up email servers for a domain.

  • Show DNS entry details
  • Troubleshoots address problems

Nslookup is a command for DNS checks – the name is short for “name server lookup.” With this tool, you can identify the mapping between hostnames and IP addresses on a local network. By entering a remote IP address or Web domain, you can see details from the global DNS service.

Below are examples of how to do each from a Windows command prompt.

Finding an IP address based on a domain name with nslookup:

The output above shows us that the DNS server used on our local machine was ns2.dns.mydns.net and since ns2.dns.mydns.net is not an authoritative name server on Google’s domain, we get a “Non-authoritative answer”. If we wanted to specify a different DNS server in our query, we simply add the DNS server’s domain name or IP address after the command, like this (using the 1.1.1.1 DNS server from CloudFlare ).

Finding a domain name based on an IP address with nslookup

Finding a domain name based on an IP address is similar to the previous process, you simply use an IP address instead of the domain name after the “nslookup” command. For example to find out what the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) for the IP address 8.8.8.8 is we would use the command below:

Based on the output, we can see that the FQDN associated with 8.8.8.8 is “google-public-dns-a.google.com” which makes sense given 8.8.8.8 is one of the two popular public DNS servers available from Google .

Looking up email servers for a domain with nslookup

Sometimes you may need to determine what email servers are available on a domain. To do that, we simply need to specify that we are looking for MX records using the –ty switch. In the example below, we’ll check what mail servers are returned for gmail.com:

Here, five mail servers were returned along with an MX preference value. The lower the MX preference value, the higher the priority of that server (i.e. those servers should be used first).

Network managers would use nslookup to ensure that the local DNS server is working and also to test for DNS entry errors for Wen properties. The free tool is built into the operating system for Windows, Linux, macOS, and Unix.

  • Great for quickly diagnosing DNS issues when combined with ipconfig
  • Can resolve DNS issues through the CLI without using the GUI, good for remote troubleshooting
  • Can see which DNS server have authority and prioritization
  • Cannot easily change or modify DNS setting for multiple machines
  • Not easy to change DNS within CLI for new users

12. Uptrends Uptime Monitor

speed up down trends

Uptrends offers a menu of website monitoring and testing services from its cloud platform. The Uptrends Uptime Monitor is a free service that can be accessed at the Uptrends website.

The free Uptime Monitor offers a choice of locations from which your site can be tested. It is possible to opt for tests to be run from all of the locations that Uptrends offers.

  • Free service
  • Automated monitoring possible

Uptrends Uptime Monitor is a testing service for internet connections. It specifically takes a Web domain as input, so its checks also extend to DNS testing. You can use this tool for free for on-demand availability tests, which can be launched from a long list of locations. You can get the tests to run recursively every minute if you sign up for a paid account.

Uptrends Uptime Monitor website monitoring troubleshooting

The free tool is an on-demand testing system and will give you the status of your site from many locations at that moment. It is possible to remind yourself to rerun the test and keep hitting the button. However, it is more practical to get the Uptrends service to repeat its tests automatically.

Uptrends provides automated testing that will launch every minute. The automated service is not free. You can leave that tool to make constant checks on your site’s availability – it will send you an alert if it encounters problems.

If you run a website, you will need to know if it is available, so it is worth going for the paid account. This will notify you if the site goes offline. The tests launch from different locations around the globe, which is a necessary service for websites that use caching servers for delivery speed optimization or content delivery networks.

  • Alerts can be forwarded by SMS, email, or push notification
  • Monitoring packages include real user monitoring credits.
  • Affordable plans for businesses of all sizes
  • Doesn’t provide root cause analysis

The paid packages of Uptrends include internal server monitoring as well as uptime tests. You also get real user monitoring that tracks the responses of your site and its services to visitors. The system is offered in five plans: Starter , Premium , Professiona l, Business , and Enterprise . Each higher plan has more features. You can try all of the features of Uptrends on a 30-day free trial .

13. Sysinternals

The Sysinternals networking utilities suite from Microsoft offers advanced network diagnostic and troubleshooting tools to Windows administrators that require advanced network diagnostic and troubleshooting tools. The Sysinternals utilities include tools that can help troubleshoot and configure Active Directory (AD), like AD Explorer and AD Insight .

  • Windows admin utilities
  • Manage Active Directory

Sysinternals is a large package of useful system management utilities for Windows. This is a useful free bundle of tools that are versions of systems that you can get elsewhere, such as Ping and Whois. However, it’s nice to have a package that has all of these tools in one place.

Other tools can help measure network performance ( PsPing ), scan file shares ( ShareEnum ), list or run processes remotely ( PsTools ), and more. If you only require one or a few of the Sysinternals utilities, you can install them separately as opposed to downloading the entire Sysinternals Suite.

Systems administrators will like this package, not just network managers because the bundle includes some nice utilities for managing Active Directory as well as tools to troubleshoot networks.

  • Built by Microsoft to serve the Windows operating system
  • Offers other tools that can help troubleshoot Active Directory servers and other Windows features
  • Offers basic network testing alongside file scanning tools that can help solve permission issues as well as file share problems
  • Doesn’t work proactively
  • Only for Windows environments
  • Downloading the entire suite can be bulky

14. Wireshark

Wireshark is a protocol analyzer and one of the go-to networking tools for organizations of all sizes when network issues need to be troubleshot with a high level of granularity.

The benefit of using Wireshark to analyze network traffic is that you will be able to view the raw network packets, and this will often allow you to identify the root cause of an issue. This can be especially helpful in situations where it is unclear which application is not doing what it is supposed to or when you try to reverse engineer the functionality of a poorly-documented program.

  • Packet capture
  • Protocol analyzer

Wireshark is an iconic packet sniffer and analyzer. Any network engineering course includes a section on the use of Wireshark. This system includes its own filter language that can be applied to packet collection to reduce the large volume of data that it extracts. The same filter language can be applied to search through packet data.

The tradeoff here is that you will have a lot of data to parse through, so some technical knowledge may be required to drill down and identify the important information.

You can download Wireshark for free here .

Wireshark dashboard

On Windows operating systems, link-layer packet captures with WireShark are often made possible using Winpcap (either Winpcap or Npcap is required). In addition to enabling WireShark on Windows, Winpcap can enable the powerful Windump command line utility which is Windows answer to the popular tcpdump program found on many *nix operating systems. For a deeper dive on Winpcap, Windump, and tcpdump, check out our recent article on packet sniffers and network analyzers and download the tcpdump cheat sheet .

Wireshark is an excellent tool for processing packet data. However, it’s analytical features are limited. There are a number of other tools that work well with Wireshark to create an even better data analysis system. The data search system Elasticsearch is free to use and it comes with complementary modules for logfile management and data display. Together this suite is called the Elastic Stack .

The illustration below shows how the Elastic Stack can be used with Wireshark to create an improved data analysis system from components that cost nothing.

Wireshark Setup

Although this setup looks complicated, all of the tools shown in this diagram are designed to work together and the Elasticsearch website includes guides on how to put this system together.

Any network manager that doesn’t already know about Wireshark should download it and learn it because this is an essential tool and experience in using it is career-enhancing. The tool is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Unix.

zenmap

Nmap is a popular security auditing and network exploration tool released under a custom open source license based on GPLv2. While the most popular use cases for nmap are security scans and penetration testing, it can prove quite helpful as a network troubleshooting tool as well.

  • Command-line utility
  • Network troubleshooter

Nmap is another classic that has a long history and so has a lot of fans. It is known to be used by hackers as well as network managers to explore a network and discover all devices. The tool is a command line utility and is a little difficult to use. Get the GUI Zenmap add-on to see a graphical network map.

For example, if you are dealing with an unfamiliar app and want to find out what services are running and which ports are open, nmap can help. Nmap itself uses a command-line interface (CLI), but that doesn’t mean you are out of luck if you prefer a graphical user interface (GUI). Zenmap is the official nmap GUI and is a good way for beginners to start working with nmap.

nmap zenmap network troubleshooting

Nmap doesn’t just map a network, it also performs monitoring. It can be a good tool for checking on all devices, spotting rogue devices, and identifying those that are offline. The tool is free to use. However, getting the free PRTG gives you a much better discovery and mapping service than Zenmap and Nmap offer.

  • Doubles as a security tool, allowing administrators to discover open ports, and applications communicating over ports that are suspicious
  • Massive open-source community, is one of the most popular free security tools available
  • Offers a GUI version, Zenmap, which lowers the barrier to entry for new users
  • Syntax is straightforward and not difficult to learn for most users
  • Nmap can have a steep learning curve for new users
  • Might be overkill for simpler troubleshooting tasks
  • More of a security/auditing tool

For more on Zenmap and a deeper dive on nmap, check out our Best Free Port Checkers article.

Choosing a network diagnostics & troubleshooting tool

The tools we discussed here are great to have in your network troubleshooting toolbox and we recommend giving some of them a try the next time you find yourself dealing with a head-scratching network troubleshooting scenario. Did you try out our Editor’s choice – SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager ? Did we leave any of your favorite network troubleshooting tools out, or do you have questions about the tools we mentioned here? Let us know in the comments section below.

Related post: PingPlotter Alternatives

Network Diagnostics & Troubleshooting FAQs

What are the six steps of the troubleshooting process.

Follow a formalized routine when troubleshooting networks:

  • Identify the problem.
  • Make an educated guess of the possible cause of the problem.
  • Explore the system to check whether your idea is valid.
  • Identify system elements in error; plan and implement remediation steps.
  • Check that the solution worked and change procedures to prevent the problem from happening again.
  • Document the problem, the solution, and recommendations for procedural change.

Steps 2 and 3 might need to be carried out recursively until you hit the problem. The documentation step is ongoing throughout the troubleshooting process with note-taking to contribute to an accurate record once the entire process is complete.

What causes intermittent network connection issues?

There are many possible causes for intermittent network connection issues:

  • Unreliable power source
  • Environmental interference
  • Queueing on a network device
  • A network device overloaded
  • A faulty network device
  • IP address renewal
  • IP address duplication
  • DNS server errors
  • Firewall software hanging
  • Network software jamming
  • Hacker attack
  • Automatic update of firmware taking a device offline
  • Interruption of external networks, e.g., the internet
  • Loose cable plug in an endpoint or network device
  • Damaged network cable
  • Loose wiring
  • Multiple domain server clashes
  • Lack of storage space on devices for traffic processing or logging
  • Security software blocking activity

Which utility or LAN command do you feel was the most useful for network troubleshooting?

Ping and Traceroute are the two LAN commands most often used for network troubleshooting. Ping shows whether an endpoint is contactable. Traceroute shows the most likely path to that endpoint. These two commonly used network utilities are usually integrated into most network monitors.

What are the most common issues that affect network performance and reliability?

The most common issues that affect network performance are:

  • Power source problems
  • Network device faults
  • Network cable faults
  • Defective cable connectors
  • System overloading
  • QoS prioritization
  • Incompatible network settings on different devices
  • Addressing issues
  • Security software
  • Hacker or intruder activity

2 Comments Leave a comment

I know this was written a few months ago, but what do you think of PingPlotter Pro? Why did it not make the list of best network troubleshooting software?

Just curious . . .

Hi Ben, Thanks for the reply. The simple answer is: I’ve never used PingPlotter Pro. Topically, it looks like a useful monitoring tool that can also have some troubleshooting benefits. What use cases do you think it is best for?

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On sprawling enterprise networks, it becomes increasingly difficult for network administrators and developers to identify and correct every issue that arises. In reality, even if these professionals had the time to correct all network problems, their energy and expertise could be better spent on more strategic and complex initiatives for the network. 

Network troubleshooting and diagnostic tools work to support these professionals with automated detection and basic problem-solving for network performance. Read on to better understand what network troubleshooting and network diagnostic tools do and what some top vendors offer their customers.

Table of Contents

What Are Network Troubleshooting Tools?

Network troubleshooting tools are tools that, in addition to offering other basic network monitoring features, identify and correct problems across the network and its various endpoints. Network troubleshooting tools look for network disruptions and anomalies and work to follow service level agreements (SLAs) so that the network runs quickly, efficiently, securely, and compliantly.

More on compliance: Five Tips for Managing Compliance on Enterprise Networks

How Do Network Diagnostics Tools Work?

Network diagnostic tools offer a variety of support features to network administrators, but how do they work? Most diagnostic tools follow these steps to make sure network performance is optimized and disrupted as minimally as possible:

  • Probes are installed for network visibility and tracking. Probes can either be software plug-ins native to your selected diagnostic tool or they can be installed on the specific network endpoints you’re wanting to manage.
  • The diagnostic tool begins packet analysis and an initial scan in different networking components where a probe is present.
  • Network administrators can now review the metrics the diagnostic tool offers after scans are complete. Revealed metrics frequently include network availability, response times, data volume, traffic quantity, and traffic anomalies.

Learn about assessing network performance at the application level: The Importance of Application Performance Management (APM) for Cloud-based Networks

How to Choose a Network Diagnostic Tool

Some network troubleshooting and diagnostic tools are open source, command-line tools that are flexible enough to work on a variety of platforms, but many of these tools don’t offer the same in-depth insights and automations on their own until they’re integrated with a bigger platform. More holistic network troubleshooting and diagnostic tools, on the other hand, will offer a variety of analytics and support features , and they will also improve the user experience with network traffic and behavior maps that help to identify network bottlenecks visually.

Regardless of the type of tool or collection of tools that you think you want, consider these common network diagnostic tool features, and more importantly, make sure you know which ones are most important to your business and if they’re available in your preferred tools:

  • Open- vs. closed-source format
  • Administrative dashboards
  • Data visualizations with real-time performance updates
  • Reporting with user-friendly designs and templates
  • Packet sniffing
  • Granular notification settings and automations
  • Historical data storage and tracking
  • Network performance monitoring
  • Support for network security and compliance standards
  • Mobile application access for administrators
  • Device management and detection
  • Support for third-party integrations

Best Network Troubleshooting & Diagnostics Tools

Paessler network troubleshooting with prtg.

Paessler PRTG Screenshot.

Paessler Network Troubleshooting with PRTG offers a comprehensive approach to network diagnostics with several strengths in the areas of third-party integrations and interoperability. Their expertise in sensors helps enterprise network teams to quickly narrow troubleshooting to granular areas of the network. The platform is also compatible with more sensor types than its competitors, including Cisco sensors.

PRTG is a top solution for companies that need extensive support in the setup phase; their auto-discovery and device templates simplify the deployment process for many users. Although some users think the data visualization and user interface could be improved on this tool, there’s no shortage of reports, templates, and tutorials to ensure that users have a good experience with PRTG.

  • SNMP Traffic and NetFlow v5 sensor
  • Packet Sniffer sensor
  • SNMP CPU Load and WMI Memory sensors
  • Traffic data filtered by IP address, protocol, and application
  • 250+ preconfigured sensors for hardware, cloud services, and other quality assurance needs

Pro: This tool is considered easy to deploy and comes with several free and/or low-cost support services.

Con: Some users have expressed that the user interface is outdated; the data visualizations in particular could use some updates.

Pricing: A freeware version of PRTG is available for up to 100 sensors. Depending on the number and types of sensors you need, contact the Paessler sales team for more information.

SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager

Solarwinds network configuration manager screenshot

SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (NCM) is one of many top network management solutions offered by SolarWinds. The feature of NCM that is most helpful for network troubleshooting goals is the VLAN Configuration feature. The tool makes VLAN configuration highly customizable, with device-agnostic, reusable configuration templates that can be used for a variety of endpoints. 

Once templates, parameters, and directives are selected and in operation, the NCM automates change commands that match these specific requirements. Especially for enterprises that are frequently getting started with new or updated services, NCM’s deployment strategy will save your team considerable time.

  • Granular and customizable alert scripts for backup commands, historic network configuration changes, and anomalous event tracking
  • Machine learning (ML) applied for real-time VLAN configuration detection and follow-up messaging
  • Network Assessment feature for streamlined network auditing and device inventory management
  • Configuration change monitoring, automated alerts, and compliance-focused auditing
  • Network device firmware management, scanning, and automatically deployed updates

Pro: NCM offers some of the most detailed alerts and event logs to its customers, with device-level metrics in a digestible format.

Con: Although SolarWinds NCM is compatible with a variety of other SolarWinds tools, customers have concerns about the limited third-party integrations available.

Pricing: SolarWinds offers both subscription and perpetual licensing to its customers. For more information on licenses and pricing, contact the SolarWinds sales team.

Microsoft Network Diagnostic Tool

Microsoft Network Diagnostic Tool screenshot.

Microsoft Network Diagnostic Tool is a simple network troubleshooting and diagnostic tool for Microsoft products and services. Although it does not offer the most holistic diagnostic suite and is only compatible with Microsoft and Windows, this tool offers administrators considerable data and automation, particularly for a free tool that can easily be installed on network devices. Considering how many enterprises use Microsoft products in their business operations, this tool is frequently deployed to simplify network management and increase endpoint visibility.

  • Speed and ping tests
  • Connection monitoring with port and external port scanning
  • Compatible with Windows Firewall Management and Network Management
  • LAN chatting feature available
  • CLI access for administrative users

Pro: For Microsoft users, this diagnostic tool offers a simple interface for a variety of data sources, including files, peripheral devices, apps, and programs.

Con: The functions of this tool are limited strictly to Microsoft products and the Windows OS.

Pricing: This is a free network diagnostic solution offered by Microsoft.

Auvik Screenshot

Auvik is one of the simpler tools on this list with a strong focus on logging and root cause analysis.  It is a cloud-based network diagnostics solution that is highly praised for its speed and accuracy, as well as its easy-to-understand data visualizations. Visualizations in particular are a top feature for Auvik, as customers have the ability to manipulate their network maps and models to exactly what they need; it is a strong option for teams that have less experience building out and interpreting network data on an enterprise scale.

  • Root cause analysis offered through real-time device logs
  • AES-256 network data encryption
  • Auto-discovery for a variety of network assets and endpoints
  • Pre-configured monitoring, alerts, and notifications
  • Focused anomaly detection and alerts with traffic analysis tools

Pro: Auvik offers strong and holistic network visibility, particularly through its robust network mapping features.

Con: Some users have commented on the limitations of Auvik’s reporting features.

Pricing: Auvik offers Essentials and Performance pricing packages to its customers. Learn more about pricing here .

ManageEngine OpManager

ManageEngine OpManager Screenshot.

ManageEngine OpManager offers a variety of other solutions and use cases beyond network diagnostics, but its support for diagnostics and troubleshooting is a strong feature for finding network problems in switches, routers, servers, and storage devices. Particularly at the server level, OpManager is helpful because it allows administrators to set performance thresholds from initial deployment, which makes notifications about potential network problems more accurate and timely.

The user interface for OpManager is also friendlier than most tools in the diagnostics market. With simple and customizable data visualizations and a clear administrative dashboard, this tool works for a full spectrum of network management experience levels.

  • LAN troubleshooting for 10 to 10,000 network devices
  • Prebuilt reports and UX-driven dashboards
  • Troubleshooting and problem alerts sent via email, SMS, Slack, and ticketing
  • Natively includes troubleshooting tools like Ping, SNMP Ping, Proxy Ping, Traceroute, WMI Query Tool, and CLI Query Tool
  • Monitoring metrics include response time, hardware specifications, and packet loss

Pro: OpManager not only focuses on network diagnostics but also offers several tools and features for follow-up network optimization needs.

Con: OpManager has frequent point releases to update its features, but these new features often come with bugs that aren’t resolved immediately.

Pricing: Pricing information is available upon request from the ManageEngine sales team.

NetSpot Screenshot.

NetSpot is a diagnostics and troubleshooting solution that focuses on creating wireless site surveys, primarily for local area networks (LANs). Although this is a great tool for understanding how an existing network is functioning and where problems lie, this is actually a top solution for creating an optimized plan before launching a new network. The Wi-Fi site survey that NetSpot offers can help networking professionals determine where cables, antennas, and other important networking equipment should go for the best service. These site surveys and the data visualizations they produce will continue to be useful as the network grows and new service bottlenecks need to be corrected.

  • Compatible with Mac OS X and Windows
  • Wireless site surveys to determine channel interference and dead zones in a network
  • Surveys produce data visualizations and Wi-Fi maps for network planning
  • Troubleshooting visualizations include connectivity and wireless interference, noise locations, and Wi-FI configuration problems
  • Ability to check security settings on various endpoints, including those for Open, WEP, and WPA/WPA2 Personal/Enterprise

Pro: NetSpot supports a variety of Wi-Fi security goals, including rogue access point identification, unauthorized workstation and user detection, and elimination of false-positive alerts.

Con: The free version of this solution offers only limited data on network metrics like dead zones.

Pricing: NetSpot comes in four different pricing package options: NetSpot FREE Edition, Home, PRO, and Enterprise. Learn more about pricing here .

Wireshark Screenshot.

Wireshark is an open source network diagnostic and management solution. Consistent network traffic capture and filtering capabilities make it easier for networking teams to not only identify problems but to quickly determine which problems are most urgent. The open source format of Wireshark means that it receives frequent updates, which can be a pro or a con depending on the user. The pro is that new features are constantly added and documented for the tool, while the con is that the tool’s performance can get bogged down in new features with occasional bugs. Teams that keep up with updates and changing documentation will experience the most success with this tool.

  • Real-time, frequently updated inspections for 100+ protocols
  • Live capture and offline analysis
  • Active open source user community and documentation
  • Decryption support for IPsec, ISAKMP, Kerberos, SNMPv3, SSL/TLS, WEP, and WPA/WPA2
  • Support for dozens of capture file formats

Pro: The open source format of Wireshark leads to very clear documentation and frequent user-driven updates for the tool.

Con: Wireshark’s functions are very reliant on the OS you choose to use it with; if your operating system is outdated or limited, Wireshark will not work very well.

Pricing: Wireshark is free, open source (FOSS) software under the GNU General Public License version 2.

Other Network Troubleshooting and Diagnostic Tools to Consider

The previously mentioned network diagnostic tools offer a variety of troubleshooting strategies and features to customers, but often with a greater learning curve and additional administrative expense. For organizations that need a quick and affordable way to troubleshoot their networks, simple diagnostic operations can be performed by free, command-line tools. These are some of the most commonly used network diagnostic and troubleshooting tools, many of which are built into vendor-specific offerings: 

Other open source networking solutions to consider: Best Open Source Network Monitoring Tools

Benefits of Using Network Troubleshooting and Diagnostic Tools

Network troubleshooting and diagnostic tools support network administrators in a variety of network management areas, including more efficient operations, increased analytical insights, and heightened visibility for security and compliance issues. These are some of the main benefits that enterprises discover when they invest in a diagnostic toolset for their network:

Proactive network performance management

In most traditional networks, problem-solving and troubleshooting begin once a major error is discovered by a networking or security professional. With troubleshooting and diagnostic solutions, network errors are discovered at an earlier stage and automatically alert these professionals to the rising issue. The earlier identification of network issues gives the team precursive knowledge to resolve any connectivity, latency, or security issues before they bring parts of the network down.

User-level security knowledge

Especially on larger enterprise networks, the exponential number of endpoints can make it difficult to determine where anomalous traffic is entering the network. Diagnostic and troubleshooting tools are used to find and alert network administrators to the what and where of unusual network behaviors and unauthorized users, thus increasing endpoint-, device-, and user-level insights for security needs.

Administrative network visibility

Administrative network visibility provides other benefits beyond security. Seeing how users and devices interact with the network helps network professionals to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies that negatively impact the user experience. Some diagnostic tools even offer the data visualizations and reports necessary to understand which parts of the network need to grow to meet new business needs and which parts can be scaled back.

Time saved and new efficiencies in network management

Almost immediately after their deployment, network diagnostic tools help networking teams find new ways to save time in network management. Troubleshooting and diagnostic tools are designed to target individual network components, which streamlines network management data and makes it easier for professionals to visualize and correct problems in a focused area.

With their automated workflows, machine-learning powered resolutions, and detailed reports and visualizations, diagnostic tools also take over the most tedious parts of network troubleshooting for the networking professionals who used to perform this work manually. With their time freed up from previous troubleshooting tasks, network and security professionals now can focus on higher-value needs for the network and business.

Read next: Best Network Management Software and Tools

Shelby Hiter

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The basics of network troubleshooting have not changed much over the years. When you’re network troubleshooting, a lot can be required to solve the problem. You could be solving many different issues across several different systems on your complex, hybrid network infrastructure. A network observability solution can help speed up and simplify the process.

The Network is the Key

“The network is down!” — I’m sure you heard that before.

Despite your best efforts as a network engineer, network failures happen, and you have to fix them. Hopefully, you’ve implemented a network observability platform in advance, so you should be collecting a wealth of information about your network, making troubleshooting easier.

But what happens when it’s time to activate troubleshooting mode?

In this post, I’m going to talk about the steps to troubleshoot your network. And then I’ll provide some best practices, as well as provide examples of troubleshooting with Kentik’s network observability solutions.

What is Network Troubleshooting?

Network troubleshooting is the process of solving problems that are occurring on your network, using a methodical approach. A simple definition for what can often be a hard task!

When users complain, whether they’re internal or external to your organization — or ideally, before they do — you need to figure out what the cause of their problem is. The goal is to troubleshoot and fix whatever issue underlies the problems.

Troubleshooting requires taking a methodical approach to resolving the issue as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for you, the user doesn’t care what your service-level objective for fixing the problem is. In today’s “gotta have it fast” culture, more often than not, you need to fix it now — or revenue is affected.

Let’s get into some ways you can troubleshoot your network and reduce your mean time to repair (MTTR).

networking problem solving tools

Basic Network Troubleshooting Processes

Identify the problem.

When you’re troubleshooting network issues , complexity and interdependency make it complex to track down the problem. You could be solving many different issues across several different networks and planes (underlay and overlay) in a complex, hybrid network infrastructure.

The first thing you want to do is identify the problem you’re dealing with. Here are some typical network-related problems:

  • A configuration change broke something . On a network, configuration settings are constantly changing. Unfortunately, configuration change accidents can happen that bring down parts of the network.
  • Interface dropping packets . Interface issues caused by misconfigurations, errors, or queue limits lead to network traffic failing to reach its destination. Packets simply get dropped.
  • Physics limitations on connectivity . Sometimes, your connections don’t have enough bandwidth. Or the latency is too much between source and destination. These lead to network congestion, slowness, or timeouts.
  • Problems in the cloud . Intra- or inter-cloud connectivity problems can have their own unique set of causes and challenges. Often driven by someone else’s congestion, oversubscription, or software failures.

networking problem solving tools

Find Your Network Troubleshooting Tools

Fixing these kinds of troubleshooting problems needs more than identification. To paraphrase French biologist Louis Pasteur — where observation is concerned, chance favors only the prepared mind.

No network engineer can troubleshoot without being prepared with their tools and telemetry. So once you’ve identified that there is a problem, it’s time to use your network troubleshooting tools.

Ideally, you have tools and telemetry in advance, so your network observability toolchain is using AI to automatically identify problems and linking you to a jumping off point so you can drive down both MTTK (Mean Time to Know) and either MTTR (Mean Time to Repair) or MTTI (Mean Time to Innocence).

Here are a few examples of basic network troubleshooting tools:

  • Tracert/ Trace Route
  • Ipconfig/ ifconfig
  • Pathping/MTR

The First Step — Ping Affected Systems

When your network is down, slow, or suffers from some other problem, your first job is to send packets across the network to validate the complaint. Send these pings using the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) or TCP to one or any of the network devices you believe to be involved.

The ping tool is a utility that’s available on practically every system, be it a desktop, server, router, or switch.

There’s a sports analogy that says “the most important ability is availability” for systems. If you can’t reach it, it’s not available to your users.

Sending some ICMP packets across the network, especially from your users’ side, will help answer that question, if your platform isn’t presenting the path to you automatically. In some cases if ICMP is filtered, you can usually switch to TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and use tcping, telnet, or another TCP-based method to check for reachability.

Get the Path with Traceroute

If you’re not getting any ping responses, you need to find out where the ping is stopping. You can use another ICMP-based tool to help, and that’s traceroute.

Your ping could be getting stopped because ICMP isn’t allowed on your network or by a specific device. If that’s the case, you should consider TCP Traceroute on Linux, which switches to TCP packets.

From traceroute, since you will see the path of IP-enabled devices your packets take, you will also see where the packets stop and get dropped. Once you have that, you can further investigate why this packet loss is happening. Could it be a misconfiguration issue such as a misconfiguration of IP addresses or subnet mask? A misapplied access list?

Test Your Network with Synthetic Monitoring

Tool such as Kentik Synthetic Monitoring enable you to continuously test network performance (via ICMP, TCP, HTTP, and other tests) so you can uncover and solve network issues before they impact customer experience. Ping and traceroute tests performed continuously with public and/or private agents generate key metrics (latency, jitter, and loss) that are evaluated for network health and performance.

To get ahead of the game, Kentik also allows you to set up autonomous tests, so there’s already test history to your top services and destinations. You can also run these continuously (every second, like the ping command default) for high resolution.

Network Troubleshooting: traceroute path view

Device Commands and Database Logs

Now that you’ve identified the network device or group of devices that could be the culprit, log into those devices and take a look. Run commands based on your device’s network operating system to see some of the configuration.

Take a look at the running configuration to see what interfaces are configured to get to the destination. You can take a look at system logs that the device has kept for any routing or forwarding errors. You can also look at antivirus logs on the destination systems that could be blocking access.

At this point, you may find yourself unable to get enough detail about the problem. Command line tools are telling you how things should work. What if everything’s working the way it should? What now? Or you might be getting overwhelmed by the amount of log data.

Device Configuration Changes

Many network outages relate to changes that humans made! Another key step on the troubleshooting path is to see if anything changed at about the same time as issues started.

This information can be found in logs of AAA (Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting) events from your devices. Ideally stored centrally, but often also visible by examining the on-device event log history.

Packets and Flows

The old saying about packet captures is that packets don’t lie! That’s also true for flow data, which summarizes packets.

Both packets and flows provide information about the source and destination IP addresses, ports, and protocols.

When getting flow data, you’re not as in the weeds as during a packet capture, but it’s good enough for most operational troubleshooting. Whether it’s with NetFlow, sFlow, or IPFIX , you’ll be able to see who’s talking to whom and how with flow data going to a flow collector for analysis.

Capturing packet data is truly getting into the weeds of troubleshooting your network. If it’s unclear from flow, and often if it’s a router or other system bug, you may need to go to the packets.

Unless you have expensive collection infrastructure, it’s also often more time consuming for you than any of the other tools above. Whether it’s tcpdump, Wireshark, or SPAN port, you’ll be able to get needle-in-the-haystack data with packet captures.

One great middle ground is augmented flow data, which captures many of the elements of packets. This can be great if you can get performance data, but not all network devices can watch performance and embed in flow — in fact, the higher speed the device, the less likely it is to support this kind of enhancement.

Collecting and analyzing packets and flows is where you start to venture into the next step. You’re using a mix of utility tools (tcpdump) and software (Wireshark, flow collector). If you’re expecting to keep a low MTTR, you need to move up the stack to software systems.

Up the Stack

If you can’t find issues using these tools and techniques at the network level, you may need to peek up the stack because it could be an application, compute, or storage issue. We’ll cover more on this cross-stack debugging in a future troubleshooting overview.

Kentik Network Observability

Of course, network performance monitoring (NPM) and network observability solutions such as Kentik can greatly help avoid network downtime, detect network performance issues before they critically impact end-users, and track down the root cause of network problems

In today’s complex and rapidly changing network environments, it’s essential to go beyond reactive troubleshooting and embrace a proactive approach to maintaining your network. Network monitoring and proactive troubleshooting can help identify potential issues early on and prevent them from escalating into more severe problems that impact end users or cause downtime.

Kentik’s Network Observability solutions, including the Network Explorer and Data Explorer, can be invaluable tools in implementing proactive troubleshooting strategies. By providing real-time and historical network telemetry data and easy-to-use visualization and analysis tools, Kentik enables you to stay ahead of potential network issues and maintain high-performing, reliable, and secure network infrastructure.

Network Explorer Solution

Kentik Network Explorer provides an overview of the network with organized, pre-built views of activity and utilization, a Network Map, and other ways to browse your network, including the devices, peers, and interesting patterns that Kentik finds in the traffic.

To make NetOps teams more efficient, Kentik provides troubleshooting and capacity management workflows. These are some of the most basic tasks required to operate today’s complex networks, which span data center, WAN, LAN, hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures.

The Network Explorer combines flow, routing, performance, and device metrics to build the map and let you easily navigate. And everything is linked to Data Explorer if you need to really turn the query knobs to zoom way in.

Network Troubleshooting with Kentik's Network Explorer view

Data Explorer Solution

If you can’t find the obvious issue with something unreachable or down, it’s key to look beyond the high level and into the details of your network.

Kentik Data Explorer provides a fast, network-centric, easy-to-use interface to query real-time and historic network telemetry data. Select from dozens of dimensions or metrics, 13 different visualizations and any data sources. Set time ranges and search 45 days or more of retained data. Query results within seconds for most searches.

This lets you see traffic, routing, performance, and device metrics in total, by device, region, customer, application, or any combination of dimensions and filters that you need to zoom in and find underlying issues.

Kentik’s Data Explorer provides graphs or table views of network telemetry useful for all types of troubleshooting tasks.

Network Trouleshooting: Data Explorer view

Software Tools Help Facilitate Network Troubleshooting

Marc Andreessen of Netscape fame once said that, “software is eating the world.” But software has made things a lot easier when it comes to network troubleshooting. It has taken over from the manual tools run from a terminal or network device.

There are software tools that ping not just to one device but multiple devices simultaneously for availability and path. Many are flow and packet data stores with software agents sending network data. All this is done and put on a nice dashboard for you. Network troubleshooting is still hard, but software makes it easier.

However, in this cloud-native and multi-cloud infrastructure era, some software makes it easier than others. For that, you need to move beyond traditional monitoring software because it’s not enough anymore. You need to move to observability software.

With software tools like products from Kentik, you can use the devices to send data to observe the state of your network instead of pulling it from the network.

Network Troubleshooting Best Practices

Whether you’re using network observability tools, or have a network small enough where the other tools are sufficient, here are some best practices you should consider.

Develop a Checklist

You should develop a checklist of steps like what I’ve outlined above when troubleshooting.

In his book The Checklist Manifesto , Dr. Atul Gawande discusses how checklists are used by surgeons, pilots, and other high-stress professionals to help them avoid mistakes. Having a checklist to ensure that you go through your troubleshooting steps promptly and correctly can save your users big headaches. And save you some aggravation.

Over time, this checklist will likely become second nature, and having and following it ensures you’re always on top of your game.

Ready Your Software Tools

You want to have already picked the network troubleshooting tools you need to troubleshoot a network problem before you get an emergency call. That isn’t the time to research the best software tool to use. By then, it’s too late.

If you run into a network troubleshooting problem that took longer than you hoped with one tool, research other tools for the next time. But do this before the next big problem comes along.

networking problem solving tools

Get Documentation

It’s tough to jump on a network troubleshooting call and not know much about the network you’re going to, well, troubleshoot. IT organizations are notorious for not having enough documentation. At times, you know it’s because there aren’t enough of you to go around.

But you have to do what you can. Over time, you should compile what you learn about the network. Document it yourself if you have to, but have some information. Identify who owns what and what is where. Otherwise, you could spend lots of troubleshooting time asking basic questions.

Prepare Your Telemetry

In addition to having the software to move with speed, you’ll need to be already sending, saving, and ideally detecting anomalies over your network telemetry. For more details on network telemetry, see our blog posts “The Network Also Needs to be Observable” and “Part 2: Network Telemetry Sources” .

Follow the OSI

If you closely follow the toolset above, you may have noticed that I’m moving up the stack with each tool.

In some ways, I’m following the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) stack. When troubleshooting, you want to start at the physical layer and work your way up. If you start by looking at the application, you’ll be masking potential physical connection problems such as interface errors or routing issues happening at layer 3. Or any forwarding problems at layer 2.

So follow the stack, and it won’t steer you wrong.

Preparedness and Network Troubleshooting

And there it is. When the network is down, troubleshooting can be a daunting task, especially in today’s hybrid infrastructure environments .

But if you follow the steps I’ve outlined, you can make things easier on yourself. Create your network troubleshooting checklist, decide on your toolset, and get ready. If it’s not down now, the network will likely be down later today.

Now that you know this about network troubleshooting, you’ll be ready when the network issues affect traffic in the middle of the night. You won’t like it; nobody likes those 1:00 A.M. calls. But you’ll be prepared.

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What Is Network Troubleshooting?

What Is Network Troubleshooting?

Network troubleshooting is the act of discovering and correcting problems with connectivity, performance, security, and other aspects of networks.

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What's the value of network troubleshooting?

Fast, effective network troubleshooting is a cornerstone of business resilience. Today's networks perform more mission-critical business tasks than ever. Without robust troubleshooting and speedy resolution of issues, networks can suffer costly downtime.

The cost of downtime includes reduced productivity and the economic impacts of disrupted or underperforming services, data breaches, and malware. These consequences can result in steep costs and cause long-lasting damage to brands.

How do organizations handle troubleshooting?

Of course, troubleshooting isn't just about resetting user passwords or restarting devices. Especially in large organizations, it's about a set of procedures, practices, and tools used to process numerous requests by a complex mix of users and dispersed network assets and infrastructure.

Typically, a large organization has an entire team devoted to network troubleshooting. The team's engineers address problems at various levels: Tier 1 for basic issues such as password resets, Tier 2 for issues that can't be resolved by Tier 1, and Tier 3 for mission-critical issues.

Frequently, Tier 1 troubleshooting is outsourced. An escalation framework is used to route requests efficiently and make sure that upper-level engineers are tasked appropriately.

In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and automation have been used to bridge skills gaps. These technologies offer guided remediation tools that empower Tier 1 engineers to solve complex network problems more rapidly.

Many organizations have separate network troubleshooting tools, but the addition of these tools may require training and management by IT departments. More commonly, network troubleshooting is embedded in a network management system (NMS).

How do NMSs relate to troubleshooting?

In large organizations, network troubleshooting teams are not simply waiting for users to report issues.

An NMS monitors networks continuously. It sends status updates—and alerts, when needed—on network key performance indicators (KPIs) such as connection speed, bandwidth, latency, users, and access.

The NMS performs monitoring by querying the various parts and nodes of the network to update status, at an interval determined by the IT team. Newer network elements, however, use telemetry to transmit their KPIs automatically.

An essential part of network troubleshooting is tracking and collecting data on network events. A system of IT service management (ITSM) tickets is used for this process. The data aggregated from the tickets can provide insights to identify problem areas and guide network optimization and upgrades.

Network events

An occurrence that triggers a network troubleshooting process is called an event. Some common events are described below.

Connection failures

Such events could be caused by cables and plugs that aren't connected properly.

Security lapses

These events could involve anything from a full-blown malware attack to an unapproved user's being able to connect to Wi-Fi.

KPIs missed

KPIs, when they're well-calibrated, can provide early warnings of network issues before they affect users.

Application failures

For locally hosted applications, a failure could mean an update that wasn't installed or the presence of an obsolete device.

Policy failures

Network performance can suffer when network policies, such as those for security, traffic management, and access control, inadvertently contradict each other.

Endpoint issues

Issues with endpoint connectivity, for example, could be caused by endpoints' lack of proximity to network routers, network interference problems, or issues with a remote worker's local network.

Troubleshooting processes

Once alerts or requests have been received and basic problems such as hardware connections and user connectivity have been ruled out, network troubleshooting typically involves one or more of the following steps.

IP-configuration checks

Problems with IP addresses cause many network issues. Often, assigning a new IP address can resolve an issue if a previous address was incorrect.

Ping and tracert testing

If the IP address is correct, the network issue may be upstream of a modem. To diagnose the problem further, IT teams can use the ping utility or the tracert command to test connections with remote servers and return information about the signal path.

A DNS check will determine whether there's a problem with a server to which networks are trying to connect. When an IT team performs a DNS check and receives results such as "Request timed out" or "No response from server," the problem might originate in the DNS server for the destination.

Service provider checks

Outages do occur, even with major cloud providers and cloud-based services. Providers' status pages report outages that might be affecting network performance.

Virus and malware checks

Viruses and other malware can affect network performance, and often they're not easy to detect. IT teams should use security tools to see whether new attacks have been flagged.

Database logs

Databases that are full or overtaxed can slow performance across the network. A fresh review of database logs will show whether this is the case. 

Command-line tools

The most common command-line tools are ipconfig and nslookup. Numerous others—such as iptables, netstat, tcpdump, route, arp, and dig—can also help identify network issues.

Test environments 

For cases that are especially challenging or that involve sensitive or restricted data, IT teams may need to construct test environments, where they can re-create problems and test solutions.

Troubleshooting software features

Engineers benefit from a network troubleshooting interface that provides a global view of an entire network as well as a view into specific KPIs. As networks become more complex and dispersed, the design and ease of use of this interface become even more important.

Customizable views

The ability to filter network data by location, department, device, or network improves the early stages of diagnosing network problems.

Cross-domain visibility

The idea of viewing the network as a series of interconnected domains is becoming obsolete. The typical enterprise network includes not just local-area networks (LANs) connected to the internet, but also remotely hosted databases, applications, and data processing. Up-to-date troubleshooting tools are designed to manage these new, more complex networks.

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  • Cisco Intent Based Networking (IBN)

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The Best Network Troubleshooting Tools & Software (FREE)

By James Cox / Last Updated: November 28, 2023

Best Network Troubleshooting Tools and Software

Everyone who works in IT has their own personal preferences when it comes to using network troubleshooting tools, but there are some fundamental ones that should be in everybody’s toolbox.

These include some of the classic executables such as ping and tracert that would sometimes ship with your favorite operating system.

You might have a third-party application that will do similar things to the applications in our list, and that’s fine.

Here's our list of the top network troubleshooting tools:

  • OpUtils by ManageEngine – EDITOR’S CHOICE This bundle of services for monitoring and checking network address issues is available in free and paid versions. You get a free trial of the full version and that converts to the Free edition if you decide not to buy. Installs on Windows Server, Linux, and AWS. Get a 30-day free trial of the Professional Edition.
  • Datadog Network Performance Monitor – FREE TRIAL A cloud-based network monitoring service that identifies traffic flows by application, source, and destination to enable bandwidth utilization management. Start a 14-day free trial .
  • Ping A free command-line tool that tests the roundtrip time to a given node and also indicates jitter and lost packets.
  • ManageEngine OpManager – FREE TRIAL A network and server monitoring package that includes traffic troubleshooting and device testing functions. Available for Windows Server and Linux. Start a 30-day free trial .
  • Tracert/traceroute A report on the number of nodes that need to be passed through on a path to a given destination that also indicates the time each hop takes.
  • Ipconfig/ifconfig A free command-line utility that details the addresses and statuses of each network adapter on a device.
  • Nslookup A free command-line utility that reports on DNS entries.
  • Netstat A free command-line utility that lists all of the active connections on the current device.
  • SolarPuTTY – FREE TOOL A free remote terminal service that allows the user to connect to devices running Windows, Linux, macOS, and Linux. Runs on Windows.
  • Subnet and IP Calculator A free utility that assists in the planning of IP address allocations. Runs on Windows.
  • Speedtest.net A free online service that reports on the speed of a connection to one of a list of test servers around the globe.

There is nothing wrong with having your own personal preference for applications.

Our hope is that you will see something on our list of handy utilities and then try it for yourself, giving you a new application to try out for yourself.

Note: These Tools listed below are used for basic troubleshooting tasks – There are more advanced tools that can help with troubleshooting more complex issues including Packet Sniffers , Advanced Traceroute Alternatives,   Response Time Analyzers , and IPAM software .

The Best Free Network Troubleshooting Tools and Software of 2024

Below you'll find a list of commonly used Network Troubleshooting Tools that will help you diagnose a multitude of issues within your networks. Issues ranging from IP Connectivity issues, Bandwidth and Network

What should you look for in a network troubleshooting tool? 

We reviewed the market for free network troubleshooting utilities and analyzed options based on the following criteria:

  • A fast report of network conditions and connectivity
  • Network device availability tests
  • Alerts for network device problems
  • Network path analysis
  • Internet connection checks for routes that go from within the network to an external destination.
  • A free tool or a free trial of a paid tool
  • A good free tool that provides useful troubleshooting reports and can track performance

With these selection criteria in mind, we looked for a range of systems from ongoing performance checkers to on-demand network system testers.

1. OpUtils by ManageEngine – FREE TRIAL

networking problem solving tools

OpUtilis provides a comprehensive set of networking tools which includes Ping, Trace Route, System Details Update, DNS Resolver, and MIB Browser. Being an advanced and reliable replacement for native commands that work with syntax and are of limited capacity, OpUtils' network tools sport a code-free intuitive UI that can scan and troubleshoot your network within seconds.

Key Features:

  • Comprehensive networking tools set
  • Code-free intuitive UI
  • Supports IPv4, IPv6, various protocols
  • Windows and Linux compatible

Unique Feature

Supports your infrastructure with its troubleshooting and real-time monitoring capabilities.

Why do we recommend it?

Makes it easy to diagnose and troubleshoot network-related issues. It can even check connectivity issues.

Supporting IPv4 and IPv6 addressing, various network protocols and standards, OpUtils' network tool set can be your one-stop fix for any network-related issues. Available for both Windows and Linux users, it seamlessly integrates within your existing network infrastructure allowing you to track, log, and resolve your network issues efficiently.

Who is it recommended for?

Ideal for network engineers of medium to large organizations who want to better manage their switches and IP address space.

  • Supports IP management and physical switch port monitoring
  • Offers built-in troubleshooting tools to help
  • Supports CISCO and SNMP tools to help configure, administer and diagnose issues
  • Better suited for sysadmin
  • Offers many advanced features and options, not suited for small home networks

You can troubleshoot all your network issues right from a single console, with the network tools loaded in the free edition of OpUtils. Download the free edition below!

OpUtils' standard and enterprise editions offer you full-fledged IP address monitoring and switch port mapping along with 30+ networking tools.

EDITOR'S CHOICE

ManageEngine OpUtils is our top pick for a network troubleshooting tool because it keeps a constant check on network addressing issues and also offers on-demand system sweeps. You can get to use the full Professional Edition for free for 30 days. If you decide not to buy at the end of the trial period, your package switches over to the Free Edition. With the free version of OpUtils, you can run a range of tests on network addresses and device availability and you also get a number of free system tools, such as a MAC address resolver and an SNMP MIB viewer.

Download: Get a 30-day free trial of OpUtils Professional Edition

Official Site: https://www.manageengine.com/products/oputils/download.html

OS: Windows Server, Linux, and AWS

2. Datadog Network Performance Monitor – FREE TRIAL

Datadog Network Monitoring

Datadog Network Performance Monitor is a traffic analyzer that gives live reports on network activity and also supports the analysis of historical traffic data. This is a cloud-based service, so all of the processing capacity needed to run the software is provided by Datadog with the price of the system. The system requires an agent program to be installed on the monitored network.

  • Live network activity reporting
  • Cloud-based traffic analysis
  • Network discovery and topology mapping
  • Real-time network changes reflection

Pinpoints unexpected problems in latency, so you can fix them right away.

Offers complete visibility into network traffic and even optimizes multi-cloud and cross-regional communication.

In network monitoring conventions, the title “Network Performance Monitor” is usually assigned to a service that polls network devices for status reports. Datadog is a little different because that function is fulfilled by the Datadog Network Device Monitor. The Network Performance Monitor focuses on network traffic. However, the two Datadog network monitoring services complement each other. It is possible to use the Network Performance Monitor as a standalone tool or in conjunction with the Network Device Monitor.

The Network Performance Monitor explores the supervised network and discovers all connected devices, creating a network inventory and a network topology map. This service is continuous, so it spots any changes made to the network. The network topology map can be used as a menu that gives access to detailed metrics on traffic at that node. Screens of statistics also show overall traffic data that can be drilled through to get link-by-link information.

A good choice for large organizations that use multiple cloud providers or have operations spread across a wide geographical region.

  • Offers numerous real user monitors via templates and widgets
  • Can monitor both internally and externally giving network admins a holistic view of network performance and accessibility
  • Changes made to the network are reflected in near real-time
  • Allows businesses to scale their monitoring efforts reliably through flexible pricing options
  • Would like to see a longer trial period for testing

Datadog Network Performance Monitor, like all Datadog utilities, is available for a 14-day free trial .

Datadog Network Performance Monitor Start a 14-day free trial

ping command

Ping is arguably one of the most well-known and most used commands that system admins have at their disposal. It is a connectivity application that lets computer operators test if they have a network connection to a remote system, and whether or not it is responding.

  • Tests network connection and responsiveness
  • Uses ICMP packets for communication
  • Handy for troubleshooting network issues
  • Native to most operating systems

Enables you to test and verify if a specific destination IP address can accept requests. Its simplicity and singular focus are reasons for its popularity.

It uses ICMP packets to communicate and receives the same packets back in response. It is this response that alerts the user to whether or not the remote system is responding. This is a very handy troubleshooting tool because you can ping any device that uses an IP address or hostname.

Works well for individual users and network engineers who prefer a command-line interface for troubleshooting.

  • Completely free
  • Extremely lightweight and simple
  • Native to Windows environments
  • Well documented
  • No data visualization features
  • Not the best for continuous monitoring

The utility comes with almost all operating systems and can be used to ping any other device that uses TCP/IP.

4. ManageEngine OpManager – FREE TRIAL

ManageEngine-OpManager

ManageEngine OpManager is a network and server monitoring package that includes live monitoring and troubleshooting utilities. The network monitoring service of OpManager starts by sweeping the network and registering all connected devices. This creates a network inventory, which gives you a menu of devices to look through when identifying the root cause of problems.

  • Network and server monitoring
  • Network device auto-discovery
  • SNMP and ping protocol support
  • Automatic network topology mapping

Offers deep visibility into the health and performance of all your routers, switches, firewalls, and load balancers.

A comprehensive tool for efficiently managing your network, and for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues quickly.

The OpManager dashboard has a higher level of troubleshooting support in its network topology maps. These are generated on demand from the network inventory. The OpManager system regularly updates the inventory so the network topology map always shows the current state of the networ4k.

The OpManager system polls device agents following the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). This system allows device agents to send an urgent override message if it detects problems on the monitored device. This message becomes an alert in the OpManager dashboard so you can instantly see which device is causing problems on the network.

Best-suited for large organizations and data centers that want complete control and visibility into their network traffic and operations.

  • Utilizes autodiscovery to detect new devices for performance monitoring and inventory management
  • Leverages both ping and SNMP protocol to detect uptime and performance issues
  • Build an automatic network topology map based on devices it probes, good for detecting new devices and rogue access points
  • Has log collection capabilities, allowing it to provide much more detailed information than other simple ping monitors
  • OpManager is a tool designed for IT professionals, it is not designed for non-technical users

OpManager is a software package that can be installed on Windows Server and Linux. ManageEngine offers the monitoring system on a 30-day free trial .

ManageEngine OpManager Start a 30-day free trial

5. Tracert/traceroute

traceroute command for network troubelshooting

Tracert is a utility that is similar toping but shows much more detailed information about the route that your data takes on its journey to the target that you are testing. The internet was designed with redundancy in mind, which means that TCP/IP packets will take the shortest route possible.

  • Reveals data route to target
  • Built into Windows command prompt
  • Displays gateways and bottlenecks
  • Useful for identifying points of failure

Displays the time it takes for a packet to travel from source to destination. Like ping, the highlight of this tool is its simplicity.

If you have network problems like failed connections or high latency, then tracert will give you detailed information about each router that it passes through on its way.

A good choice for individuals and small businesses.

  • Built directly into Windows command prompt
  • Easy to use, simple syntax
  • Displays gateways that your traffic passes through
  • Can see if where a bottleneck occurs during the route
  • Does not provide any root cause analysis or features to aid technicians
  • No visualization features
  • Not a proactive form of monitoring
  • Limited output options for reporting

This will let you know which locations are making your connection fail or perform poorly, so you can identify where the issue is.

This is an excellent tool for finding points of failure on our network as well, especially if your traffic has to pass through more than one router on its journey to the destination IP address or website.

6. Ipconfig/ifconfig

ipconfig and ifconfig commands

If you use a Windows computer, then you can use ipconfig as a way to look at your network adapter’s current configuration.

  • Views network adapter configuration
  • Shows basic network settings
  • Useful for troubleshooting and setup
  • Native to Windows (ipconfig) and Unix/Linux (ifconfig)

Helps to configure network interface and view details about the interface.

You can use ipconfig /all to show you all of the details of your current IP address setup or you can just run ipconfig and you will receive a simpler output of your local settings.

Works well on Mac, Linux, and Unix systems. Hence, well-suited for individuals and small businesses that use these devices.

  • Shows basic network configuration such as gateway, DNS servers, and subnets
  • Can be used with other syntax to perform functions like flushing DNS or renewing an IP address
  • Can take a while for new users to learn all of the different ways ipconfig can be used to troubleshoot
  • Can only apply fixes to one machine at a time

If you are using a Linux or Unix Operating system then you can use ifconfig instead, although it has different parameters to achieve the same goal.

This is a quick alternative to digging around in your operating system’s GUI settings to find your network configuration, and can make the process of checking your IP address a much more simple task by simply typing this command.

Above is the result from typing ipconfig at the command prompt in Windows 10.

7. Nslookup

nslookup command for nameserver lookups

If you want to find out about DNS issues on the network, then nslookup will help you to find out what is going on further down the line on your network. DNS takes an IP address and resolves it against a website name, making it easy for people to navigate the internet as they do not need to remember any IP addresses.

  • Diagnoses DNS issues
  • Resolves IP addresses to website names
  • Useful for connection-specific issues
  • Helps in diagnosing nslookup problems

If the system stops working then when you enter website into your internet browser then it will not resolve to the IP address and you will not connect to the website.

This tool helps to identify issues related to your IP addresses, especially IP-DNS mismatch, multiple IP address mapping, etc. Also, it's a simple tool with a clean interface.

Individuals and network engineers who want to know the IP address or a DNS record of a specific domain name.

  • Great for quickly diagnosing DNS issues when combined with ipconfig
  • Can resolve DNS issues through the CLI without using the GUI, good for remote troubleshooting
  • Can see which DNS server have authority and prioritization
  • Cannot easily change or modify DNS settings for multiple machines
  • Not easy to change DNS within CLI for new users

Nslookup is the tool that will help you to check if this relationship is currently working properly and is a good way to diagnose any issues.

If you can’t resolve the address, then you are probably looking at an nslookup issue.

You can also query a DNS server to check if you have any connection specific issues with your computer, making this an especially useful tool.

netstat command

Netstat helps you to figure out the current state of your network connection. More importantly, it also tells you what is happening with the current state of connections that have been made with the computer.

  • Monitors current state of network connections
  • Reveals active ports and service interactions
  • Identifies suspicious activities
  • Useful for diagnosing program-related network issues

Helps to identify and troubleshoot network traffic issues and to measure performance. Also, displays the network status and protocol statistics.

It shows all of the currently active ports that are listening to your session, which can alert you to any suspicious activities.

Well-suited for individuals and network engineers of small organizations.

  • Can quickly show which connections are actively established on a machine
  • Can find suspicious connections quickly if you know how to interpret netstat information
  • Can filter by TCP connections to limit your scope on noisier networks
  • Doesn’t provide geolocation mapping for connections found
  • Requires training to understand how to properly use netstat in a meaningful way

It will also show you how the different services interact with the open ports on the system, so if you have a program or application that is not working properly then you can take a look and find out exactly what is causing the issue.

9. SolarPuTTY – FREE TOOL

solarwinds putty

SolarPuTTY ( and all of these alternatives to putty ) is a multipurpose application that lets you connect to various devices such as routers, switches and serial controllers.

  • Multipurpose connection and terminal tool
  • Integrates with SCP, SFTP for enhanced functionality
  • Secure credential storage
  • Supports multiple simultaneous connections

An advanced version of PuTTY, as it comes with support for multiple sessions and credential management.

It also has TCP/IP capabilities and allows you to log onto Linux and Unix devices, making this a must-have tool for anyone who needs to connect to various devices at different times throughout the course of their working day.

It is like a multi-tool that allows you to perform multiple functions at any time when you really need to connect to a device that you otherwise could not. It is an excellent replacement for hyper terminal which is no longer included in Windows operating systems.

Ideal for both individuals and enterprises of all sizes.

  • Completely free to use
  • Integrates with SCP and SFTP giving it more functionality than PuTTY
  • Offers secure credential storage for fast and frequent access
  • Can color-code multiple sessions to help organize simultaneous connections
  • Can automatically reconnect if the connection is interrupted
  • Like PuTTY, this tool is designed for technical professionals and requires basic networking knowledge before use

SolarPuTTY has added benefits that the Original Putty doesn't have, including multi-session tabbed windows, Saving sessions, RDP and other protocol support and much more!

SolarPuTTY Get this FREE Tool

10. Subnet and IP Calculator

networking problem solving tools

Most information technology and networking professionals only ever use subnet calculations for exams and larger Sub-networking projects. If you are a planner for a network rollout then you might need to use such a program quite often, and to do this you could rely on your own mathematical skills, sure.

  • Assists in subnetting and network planning
  • Online subnet calculator included
  • Converts IPv4 to IPv6
  • Suited for home labs and small networks

Helps to find the number of subnets in any network address block. It can also get the host range and broadcast address for any subnet.

However, it is much more simple to use a program that works all of these things out for you instead.

The most popular apps that do this for you are:

Solarwinds Advanced Subnet Calculator

Works well for individuals and network engineers working across small and medium organizations.

  • Includes an online subnet calculator
  • Can help you convert from IPv4 to IPv6
  • Better suited for home labs and small networks
  • Lack features larger networks would look for such as address conversion

If you want to download this Free app then you can find the link to the download page of each of these below.

Subnet and IP Calculator Get this FREE Tool

11. Speedtest.net

speedtest internet

How fast is your internet? If you are not sure then you probably want to work that out to ensure that however much you are paying for your connection you are getting your money’s worth. Websites such as speedtest.net . These are applications that establish a connection and then measure how long a file takes to download and upload.

  • Measures internet speed and latency
  • Global server options for connection testing
  • Includes speed metrics
  • Shows external IP address

A reliable tool to test the speed and performance of your Internet connection. Offers metrics and performs video testing.

It also measures the network latency of the connection , which shows how long it takes for the connection to be established between your computer and the speedtest application on the website that you are connecting to.

There are standalone applications that offer similar functionality but speetest.net is the easiest way to give your internet connection a proper test.

Network engineers of all sized organizations.

  • Completely free service
  • Can use servers from all around the world to test connections
  • Not ideal for troubleshooting devices that are offline

Speedtest.net also shows you what your external IP address is, which is handy if you need to remotely connect to your computer from another location and you need to find out what your current IP address is externally

Two bonus command-line tools

Pathping/mtr.

pathping

Pathping/mtr is a combination of ping and tracert , making it much easier for network professionals to run simultaneous tests to that they can establish the condition of a connection.

This can really help save time if you need to perform simultaneous operations from the command line.

Pathping also has additional functions that you wont find with standard versions of ping so this is definitely an application that will save you time if you are running it from the command line.

route print command

Route is used as an effective and simple tool that provides the current state of networking routing for your connection and shows what is available on your connection.

It is yet another valuable tool that you can use as a troubleshooting and diagnostic tool and it can give you valuable insights into the current routing information that your computer has stored.

It lists all of your current network adapters and will show you which ones are active.

Troubleshooting network problems can be a real challenge if you do not have the right tools to help you find out what is going on within your environment.

If this guide has shown anything then it is that you can get by with a lot of free help from these tools as they either ship with the operating system or they are free to download and use.

We hope that this information has been useful and that you can apply some of these techniques and use some of these tools whenever you need to find out exactly what is going on within the network.

Network Troubleshooting Tools FAQs

What are some popular network troubleshooting tools and software.

Some popular network troubleshooting tools and software include:

  • Wireshark, a free and open-source network protocol analyzer.
  • PingPlotter, a network troubleshooting and diagnostic tool that uses traceroute and ping to identify network issues.
  • SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, a comprehensive network monitoring and management tool.
  • PRTG Network Monitor, a network monitoring and management tool that includes advanced sensors and alerting capabilities.
  • Nagios XI, a network monitoring and management tool that provides real-time visibility into network performance and availability.

How do network troubleshooting tools and software work?

Network troubleshooting tools and software work by analyzing network data to identify issues such as slow performance, connectivity problems, and security threats. They can also monitor network activity to detect changes in network traffic or behavior, alerting IT teams to potential issues before they become major problems.

How do I choose the right network troubleshooting tool or software for my organization?

When choosing a network troubleshooting tool or software, consider the specific needs and requirements of your organization, such as the size and complexity of your network, the types of devices and applications you use, and the level of support and resources required.

networking problem solving tools

James Cox is the Editor at ITT Systems and has a Long History in the IT and Network Engineering Field. He Boasts a long list of Credentials ranging from CompTIA Certifications up to Cisco and VMWare points on his Resume.

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Make network problem solving easier with these five apps

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a1_dnsstuff_1.png

DNS Stuff 1

nt This gallery is also available as a post in the TechRepublic Five Apps Blog.

ntNetwork troubleshooting can run the gamut of possibilities. From hardware to software to external, uncontrollable forces, to powerful Jedi mind tricks. When you’re troubleshooting networking issues, the problem can often point toward many and varied issues. When that happens, you’ll want to have access to tools to help you diagnose the issue. One place to turn for such a tool set is the good old Internet.

ntWeb-based networking toolkits often offer numerous ways to test routes, domains, and other issues that will directly affect your network. I have found five solid web-based tools for you to try out. Some are free, some have a price attached; either way, they are all ready to serve.

nt Credit: Images by Jack Wallen for TechRepublic

networking problem solving tools

DNS Stuff 2

Ntfive apps, nt1. dns stuff.

nt DNS Stuff is one of the more powerful network tool kits around. This particular tool isn’t free (though they have a free trial of their Professional Toolkit until August 2013), but it’s certainly one of the most comprehensive set of tools you’ll find.

ntIncluded in the Pro Toolkit are the following: DNS Report (RFC Compliant mitigation steps), ISP Cached DNS Lookup, NS Lookup, Whois//IPWhois Lookup, Top Level Domain Lookup, SSL Examination, Abuse Lookup, Domain Inspector, URL Analyzer, and much more. DNS Stuff also presents you with your external IP address as well as an estimate of your location. With the amount of tools included in the Professional Toolkit, you should be able to troubleshoot numerous external networking issues.

networking problem solving tools

Network-tools 1

Nt2. network-tools.

nt Network-Tools doesn’t offer nearly the plethora of tools as does DNS Stuff, but all of their tools are free for the using. Here you will find quick access to: Ping, Trace Route, Whois, Lookup, DNS Records, Blacklist Check, URL Decode/Encode, Email Test, and more.

ntThe Express test will give you the fastest results as it does a combo of Traceroute, DNS, and Whois testing. The report back from that test will often give you the information you need to immediately begin your first steps of troubleshooting the external connection to your route.

networking problem solving tools

Network-tools 2

networking problem solving tools

DNS Inspect 1

Nt3. dns inspect.

nt DNS Inspect is the tool you want if you’re looking for a fast, free solution that will run fifty tests with a single click. Tests include: IPv6, SOA (Mnam, Rnam, and more), multiple NS tests, multiple MX test, A record tests, glue checks, AAAA records, stealth name servers, hostname, CNAME, mail greeting, accepts postmaster address, WWW tests, and much more. The final report is given a grade and is laid out in such a way that it’s easy to spot warnings and failures.

networking problem solving tools

DNS Inspect 2

networking problem solving tools

nt4. Mr.DNS

nt Mr.DNS offers plenty of the standard tools (DNS lookup, DNSSEC lookup, multi-RBL lookup, SMTP test, SPF validation, etc); but it offers one tool that I really think makes it stand out. That tool is the visual traceroute. With this tool you get map of the location of the IP address as well as the route (with clickable addresses that give you information about each hop made between you and the server. The only caveat is that they don’t offer a “single click” test that generates a full-blown report for all of the tests.

networking problem solving tools

MXRoolbox Supertool 1

Nt5. mxtoolbox supertool.

nt MXToolbox Supertool runs a number of tests on your mail server. This test will check DNS, MX records, blacklist, traceroute, SMTP diagnostics, and much more. Once the test is done, there will be clickable links to explain the results as well as what can (or should) be done to reach a resolution. The real power with Supertool comes after you’ve run the main check on the domain (or IP address). Once the main test is complete, you will be offered a number of links that will run specific tests on the address – that is the meat and potatoes of the MXToolbox Supertool.

networking problem solving tools

MXRoolbox Supertool 2

Ntbottom line.

ntThere is no such thing as having too many tools at the ready. And when you need to have a web-based test, it’s good to have choices. And even if you only come out of this with one or two additional tools for you network administrator’s toolkit, you are that much further ahead of the game. You might already have your go-to network admin tool; but having options might be the thing that saves the day.

ntAlso read:

  • ntt Five must-have portable networking tools
  • ntt Five apps to help with network discovery
  • ntt Five free network monitoring tools

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16 Most Common Network Problems: How to Find & Fix Them

Table of contents.

Intermittent network problems frustrate users, affect productivity levels, overwhelm your IT team, and are a pain for network administrators to solve. There are many problems that can affect network performance, and some of them are very complex to identify and understand.

To address these challenges, we've tailored this article specifically towards business networks, focusing on the most common issues that can plague them. Our aim is to help you proactively identify network problems, allowing you to take prompt action to resolve them. By equipping you with valuable insights and troubleshooting techniques, we intend to minimize network downtime and improve overall network performance.

In addition to our comprehensive guide on network problem identification, we understand the significance of real-time monitoring in maintaining a healthy network. With the combined knowledge of identifying network problems proactively and implementing efficient monitoring measures, you'll be empowered to create a robust and reliable network infrastructure.

To help you proactively identify network problems that may be plaguing your network, we’re running you through some of the most common network problems, including how to monitor and troubleshoot them!

What are Network Problems

Laggy video calls, slow application or network speed , buffering downloads, choppy VoIP Quality , and no Internet connection are examples of network problem symptoms. If you're struggling to perform everyday tasks over the Internet, or unable to use important apps, there's a good chance your network is to blame.

Network problems impact things like, VoIP calls, ERP applications (Netsuite or SAP performance issues ), files downloads, and more. Anytime a bad network disconnection or network connection issues prevents you from accessing something outside your computer, you're likely dealing with a network problem.

There are many different network problems that can affect network performance.

Some network problems can arise from faulty hardware, such as routers, switches, firewalls, and even from unexpected usage patterns, like network bandwidth spikes, changes in app configuration, or security breaches.

Network problems are frustrating, and left unattended, they can have disastrous consequences for your business network. That’s why it’s important to understand what can go wrong with your network and to continuously monitor network performance to quickly identify and fix network problems even before they affect your end-users.

Network Problems

Why Network Problems Are Inevitable For Businesses

Modern technology and the increasing use of hosted services has brought major changes to network and application infrastructures. While these changes have equipped users with more functionality than ever before, they have also greatly increased our dependence on a high functioning network to help us ensure the maintenance of these critical applications.

This means that when a network problem or network error occurs, it can be even more disastrous and difficult to solve.Despite our best efforts, these pesky issues tend to sneak their way in and wreak havoc on our connectivity. Here are some of the main reasons why network problems are bound to happen:

  • Complexity : Business networks are intricate beasts, with numerous devices, servers, and software working in tandem. The more complex the network, the higher the likelihood of something going awry. Managing all these interconnected components can be challenging, and even the tiniest misconfiguration can lead to network hiccups.
  • Human Error : We're all human, and mistakes happen. Whether it's a misconfiguration, a typo in a command, or accidental unplugging of cables, human error is a significant factor behind network problems. No matter how skilled and experienced the IT team is, the occasional oopsie is part of being human.
  • Constant Changes : Business networks are dynamic environments, constantly evolving to accommodate new devices, software updates, and expanding user needs. Each change introduces the potential for compatibility issues, security vulnerabilities, and other problems that need to be addressed.
  • External Factors : The network's performance can be impacted by external factors like internet service provider (ISP) outages, weather-related disruptions, or even cyberattacks. These external influences are often beyond the control of the business and can cause unexpected network troubles. Increased Network Traffic: As a business grows and gains more users, the network faces increased traffic demands. This surge in activity can strain the network infrastructure, leading to slowdowns and bottlenecks.
  • Aging Hardware : Network equipment, like any technology, has a finite lifespan. As hardware ages, it becomes more prone to failures and performance issues. Regular maintenance and upgrades can help mitigate this, but eventually, replacement is inevitable.
  • Security Threats : Cyberattacks and security breaches pose a constant threat to business networks. From malware infiltrations to DDoS attacks, these security issues can disrupt network operations and cause considerable downtime.

While network problems are inevitable, they are not insurmountable. With proactive and active network monitoring , regular maintenance, and a skilled IT team, businesses can minimize the impact of these issues and keep their networks running smoothly most of the time.

And knowing which network problems can affect your network the most can help you understand how to identify network issues fast.

How to Identify the Most Common Network Problems With Network Monitoring

When it comes to identifying and troubleshoot the most common network problems bound to pop up in your business' network - you're not alone! The best tool at your disposal is a Network Monitoring software.

A Network Monitoring tool (or Network Performance Monitoring) monitors end-to-end network performance to identify network issues affecting your end-users, whether the problems occur in your local network infrastructure, over the Internet, or even in a service provider's network.

We recommend a software like Obkio Network Performance Monitoring Software because it does the work for you.

Free Trial - Banner - Generic

Here's a quick overview about how to Use Obkio to identify and troubleshoot the network problems in this article:

Step 1: Set Up Network Monitoring

Obkio is an end-to-end Network Monitoring tool built to monitor and troubleshoot network problems related to connectivity, performance, VoIP, UC, Internet, network devices and more - for all network types!

Free Trial - Text CTA

Step 2: Monitor All Network Locations

Obkio identifies network problems using Monitoring Agents , which are deployed at key network locations and continuously exchange synthetic traffic for synthetic testing . Install Obkio's agents on strategic points within your network, such as routers, switches, or end-user devices. These agents will collect data on various network metrics like latency, packet loss, and bandwidth.

The Agents are deployed in locations like head offices, branch offices, and data centers for end-user experience monitoring , Internet performance, VoIP applications, UC apps, and more. They can also be installed in the Cloud for Cloud Network Monitoring (this can include Microsoft network monitoring , Zoom monitoring , AWS network monitoring , etc.).

Step 3: Measure Network Metrics:

Install Obkio's agents on strategic points within your network, such as routers, switches, or end-user devices. These agents will continuously measure and collect data on various network metrics like latency, packet loss, bandwidth usage, DNS response times, and other crucial performance indicators.

Step 4: Establish Baselines:

Monitor your network's performance under normal conditions to establish baseline metrics. This data will serve as a reference point for identifying deviations from normal behavior.

Step 5: Configure Alerts

Define specific thresholds for each metric, and set up alerts to notify you when a metric exceeds its defined limit. This will enable you to detect anomalies and potential issues in real-time.

Step 6: Investigate Alerts

When an alert is triggered, investigate the issue promptly. Use Obkio's real-time data and historical analysis to pinpoint the problematic area or device.

Step 7: Path Analysis

Utilize Obkio's path analysis feature to assess the performance of different routes taken by network traffic. This helps you identify congested paths and optimize routing.

Step 8: Trend Analysis

Regularly review historical data and performance trends to spot patterns or recurring problems. This analysis can reveal issues that might not be immediately apparent from real-time network monitoring .

Step 9: Collaborate and Resolve

Involve your IT team in the troubleshooting process, using Obkio's visualizations and data to facilitate collaboration. Work together to resolve network problems efficiently.

Obkio - Common Network Problems

The Most Common Network Problems

Now let’s run through some of the most common network problems (or network errors) that have left many users and network administrators pulling out their hair!

But worry not, brave troubleshooters, we're not leaving you to wrestle with these issues alone. In addition to discussing each type of network problem, we'll equip you with valuable tips and techniques to identify and troubleshoot them like seasoned network warriors. So for each network problem we'll discuss:

  • What the network problem is
  • The consequences of that network problem
  • The causes of the network problem
  • How to identify & troubleshoot the network problem

Network Problem #1. Intermittent Network Problems

Intermittent network problems are a frustrating and common network issue characterized by sporadic disruptions in network connectivity and performance . Unlike consistent or continuous problems, intermittent issues occur irregularly, making them challenging to diagnose and troubleshoot.

These problems can manifest in various ways, including intermittent connection drops, slow data transfer, or periods of complete network unavailability.

I. The Consequences of Intermittent Network Problems:

  • Unpredictable Performance : Intermittent issues make network performance unpredictable, leading to inconsistent user experiences.
  • Unreliable Connectivity : Users may experience unreliable connectivity, with connections dropping unexpectedly or becoming temporarily unresponsive.
  • Productivity Loss : Intermittent network problems can disrupt workflow and lead to productivity losses.
  • Difficult Troubleshooting : Diagnosing intermittent issues can be challenging and time-consuming, delaying the resolution process.

II. The Causes of Intermittent Network Problems

  • Loose or Damaged Cables : Interference from loose, damaged, or improperly connected network cables can result in intermittent connectivity issues.
  • Wireless Interference : Radio frequency interference or signal blockage can lead to intermittent disruptions in Wi-Fi networks.
  • Hardware Malfunctions : Intermittent network issues may arise from faulty network devices , such as routers, switches, or network interface cards (NICs).
  • Software Conflicts : Software conflicts, outdated drivers, or firmware bugs can cause intermittent disruptions in network communication.
  • Overheating : Network devices can experience intermittent issues when they overheat due to inadequate cooling or poor ventilation.
  • IP Address Conflicts : Conflicting IP addresses assigned to devices can lead to intermittent connectivity problems.

III. How to Identify and Troubleshoot Intermittent Network Problems

  • Network Monitoring : Utilize network monitoring tools like Obkio to continuously track network performance, diagnose network issues , identify patterns of intermittent issues and monitor metrics like network error rate .
  • Log Analysis : Examine network device logs to identify any recurring error messages or patterns during periods of intermittent disruptions.
  • Cable and Connection Checks : Physically inspect network cables and connections to ensure they are secure and undamaged.
  • Device Testing : Test network performance and network devices under different conditions to identify any intermittent hardware malfunctions.
  • Software Updates : Ensure that network devices have the latest firmware, drivers, and software updates to fix known bugs and compatibility issues.
  • Environmental Assessment : Evaluate the environmental conditions of network devices and ensure they are adequately cooled and placed in suitable locations.
  • IP Address Management: Implement IP address management practices to prevent conflicts and ensure proper assignment of IP addresses.

By diligently identifying and addressing intermittent network problems, businesses can create a more stable and reliable network environment, minimizing disruptions and ensuring a consistent user experience. Network monitoring and thorough troubleshooting play a crucial role in detecting and resolving intermittent issues promptly.

Learn how to detect intermittent network problems to troubleshoot performance issues that are hard to catch with Obkio Network Monitoring software.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Intermittent Network Problems

Intermittent network problems can be frustrating and challenging to troubleshoot because they occur sporadically and may not be immediately apparent. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with intermittent network problems:

  • Loose or Damaged Cables : Physical issues with network cables, such as loose connections or damaged cables, can lead to intermittent connectivity problems. Inspect cables and connectors for any visible damage or loose connections.
  • Wireless Interference : In a wireless network, interference from other wireless devices, neighboring networks, or electronic devices can cause intermittent connectivity issues. Conduct a wireless site survey and identify potential sources of interference.
  • DHCP Issues : Problems with the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server can result in intermittent IP address assignment, leading to connectivity problems. Check DHCP logs and ensure the DHCP server is properly configured and responsive.
  • DNS Problems : DNS (Domain Name System) issues can cause intermittent access to websites and services. Verify DNS settings and check for any DNS-related errors in the logs.
  • Misconfigured Firewall or Security Software : Overly aggressive firewall rules or misconfigured security software can block legitimate traffic and cause intermittent connectivity problems. Review firewall and security software settings for potential issues.
  • Bandwidth Saturation : Periodic spikes in network traffic can saturate the available bandwidth and cause intermittent connectivity problems. Monitor network traffic patterns to identify potential bandwidth saturation points.
  • Network Device Overheating : Overheating of network devices, such as routers or switches, can lead to intermittent network outages or services outages (ex. Microsoft Teams outages ). Ensure that network equipment is properly ventilated and not subjected to excessive heat.
  • Firmware or Software Bugs : Firmware or software bugs in network devices can cause intermittent problems. Check for firmware updates and apply the latest patches from the manufacturer.
  • Duplicate IP Addresses : Duplicate IP addresses on the network can result in intermittent connectivity issues. Use network scanning tools to check for duplicate IP addresses.
  • Routing Issues : Incorrect or unstable routing configurations can lead to intermittent connectivity problems. Review routing tables and ensure they are correctly configured.
  • Power Fluctuations : Power fluctuations or intermittent power supply issues can cause network devices to reboot or lose connectivity. Use uninterrupted power supply (UPS) units to provide stable power to critical network equipment.
  • Network Congestion : During periods of high network usage , congestion can cause intermittent performance issues. Monitor network traffic during peak hours and consider implementing Quality of Service (QoS) policies.
  • Malware or Security Breaches : Malware infections or security breaches can cause intermittent network disruptions. Regularly scan for malware and implement robust security measures.

Network Problem #2. High Bandwidth Usage

Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data transmitted over an Internet connection in a given amount of time.

It refers to a network’s capacity to transfer data between devices or the Internet within a given span of time. Bandwidth is often mistaken for Internet speed when it's actually the volume of information that can be sent over a connection in a measured amount of time – calculated in megabits per second (Mbps).

Higher bandwidth allows data to be transferred across your network at a faster rate and can sustain a larger number of connected devices all at once - but it can significantly impact network performance and user experience.

It occurs when a considerable amount of data is being transmitted over the network, leading to increased congestion and potential bottlenecks . When someone or something, like a large application, on your network is monopolizing your bandwidth by downloading gigabytes worth of data, it creates a congestion in your network.

This excessive data transfer can result from various factors, both legitimate and non-legitimate, and it's essential to identify and address the root cause to maintain a smoothly functioning network.

high bandwidth usage - Common Network Problems

I. The Consequences of High Bandwidth Usage:

  • Network Congestion : Network congestion caused by high bandwidth usage, also runs the risk of leaving insufficient amounts of bandwidth for other parts of your network that need it. When this happens, you may start experiencing problems like slow download speed over the Internet.
  • Slow Network Performance : High bandwidth consumption can lead to slower network speeds, causing delays in accessing resources and data.
  • Latency and Packet Loss : As network resources become saturated, latency (delay) and packet loss may increase, affecting real-time applications like VoIP or video conferencing.
  • Reduced Productivity : Sluggish network performance can hamper productivity, as users may experience delays in performing critical tasks.
  • Increased Costs : Excessive bandwidth usage can lead to overage charges from internet service providers (ISPs) if they exceed the Internet SLA , or the need to upgrade to higher-tier plans, resulting in higher operational costs. Network Downtime: In extreme cases, high bandwidth usage can lead to network outages if the infrastructure is not equipped to handle the traffic load.

II. The Causes of High Bandwidth

  • Large Downloads : Downloads consisting of large files that are being placed on your computer's harddrive from the Internet, like file transfers or backups, can drastically increase bandwidth usage. The more bytes the file contains, the higher your bandwidth usage.
  • Latency : Latency refers to the time it takes for a data packet to reach its destination in a network, can. Consistent delays or odd spikes in delay time are signs of major performance issues and can affect bandwidth time.
  • Packet Loss : Packet Loss occurs when a data packet is dropped during its journey across a network and never makes it to its final destination and back. It can cause a great deal of problems depending on how much of the packet does not go through and how often it occurs.
  • Video Streaming : Streaming videos from the Internet is a more common cause of high bandwidth usage. Streaming video in 7k can take up to 200 times more bandwidth than audio streaming.
  • Large Applications : Different applications have different requirements. Applications that require Internet connection, like programs for web development, email, computer games, etc. require a lot of bandwidth to function and can therefore increase your bandwidth usage.
  • File Sharing : There are programs that allow users to share files from computer-to-computer connection over the Internet. These programs can result in high bandwidth usage as they require you to download and transfer large files, with large amounts of data, over the Internet.
  • Legitimate Traffic : Legitimate high-bandwidth activities, such as large file transfers, video conferencing, cloud backups, and software updates, can consume significant network resources. While these activities are essential for business operations, they can lead to congestion during peak usage times.
  • Malware and Unauthorized Activities : Malicious software or unauthorized users can exploit network resources, leading to unanticipated spikes in bandwidth usage. Botnets, malware downloads, or unauthorized file sharing can cause significant disruptions.
  • Background Updates : Automatic updates for operating systems, applications, and antivirus software can utilize bandwidth without user intervention. These updates can coincide and cause temporary surges in bandwidth usage.
  • P2P File Sharing : Peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing applications can lead to high bandwidth usage as users upload and download files directly from each other.

How to measure bandwidth, identify issues & optimize network performance. Use Obkio's Network Performance Monitoring tool for easy bandwidth monitoring.

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot High Bandwidth Usage

  • Network Monitoring : Use a network monitoring tool like Obkio to measure bandwidth and track bandwidth usage in real-time. Observe usage patterns and identify any unusual spikes or sustained high traffic.
  • Application Analysis : Analyze the bandwidth consumption of various applications to identify resource-intensive processes. This will help you pinpoint which applications are contributing the most to high usage.
  • Quality of Service (QoS) Policies : Implement QoS policies to prioritize critical applications and services over less important ones. This ensures that essential operations receive sufficient bandwidth even during peak usage.
  • Bandwidth Optimization : Utilize bandwidth optimization techniques such as compression, caching, or content filtering to reduce overall data transfer.
  • Traffic Shaping : Employ traffic shaping mechanisms to control and limit bandwidth usage for specific applications or users.
  • Identify Malware or Unauthorized Activity : Regularly scan for malware and unauthorized users on the network, and implement security measures to prevent exploitation.

By proactively identifying and addressing high bandwidth usage, businesses can maintain a responsive and efficient network, enhancing overall productivity and user satisfaction.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for High Bandwidth Usage

High bandwidth usage can lead to various network performance issues and can be caused by several factors. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to investigate when experiencing high bandwidth usage:

  • Malware or Botnet Activity : Malware-infected devices or botnet activity can consume significant bandwidth as they may be involved in malicious activities such as sending spam emails or participating in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Use network monitoring tools to identify suspicious traffic patterns and isolate infected devices.
  • Streaming and Video Content : High-quality video streaming or large file downloads can consume substantial bandwidth. Check for excessive video streaming or downloads that might be impacting the network, especially during peak hours.
  • Cloud Services or Backups : Cloud services and data backups can utilize substantial bandwidth, especially if they are scheduled to occur during business hours. Check the bandwidth consumption of cloud services (with Microsoft Cloud Monitoring for example) and backup applications to see if adjustments can be made to their schedules.
  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File Sharing : P2P file sharing applications can consume a significant amount of bandwidth, especially if multiple users are involved. Identify and control P2P traffic on the network.
  • Software Updates : Automatic software updates from operating systems and applications can lead to sudden spikes in bandwidth usage. Ensure that updates are scheduled during off-peak hours.
  • Network Misconfiguration : Misconfigured network devices, such as routers or switches, can lead to unnecessary broadcast/multicast traffic or loops that cause high bandwidth usage. Verify the network configuration for any issues.
  • Bandwidth-Intensive Applications : Some applications inherently consume more bandwidth than others. Identify and analyze bandwidth usage by specific applications and determine if any optimization or restriction is required.
  • Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs) : Improperly configured VLANs can lead to unnecessary traffic and high bandwidth usage. Review VLAN configurations to ensure they are set up correctly.
  • Wireless Network Interference : In a wireless network, interference from other devices, neighboring networks, or non-Wi-Fi devices operating in the same frequency range can cause high bandwidth utilization. Perform a wireless site survey and optimize Wi-Fi settings.
  • Data Backups and Replication : Data backup and replication processes between geographically dispersed sites can consume significant bandwidth. Review backup and replication schedules and consider using deduplication and compression techniques.
  • Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks : DoS attacks can overwhelm a network with an excessive amount of traffic, leading to high bandwidth usage. Implement DoS protection mechanisms and analyze traffic patterns for signs of an ongoing attack.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Devices : The proliferation of IoT devices can contribute to increased bandwidth consumption if they are transmitting large amounts of data. Monitor IoT device traffic and assess their impact on overall bandwidth.

To troubleshoot high bandwidth usage, it is essential to use network monitoring tools that provide insights into traffic patterns, application usage, and device behaviour, like we mentioned in the last point. With this information, you can identify the root cause of the problem and take appropriate measures to optimize network performance.

Network Problem #3. High CPU Usage

CPU, or “ Central Processing Unit ”, is the primary component of a computer that receives and processes instructions for operating systems and applications.

High CPU usage is another common network problem that can significantly impact the performance and stability of a network. It occurs when the central processing unit (CPU) of a network device, such as a router, switch, firewall, or server, is operating at or near its maximum capacity . This can lead to various issues that affect the overall network functionality and user experience.

With such a big job on its shoulders, the signs of high CPU usage on a network device are a very troubling sign for many of us. As your network devices continue to work harder to perform an increasing amount of tasks, it increases the chance that things can go wrong.

Network Firewall CPU Monitoring Network Problems

I. The Consequences of High CPU Usage

  • Sluggish Network Performance : High CPU usage can lead to delays in processing network traffic, causing slow response times and increased latency.
  • Packet Loss : When the CPU is overloaded, it may drop packets, resulting in packet loss, which can degrade the quality of real-time applications like VoIP or video conferencing.
  • Network Downtime : In extreme cases, when the CPU is overwhelmed, the device may become unresponsive, leading to network outages and disruptions.
  • Security Vulnerabilities : High CPU usage can leave network devices more vulnerable to security threats as their ability to handle security tasks is compromised.

II. The Causes of High CPU Usage

The most common reason for high CPU usage occurs when your network becomes bogged down by enormous amounts of traffic. CPU usage can increase drastically when processes require more time to execute or when a larger number of network packets are sent and received throughout your network.

There are a number of network devices such as switches that have hardware components (ASICs or NPUs) that take charge and process packets super quickly. For this equipment, the CPU usage is not linked to the amount of traffic.

For equipment that analyzes or manipulates traffic, like firewalls, that's a whole different story. Depending on the features that you’ve enabled on your devices, the CPU may be in the critical path of packet routing or forwarding. If overused, network metrics like latency , jitter , and packet loss will increase, which will lead to significant levels of network performance degradation.

In summary, some common causes include:

  • Network Traffic Overload : A sudden surge in network traffic or sustained high levels of data transfer can overwhelm the CPU, especially on devices handling routing, switching, or security tasks.
  • Network Security Operations : CPU usage may spike during security-related activities such as deep packet inspection, intrusion detection, or denial-of-service attack mitigation.
  • Resource-Intensive Applications : CPU usage can be driven up by resource-intensive applications running on servers or other network devices.
  • Firmware/Software Bugs : Firmware or software bugs can cause abnormal CPU usage, leading to unexpected behavior and degraded performance.

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot High CPU Usage

It can sometimes be difficult to gather the right information about the actual use of CPU. Several monitoring tools such as those included in the equipment's GUI or a poorly configured monitoring tool can report an average value on the use of 8 cores or over too long periods, such as every 5, 15 or 60 minutes. Which isn't enough - so to identify and troubleshoot - you need to go further!

  • Network Monitoring : Employ a network monitoring tool like Obkio to track CPU utilization on network devices. Monitor CPU usage in real-time and set up alerts for abnormally high CPU levels.
  • Identify Resource-Intensive Processes : Use monitoring tools and device logs to identify resource-intensive processes or applications causing high CPU usage.
  • Adjust Network Traffic : Implement traffic shaping or quality of service (QoS) policies to prioritize critical traffic and prevent CPU overload during periods of heavy network usage.
  • Software/Firmware Updates : Regularly update device firmware and software to patch bugs and optimize performance.
  • Optimize Applications : Consider optimizing resource-intensive applications or distributing their load across multiple devices to reduce CPU burden.
  • Security Measures : Ensure that security policies and mechanisms are properly configured to manage security-related CPU tasks effectively.
  • Device Upgrades : If network devices are consistently experiencing high CPU usage, consider upgrading to more powerful hardware that can better handle the network load.

By promptly identifying and resolving high CPU usage issues, businesses can maintain a stable and responsive network environment, ensuring smooth operations and enhanced user satisfaction.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for High CPU Usage

High CPU usage in a network can impact the performance of network devices, leading to sluggish response times, increased latency, and potential service disruptions. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with high CPU usage on network devices:

  • Traffic Spikes : Monitor network traffic patterns to identify if there are sudden spikes in data volume that could be causing high CPU usage. Investigate the source of the increased traffic and determine if it is legitimate or if it indicates a potential DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack.
  • Packet Storms or Broadcast Storms : Excessive packet storms or broadcast storms can overload the CPU of network devices. Use packet capture tools to analyze the traffic and identify any sources of storms.
  • Malware or Botnet Activity : Malware infections on network devices can cause high CPU utilization as they might be involved in malicious activities. Use security monitoring tools to detect and remove malware from affected devices.
  • Routing or Switching Loops : Misconfigured or redundant routing or switching paths can cause loops, leading to a significant increase in CPU usage. Review the device configurations to ensure there are no loop-causing issues.
  • Software Bugs or Memory Leaks : Software bugs or memory leaks within the operating system or network device firmware can cause CPU usage to spike over time. Ensure that the network devices have the latest firmware updates and patches.
  • Network Device Overloading : If a network device is overloaded with traffic due to the number of connected devices or the volume of data being processed, the CPU usage can increase. Consider load balancing or upgrading the device to handle higher traffic volumes.
  • Large Scale Routing Updates : In networks with dynamic routing protocols, large-scale routing updates can cause CPU spikes on routers. Analyze routing update events and fine-tune the routing protocols to minimize the impact.
  • Monitoring or Debugging Tools : Certain monitoring or debugging tools running on network devices might consume a significant amount of CPU resources. Evaluate the impact of such tools and adjust their configurations if necessary.
  • Quality of Service (QoS) Misconfiguration : Improperly configured QoS policies can lead to unnecessary CPU usage as the devices attempt to classify and prioritize traffic. Review and optimize QoS policies.
  • Hardware Issues : Faulty hardware components, such as failing CPUs or inadequate cooling systems, can lead to high CPU usage. Perform hardware diagnostics and replace any faulty components.
  • Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS) : IDS/IPS systems can be CPU-intensive, especially when handling a large number of network packets. Fine-tune the IDS/IPS settings and consider distributing the load across multiple devices if applicable.
  • Virtualization Overhead : In virtualized environments, the hypervisor's CPU overhead can impact network device performance. Adjust virtualization settings and resource allocations as needed.

Uncover the secrets of measuring CPU usage in networking. Navigate high seas of performance with insights. Optimize with Obkio's Monitoring tool.

Network Problem #4. Physical Connectivity Issues

It may seem obvious, but some network issues may occur with the hardware outside of the network.

When the time comes to troubleshoot network issues , our instinct is often to think about the most complex situations, when sometimes the problem is actually very simple and right in front of us.

Hardware problems like defective cables or connectors can generate network errors on the network equipment to which it is connected . You may think that this problem is due to a network outage or network failure , or Internet connection problem, but it’s actually because you have a broken or malfunctioning cable.

This can also occur outside of the LAN network . If a copper cable, or fiber-optic cable is damaged, it will likely reduce the amount of data that can go through it without any packet loss.

I. The Consequences of Physical Connectivity Issues

Physical connectivity problems can manifest in various ways, leading to network outages, slow data transfer, or intermittent connectivity.

  • Network Outages : A complete loss of physical connectivity can lead to network outages, preventing users from accessing network resources.
  • Intermittent Connectivity : Loose or damaged cables may cause intermittent connectivity issues, resulting in unreliable network access.
  • Slow Data Transfer : Poor physical connections can lead to data transmission errors and retransmissions, slowing down data transfer rates.
  • Increased Downtime* : The time spent identifying and resolving physical connectivity issues can lead to increased network downtime and reduced productivity.

II. The Causes of Physical Connectivity Issues

  • Loose or Damaged Cables : Loose, damaged, or improperly connected cables can lead to signal loss and intermittent connectivity. Cables that are bent, frayed, or crushed may not transmit data effectively.
  • Faulty Connectors : Connectors that are not securely attached or have bent pins can result in poor connections between devices, leading to data transmission issues.
  • Cable Length : Using cables that exceed their maximum recommended length can lead to signal degradation and data loss.
  • Poorly Crimped or Terminated Cables : Improperly crimped or terminated cables may cause signal interference and connectivity problems.
  • Network Device Issues : Faulty network interface cards (NICs) or malfunctioning ports on switches or routers can cause physical connectivity problems.
  • Environmental Factors : External factors such as water damage, extreme temperatures, or physical disturbances can impact network cables and connectors.

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot Physical Connectivity Issues

  • Network Monitoring : Checking every cable one by one can be repetitive, and can take a large amount of time out of your day. A simple way to monitor cables on a defective connector is to have a network performance monitoring software , like Obkio, that will measure network errors on all network interfaces and warn you if any problems arise.
  • Visual Inspection : Perform a physical inspection of cables, connectors, and network devices to identify any visible signs of damage or loose connections.
  • Cable Testing : Use cable testers to check for continuity and proper termination of network cables. Swap Cables and Connectors: If possible, try replacing suspect cables and connectors with known-good ones to determine if the issue persists.
  • Check Device Indicators : Examine network device indicators, such as LED lights, to see if they indicate any connectivity or link issues.
  • Environmental Assessment : Ensure that network equipment is kept in suitable environmental conditions, free from water damage, extreme temperatures, and physical obstructions.
  • Label and Organize Cables : Properly label and organize network cables to prevent accidental disconnections and make troubleshooting easier.
  • Update Firmware and Drivers : Ensure that network devices have up-to-date firmware and drivers to minimize the risk of hardware-related issues.

Learn how to troubleshoot network issues by identifying where, what, why network problems occur with Network Troubleshooting tools.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Physical Connectivity Issues

Physical connectivity issues can disrupt network communication and lead to various network problems. Troubleshooting physical connectivity issues requires a systematic approach and attention to detail. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with physical connectivity issues:

  • Check Physical Connections : Verify that all network cables, connectors, and ports are properly connected and securely seated. Ensure that Ethernet cables are not damaged and have all pins intact.
  • Swap Cables and Ports : If possible, swap suspect cables with known-working ones and test different network ports on the devices to rule out faulty cables or ports.
  • Check Link Lights : Observe the link lights on network devices (routers, switches, and network interface cards) to determine if the devices are detecting link signals. If link lights are not active, it could indicate a physical connectivity problem.
  • Inspect Patch Panels and Wall Outlets : In structured cabling systems, examine patch panels and wall outlets to ensure cables are correctly terminated and properly labeled.
  • Use Cable Testers : Cable testers can help identify faulty cables, open circuits, or short circuits. Use a cable tester to check the integrity of network cables.
  • Check Power Over Ethernet (PoE) : For PoE devices, ensure that power is being supplied correctly over the Ethernet cables.
  • Verify Power Status : Check the power status of network devices to ensure they are powered on and functioning correctly.
  • Check Physical Damage or Environmental Factors : Look for physical damage to network cables caused by bending, crushing, or exposure to environmental elements. Address any environmental factors that might be affecting the cables, such as excessive heat or moisture.
  • Review Network Topology : Review the network topology to ensure that cables are appropriately connected between devices and network segments.
  • Test Connectivity with Known Devices : Test connectivity with known working devices to isolate the issue to specific network segments or components.
  • Check Wiring Standards : Ensure that network cabling adheres to appropriate wiring standards (e.g., TIA/EIA 568) and that cables are of the correct category (e.g., Cat 5e, Cat 6, etc.) for the required network speeds.
  • Check Cable Lengths : Verify that the cable lengths do not exceed the maximum allowed length for the chosen cable category and network technology (e.g., Ethernet has specific cable length limits).
  • Inspect Network Devices' LEDs : Network devices like switches and routers often have LEDs that indicate port activity and speed. Observe these LEDs to identify any abnormal behavior.
  • Check Physical Security : Ensure that physical access to network devices and cables is restricted to authorized personnel to prevent accidental or intentional disconnections.
  • Consider EMI/RFI Interference : Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) or Radio-Frequency Interference (RFI) from nearby electrical devices can affect network connectivity . Isolate network devices from potential sources of interference.
  • Inspect Fiber Optic Connections : If your network uses fiber optic cables, check the connectors and fiber ends for any dirt, damage, or misalignment.

Network Problem #5. Malfunctioning Devices or Equipment

Sometimes, network issues occur within network equipment or devices like Firewalls, Routers, Switches, Wifi APs.

Malfunctioning devices or equipment are a common network problem that can disrupt network operations and lead to various connectivity issues. This category encompasses hardware failures or malfunctions within network devices, such as routers, switches, firewalls, servers, or network interface cards (NICs) . When devices malfunction, they may experience performance degradation or cease to function altogether, impacting the overall network performance and user experience.

You need to ensure that all the devices on your network are configured correctly in order for your network to work properly. Whenever you install or reconfigure a device, or upgrade equipment firmware on your network, you need to test that device to ensure that it’s been configured correctly.

Many network performance issues are caused by device misconfigurations that can affect different parts of your network and turn into major problems down the line. That’s why you need to pay attention to all the switches and devices on your network to ensure that they’re always working as they should be, and react quickly if they aren’t.

I. The Consequences of Malfunctioning Devices or Equipment

  • Network Downtime : When crucial network devices fail, it can result in network outages and disrupt communication and data transfer.
  • Slow Performance : Malfunctioning devices may struggle to process network traffic efficiently, leading to slow data transfer and increased latency.
  • Data Loss : Hardware failures can cause data loss, especially if the malfunctioning device is responsible for data storage or backups.
  • Reduced Reliability : Frequent device malfunctions erode the network's reliability, causing frustration for users and hindering business operations.

II. The Causes of Malfunctioning Devices or Equipment

  • Hardware Failure : Components within network devices can fail due to wear and tear, manufacturing defects, or age. Common hardware failures include power supply issues, memory failures, or fan malfunctions.
  • Overheating : Network devices that are not adequately cooled or positioned in poorly ventilated areas can overheat, leading to malfunctions and performance degradation.
  • Software Bugs : Firmware or software bugs within network devices can cause erratic behavior or crashes, impacting their ability to function correctly.
  • Power Surges or Electrical Issues : Power surges or electrical problems can damage network devices and render them inoperable.
  • Environmental Factors : Adverse environmental conditions, such as exposure to moisture, dust, or extreme temperatures, can contribute to device malfunction.

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot Malfunctioning Devices or Equipment

  • Network Device Monitoring : Use network monitoring tools like Obkio to track device performance metrics, such as CPU usage, memory utilization, and temperature readings. Abnormal values may indicate potential device malfunctions. Obkio’s network device monitoring solution is a simple and easy solution that offers advanced polling for SNMP Monitoring for all SNMP-enabled devices along your network to ensure they’re all performing as they should be.
  • Device Logs : Review device logs and error messages to identify any hardware or software-related issues reported by the device.
  • Hardware Diagnostics : Many network devices come with built-in diagnostic tools that can identify hardware failures or malfunctions.
  • Hardware Replacement : If a device is suspected to be malfunctioning, consider replacing it with a known-working spare or a new device to confirm if the issue is resolved.
  • Firmware/Software Updates : Ensure that devices have the latest firmware and software updates to fix known bugs and optimize performance.
  • Temperature Management : Check the environmental conditions of network devices and ensure they are adequately cooled and placed in suitable locations.
  • Power Protection : Implement surge protectors and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems to safeguard devices against electrical issues.

By proactively identifying and addressing malfunctioning devices or equipment, businesses can reduce network downtime, maintain reliable operations, and ensure an efficient and responsive network infrastructure.

Learn how to identify network issues by looking at common problems, causes, consequences and solutions.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Malfunctioning Devices or Equipment

When dealing with malfunctioning network devices or equipment, prompt troubleshooting is essential to identify and resolve the issues efficiently. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when facing malfunctioning devices or equipment:

  • Device Power Status : Check if the malfunctioning device is powered on and receiving adequate power. Verify power connections and consider testing the device with a different power source or power cable.
  • Device Reset or Reboot : Perform a controlled restart or reboot of the malfunctioning device. Sometimes, a simple restart can resolve temporary issues.
  • Check Device Status Lights : Observe the status lights or LEDs on the malfunctioning device to identify any error codes or abnormal behavior. Refer to the device's documentation for guidance.
  • Verify Firmware/Software Versions : Ensure that the device's firmware or software is up to date. If available, apply the latest firmware updates or patches from the manufacturer's website.
  • Inspect Device Logs : Review the device logs to identify any error messages or alerts that might indicate the cause of the malfunction.
  • Device Configuration : Verify the device configuration to ensure it aligns with the network's requirements and network monitoring best practices . Look for misconfigurations or conflicting settings.
  • Isolate Device from the Network : Temporarily disconnect the malfunctioning device from the network to determine if it is the cause of broader network issues.
  • Test Connectivity and Cable : Check the connectivity of the malfunctioning device by testing it with a known-working cable and connecting it to a different network port.
  • Temperature and Ventilation : Overheating can cause devices to malfunction. Ensure that the device has adequate ventilation and is not exposed to excessive heat.
  • Test with Different Ports : If the device has multiple ports, test with different ports to check for faulty hardware on specific interfaces.
  • Check for Hardware Faults : Examine the device's physical components for any signs of damage or hardware faults.
  • Reinstall or Reset Device : If appropriate, consider reinstalling or performing a factory reset on the malfunctioning device to rule out software-related issues.
  • Device Interoperability : Verify if the malfunctioning device is compatible with other devices on the network. Ensure that it supports required protocols and standards.
  • Replace or Repair Faulty Components : If hardware components are found to be faulty, consider replacing or repairing them.
  • Check for Environmental Factors : Determine if the malfunction could be caused by environmental factors such as electromagnetic interference or power fluctuations.
  • Update Drivers : For network interface cards and other peripheral devices, update drivers to the latest versions to address potential compatibility issues.
  • Verify Network Connectivity : Confirm that the malfunctioning device is connected to the correct network and VLAN (if applicable).
  • Seek Vendor Support : If the issue persists or is beyond your troubleshooting capabilities, contact the vendor's technical support for further assistance.

Always document the troubleshooting steps and any changes made to the device or network during the process. Thorough documentation helps in future reference and sharing information with others who might be assisting with the troubleshooting process.

Network Problem #6. DNS Issues

DNS or Domain Name System, controls how visitors find your website over the Internet.

It is essentially a directory for the Internet (and every Internet-connected device) that matches domain names with IP addresses. Every single website has its own IP address on the web, and computers can connect to other computers via the Internet and look up websites using their IP address. When you type in a domain name in your Internet browser, DNS works to find the information connected to that domain.

DNS issues are very common network problems that many people tend to overlook. DNS issues occur when you are unable to connect to an IP address, signalling that you may have lost network or Internet access . For example, your site can simultaneously appear online for you, but looks to be offline to your visitors.

When DNS issues arise, users may experience difficulties accessing websites, sending emails, or connecting to network resources.

I. The Consequences of DNS Issues

The inability to access the Internet or particular sites can have a very immediate and negative impact on your business - especially if it means that users cannot access your site. Just a few hours offline can cost your company in more ways than one, which is why it’s important to find and fix DNS problems as soon as possible.

  • Website Inaccessibility : Users may be unable to access websites or services due to failed DNS resolutions.
  • Email Delivery Issues : DNS problems can affect email delivery, causing delays or preventing emails from being sent or received.
  • Slow Internet Browsing : DNS lookup delays can result in sluggish website loading times and overall slow internet browsing experiences.
  • Security Risks : DNS hijacking or cache poisoning can lead to security vulnerabilities, exposing users to phishing attacks or other malicious activities

II. The Causes of DNS Issues

  • Bad Configurations: You may experience issues due to improper configuration of DNS records .
  • High DNS Latency: High Latency, which is the measure of time it takes for data to reach its destination across a network, can cause slow and abnormally long loading times.
  • High TTL Values: High “time to live” values on your records, will lead to high propagation wait times. Traceroute tools, like Obkio’s Live Traceroutes feature and Obkio Vision Visual Traceroue tool , actually track and monitor TTL values.
  • Hardware/Network Failures: DNS problems can be caused by hardware failures on the host machine or network failures. Troubleshoot network/ hardware configuration settings using a network performance monitoring tool to identify the source of the problem.
  • DNS Server Outages : If the DNS server responsible for resolving domain names becomes unavailable or experiences downtime, users will be unable to access websites or services.
  • Misconfigured DNS Settings : Incorrectly configured DNS settings on network devices or client systems can lead to failed DNS lookups.
  • DNS Cache Poisoning : Malicious actors can compromise DNS caches, leading to incorrect or spoofed DNS records being served, redirecting users to malicious websites.
  • Network Connectivity Issues : Internet connectivity issues or problems or routing can prevent DNS queries from reaching DNS servers or receiving responses and lead to network connectivity issues
  • DNS Propagation Delays : After making changes to DNS records, it can take time for the changes to propagate across the internet. During this period, users may experience inconsistent DNS resolution.
  • DNS Hijacking : Cyber attackers may hijack DNS queries to redirect users to fraudulent websites or phishing pages.

Traceroute Guide

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot DNS Issues

  • DNS Monitoring : Utilize network monitoring tools like Obkio to track DNS queries and response times. Monitor DNS servers' performance and ensure they are resolving queries promptly.
  • DNS Testing Tools : Use DNS testing tools to check the network response time and accuracy of DNS queries from different locations.
  • Flush DNS Cache : On client systems, flush the DNS cache to clear any outdated or corrupted entries that may be causing issues.
  • Check DNS Server Status : Verify the status of DNS servers to ensure they are operational and responsive.
  • Review DNS Settings : Check DNS settings on network devices, routers, and client systems for any misconfigurations.
  • DNSSEC Implementation : Consider implementing DNSSEC (DNS Security Extensions) to prevent DNS cache poisoning and improve DNS security.
  • Monitor DNS Logs : Review DNS server logs for any unusual activities or error messages that may indicate issues.
  • Update DNS Records : Ensure that DNS records are correctly updated and propagated across authoritative DNS servers.

By proactively identifying and resolving DNS issues, businesses can ensure smooth and reliable access to online resources, improve internet browsing experiences, and enhance overall network security.

Learn how to troubleshoot intermittent Internet connection issues with Network Monitoring. Find & fix the cause of intermittent Internet issues.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for DNS Issues

DNS (Domain Name System) issues can cause various network problems, including the inability to access websites, email services, or other network resources. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with DNS issues:

  • Ping and Traceroute : Use the ping and traceroute commands to verify DNS resolution. If you can ping IP addresses but not domain names, it indicates a DNS resolution problem.
  • Check DNS Server Settings : Verify that the DNS server settings on the client devices are correct. Ensure that they are pointing to the appropriate DNS servers, such as those provided by the ISP or internal DNS servers.
  • DNS Server Reachability : Check if the DNS servers are reachable from the client devices. Use ping to confirm if the DNS servers respond to requests.
  • Flush DNS Cache : Clear the DNS cache on the client devices to ensure they fetch fresh DNS records from the DNS servers.
  • DNS Server Logs : Analyze the DNS server logs for errors or issues. Look for failed DNS requests or unusual patterns.
  • DNS Forwarding and Recursion : Ensure that DNS servers are properly configured for forwarding and recursion. Misconfigured forwarding can lead to failed DNS resolution.
  • DNSSEC Validation : If DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) is enabled, check for DNSSEC validation issues that might prevent resolution for some domains.
  • Check DNS Records : Verify the DNS records for the domain in question (A, CNAME, MX, etc.) to ensure they are correctly configured.
  • Firewall and Filtering : Review firewall rules and content filtering settings that might block DNS traffic or DNS resolution.
  • ISP DNS Issues : Contact the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to check if there are any DNS issues or outages in their DNS infrastructure.
  • DNS Load Balancing : If using DNS-based load balancing, ensure that it is working correctly and directing traffic to the appropriate servers.
  • DNS Round Robin : If DNS round-robin is used, verify that all the IP addresses in the DNS response are functional.
  • Reverse DNS Lookup : Check reverse DNS lookup (PTR) records to ensure they match the corresponding forward (A) records.
  • DNS Timeouts : Monitor for DNS timeouts in application logs or network captures, which may indicate DNS server unresponsiveness.
  • DNS Hijacking or Spoofing : Investigate for any signs of DNS hijacking or spoofing, which could redirect users to malicious websites.
  • DNS Over HTTPS (DoH) or DNS Over TLS (DoT) : If DoH or DoT is implemented, verify the configuration and connectivity to the chosen secure DNS resolver.
  • IPv6 DNS Configuration : Ensure that DNS resolution works correctly for both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.
  • Third-Party DNS Services : If using third-party DNS services, verify their service status and reachability.
  • DNS Health Check Tools : Utilize DNS health check tools or online DNS diagnostics to assess DNS configuration and performance.

By systematically troubleshooting DNS issues, you can identify and resolve the root cause of the problem, ensuring smooth DNS resolution and proper network connectivity. If the issue persists or is beyond your expertise, don't hesitate to seek assistance from qualified network administrators or DNS experts.

Network Problem #7. Interference in the Wireless Network

WiFi problems are one of the most common complaints surrounding modern day connectivity.

Interference in the wireless network is a common and frustrating network problem that can significantly impact Wi-Fi performance and reliability. Wireless networks, such as Wi-Fi, rely on radio frequencies to transmit data between devices. Interference occurs when other devices or signals disrupt this communication, leading to slow or unreliable wireless connections .

Several factors contribute to wireless interference, and identifying and mitigating these issues is crucial for maintaining a stable wireless network.

Signs of wireless interference include:

  • Low signal strength even when close to a WiFi broadcast device
  • Slower Internet connection when using connected over WiFi
  • Slow file transfers between computers over WiFi
  • Inability to pair WiFi or Bluetooth devices even when in proximity to the receiver
  • Intermittently dropping of WiFi connection

I. The Consequences of Interference in the Wireless Network

  • Slow Data Transfer : Interference can lead to a variety of Internet problems like slow data transfer rates and reduced Internet speeds, affecting productivity and user experience.
  • Connection Drops : Wireless interference can cause frequent disconnections or dropped connections, disrupting ongoing tasks and communication.
  • Unreliable Connectivity : Users may experience intermittent connectivity issues, making it challenging to access network resources consistently.
  • Reduced Coverage : Interference can result in reduced Wi-Fi coverage, creating dead spots where wireless signals are weak or nonexistent.

II. The Causes of Interference in the Wireless Network

Very common household items, like microwave ovens or cordless phones, can slow down your home Wi-Fi network performance. If you live in a densely populated area, your neighbors’ Wi-Fi networks could actually be interfering with your own. This is particularly true if you’re using a 2.4GHz wireless router.

Seeing as a failure can occur at any time, the first challenge for network administrators is to quickly identify what can cause interference as well as the precise time they occurred.

  • Overlapping Wi-Fi Channels : In environments with multiple Wi-Fi networks, overlapping channels can lead to interference as signals interfere with each other.
  • Physical Obstructions : Physical obstacles like walls, floors, and large objects can attenuate Wi-Fi signals, reducing signal strength and causing interference.
  • Electronic Devices : Other electronic devices operating on similar frequencies, such as cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, and microwaves, can cause interference.
  • Nearby Access Points : When multiple access points are in close proximity, they can interfere with each other's signals, especially if they are on the same or overlapping channels.
  • Signal Reflection and Refraction : Wi-Fi signals can reflect off surfaces or refract through materials, creating signal interference and dead zones.

III. How to Identify and Troubleshoot Interference in the Wireless Network

While users are usually quick enough to report problems, it’s ideal to identify and solve the problem before it affects users.

  • Real-Time Network Monitoring : Utilize network monitoring tool, like Obkio for real-time network monitoring to track Wi-Fi performance in real-time and detect sudden drops in signal strength or connectivity issues that may indicate interference.
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys : Conduct site surveys using Wi-Fi analysis tools within the network monitoring platform to identify signal strength, coverage areas, and potential interference sources.
  • Channel Analysis : Utilize network monitoring tools to analyze Wi-Fi channel utilization and identify crowded or overlapping channels that may be contributing to interference.
  • Signal Strength Testing : Measure Wi-Fi signal strength across different areas of the workspace using network monitoring tools to identify weak or strong signal zones.
  • Device Interference Check : Identify and isolate devices or equipment that may be causing wireless interference, using network monitoring to detect their presence and impact on Wi-Fi performance.
  • Automated Alerts : Set up automated network monitoring alerts within the network monitoring tool to be notified immediately when Wi-Fi interference is detected, allowing for quick investigation and resolution.
  • Historical Analysis : Utilize historical data provided by the network monitoring platform to identify patterns of interference and assess the effectiveness of previous troubleshooting efforts.
  • Network Topology Mapping : Use network monitoring tools or network observability tools to create visual representations of the network topology, helping identify potential physical obstructions or sources of interference.

By leveraging network monitoring alongside these troubleshooting approaches, businesses can proactively identify and address wireless interference, ensuring a more reliable and efficient Wi-Fi network. Network monitoring provides real-time insights, historical data, and automated alerts, empowering IT teams to promptly resolve interference issues and optimize wireless performance for enhanced user satisfaction.

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IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Interference in the Wireless Network

Interference in a wireless network can cause signal degradation, reduced throughput, and disconnections. Troubleshooting wireless interference requires careful analysis and mitigation strategies. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with interference in a wireless network:

  • Physical Obstructions: Identify and remove or reposition physical obstructions such as walls, furniture, metal objects, or large appliances that may block or attenuate the Wi-Fi signal.
  • Neighboring Wi-Fi Networks : Use a Wi-Fi analyzer tool to identify nearby Wi-Fi networks and the channels they are operating on. Choose a less congested channel for your wireless network to reduce interference.
  • Microwave Ovens and Cordless Phones : Microwave ovens and some cordless phones operate in the same frequency range as Wi-Fi networks (2.4 GHz). Keep Wi-Fi access points away from these devices to minimize interference.
  • Bluetooth Devices : Bluetooth devices can cause interference with Wi-Fi networks, especially in the 2.4 GHz frequency band. Separate Bluetooth devices from Wi-Fi access points or use Wi-Fi channels that are far from Bluetooth frequencies.
  • Electronic Devices : Identify and relocate electronic devices that emit electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio-frequency interference (RFI), such as baby monitors, wireless cameras, or wireless speakers.
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi Devices : If possible, use dual-band Wi-Fi devices that can operate in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands. The 5 GHz band is typically less congested and offers better performance.
  • Wi-Fi Signal Strength : Check the Wi-Fi signal strength at different locations within the coverage area to identify areas with weak signals that might be susceptible to interference.
  • Wi-Fi Access Point Placement : Optimize the placement of Wi-Fi access points to achieve better coverage and reduce dead zones. Consider using Wi-Fi range extenders or mesh systems for larger areas.
  • Wi-Fi Signal Overlapping : Avoid overlapping Wi-Fi signal coverage from multiple access points, as it can lead to interference. Adjust access point transmit power or channel settings to minimize overlap.
  • Rogue Wi-Fi Devices : Look for rogue Wi-Fi access points or devices that might be interfering with your network. Use wireless intrusion detection systems (WIDS) to identify unauthorized devices.
  • DFS Channels (5 GHz) : In the 5 GHz band, some channels require Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) due to radar detection requirements. Ensure your devices support DFS and are using appropriate DFS channels.
  • WLAN Optimization : Use Wi-Fi optimization techniques such as band steering and airtime fairness to balance client connections and reduce interference.
  • Wireless Site Survey : Perform a wireless site survey to assess the overall wireless environment and identify potential sources of interference.
  • Quality of Service (QoS) : Implement QoS policies to prioritize critical Wi-Fi traffic and minimize the impact of non-essential traffic on network performance.
  • Regular Monitoring : Continuously monitor Wi-Fi performance, interference levels, and client connectivity to detect and address issues proactively.
  • Firmware Updates : Keep Wi-Fi access points and wireless devices' firmware up to date to take advantage of performance improvements and bug fixes.

By systematically troubleshooting wireless interference, you can optimize your Wi-Fi network's performance and deliver a more reliable wireless experience to users. Use appropriate network monitoring and diagnostic tools, like we mentioned in the section above, to analyze Wi-Fi performance and make informed decisions during the troubleshooting process.

Network Problem #8. Network Congestion

Network congestion is a prevalent network problem that occurs when there is an excessive amount of data traffic on the network, leading to congestion or bottlenecking . It can happen at various points in the network, such as routers, switches, or network links, where the capacity to handle data becomes overwhelmed by the volume of incoming traffic.

Network congestion can result from increased data demands, inefficient network configurations, or inadequate bandwidth allocation, and it can significantly impact the overall network performance and user experience.

Packet Loss - Common Network Problems

I. The Consequences of Network Congestion

Network congestion can have severe ramifications on network performance and user experience. Let's go over the impact of congestion, including:

  • Slow Data Transfer : Network congestion can result in slower data transfer rates, leading to delays in accessing resources and data.
  • Latency and Packet Loss : Congestion can cause increased latency (delays) and packet loss, affecting real-time applications such as video conferencing or online gaming.
  • Dropped Connections : Congestion can cause connections to drop or time out, resulting in failed file transfers or disrupted communication.
  • Reduced Productivity : Sluggish network performance can hinder productivity, as users may experience delays in performing critical tasks.
  • User Frustration : Network congestion can lead to frustration among users due to the inability to access resources or slow response times.

II. The Causes of Network Congestion

Understanding the root causes of network congestion is vital for devising appropriate solutions. Let’s go over the most common causes of network congestion in more detail:

  • Increased Data Traffic : As the number of connected devices and users on the network grows, the demand for data transfer increases, leading to congestion.
  • Bandwidth Limitations : Insufficient available bandwidth can cause congestion, especially in networks with limited capacity or where data-intensive applications dominate.
  • Network Misconfigurations : Inefficient network configurations, such as incorrect Quality of Service (QoS) settings or improper routing, can lead to inefficient data flow and congestion.
  • DDoS Attacks : Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks involve overwhelming a network with an enormous amount of traffic, causing congestion and rendering services unavailable.
  • Software and Firmware Bugs : Network devices with software or firmware bugs can behave unpredictably, potentially contributing to network congestion.

III. How to Identify and Address Network Congestion

To mitigate network congestion, early detection and appropriate measures are essential.

  • Network Monitoring : Use network monitoring tools like Obkio to track network performance metrics, including bandwidth utilization and traffic patterns. Identify periods of high traffic and potential congestion.
  • Traffic Analysis : Analyze the type of data traffic and its volume to identify bandwidth-intensive applications or devices causing congestion.
  • Quality of Service (QoS) Implementation : Implement QoS policies to prioritize critical applications and services over less essential ones during periods of congestion.
  • Bandwidth Upgrades : Consider upgrading network bandwidth to accommodate increasing data demands and alleviate congestion.
  • Load Balancing : Utilize network load balancing techniques to distribute network traffic across multiple routes or devices, preventing bottlenecks in specific areas.
  • Traffic Shaping : Implement traffic shaping to control the flow of data, ensuring fair distribution of bandwidth among different applications or users.
  • Network Optimization : Regularly review network configurations and performance to identify areas for network optimization and improvement.

By proactively identifying and addressing network congestion, businesses can ensure a smoother and more responsive network, enhancing productivity and user satisfaction. Network congestion management plays a crucial role in maintaining a reliable and efficient network infrastructure that meets the growing demands of modern businesses.

Learn how to detect network congestion & perform a network congestion test inside & outside your network with Network Monitoring & Network Device Monitoring.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Network Congestion

Network congestion occurs when the network experiences high levels of traffic, causing slow data transmission, increased latency, and potential service disruptions. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with network congestion:

  • Identify Peak Usage Hours : Monitor network traffic to identify peak usage hours when congestion is most likely to occur. Plan for additional resources during these periods.
  • Bandwidth Monitoring : Use network monitoring tools with SNMP Network Monitoring to track bandwidth usage and identify which applications or devices are consuming the most bandwidth.
  • Quality of Service (QoS) : Implement QoS policies to prioritize critical traffic, such as VoIP or video conferencing, over non-essential traffic during periods of congestion. Qos for VoIP is essential for mitigation congestion.
  • Malware or Botnet Activity : Malware-infected devices or botnet activity can cause excessive traffic and contribute to network congestion. Use security tools to detect and isolate infected devices.
  • Cloud Services and Backups : Cloud services and data backups can consume significant bandwidth. Schedule backups during off-peak hours to avoid congestion.
  • Check Network Switches and Routers : Check network devices for errors or signs of packet drops. Upgrade hardware if required to handle increased traffic.
  • Analyze Network Topology : Review the network topology to identify potential bottlenecks or areas of contention.
  • Segment Network Traffic : Separate different types of traffic, such as voice, data, and video, into separate VLANs to reduce contention.
  • Update Firmware and Drivers : Keep network devices' firmware and drivers up to date to ensure optimal performance.
  • Optimize Protocols : Fine-tune network protocols to reduce overhead and improve efficiency.
  • Load Balancing : Distribute traffic across multiple links or paths using load balancing techniques.
  • Consider Network Upgrades : If congestion is chronic and impacting productivity, consider upgrading network infrastructure, such as increasing bandwidth or using faster network technologies.
  • Monitor Network Flow : Use flow analysis tools to understand traffic patterns and identify potential sources of congestion.
  • Implement Caching : Use caching solutions for frequently accessed content to reduce the need for repetitive data transfers.
  • Throttle Bandwidth-Intensive Applications : Limit the bandwidth usage of certain applications or devices that are causing congestion.
  • Review ISP Performance : If the congestion is beyond your local network, contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to assess the overall network performance.
  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Traffic Control : Implement policies to control and prioritize P2P traffic, which can consume a significant amount of bandwidth.
  • Educate Users : Educate users about responsible internet usage and the impact of excessive data consumption on network performance.

By thoroughly troubleshooting network congestion, you can identify the root causes and implement appropriate solutions to improve overall network performance and user experience. Regular monitoring and analysis of network traffic patterns will help you proactively address congestion issues before they become significant problems.

Network Problem #9. Packet Loss

Packet loss is a prevalent network problem characterized by the failure of data packets to reach their intended destination within a network . It occurs when one or more packets of data are lost or discarded during transmission, leading to incomplete or corrupted data delivery.

Packet loss can happen due to various factors, such as network congestion, hardware issues, or data transmission errors, and it can significantly impact network performance and user experience.

Packet Loss - Common Network Problems

In the same family of network issues, you may also encounter:

  • Packet Reordering : When network packets arrive at their destination out of sequence
  • Packet Duplication : The unintended replication of data packets during transmission. When packets are duplicated, multiple identical copies of the same packet are delivered to the destination.

I. The Consequences of Packet Loss

  • Data Corruption : Packet loss can lead to incomplete or corrupted data transmissions, affecting the accuracy and integrity of transmitted information.
  • Slow Data Transfer : Retransmitting lost packets can slow down data transfer rates, leading to increased latency.
  • Degraded Voice and Video Quality : In real-time communication applications like VoIP and video conferencing, packet loss can result in choppy audio or pixelated video.
  • Reduced Throughput : The loss of packets in data streams can reduce the overall throughput and efficiency of data delivery.
  • Impact on Applications : Packet loss can negatively affect the performance of applications, leading to slower response times and disrupted services.

II. The Causes of Packet Loss

  • Network Congestion : High levels of data traffic or network congestion can result in packets being dropped to alleviate the strain on the network.
  • Network Jitter : Variations in packet delay, known as jitter, can lead to packet loss when packets arrive out of order or too late to be processed.
  • Buffer Overflow : When network devices' buffers become overwhelmed due to high data rates, excess packets can be discarded.
  • Data Transmission Errors : Errors during data transmission can cause packets to be corrupted or lost, especially in unreliable transmission mediums.
  • Wireless Interference : Interference from other wireless signals or physical obstacles can lead to packet loss in Wi-Fi networks.
  • Network Hardware Issues : Faulty network switches, routers, or other hardware can cause packet loss as packets fail to traverse the network correctly.

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot Packet Loss

  • Network Monitoring : Utilize network monitoring tools like Obkio to measure packet loss and track packet loss rates and identify periods of increased packet loss.
  • Packet Analysis : Conduct packet analysis to identify the root causes of packet loss and determine the affected network segments.
  • Bandwidth Optimization : Optimize bandwidth allocation and implement Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritize critical traffic and reduce packet loss.
  • Jitter Control : Minimize network jitter through QoS and traffic shaping to prevent packet loss due to variations in packet delay.
  • Network Hardware Inspection : Inspect network hardware to identify and replace faulty devices contributing to packet loss.
  • Wireless Signal Optimization : Optimize Wi-Fi signals to reduce wireless interference and decrease packet loss in wireless networks.

By proactively identifying and addressing packet loss, businesses can improve network performance , maintain data integrity, and enhance the overall user experience. Network monitoring, packet analysis, and appropriate network optimization techniques play a vital role in detecting and mitigating packet loss issues effectively.

How to measure packet loss with Obkio’s Network & Packet Loss Monitoring tool. Check for packet loss in your network & read packet loss measurements.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Packet Loss

Packet loss can degrade network performance and cause disruptions in data transmission. Troubleshooting packet loss requires identifying the underlying causes and implementing appropriate solutions. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with packet loss:

  • Ping and Traceroute : Use ping and traceroute commands to identify packet loss and latency issues between devices. This can help pinpoint the location and severity of packet loss.
  • Check Network Cables : Inspect network cables and connectors for damage, loose connections, or faulty wiring that could lead to packet loss.
  • Verify Network Interface Cards (NICs) : Test and update network interface card drivers to ensure they are functioning correctly.
  • Physical Layer Troubleshooting : Examine physical network components, such as switches and routers, for signs of hardware issues or congestion.
  • Bandwidth Saturation : Monitor network traffic to see if bandwidth saturation is causing packet loss. Consider implementing Quality of Service (QoS) policies to prioritize critical traffic.
  • Check for Network Congestion : Analyze network traffic patterns to identify areas of congestion that may be causing packet loss.
  • Wireless Interference : In wireless networks, interference from neighboring Wi-Fi networks or other devices can lead to packet loss. Use a Wi-Fi analyzer to identify potential sources of interference.
  • Reduce MTU Size : If you are experiencing fragmentation-related packet loss, reduce the Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) size to prevent fragmentation.
  • Jitter and Buffering : Examine network devices for excessive jitter or inadequate buffering that can contribute to packet loss.
  • Routing Issues : Verify routing configurations to ensure packets are being routed correctly without any loops or misconfigurations.
  • Firewall Settings : Check firewall rules to ensure they are not blocking legitimate traffic and causing packet loss.
  • Malware and DDoS Attacks : Monitor for signs of malware infections or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, as they can cause packet loss.
  • ISP Issues : If the packet loss is beyond your local network, contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to investigate potential problems with their network.
  • Buffer Bloat : Address buffer bloat issues by configuring QoS and traffic shaping to manage buffer size and prevent excessive queuing delay.
  • Ping Flood or DDoS Testing : If you suspect malicious activities, investigate for possible ping flood or DDoS testing targeting your network.
  • Update Firmware and Software : Keep network devices' firmware and software up to date to prevent known issues causing packet loss.
  • Trunk Port Errors : For VLANs and trunk ports, check for misconfigurations or errors that might cause packet loss.
  • Segment and Isolate Network Traffic : Use VLANs and subnetting to isolate different types of network traffic and prevent congestion-related packet loss.

By methodically troubleshooting packet loss, you can identify the root causes and apply appropriate solutions to improve network performance and reliability.

Network Problem #10. Jitter

Jitter is a common network problem that refers to the variation in packet delay experienced during data transmission over a network. It occurs when data packets encounter fluctuations in the time it takes to traverse the network from the source to the destination .

Jitter is particularly relevant in real-time communication applications, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls and video conferencing (like Zoom ), where timing precision is crucial for smooth and seamless communication.

Jitter - Common Network Problems

I. The Consequences of Jitter

  • Voice and Video Quality Issues : In real-time communication applications like VoIP and video conferencing, excessive jitter, especially VoIP jitter , can cause choppy audio or video, affecting the overall call quality.
  • Delayed Data Transmission : Jitter can lead to variations in data transmission delays, impacting the responsiveness of applications and services.
  • Synchronization Problems: For time-sensitive applications, jitter can cause synchronization issues between data packets, leading to data corruption or loss.
  • Interference with Real-Time Applications : Jitter can disrupt the flow of real-time data, making it challenging to maintain a smooth user experience.

II. The Causes of Jitter

  • Network Congestion : High levels of data traffic or network congestion can lead to varying packet queuing times and result in jitter.
  • Packet Routing : Different paths and routing delays taken by packets can cause varying arrival times at the destination.
  • Network Jitter : Variations in network jitter itself can compound the issue, leading to additional packet timing discrepancies.
  • Network Interference : Physical obstacles, wireless interference, or other external factors can introduce varying transmission delays.
  • Buffering : Buffering in network devices can introduce variations in packet arrival times due to the varying lengths of packets.

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot Jitter

  • Network Monitoring : Use network monitoring tools like Obkio to measure jitter levels and identify periods of increased jitter. Obbkio will also help you identify the cause, source and time of jitter spikes in you network so you where where and how to direct your troubleshooting efforts.
  • Quality of Service (QoS) Implementation : Implement QoS policies to prioritize real-time traffic, reducing the impact of jitter on critical applications.
  • Buffer Management : Optimize buffer settings in network devices to minimize the effects of buffering-induced jitter.
  • Traffic Shaping : Use traffic shaping techniques to regulate the flow of data and manage jitter more effectively.
  • Path Optimization : Optimize network paths to minimize variations in packet routing and reduce jitter.
  • Wireless Signal Optimization : In wireless networks, optimize Wi-Fi signals to reduce interference and decrease jitter.

By proactively identifying and addressing jitter, businesses can improve the performance of real-time communication applications, ensuring smooth voice and video calls, and enhancing the overall user experience. Network monitoring, QoS implementation, and network optimization play a crucial role in detecting and mitigating jitter effectively.

Learn how to measure network jitter using Obkio’s Network Monitoring software to identify network problems & collect data to troubleshoot.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Jitter

Jitter is the variation in the delay of packet delivery in a network, which can lead to inconsistent and unpredictable performance. Troubleshooting jitter involves identifying the causes of delay variations and implementing measures to mitigate its impact. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with jitter:

  • Ping and Traceroute : Use ping and traceroute commands to measure latency and identify potential variations in packet delivery times.
  • Check Network Utilization : High network utilization can contribute to jitter. Monitor network traffic to identify congestion points and take appropriate actions to alleviate it.
  • Quality of Service (QoS) : Implement QoS policies to prioritize real-time traffic, such as VoIP and video conferencing, over non-time-sensitive traffic to reduce jitter.
  • Buffer Bloat : Buffer bloat occurs when excessively large buffers cause delays in packet delivery. Adjust buffer sizes on routers and switches to manage latency.
  • Packet Loss : Packet loss can exacerbate jitter. Address any packet loss issues, as it may lead to increased jitter levels.
  • Wireless Interference : In wireless networks, interference from other devices or neighboring networks can cause jitter. Use a Wi-Fi analyzer to identify sources of interference.
  • Network Congestion : Congestion on the network can lead to increased jitter. Identify and resolve congestion points to minimize its impact.
  • Physical Layer Issues : Inspect network cables and connectors for damage or faults that may cause delays in packet delivery.
  • Network Switches and Routers : Verify the performance of network switches and routers, as hardware issues can contribute to jitter.
  • Jitter Buffer : For real-time applications, such as VoIP, ensure that jitter buffer settings are appropriately configured to compensate for jitter.
  • Traffic Shaping : Use traffic shaping techniques to control the flow of traffic and prevent sudden bursts of data that may cause jitter.
  • Power Management : Disable power-saving features on network devices that may introduce latency variations.
  • Proper Synchronization : Ensure that clocks are synchronized across network devices to prevent timing discrepancies that contribute to jitter.
  • VoIP Codecs : For VoIP systems, consider using different codecs that are less sensitive to network jitter.
  • Update Firmware and Software : Keep network devices' firmware and software up to date to address known issues related to jitter.
  • ISP Performance : If jitter is beyond your local network, contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to assess and address potential issues on their network.
  • Monitor Network Performance : Continuously monitor network performance to identify patterns of jitter and take proactive measures to improve and check network stability .
  • Use Network Diagnostic Tools : Employ network diagnostic tools to analyze jitter levels and identify sources of delay variations.

By systematically troubleshooting jitter, you can identify the underlying causes and apply appropriate solutions to improve network performance and deliver a smoother experience for real-time applications.

Network Problem #11. Routing Problems

Routing problems are a common network issue that occurs w hen data packets are unable to reach their intended destination due to incorrect or inefficient routing decisions . Routing is the process of determining the best path for data to travel from the source to the destination across a network.

When routing problems arise, data packets may take suboptimal paths, experience delays, or even get lost, leading to disruptions in network communication and performance.

I. The Consequences of Routing Problems

  • Slow Data Transfer : Routing problems can lead to longer data transmission times, causing delays in accessing resources and services.
  • Packet Loss : Incorrect routing decisions can cause packets to be lost or dropped during transmission, affecting data integrity.
  • Network Inefficiency : Routing problems can lead to inefficient use of network resources, increasing network latency and reducing overall performance.
  • Disruptions in Communication : Critical services and applications may become unavailable or experience disruptions due to routing problems.

II. The Causes of Routing Problems

  • Misconfigurations : Incorrect configuration of routing protocols or routing tables can lead to suboptimal or incorrect routing decisions.
  • Network Congestion : High levels of network congestion can cause routers to make suboptimal routing choices, leading to delays and packet loss.
  • Link Failures : When a link between network devices fails, routers may need to reroute traffic, and if this process is not seamless, routing problems can occur.
  • BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) Issues : In large-scale networks, BGP misconfigurations or route flapping can cause routing problems and instability.
  • Inadequate Bandwidth : Insufficient bandwidth on certain links can cause congestion and result in suboptimal routing decisions.

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot Routing Problems

  • Network Monitoring : Use network monitoring tools like Obkio to track routing metrics and identify anomalies or fluctuations in routing behavior.
  • Routing Protocol Analysis : Analyze the configuration of routing protocols and routing tables to identify misconfigurations or inconsistencies.
  • Route Flap Damping : In BGP environments, enable route flap damping to mitigate the impact of unstable routes.
  • Bandwidth Upgrades : Consider upgrading network links with inadequate bandwidth to alleviate congestion and improve routing efficiency.
  • Link Redundancy : Implement link redundancy and dynamic routing protocols to ensure seamless failover in case of link failures.
  • Regular Audits : Conduct regular audits of network configurations and routing tables to identify and rectify potential issues.

By proactively identifying and addressing routing problems, businesses can maintain a more efficient and reliable network infrastructure. Network monitoring, analysis of routing protocols, and proper network configuration play a vital role in detecting and resolving routing problems promptly. This ensures smooth and seamless data transmission, optimizing network performance and user experience.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Routing Problems

Routing problems can lead to communication issues between network devices and services. Troubleshooting routing problems requires careful analysis of the routing configuration and associated network components. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with routing problems:

  • Ping and Traceroute : Use ping and traceroute commands to verify connectivity between devices and identify potential routing issues.
  • Routing Table Verification : Check the routing tables on routers and switches to ensure they are correctly configured and have the appropriate routes.
  • Routing Protocol Issues : If dynamic routing protocols are used, verify the protocol configurations and adjacencies between neighboring routers.
  • Default Gateway : Confirm that devices have the correct default gateway configured, which is critical for forwarding traffic to external networks.
  • Routing Loops : Check for routing loops in the network, which can cause packets to circulate indefinitely. Correct any misconfigurations causing loops.
  • Routing Redistribution : If multiple routing protocols are in use, check for proper redistribution to ensure that routes are distributed correctly.
  • Static Routes : Verify that any static routes are accurate and up-to-date, especially if they are used to override dynamic routing protocols.
  • Routing Metrics : Review routing metrics to ensure they are set appropriately, as improper metrics can lead to suboptimal routing decisions.
  • Routing Blackholes : Look for cases where routing paths unexpectedly drop packets (routing blackholes) and investigate the cause.
  • Network Topology Changes : If recent network topology changes have occurred, verify that routing configurations were updated accordingly.
  • Routing Protocol Authentication : Check if routing protocol authentication is enabled and configured correctly to prevent unauthorized routing updates.
  • Split Horizon : For networks using split horizon, ensure that the split horizon rule is properly applied to prevent routing information loops.
  • Routing Protocol Timers : Examine routing protocol timers to ensure they are set appropriately for the network environment.
  • Network Segmentation : Confirm that network segmentation is accurate and logical, and routes are correctly configured between segments.
  • Router Interface Status : Verify that router interfaces are operational and have the correct IP addressing and subnet masks.
  • Physical Connectivity : Check for physical connectivity issues that may prevent proper routing information exchange.
  • Backup Routes : If using backup or redundant routes, validate their configurations and failover mechanisms.
  • Update Firmware and Software : Keep router and switch firmware/software up to date to address known issues related to routing.
  • Monitor Routing Changes : Continuously monitor routing tables and log any changes to quickly identify and address unexpected alterations.

By methodically troubleshooting routing problems, you can identify and resolve issues that may be disrupting communication in the network. Regular network monitoring, like we mentioned in the previous section, thorough analysis of routing configurations, and prompt resolution of routing-related errors will help ensure smooth and reliable network operation. If the issue persists or is beyond your expertise, seek assistance from qualified network administrators or engage with vendor support.

Network Problem #12. VoIP Call Quality Issues

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) call quality issues are a common network problem that affects the clarity and reliability of voice communications over the Internet .

VoIP enables real-time voice communication using the internet as the transport medium. However, various factors within the network environment can lead to degraded call quality, causing disruptions, echoes, or delays in voice conversations.

VoIP Issues - Common Network Problems

I. The Consequences of VoIP Call Quality Issues

  • Poor Call Clarity : VoIP call quality issues can result in poor audio quality, making it challenging to understand and communicate effectively.
  • Dropped Calls : Frequent call dropouts or disconnects due to packet loss or network issues can hinder communication.
  • Communication Delays : High latency can lead to noticeable delays in conversations, causing awkward pauses and communication difficulties. This is especially true for VoIP latency .
  • Unreliable Communication : Call quality problems can lead to unreliable communication experiences, affecting business operations and customer service.

II. The Causes of VoIP Call Quality Issues:

  • Network Congestion : High data traffic and network congestion can lead to delayed or lost VoIP packets, resulting in poor call quality.
  • Jitter : Variations in packet delay, known as jitter, can cause voice packets to arrive out of order, resulting in choppy or distorted audio during calls.
  • Packet Loss : Packet loss occurs when VoIP packets fail to reach their destination, leading to gaps or dropouts in the conversation.
  • Latency : Latency, the delay between sending and receiving data, can lead to noticeable delays and interruptions in VoIP calls.
  • Insufficient Bandwidth : Inadequate bandwidth can restrict the amount of data that can be transmitted, leading to reduced call quality.
  • Network Interference : Interference from other devices or signals can impact VoIP calls, especially in wireless environments.

How to Identify & Troubleshoot VoIP Call Quality Issues

  • Network Monitoring : Use network monitoring tools like Obkio to measure VoIP quality metrics, such as MOS score, jitter, packet loss, and latency and identify issues affecting VoIP Quality right on the VoIP Quality graph.
  • QoS Implementation : Implement Quality of Service (QoS) ) policies to prioritize VoIP traffic and minimize the impact of other data traffic on call quality.
  • Bandwidth Allocation : Ensure sufficient bandwidth is allocated to VoIP traffic to avoid congestion and call quality issues.
  • Traffic Shaping : Utilize traffic shaping techniques to regulate data flow and prioritize VoIP packets.
  • Jitter Buffer Optimization : Optimize jitter buffer settings to compensate for jitter and ensure smoother audio playback.
  • Network Upgrades : Consider upgrading network infrastructure to handle increased VoIP traffic and improve call quality.

By proactively identifying and addressing VoIP call quality issues, businesses can ensure clear and reliable voice communication, improving collaboration and customer interactions. Network monitoring, QoS implementation, and network optimization are essential in detecting and mitigating VoIP call quality issues, enhancing overall communication experiences within the organization.

Learn how to measure VoIP Quality using MOS Score (Mean Opinion Score) & Obkio’s VoIP monitoring solution to identify poor VoIP Quality issues & dropped calls.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for VoIP Call Quality Issues

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) call quality issues can negatively impact communication and user experience. Troubleshooting VoIP call quality issues requires identifying and resolving factors that affect voice transmission over the network. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with VoIP call quality issues:

  • Check Bandwidth and Network Utilization : Insufficient bandwidth or high network utilization can lead to call quality degradation. Monitor network traffic and ensure sufficient bandwidth is available for VoIP traffic.
  • Quality of Service (QoS) : Implement QoS policies to prioritize VoIP traffic over other types of data to ensure smooth transmission and reduced latency.
  • Ping and Jitter : Measure ping and jitter between endpoints to identify potential latency and jitter issues affecting call quality.
  • Packet Loss : Monitor for packet loss, which can significantly impact call quality. Address any packet loss issues on the network.
  • Buffer Bloat : Buffer bloat can introduce latency in the network. Optimize buffer sizes to prevent excessive delays in packet transmission.
  • Codecs : Check the codecs used for VoIP calls. Some codecs may prioritize bandwidth savings over call quality. Consider using codecs that offer better voice quality.
  • Network Congestion : Analyze network congestion points and address them to reduce the impact on VoIP call quality.
  • Network Equipment : Verify the performance of network switches and routers, as hardware issues can contribute to call quality problems.
  • Wireless Interference : In wireless networks, interference from neighboring Wi-Fi networks or other devices can affect VoIP call quality. Use a Wi-Fi analyzer to identify sources of interference.
  • Check for Dropped Packets : Identify and address any dropped packets affecting call quality.
  • VoIP Gateway Configuration : Verify the configuration of VoIP gateways and devices to ensure they are set correctly for the network environment.
  • Codec Mismatch : Ensure that both ends of the call are using compatible codecs. A codec mismatch can lead to poor call quality.
  • Router Configuration : Review router configurations for issues that may affect VoIP call quality, such as Access Control Lists (ACLs) or firewall settings.
  • Router Firmware Updates : Keep router firmware up to date to address known issues related to VoIP call quality.
  • SIP Trunk and Provider Issues : If using SIP trunks or a VoIP service provider , check for any issues with their service that may be affecting call quality.
  • Jitter Buffer Settings : Adjust jitter buffer settings to optimize the handling of packet variations and reduce jitter-related issues.
  • Network Monitoring : Continuously monitor network performance to detect any patterns of call quality degradation and identify the causes. Network monitoring tools with VoIP monitoring , like Obkio, are especially important for identifying VoIP Quality issues.
  • Network Latency : Address any latency issues in the network that may affect VoIP call quality.
  • ISP Performance : If VoIP call quality issues persist, contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to assess and address potential network problems.

By methodically troubleshooting VoIP call quality issues, you can identify and resolve factors impacting call quality, leading to improved voice communication over the network. Regular network monitoring and analysis will help you proactively detect and address VoIP call quality issues as they arise.

Network Problem #13. Network Device Failures

Network device failures are a common and potentially disruptive network problem that occurs when essential network devices, such as routers, switches, firewalls, or access points, stop functioning correctly .

Network devices play a crucial role in data transmission, routing, and security within a network infrastructure. When one of these devices fails, it can lead to service disruptions, connectivity issues, and downtime.

Network Device Failures  - Common Network Problems

I. The Consequences of Network Device Failures

  • Network Downtime : When critical network devices fail, it can lead to network downtime and service interruptions.
  • Connectivity Issues : Failures in routers, switches, or access points can disrupt network connectivity, affecting communication and data transfer.
  • Security Vulnerabilities : Failed security devices like firewalls can expose the network to potential security breaches and unauthorized access. 8 Data Loss : Network device failures can lead to data loss, especially if devices were responsible for data storage or backup.

II. The Causes of Network Device Failures

  • Hardware Malfunctions : Network devices can experience hardware failures due to wear and tear, overheating, power surges, or manufacturing defects.
  • Firmware or Software Errors : Faulty firmware or software updates can cause network devices to behave unpredictably or fail.
  • Configuration Errors : Incorrect or misconfigured settings in network devices can lead to malfunctions or instability.
  • Environmental Factors : Environmental conditions, such as exposure to extreme temperatures, humidity, or dust, can impact the reliability of network devices.

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot Network Device Failures

  • Network Monitoring : Use network monitoring tools like Obkio, along with Obkio’s Network Device Monitoring feature to continuously monitor the health and performance of core network devices to identify device availability, resource and performance issues.
  • Device Health Checks : Perform regular health checks on network devices to identify early signs of potential failures or abnormalities.
  • Firmware and Software Updates : Keep network device firmware and software up to date with the latest stable releases to minimize potential issues.
  • Configuration Backups : Regularly back up the configuration settings of network devices to facilitate quick recovery in case of failures.
  • Redundancy and Failover : Implement redundancy and network failover mechanisms to ensure network continuity in the event of device failures.
  • Hardware Maintenance : Regularly inspect and maintain network devices to address any physical issues and ensure proper functioning.

By proactively monitoring and maintaining network devices, businesses can reduce the risk of network disruptions caused by device failures. Quick identification and timely resolution of network device failures play a crucial role in minimizing downtime, improving network reliability , and ensuring seamless communication and data transfer.

Learn about Network Device Monitoring to easily monitor performance of firewalls, routers & switches to identify problems like high CPU & bandwidth usage.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Network Device Failures

Network device failures can disrupt network communication and lead to service outages. Troubleshooting network device failures requires a systematic approach to identify the failing device and address the issue promptly. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with network device failures:

  • Physical Inspection : Perform a physical inspection of the device to check for any visible signs of damage, loose connections, or hardware failures.
  • Power Cycle : Power cycle the device by turning it off and then back on. Sometimes, a simple reboot can resolve temporary issues.
  • Check Power and Power Supply : Verify that the device is receiving power and that the power supply is functioning correctly.
  • Check Device LEDs : Observe the status lights or LEDs on the device to identify any error codes or abnormal behavior.
  • Device Logs : Analyze the device logs for error messages or alerts that might indicate the cause of the failure.
  • Test Connectivity : Test connectivity to and from the device to see if it is responsive or if it is completely unreachable.
  • Replace Network Cables : If applicable, try replacing the network cables connecting the device to the network.
  • Isolate the Failing Device : If possible, isolate the failing device from the network to prevent it from causing further disruptions.
  • Swapping Redundant Components : If the device has redundant components (e.g., power supplies, interface cards), try swapping them with spare parts to see if it resolves the issue.
  • Verify Firmware/Software Versions : Ensure that the device's firmware or software is up to date. Apply the latest firmware updates or patches from the manufacturer's website.
  • Temperature and Ventilation : Overheating can cause devices to fail. Ensure that the device has adequate ventilation and is not exposed to excessive heat.
  • Check for Environmental Factors : Determine if the device failure could be caused by environmental factors such as power fluctuations or temperature variations.
  • Backup and Restore Configurations : If the device can be replaced, backup its configuration and restore it on the replacement device to minimize downtime.
  • RMA or Warranty : If the device is under warranty or support contract, contact the vendor for a possible replacement or repair.
  • Identify the Impact : Assess the impact of the failed device on the network and affected services.
  • Redundancy and Failover : Review the network design to ensure proper redundancy and failover mechanisms are in place to handle device failures.
  • Replacement and Spare Parts : Keep spare devices or critical components on hand to quickly replace failed devices when needed.
  • Document the Failure : Document all the troubleshooting steps, actions taken, and the resolution for future reference.

By following a systematic troubleshooting approach, you can quickly identify the failing device and take appropriate steps to address the issue, minimizing network downtime and ensuring smooth network operation. If the issue is beyond your expertise, seek assistance from qualified network technicians or engage with vendor support for further assistance.

Network Problem #14. VPN Connectivity Problems

VPN (Virtual Private Network) connectivity issues are a common network problem that can hinder remote workers or branch offices from securely accessing the corporate network. VPNs create encrypted tunnels over the public internet, allowing users to access internal resources and services as if they were directly connected to the corporate network.

However, various factors can lead to connectivity problems, preventing users from establishing or maintaining a stable VPN connection .

I. The Consequences of VPN Connectivity Issues

  • Limited Remote Access : VPN connectivity issues can restrict remote workers' access to critical resources and data.
  • Reduced Productivity : Users may experience delays or interruptions in their work due to VPN connection failures.
  • Security Risks : VPN connectivity problems can prompt users to seek alternative and potentially insecure ways to access corporate resources.

II. The Causes of VPN Connectivity Issues

  • Network Congestion : High levels of data traffic or network congestion can impact VPN performance and lead to connectivity problems.
  • Firewall or Security Settings : Misconfigured firewalls or security settings can block VPN traffic, preventing successful connections.
  • VPN Server Overload : An overloaded VPN server can struggle to handle incoming connection requests, leading to connection failures.
  • Client Software Conflicts : Interference from other software or settings on the client device can cause VPN connectivity issues.
  • Internet Connection Instability : Unstable or unreliable internet connections can disrupt VPN connections.
  • VPN Protocol Issues : Compatibility issues between VPN protocols and devices can lead to connection problems.

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot VPN Connectivity Issues

  • Network Monitoring : Use network monitoring tools like Obkio to track VPN connectivity metrics and identify potential issues. Obkio has remote network monitoring features, which is especially important for monitoring remote workers connectivity towards VPNs.
  • Firewall and Security Configuration : Review and adjust firewall settings to ensure VPN traffic is permitted and secure.
  • VPN Server Load Balancing : Implement load balancing for VPN servers to distribute connection requests evenly and avoid network overload .
  • VPN Client Troubleshooting : Troubleshoot VPN client software on user devices to identify and resolve conflicts or configuration issues.
  • Internet Connection Stability : Address internet connection problems on user devices to ensure a stable VPN connection.
  • VPN Protocol Selection : Choose appropriate VPN protocols based on device compatibility and network requirements.

By proactively monitoring and troubleshooting VPN connectivity issues, businesses can ensure remote workers have reliable access to corporate resources. Network monitoring, VPN server optimization, and client device maintenance play a vital role in identifying and resolving VPN connectivity issues, enhancing productivity, and maintaining a secure remote work environment.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for VPN Connectivity Issues

VPN (Virtual Private Network) connectivity issues can prevent users from securely accessing resources on a remote network. Troubleshooting VPN connectivity problems requires a careful examination of both client-side and server-side configurations. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with VPN connectivity issues:

  • Check Client Credentials : Verify that the VPN client has the correct username, password, and any necessary authentication tokens or certificates.
  • VPN Client Software : Ensure that the VPN client software is installed correctly and up to date.
  • VPN Server Status : Check the VPN server's status to ensure it is operational and accepting connections.
  • Firewall and Security Software : Temporarily disable any third-party firewalls or security software that might be blocking VPN connections.
  • Check VPN Server Logs : Review the VPN server logs for any error messages or connection attempts from the problematic client.
  • Network Address Translation (NAT) : If the VPN server is behind a NAT device, ensure that proper NAT traversal (like NAT-T) is configured.
  • VPN Protocol : Verify that both the client and server are using the same VPN protocol (e.g., OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2).
  • Firewall Rules : Check firewall rules on the VPN server to ensure that incoming VPN traffic is allowed.
  • Verify VPN Server and Client IP Addressing : Ensure that there are no IP address conflicts between the client and server networks.
  • Internet Connectivity : Verify that both the client and server have a stable internet connection.
  • ISP Blocking : Check if the internet service provider (ISP) is blocking VPN traffic. Try connecting from a different ISP to test.
  • MTU Settings : Test different Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) settings on the client and server to avoid potential fragmentation issues.
  • VPN Split Tunneling : Confirm that VPN split tunneling is not causing conflicts with local or remote network access.
  • Restart VPN Services : Try restarting the VPN server and services.
  • VPN Routing : Ensure that VPN routing is correctly configured to allow traffic to flow between client and server.
  • VPN Server Certificates : Verify that server-side certificates (if used) are valid and not expired.
  • Check VPN Encryption Settings : Ensure that both the client and server agree on encryption and authentication settings.
  • Temporary Bypass VPN : Temporarily bypass the VPN and test regular internet connectivity to verify the issue is VPN-specific.
  • NAT Traversal : If the VPN client is behind a NAT device, ensure that NAT traversal methods are enabled on both client and server.
  • Update VPN Client and Server Software : Keep both the VPN client and server software up to date to address any known issues.
  • Client and Server Time Sync : Verify that the client and server clocks are synchronized, as time differences can cause authentication problems.

By systematically troubleshooting VPN connectivity issues, you can identify and resolve the root causes, allowing users to securely access remote resources over the VPN. Documenting the troubleshooting steps and actions taken will aid in future reference and assist others in resolving similar issues. If the issue persists or requires expertise beyond your capabilities, don't hesitate to seek assistance from qualified network administrators or VPN specialists.

Network Problem #15. Load Balancing Configuration Errors

Load balancing configuration errors are a common network problem that occurs when the distribution of network traffic across multiple servers or links is not optimized or balanced correctly .

Load balancing is a technique used to evenly distribute incoming network requests or data traffic among multiple resources, ensuring optimal utilization of resources and preventing overload on individual components. However, misconfigurations or errors in load balancing setups can lead to uneven distribution, causing performance issues and potential service disruptions.

I. Consequences of Load Balancing Configuration Errors

  • Overloaded Servers : Misconfigurations can lead to uneven distribution of traffic, overburdening certain servers while leaving others underutilized.
  • Service Degradation : Load balancing errors can cause performance issues, leading to slow response times and reduced service availability.
  • User Experience Issues : Users may experience inconsistent service quality or disruptions due to load balancing problems.
  • Increased Downtime Risk : Load balancing configuration errors can increase the risk of service outages or downtime during peak traffic periods.

II. Causes of Load Balancing Configuration Errors

  • Incorrect Weighting : Assigning improper weights to servers or links in the load balancing setup can result in disproportionate traffic distribution.
  • Inadequate Health Checks : Inaccurate or inadequate health checks on servers can lead to the inclusion of faulty or overloaded servers in the load balancing pool.
  • Session Persistence Misconfiguration : Misconfiguring session persistence can cause users to lose their session data when redirected to different servers.
  • Improper Load Balancer Placement : Placing the load balancer in an inefficient location within the network can lead to suboptimal traffic routing.

III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot Load Balancing Configuration Errors

  • Network Monitoring : Utilize network monitoring tools like Obkio to track server performance and identify any imbalanced traffic patterns.
  • Load Balancer Configuration Review : Regularly review load balancer settings and verify proper weightings and health checks.
  • Testing and Validation : Conduct network load testing and validation to ensure load balancing configurations work as intended under different traffic conditions.
  • Session Persistence Testing : Verify session persistence settings to ensure smooth user experience during server changes.
  • Load Balancer Placement : Review the placement of load balancers in the network to optimize traffic routing.

By proactively identifying and addressing load balancing configuration errors, businesses can ensure efficient resource utilization, enhance service performance, and reduce the risk of downtime. Network monitoring, load balancer configuration reviews, and rigorous testing play a crucial role in detecting and resolving load balancing configuration errors, improving the overall reliability and network availability of network services.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Load Balancing Configuration Errors

Load balancing configuration errors can lead to uneven distribution of traffic, service disruptions, and degraded performance. Troubleshooting load balancing issues requires careful analysis of the load balancer's configuration and associated network components. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with load balancing configuration errors:

  • Check Load Balancer Configuration : Review the load balancer's configuration to ensure it is set up correctly, including virtual server settings, server pools, and load balancing algorithms.
  • Monitor Server Health : Monitor the health and status of the backend servers to ensure they are properly configured and responsive to requests.
  • Verify Server Pool Membership : Check that all the intended backend servers are added to the appropriate server pools and that no servers are mistakenly excluded.
  • Check Load Balancer Status : Verify that the load balancer is operational and not experiencing any issues.
  • Load Balancer Firmware and Software Updates : Keep the load balancer's firmware and software up to date to address known issues and security vulnerabilities.
  • Algorithm Selection : Ensure the appropriate load balancing algorithm (e.g., round-robin, least connections, weighted) is selected based on the specific application and server requirements.
  • Monitor Traffic Distribution : Observe the traffic distribution among backend servers to identify any imbalances.
  • Session Persistence : Check session persistence settings to ensure that client requests are directed to the same backend server for the duration of a session, if required.
  • Health Checks and Monitors : Review health check settings to ensure they accurately monitor backend server availability and health.
  • Virtual IP Address and Network Configuration : Verify that the virtual IP address and network configuration are properly set up and accessible.
  • Firewall Rules and Security Groups : Check that firewall rules or security groups are not blocking the load balancer's traffic.
  • Service Ports and Protocols : Confirm that the load balancer is configured to forward traffic to the correct service ports and protocols on the backend servers.
  • Log Analysis : Analyze load balancer logs for any error messages or indications of misconfiguration.
  • Service Check : Use network monitoring tools to perform service checks on the backend servers to identify any issues.
  • Load Test and Simulation : Conduct load testing or simulate traffic to observe how the load balancer handles various loads and conditions.
  • SSL Certificates : If using SSL termination, verify that the SSL certificates on the load balancer are valid and not expired.
  • Application-Specific Configuration : For certain applications, ensure that any application-specific configurations or settings are correctly configured in the load balancer.
  • Backup and Restore Configurations : Keep backups of load balancer configurations and restore them in case of accidental changes or misconfigurations.
  • Rollback Changes : If you recently made changes to the load balancer configuration, consider rolling back the changes to a known working state.

By systematically troubleshooting load balancing configuration errors, you can identify and resolve issues that affect traffic distribution and optimize the performance and reliability of the load balancer. Regular monitoring and analysis of traffic patterns will help you proactively detect and address load balancing issues as they arise. If the issue persists or is beyond your expertise, seek assistance from qualified network administrators or load balancing specialists.

Network Problem #16. Link Flapping

Link flapping is a common network problem characterized by the frequent and rapid oscillation of a network link between the up and down states .

When a link flaps, it continuously alternates between being connected (up) and disconnected (down). This rapid and inconsistent behavior can disrupt network communication, cause service interruptions, and lead to instability within the network infrastructure.

I. The Consequences of Link Flapping

  • Network Instability : Frequent link flapping can destabilize the network, leading to poor performance and service disruptions.
  • Packet Loss : During link flapping, data packets may be lost or delayed, affecting data integrity and delivery.
  • Connectivity Issues : Devices connected to the flapping link may experience intermittent connectivity or disconnections.
  • Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) Recalculation Delays : STP recalculations during link flapping can result in temporary network outages or increased convergence times.

II. The Causes of Link Flapping

  • Physical Connectivity Issues : Loose or damaged cables, connectors, or network ports can cause link flapping when there are intermittent connections.
  • Network Device Errors : Malfunctioning network switches, routers, or network interface cards (NICs) can lead to unstable link states.
  • Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) Misconfigurations: Incorrect STP configurations can create network loops, resulting in link flapping as STP tries to block or unblock redundant paths.
  • Ethernet Auto-Negotiation Problems : Inconsistent auto-negotiation settings between devices can cause link flapping due to mismatched speeds or duplex modes.

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III. How to Identify & Troubleshoot Link Flapping

  • Network Monitoring : Use network monitoring tools like Obkio to track link status and identify instances of link flapping.
  • Physical Inspection : Physically inspect network cables and connectors to ensure they are properly connected and not damaged.
  • Interface Errors : Check for interface errors or error counters on network devices to identify potential issues.
  • STP Configuration Review : Review and verify STP configurations to prevent network loops and link flapping.
  • Speed and Duplex Settings : Ensure consistent speed and duplex settings between connected devices to avoid negotiation issues.
  • Link Redundancy : Evaluate link redundancy and adjust configurations to avoid unintended loops.

By proactively identifying and addressing link flapping, businesses can maintain a stable and reliable network infrastructure. Network monitoring, physical inspections, and STP configuration reviews are essential in detecting and mitigating link flapping issues, ensuring smooth communication and data transfer within the network.

IV. Network Troubleshooting Scenarios for Link Flapping

Link flapping occurs when a network link experiences frequent up and down transitions, causing instability and disruptions in communication. Troubleshooting link flapping requires identifying the underlying causes and implementing solutions to stabilize the link. Here are some network troubleshooting scenarios to consider when dealing with link flapping:

  • Physical Inspection : Inspect the physical connections of the link for loose cables, damaged connectors, or faulty network equipment.
  • Cable Quality : Check the quality of the network cables. Use certified and properly shielded cables to reduce interference.
  • Link Speed and Duplex Settings : Verify that both ends of the link are set to the same speed and duplex settings (e.g., 1 Gbps, full duplex) to avoid negotiation issues.
  • Auto-Negotiation : Test the link with auto-negotiation enabled and disabled to see if it stabilizes the connection.
  • Check Network Equipment : Review the logs and statistics of the network switches or routers connected to the link for any errors or alerts related to the flapping link.
  • Firmware and Software Updates : Ensure that the firmware and software of network devices are up to date to address known issues.
  • STP (Spanning Tree Protocol) Issues : Check if the link is part of a spanning tree loop or blocked by Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) due to redundancy misconfigurations.
  • STP PortFast and BPDU Guard : If using STP, ensure that PortFast and BPDU Guard are configured correctly to prevent accidental loops.
  • Link Aggregation (EtherChannel/LACP) : If the link is part of a link aggregation group, verify the configuration of the aggregation protocol (e.g., EtherChannel, LACP).
  • Power Fluctuations : Verify that the devices connected to the link have stable power sources to prevent link flapping due to power issues.
  • Update NIC Drivers : Keep network interface card (NIC) drivers up to date on connected devices to prevent compatibility issues.
  • Interference : Check for sources of electromagnetic interference or signal degradation that might affect the link stability.
  • Port Statistics : Monitor port statistics to check for excessive error counters, collisions, or other anomalies.
  • MTU Size : Test different Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) sizes to avoid potential fragmentation issues.
  • Bypass Network Equipment : Temporarily bypass any intermediate network equipment (e.g., switches, routers) to determine if the issue is specific to a particular device.
  • Check Other Network Links : Investigate if any other links or devices in the network are causing network congestion or instability.
  • Isolate Devices : Isolate devices connected to the link to test if the problem lies with one of the connected devices.
  • Network Capture : Use network capture tools to analyze network traffic and look for patterns or events leading to link flapping.

By systematically troubleshooting link flapping, you can identify the root causes and implement appropriate solutions to stabilize the link and ensure reliable network communication. Regular monitoring and analysis of network performance will help you proactively detect and address link flapping issues as they arise. If the issue persists or requires expertise beyond your capabilities, seek assistance from qualified network administrators or network equipment vendors.

How to Troubleshoot the Most Common Network Problems: Steps & Tips

Now that we've gone over some of the most common network problems that businesses encounter in enterprise networks , it's essential to equip ourselves with effective troubleshooting steps. When network issues arise, swift and systematic troubleshooting is crucial to minimize downtime, ensure smooth operations, and maintain a reliable network infrastructure.

Identifying network issues is the first step to solving them - and it all comes down to pinpointing who , what , where , and when .

Step 1: Network Assessment

The first step when it comes to identifying network problems, with your Network Monitoring tool in hand, is performing a network assessment to collect some key information about your network. Obkio's Network Monitoring tool , which we helped you deploy earlier in this blog post, plays a vital role in this process.

By conducting a thorough network assessment , you can gain valuable insights into your network's health, performance, and potential bottlenecks. This information serves as a solid foundation for efficient troubleshooting and enables you to pinpoint the root causes of network issues more effectively. Now, let's delve into the general troubleshooting steps to address common network problems and make the most out of your network monitoring capabilities

  • What actions to take: After you’ve collected all the information you need to identify the network issue, can then start network troubleshooting . That could include reaching out to your ISP or MSP, or bringing the problem to your network administrator to fix it internally.

For all the details about identifying network issues, check out our article on how to identify network issues!

Troubleshooting common network problems involves identifying the "what" issue is occurring, determining "where" the problem is located in the network, understanding "when" the issue is happening, identifying "who" is affected, and then taking appropriate actions to resolve the problem. Here are some steps to help troubleshoot common network problems:

Step 2: Identify the Issue (What)

To know how to solve these problems, you need to actually understand what they are. A network performance monitoring software will measure network metrics and report back if it finds any issues, with details about what the issue is, and what caused it.

  • Gather information from users or monitoring tools to determine the symptoms and specific problem experienced.
  • Clearly define the issue, such as slow internet speed, intermittent connectivity, or VoIP call quality problems.

Step 3: Locate the Problem (Where)

It’s important to identify where exactly in your network an issue has occurred. Using Monitoring Agents , Obkio allows you to deploy Agents in key network locations for end-to-end visibility over your network to provide you with details about where problems have occurred. This end-to-end network monitoring approach gives you visiblity of every end of your network, from your LAN to your WAN .

  • Determine which part of the network is affected, such as a specific network segment, device, or service.
  • Use network monitoring tools and analysis to identify potential network bottlenecks , high utilization areas, or devices showing errors.

Step 4: Determine the Timeframe (When)

Identifying the specific timeframe in which a network problem occurs is essential for effective troubleshooting. Pinpointing when the issue started and its recurrence patterns using historical data from Obkio's NPM tool can help correlate the problem with network changes or events, streamlining the resolution process.

  • Find out when the problem started occurring to correlate with any changes in the network or configurations.
  • Analyze network logs and timestamps to pinpoint when the issue typically happens, if it's intermittent.

Step 5. Identify Affected Users (Who)

Understanding which users or devices are experiencing network issues is crucial in troubleshooting. By pinpointing the affected users, network administrators can focus their efforts, assess the scope of the problem, and provide targeted support, ensuring a prompt resolution and improved user experience."

  • Determine which users or devices are experiencing the problem to understand the scope of the issue.
  • If the problem is widespread, identify common factors among affected users.

Step 6. Who is Responsible For the Network Segment

Once you know where a network problem is located, and what exactly it is, you can then easily decide who in your business is responsible for that network segment.

  • Identifying the responsible party helps streamline communication and coordination, ensuring a more effective and targeted approach to resolving the issue.
  • By involving the right stakeholders, you can facilitate a faster resolution and prevent delays in troubleshooting efforts.

Step 7. Take Initial Actions (What Actions to Take)

When network issues arise, it's essential to swiftly address the problem with initial actions. This step focuses on quick checks and basic troubleshooting to resolve common issues that might be causing the network problem. By taking these immediate actions, you can potentially resolve the problem right away or narrow down the root cause, setting the stage for further targeted troubleshooting.

  • Perform basic checks, such as verifying cable connections, power cycling affected devices, or checking for software updates.
  • Review network configuration changes or recent updates that might have contributed to the problem.

Step 8. Isolate the Issue

To efficiently troubleshoot network problems, isolating the issue is crucial. This step involves narrowing down the problematic area or component in the network. By systematically eliminating potential causes, you can pinpoint the specific source of the problem, leading to a more precise and effective resolution.

  • Monitor network devices , like switches or routers, using Obkio's Network Device Monitoring feature, to identify if they are causing the problem or experiencing resource issues.
  • Divide the network into segments and test each segment independently to narrow down the location of the problem.
  • Use Visual Traceroutes to determine if the problem is in your local network or ISP network .

Step 9. Implement Solutions

After identifying the root cause of the network problem, it's time to implement targeted solutions. This step focuses on making necessary adjustments, configurations, or replacements to address the issue directly. By applying the appropriate solutions, you can effectively restore network functionality and prevent the problem from recurring

  • Based on the gathered information, apply appropriate solutions, such as adjusting configurations, updating firmware, or replacing faulty hardware.
  • If the network problem is beyond your organization's control and is related to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Managed Service Provider ( MSP network ) infrastructure, promptly reach out to them for assistance.
  • Collaborating with your ISP or MSP can expedite the resolution process for issues that lie outside your network's scope.
  • Document the changes made during troubleshooting for future reference.

Step 10. Test, Verify & Continuously Monitor Network Performance

Culminating the troubleshooting process, this section outlines the essential steps to verify the effectiveness of the implemented solutions and ensure a stable network environment. From thorough network testing to continuous monitoring, these practices ensure that network issues are promptly resolved and potential future problems are proactively addressed.

  • After implementing solutions, thoroughly test and continuously monitor network performance with your Network Monitoring tool to ensure the problem is resolved.
  • Verify that the network is functioning as expected and the previously identified issues are no longer present. Monitor the network post-resolution to verify the stability and effectiveness of the applied changes.
  • Continuously monitor network performance using tools like Obkio to ensure the problem does not reoccur and to detect any new issues that may arise.
  • By ongoing monitoring, you can proactively address potential problems before they impact the network's stability and user experience.

Obkio - Common Network Problems

Why Should Businesses Find & Fix Network Problems Anyways?

In this section, we'll delve into why finding and troubleshooting network problems is a critical mission for businesses. From bolstering productivity and enhancing customer experience to safeguarding data and gaining a competitive edge, we'll explore the myriad reasons why proactive network monitoring is an indispensable investment.

  • Maintaining Productivity : A smooth and reliable network is the backbone of business productivity. When network problems occur, they disrupt communication, data access, and collaborative efforts, leading to downtime and decreased efficiency. By identifying and resolving these issues promptly, businesses can minimize disruptions and keep productivity levels at their peak.
  • Enhancing Customer Experience : In a digitally interconnected world, customer satisfaction hinges on swift and seamless interactions. Network problems can affect customer-facing services, leading to slow response times, website downtime, and impaired online transactions. By proactively addressing network issues, businesses can provide a positive customer experience, which can bolster loyalty and brand reputation.
  • Cost Savings : Network problems can be costly in terms of both time and resources. Extended downtime can result in revenue losses, missed opportunities, and increased operational expenses as IT teams rush to troubleshoot and fix issues. By resolving problems swiftly, businesses can mitigate these financial impacts and avoid potential long-term consequences.
  • Security and Data Protection : Network problems, especially those related to security breaches, can expose sensitive data and compromise the overall integrity of the business. Troubleshooting network vulnerabilities and promptly addressing security threats is essential for safeguarding valuable information and maintaining regulatory compliance.
  • IT Team Efficiency : Persistent network issues can place an immense burden on IT teams, overwhelming them with repetitive troubleshooting tasks. By proactively identifying and resolving problems, IT teams can focus on strategic initiatives and improvements, ultimately making the best use of their expertise and time.
  • Business Continuity : In today's digital-dependent landscape, uninterrupted business operations are crucial for survival and growth. Network problems, if left unchecked, can lead to extended outages and interruptions, threatening business continuity. By troubleshooting and resolving issues, businesses can ensure a more robust and resilient infrastructure.
  • Competitive Advantage : In a competitive market, businesses must deliver a seamless user experience to stand out from their rivals. A well-maintained and efficient network allows companies to differentiate themselves by providing reliable services and smooth interactions, ultimately gaining a competitive edge.
  • Employee Satisfaction : A functional network translates to a smoother work experience for employees. When network problems are addressed promptly, employees can focus on their tasks without the frustration and stress caused by technology-related hurdles.

In conclusion, finding and troubleshooting network problems is crucial for businesses to maintain productivity, enhance customer experience, save costs, protect data, streamline IT operations, ensure business continuity, gain a competitive advantage, and foster employee satisfaction. It's an essential investment in the overall success and growth of any modern business.

In Conclusion

There are a variety of network problems that could take over your network at any given moment. With the growing complexity and size of modern network infrastructures, network problems can be more frustrating than ever.

Businesses can’t afford to waste time and money dealing with network problems that effect:

  • Productivity
  • IT resources

Knowing about some of the most common network problems helps you prepare for what your network may encounter in the future.

Network performance monitoring using a network performance monitor tool is your key to identifying network problems, because it pinpoints intermittent network slowness issues that are difficult to troubleshoot otherwise! A distributed network monitoring solution like Obkio's offers visibility that traditional systems are unable to offer.

Obkio is a simple Network Performance Monitoring SaaS solution for IT pros to help you continuously monitor the health of their network and core business applications to improve the end-user experience!

Put It to the Test: Trying Is the Ultimate Way to Learn!

Networks may be complex. But Obkio makes network monitoring easy. Monitor, measure, pinpoint, troubleshoot, and solve network problems.

  • 14-day free trial of all premium features
  • Deploy in just 10 minutes
  • Monitor performance in all key network locations
  • Measure real-time network metrics
  • Identify and troubleshoot live network problems

You can rest assured that we're not like those pushy Sellsy people - there's no catch here. We firmly believe in the excellence of our product, but if it's not the right fit for you, we understand and want what's best for you.

Monitor mutliple network types, apps and services with features for:

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These might interest you

Don't let network issues slow you down - learn how obkio can help, see how obkio finds & fixes network problems - watch now, say goodbye to network headaches..

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Dominick Fair

Chief Technology Officer

15 Common Network Problems & How To Solve Them

So, your network crashed. It’s a great day.

You just lost an entire morning’s work because your network quit on you- and this is not some college research paper, this is your business .

Life is crazy and busy enough already! You don’t need more network and IT stressors added to it.

The only thing you need is a business network that makes your job and your life fluid.

It doesn’t matter if you live in Frederick, Bethesda , Rockville, McLean or Alexandria- you live in the future tech-hub of the world. Amazon is moving in, and Google has already caught on. You need protected, reliable and progressive IT.

If your business network breaks down, we have you covered.

We know about the uncommon network problems on the backend. But, did you know there are common network problems that can sometimes be prevented with the services of a managed service provider?

Here’s some information that may help you take a positive step towards never having to deal with annoying network issues again:

1. Networking Issues

IT management companies can always help businesses with their networking issues. But not all IT companies which help you with network issues are created equal. 

Some aren’t worth the time to call them. Some have great network solutions for issues but cost too much. What if we were to tell you about a company that can handle your networking issues at an affordable price? 

Maybe you’re skeptical at this point, so we’ll go over 15 of the most common network problems. Then we will tell you why we’re the best IT company in your area.

Here are a few common network problems:

  • Your network is too slow. You have rebooted your computer. You have deleted files and folders that take up a lot of memory. But you still have a slow network speed. 
  • The Wi-Fi signal is strong in some areas and weak in other areas of the office. It makes no sense. It continues, no matter how you rearrange the furniture.
  • The IP addresses have snafus. Sometimes there may be duplicate IP addresses. Sometimes there can be IP address exhaustion. 
  • Network path cannot be found. This is also knowns as a DNS problem. If there is a network error message that drives most people to distraction, it is that one. 
  • Unable to connect to a printer or file on a network share program. That can put a group meeting in an indefinite hold pattern if not fixed as soon as possible.

We know how aggravating and stressful these network issues can be. As an IT management company with clients from Virginia to DC and Maryland, we also know how important our network solutions are.

They are the reasons our solutions need to work the first time, every time.

2. Network Problems

We are presenting you with common network issues and problems that affect all businesses from time to time. We also have solutions for these problems.

Here’s a small cheat sheet of brief solutions you may try for a couple of these ongoing network problems.

Here are more everyday common network problems;

  • Cyber Security or hacking your network . Only about 14 percent of small businesses can mitigate cyber risks and their network’s vulnerability. Of the 14%, 60 percent of them go out of business within six months. 
  • Data Back-ups . You have a lot of data that needs to be backed up at the end of each workday. But sometimes that doesn’t happen right, or it doesn’t happen at all. It’s a nightmare to figure out what happened.
  • The Cloud and those who don’t understand it, misuse it, keep incorrect data on it or cannot figure it out so they get rid of it on their computer. 
  • No IT plan at all? This is when we have our work cut out for us and we love every minute. Because it allows us to help a business develop an IT plan that grows and develops with them.
  • Account Privilege Abuse. That’s when someone who shouldn’t be using company networks does. It can be a nightmare because  60% of all security breaches on your network are done from the inside. That means it is someone who works with or for you.

There are solutions to these network problems we work with every day. But the longer the problems go on, the more difficult it is to fix at every level. We get it done, but it is time-intensive. 

3. Common Network Problems

The last five common network problems are some of our unique network problems. But that being said, they are still common enough to include on our the list. They are:

  • Misconfigurations cause as much as 80% of all network problems. Setting parameters manually may be something you can do. But when it is done wrong, it can cause untold IT headaches.
  • VLAN issues happen when a VLAN is not configured to the correct port, which supports its services. 
  • Wireless connections don’t work. There is nothing worse than going to use the wireless connection with your boatload of work only to realize that you cannot get access to the connection.
  • Unable to establish a VPN connection. Many people may not know what or how the VPN connects so this can be a real stress-inducer IT problem.
  • Ongoing network processes are using up all the memory. This one can be a puzzler without an IT management group which can help you walk through what is going on.

The value of an IT management company cannot be overstated. We say the heartbeat of your business is your network.  There is no substitute you can put in the place of a network that crashed. Because it doesn’t exist.

Reliable networks are a necessity for businesses everywhere. If your network problems cause you to lose business, for a day or even an hour- it is going to make a huge difference in office flow and client relations on your end.

Managed IT can prevent these problems before they happen.

Common Network Problems & Solutions

Some answers to a few of the common network problems we mentioned above you may find surprising. Some will seem too easy to be true but sometimes it works out that way.

But there are other network problems that can take the average IT knowledgeable person, more days than they want to figure it all out. This is often because of all the moving parts in network systems and servers.

The good news is that there isn’t a single network problem or issue we haven’t seen already. When it comes to complicated and in-depth network problems, we know what to do and how to do it almost as soon as we make it.

Here are some short answers to what can be difficult network problems.

  • When your network is too slow , it can be the router’s positioning causing wireless interference. We test in all positions when we need to.
  • The WiFi signal is strong and weak throughout the building may be because of your network’s administrator interface. It needs to be set to optimum performance.
  • Data Back-up issues can be caused by hardware and software problems so all need to be checked out. You can back up directly to an outside server or another outside source as a temporary measure.
  • VLAN issues require you to check the cabling and the interface first before doing anything else.
  • Continuous loss of memory because your network has a memory hog somewhere. Damaged hardware or a capacity bottleneck can cause this. Either can be fixed in a straight-forward manner.

Network Issues 

There is no network issue you have which does not have a solution or answer. That’s what we will as truth in our industry. We give you the IT management services and answers to meet your network needs.

View pricing on our management plans that vary and are based on your particular needs. We have starter package plans for new businesses. We also have our obsidian package plan for established, larger businesses.

All of our packages can handle any of your current or potential network issues and provide your business with the answers and solutions to get you back on track. Our mission is to create fluidity in the workspace so that you and your business can get back to what it does best in its day-to-day operations.

All technology today evolves at the speed of a week-to-week and sometimes day to day basis. Problems in networking, cloud computing, and remote access are what we fix for our customers every day.

Your business should be able to hop online with the touch of a button and click of a mouse. Many of our calls come when people have tried to fix their network issues themselves but think they may have made things worse. We can fix those network issues too. 

Our IT Service Management Plans

Our IT service management plans allow us to be there for you so you never have to worry about having network problems or issues. 

We offer timely network solutions that give you peace of mind. Also, they get your business back up to speed as quickly as possible.  

Wouldn’t it be great to know that your network protection is just around the corner with 24/7 support?

SADOS offers more than solutions to your network problems. We offer specialized architecture and deployment. SADOS does maintenance and LAN/WAN network monitoring in our managed service packages.

We’re only one call away . Reach out to us before you need us in a network emergency. 

Try our FREE AI-powered  help desk. No login required.

Need a quick fix?

Try our free ai-powered tech support.

Describe the problem you are facing. Be friendly, descriptive. Remember that AI can make mistakes. If you’re having an IT emergency, please contact us .

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MindManager Blog

Nine essential problem solving tools: The ultimate guide to finding a solution

October 26, 2023 by MindManager Blog

Problem solving may unfold differently depending on the industry, or even the department you work in. However, most agree that before you can fix any issue, you need to be clear on what it is, why it’s happening, and what your ideal long-term solution will achieve.

Understanding both the nature and the cause of a problem is the only way to figure out which actions will help you resolve it.

Given that most problem-solving processes are part inspiration and part perspiration, you’ll be more successful if you can reach for a problem solving tool that facilitates collaboration, encourages creative thinking, and makes it easier to implement the fix you devise.

The problem solving tools include three unique categories: problem solving diagrams, problem solving mind maps, and problem solving software solutions.

They include:

  • Fishbone diagrams
  • Strategy maps
  • Mental maps
  • Concept maps
  • Layered process audit software
  • Charting software
  • MindManager

In this article, we’ve put together a roundup of versatile problem solving tools and software to help you and your team map out and repair workplace issues as efficiently as possible.

Let’s get started!

Problem solving diagrams

Mapping your way out of a problem is the simplest way to see where you are, and where you need to end up.

Not only do visual problem maps let you plot the most efficient route from Point A (dysfunctional situation) to Point B (flawless process), problem mapping diagrams make it easier to see:

  • The root cause of a dilemma.
  • The steps, resources, and personnel associated with each possible solution.
  • The least time-consuming, most cost-effective options.

A visual problem solving process help to solidify understanding. Furthermore, it’s a great way for you and your team to transform abstract ideas into a practical, reconstructive plan.

Here are three examples of common problem mapping diagrams you can try with your team:

1. Fishbone diagrams

Fishbone diagrams are a common problem solving tool so-named because, once complete, they resemble the skeleton of a fish.

With the possible root causes of an issue (the ribs) branching off from either side of a spine line attached to the head (the problem), dynamic fishbone diagrams let you:

  • Lay out a related set of possible reasons for an existing problem
  • Investigate each possibility by breaking it out into sub-causes
  • See how contributing factors relate to one another

MindManager Fishbone Diagram 1

Fishbone diagrams are also known as cause and effect or Ishikawa diagrams.

2. Flowcharts

A flowchart is an easy-to-understand diagram with a variety of applications. But you can use it to outline and examine how the steps of a flawed process connect.

Flowchart | MindManager

Made up of a few simple symbols linked with arrows indicating workflow direction, flowcharts clearly illustrate what happens at each stage of a process – and how each event impacts other events and decisions.

3. Strategy maps

Frequently used as a strategic planning tool, strategy maps also work well as problem mapping diagrams. Based on a hierarchal system, thoughts and ideas can be arranged on a single page to flesh out a potential resolution.

Strategy Toolkit MindManager 2018

Once you’ve got a few tactics you feel are worth exploring as possible ways to overcome a challenge, a strategy map will help you establish the best route to your problem-solving goal.

Problem solving mind maps

Problem solving mind maps are especially valuable in visualization. Because they facilitate the brainstorming process that plays a key role in both root cause analysis and the identification of potential solutions, they help make problems more solvable.

Mind maps are diagrams that represent your thinking. Since many people struggle taking or working with hand-written or typed notes, mind maps were designed to let you lay out and structure your thoughts visually so you can play with ideas, concepts, and solutions the same way your brain does.

By starting with a single notion that branches out into greater detail, problem solving mind maps make it easy to:

  • Explain unfamiliar problems or processes in less time
  • Share and elaborate on novel ideas
  • Achieve better group comprehension that can lead to more effective solutions

Mind maps are a valuable problem solving tool because they’re geared toward bringing out the flexible thinking that creative solutions require. Here are three types of problem solving mind maps you can use to facilitate the brainstorming process.

4. Mental maps

A mental map helps you get your thoughts about what might be causing a workplace issue out of your head and onto a shared digital space.

Mental Map | MindManager Blog

Because mental maps mirror the way our brains take in and analyze new information, using them to describe your theories visually will help you and your team work through and test those thought models.

5. Idea maps

Mental Map | MindManager Blog

Idea maps let you take advantage of a wide assortment of colors and images to lay down and organize your scattered thought process. Idea maps are ideal brainstorming tools because they allow you to present and explore ideas about the best way to solve a problem collaboratively, and with a shared sense of enthusiasm for outside-the-box thinking.

6. Concept maps

Concept maps are one of the best ways to shape your thoughts around a potential solution because they let you create interlinked, visual representations of intricate concepts.

Concept Map | MindManager Blog

By laying out your suggested problem-solving process digitally – and using lines to form and define relationship connections – your group will be able to see how each piece of the solution puzzle connects with another.

Problem solving software solutions

Problem solving software is the best way to take advantage of multiple problem solving tools in one platform. While some software programs are geared toward specific industries or processes – like manufacturing or customer relationship management, for example – others, like MindManager , are purpose-built to work across multiple trades, departments, and teams.

Here are three problem-solving software examples.

7. Layered process audit software

Layered process audits (LPAs) help companies oversee production processes and keep an eye on the cost and quality of the goods they create. Dedicated LPA software makes problem solving easier for manufacturers because it helps them see where costly leaks are occurring and allows all levels of management to get involved in repairing those leaks.

8. Charting software

Charting software comes in all shapes and sizes to fit a variety of business sectors. Pareto charts, for example, combine bar charts with line graphs so companies can compare different problems or contributing factors to determine their frequency, cost, and significance. Charting software is often used in marketing, where a variety of bar charts and X-Y axis diagrams make it possible to display and examine competitor profiles, customer segmentation, and sales trends.

9. MindManager

No matter where you work, or what your problem-solving role looks like, MindManager is a problem solving software that will make your team more productive in figuring out why a process, plan, or project isn’t working the way it should.

Once you know why an obstruction, shortfall, or difficulty exists, you can use MindManager’s wide range of brainstorming and problem mapping diagrams to:

  • Find the most promising way to correct the situation
  • Activate your chosen solution, and
  • Conduct regular checks to make sure your repair work is sustainable

MindManager is the ultimate problem solving software.

Not only is it versatile enough to use as your go-to system for puzzling out all types of workplace problems, MindManager’s built-in forecasting tools, timeline charts, and warning indicators let you plan, implement, and monitor your solutions.

By allowing your group to work together more effectively to break down problems, uncover solutions, and rebuild processes and workflows, MindManager’s versatile collection of problem solving tools will help make everyone on your team a more efficient problem solver.

Download a free trial today to get started!

Ready to take the next step?

MindManager helps boost collaboration and productivity among remote and hybrid teams to achieve better results, faster.

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Why choose MindManager?

MindManager® helps individuals, teams, and enterprises bring greater clarity and structure to plans, projects, and processes. It provides visual productivity tools and mind mapping software to help take you and your organization to where you want to be.

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Best FREE Network Troubleshooting Tools & Software for Your IT Infrastructure & Help Desk Engineers!

best free network troubleshooting tools and software

Marc Wilson UPDATED: August 29, 2023

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See Full Bio & All Articles from this Author.

At some point in time, we all have faced the same “No Internet” error message.

Some people decide to play the dinosaur video game, and others do nothing, then there are the ones that love to dig down into the nature of the problem.

no internet screen

In this post, we’ll share the Top 10 F ree Network Troubleshooting Tools and Software that will help the problem-solving ones to get back on their feet, dig deep, and solve any problem that their network might be suffering.

  • Ipconfig / ifconfig – EDITOR’S CHOICE   A command line tool available in Windows, macOS, Linux, and Unix, this system shows you the configurations on your network for TCP/IP, including IP address allocations.
  • Ping A widely-used command line tool available on Windows, Linux, Unix, and macOS that gives details on the connection to a given domain or IP address.
  • Tracert / Traceroute This tool is implemented on the Windows command line with the command tracert and on Linux, macOS, and Unix with the command traceroute. It gives a record of the nodes on the path to a given destination.
  • NSLookup This command gives details about the domain name system (DNS) operating on the network to which the querying computer is connected. Available for Windows, Linux, Unix, and macOS.
  • Netstat This command line tool gives details of all of the network connections that are currently live for the hosting computer. Available on Windows, Linux, macOS, and Unix.
  • Route Implemented as route print on the Windows OS command line and still part of netstat in Linux, Unix, and macOS, this tool shows all live routes for the connections the host computer is managing.
  • SolarWinds Advanced Subnet Calculator This tool for Windows lets you make IP address-related calculations.
  • SpeedTest this online tool gives you the average speed for both upload and download on connections across the internet to a given destination.
  • Wireshark A free network analyzer that uses Pcap to capture packets that are then displayed on the screen and stored to file for later analysis. Available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Unix.
  • Nmap A network monitoring tool that creates performance graphs from packet header information. Use Zenmap for a more sophisticated graphical user interface. Runs on Windows, Linux, Unix, and macOS.

Why are Troubleshooting Tools Important?

Systems fail all the time.

If your home Internet fails, you could probably call the provider or go somewhere else where there is a WiFi connection.

But that is a different story when it happens to the network connection of a Large Business.

The employees can’t do what they need to do until they get back on the internet or their Cloud Services. Business comes to a halt (or shuts down temporarily) and is probably losing money at this point.

You think it could take a couple of hours, but it ends up taking three days.

Getting to know the problem and finding ways to fix it quickly, takes solid troubleshooting skills.

Network admins and engineers can solve problems with the help of a few specific tools that are FREE and come with almost every operating system.

They have the skills, so they choose tools that are quick and fundamental. The network troubleshooting software described in the following list are the favorites among any experienced IT specialist.

Best Network Troubleshooting Tools & Software (FREE)

Our methodology for selecting free network troubleshooting tools.

We reviewed the market for free network troubleshooting systems and analyzed options based on the following criteria:

  • Services that can be run on Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • A range that includes quick testing tools and also extensive data gathering systems
  • Systems that can collect data for analysis with other tools
  • Commandline tools that can be invoked from scripts
  • Tools to check on link availability
  • Systems that are permanently free, not free trials
  • Tools that have a long service record, providing reliability

With these selection criteria in mind, we identified a number of useful command line utilities and packet visualization systems that can help you work out what is wrong with your network.

All the tools and commands work in many Operating Systems, including Windows and Major Linux variations. Although they have the same fundamentals, they have differences in their implementation. Most of the tools require you to open the Command Prompt “cmd” in Windows, the “terminal” in MacOS, or the “shell” in Linux. Others are web-based, and others require you to download an executable file.

1. Ipconfig/Ifconfig

Gathering information is the most important step when troubleshooting.

The ipconfig command stands for IP configuration and is used in Windows OS.

The ifconfig stands for interface configuration and is used in Linux and MacOS. Both display all current TCP/IP configuration for all currently connected networks.

Key Features:

  • Fast results
  • Available in every operating system
  • Network addressing information
  • Options that resolve problems
  • Includes non-operational adapters

If your network is using a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) Server to assign IPs to all hosts, then ipconfig is mandatory when troubleshooting. It also comes in handy when the IPs are statically assigned because there might not be proper documentation, or the IP address changed.

The ipconfig gives out all the network adapter’s information (when used without arguments), such as:

  • IPv4/IPv6 Address
  • Subnet Mask
  • Default Gateway

  Aside from showing information, the Ipconfig command can also release IP addresses, renew DHCP configuration, flush DNS cache, register DNS, and more.

ipconfig command

From the information shown in the results above, you can see that I am connected to two different networks, one Ethernet (wired) and the other, a Wireless. But there are other variations for the command (for Windows), for example:

To find out more about this command type “ ipconfig  -help ” in Windows or “ ifconfig ” in Mac and Linux.

  • Built directly into Windows command prompt
  • Easy to use, simple syntax
  • Shows basic network configuration such as gateway, DNS servers, and subnets
  • Can be used with other syntax to perform functions like flushing DNS or renewing an IP address
  • Can take a while for new users to learn all of the different ways ipconfig can be used to troubleshoot
  • Can only apply fixes to one machine at a time

EDITOR'S CHOICE

Ipconfig and ifconfig are our top picks for free network troubleshooting tools because it is already built into the operating system for Windows, Linux, Unix, and macOS, so you already have it. Use ipconfig on Windows and ifconfig on Linux, Unix, and macOS. If you get to the command line and try out this utility, you will discover a quick way to find out the network configuration for your computer. This is a fast and efficient tool.

OS: Windows, Linux, Unix, and macOS

A good Ping represents a healthy network connection, a bad ping means a delay or packet loss , and an unresponsive ping represents no connection.

  • Very widely used
  • Roundtrip time in milliseconds
  • Packet loss
  • Jitter measurement

In networking, ping is a method that sends an ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) echo request to a destination and waits for the response (echo reply). While the source of the ping is waiting, a delay timer is counting the time it takes for the packet to go and come back.

  • Can quickly identify if there is a problem with a device
  • Allows you to easily see if there are any network drops, latency issues, or jitter over the connection
  • Does not work if ICMP is turned off on your target device
  • No visualization features
  • Not a proactive form of monitoring
  • Limited output options for reporting

With Ping you can perform a basic connectivity test between source and destination . If the target does not respond to the request, the connection is unavailable. You can also get statistics such as RTT and % of packet loss.

How to use Ping?

In the following ping test, we tested connectivity between our host and the gateway (192.168.0.1).

ping command

The results show 0% of packet loss and 1ms average in RTT (Round-Trip-Time). You can, of course, get creative and test different approaches. For example,

To access the help manual of the tool, type “ping -help” in Windows and “ping” in MacOS and Linux.

3. Tracert / Traceroute

In networking, a route towards a destination is made out of hops. Each hop is a device capable of routing and forwarding packets.

  • Path analysis
  • Link transfer times
  • Available in all operating systems

The traceroute tool gives out information on each hop that leads to a destination, something that can never be done with traditional ping.

  • Displays gateways that your traffic passes through
  • Can see if where a bottleneck occurs during the route
  • Does not provide any root cause analysis or features to aid technicians

You can use traceroute when you think that a problem extends beyond the local network and you want to find information about the path, which includes all the devices that forward your packet to the destination. The traceroute will give out IPs, hostnames, and response time of each hop.

SolarWinds has developed a great new Traceroute NG Tool that gives you a lot of features that we really like and have been using since it came out:

  • Finds Path changes
  • Gives you the Ability for Continuous Probing
  • Options for both TCP & ICMP Network Path Analysis
  • Automatically puts all information and traces into a txt logfile
  • Supports both IPv4 and IPv6

tracerouteNG

Traceroute NG Download 100% FREE Tool!

How does Traceroute Work?

Just like Ping, Traceroute also uses ICMP requests and replies. The difference is that it performs it, using a concept known as, hop limit. To get information from each device, it limits the next hop by modifying the TTL, for example, it sends an ICMP Echo request TTL=1, then the hop drops the package and returns a TIME EXCEEDED. The source of the traceroute interprets this as the first hop, records the IP/hostname information and sends the second packet by increasing the TTL to 2, and so on.

Some devices along the path, such as firewalls or DPIs are capable of detecting these requests and might not give information back; they only forward the packet to the next hop.

Let’s say we want to find out what is out there between my computer and google.com. Type in “tracert google.com” in Windows.

traceroute command

What can we see from the results?

  • We know that it takes fourteen hops to reach my destination (Google’s server: 172.217.168.174).
  • Each hop adds up delay time in ms, especially those hops with longer geographical distances.
  • We got information about some forwarding devices between me and my destination. Those Telefonica servers sent back their IP and hostname.

To find information about traceroute type “tracert -help” in Windows or “traceroute” in Mac or Linux.

Or you can Download the Free SolarWinds Traceroute NG tool 100% Free as well below:

4. Nslookup

Anyone using the Internet will indirectly use DNS. If you type google.com from your browser, the DNS will convert the name “google.com” to a machine-readable IP, so that your packet can be forwarded correctly.

How does your computer find its way to google.com?

  • First, your computer checks its DNS cache, which is a memory of recent DNS lookups.
  • If it does not find the name on the cache, it will send the request to the DNS Server.

If you are in a SOHO (Small Office Home Office) network, you might not have to deal with a DNS Server, and leave those problems to your ISP. But enterprise networks usually use a DNS server to convert all their internal server IPs to names.

  • Great for quickly diagnosing DNS issues when combined with ipconfig
  • Can resolve DNS issues through the CLI without using the GUI, good for remote troubleshooting
  • Can see which DNS server have authority and prioritization
  • Cannot easily change or modify DNS settings for multiple machines
  • Not easy to change DNS within CLI for new users

Why is NSLookup Important?

The command nslookup (Name Server Look Up) is a way to find out if the DNS Server (not the cache) is resolving names. If it can’t translate a name, then there is likely a DNS issue.

Although ping and traceroute can resolve a domain name to an IP, they work based on NetBIOS information. The nslookup will consult the configured DNS server directly.

 nslookup command

In the example above, we sent an nslookup query to the DNS for the name “amazon.com.”

What can you see from the results?

  • The server returned three IPs that Amazon is currently using for that particular name.
  • A non-authoritative answer means that our DNS obtained the reply from another “authoritative” DNS, usually a server on a higher level of the DNS hierarchy.

If you are connected to the Internet, there are probably some applications taking advantage of your connection. Not only your web browser is creating a link to a remote server, but also online video games, downloading software, and probably some background processes that you might be unaware of, such as backdoors or Malware. 

Netstat stands for Network Statistics. It gives detailed information about the state of all the current network connections on the computer.

  • Port scanner
  • A list of current connections
  • Transport layer protocol details

Netstat is a fantastic tool for troubleshooting because It can let you see what ports are open and listening on your device and the remote servers that are creating a connection to your computer with the ports that they are using.

  • Can quickly show which connections are actively established on a machine
  • Can find suspicious connections quickly if you know how to interpret netstat information
  • Can filter by TCP connections to limit your scope on noisier networks
  • Doesn’t provide geolocation mapping for connections found
  • Requires training to understand how to properly use netstat in a meaningful way

Running NETSTAT without any argument gives you:

  • TCP/UDP information.
  • Local IPv4/IPv6 and port number.
  • Foreign IPv4/IPv6 and port number.
  • The hostnames.
  • The current state of the network connection (Established, Time-Wait, or Close-Wait)

The command uses the same format in Windows, Linux, or MacOS, but the results are displayed slightly differently, and the arguments change. To use netstat in a MacOS or Windows, type in “netstat” in the terminal or command, like seen below:

netstat

Netstat will create a report with a massive list of network connections, probably with over 1000 lines.

To troubleshoot network connections with netstat, you need to be able to filter this report. You can clean the output to your preferences using specific arguments.

For example, in a MacOS (note that these commands vary in Windows):

With some tools listed before, such as “traceroute,” you learned how to analyze routes on a hop-by-hop basis. You are troubleshooting a “No Internet” issue, and you can quickly figure out the path that the packet is taking is not going through your Internet Gateway.

  • Displays the network route table
  • Available for Windows
  • Lists the adapters on the computer

All your traffic is being re-routed somewhere else, and you don’t know why.

The “route print” command shows all configured routes on your machine. Route Print is a Windows command and is the equivalent for “Netstat -nr” in MacOS and Linux, showed before.

With the route print, you can keep track of the routes by:

  • Destination
  • Network Mask

From the following “route print” output, you can see that there is one important route that is forwarding most of the traffic. The local machine forwards most of the packets going to a “least-significant” IP address destination, in this case, is 0.0.0.0/0 to the gateway (10.20.32.1).

The other local routes displayed here, are for management, localhost, multicasting, and broadcasting purposes.

route print command

You can also use “Route” for adding or removing routes to the local machine.

  • Shows the configured route of your traffic – great for troubleshooting complex issues
  • Can track gateway, destination, network mask, and other packet attributes
  • Simple syntax to remember
  • Isn’t applicable in most troubleshooting situations

The “route” command might only be useful in situations where there is more than one IP address configured on the machine. For example, if you have two networks at home, one could be dedicated to media or storage and the other for accessing the Internet.

You can also use this command to add a new default route to your machine (or remove).

7. Subnet Calculator

Unless you do it every single day, subnetting is a skill that takes time to master. Some network professionals can create subnets without a pen, paper, and calculator. They have been doing it for a while, that their minds can create subnets quickly.

But those that don’t have the skills need speed and error-less subnetting.

  • Completely free
  • Calculates IP subnets, masks, and subnet addresses
  • Can use a range of addresses or CIDR notations
  • Available offline as a download
  • Not ideal if you like doing the math yourself

A subnet calculator will let you divide your network into subnets. It will help you define IP subnets, masks, and subnet addresses. Give it a range of IP addresses or CIDR notations, and it will create a list of subnets for you.

When you use a calculator, you can customize the output of the list of subnets. For example, you can vary the number and the size of subnets available in your network.

A favorite subnet calculator among network admins and engineers is SolarWinds Advanced Subnet Calculator . It is free, easy-to-use, lightweight, and fully compatible with Windows OS.

subnet calculator

Among its key features are:

  • Calculates IPs
  • Creates Subnets
  • Calculates CIDR
  • Creates a list of subnets.
  • Resolves DNS.

SolarWinds Advanced Subnet Calculator 100% FREE Online Tool!

8. SpeedTest

Network admins use online speed tests to check the real bandwidth or throughput of an Internet connection . These tests are capable of measuring the time it takes to download or upload from the Internet to a specific host.

  • Online tool with no need for installation
  • Option to create a free account to store and compare results
  • Choice of remote test destinations

The results of these tests are great for testing newly deployed connections, making sure that the Internet Service Provider “ISP” is giving the offered bandwidth, or making sure that an SLA (Service-Level-Agreement) is met.

Online speed tests run right from your web browser using HTML-5 or Java. These tools depend entirely on TCP Port 80 (or 8080) and are real HTML throughput measurements between a server and a client.

  • Calculates upload and download speed quickly
  • Displays ping times
  • Gives you a quick understanding if your speed is average or not
  • Lacks in-depth performance metrics and continuous testing

Speedtest by Ookla is one of the most common. It is free and can display download, upload speed, and latency information.

speedtest

Recommendations when Troubleshooting with an Online speed test:

  • The given results are Throughput , not bandwidth or Internet Speed. Bandwidth is the “total” amount of information transferred from source to destination in a given time, while the throughput is the “actual” amount of information transferred, considering additional factors.
  • To get the most out of these tools, test at different times of the day and from multiple devices. Traffic loads vary during the time of day, and each device has different processing capabilities.

9. Wireshark

Wireshark is the defacto standard for network analyzers.

The IT industry has taken Wireshark as the most important software for network troubleshooting, optimization, and security. The tool alone is downloaded over 500,000 times a month and is used anywhere, from home networks, SMBs, to large enterprises.

  • Captures, displays, and stores packets
  • Capture filters
  • Color-coding for packet header values

Wireshark is a free and open source multiplatform network analyzer. It is the perfect tool for anyone that wants to monitor the security and performance of the network. It allows you to go deep into a TCP/IP network connection.

  • A massive open-source community keeps the software updated and new features added periodically
  • Built by network professionals, for network professionals
  • Can save captured packet data for further analysis or archival purposes
  • Integrates well with numerous other data collection platforms
  • Pulls all data over the network unless intentionally filtered out

With Wireshark, you can analyze every packet exchange with a specific source and destination, and find faults in the communication process.

A List of Some of the Features of Wireshark:

  • Save and analyze network logs when there is unexpected behavior.
  • View live or saved data from file captures.
  • View statistics from end-points, layer protocols, and conversions.
  • It supports decryption.
  • It can capture network data from various interfaces.
  • Read and write different capture information, such as Snoop or Sniffer.
  • Filter logs and messages.
  • It includes a Macro system.
  • Export results to CVS, XML, PostScript or plain-text.

wireshark

Troubleshooting security vulnerabilities?

NMap “Network Mapper ”, is a free and open source network scanner, inventorying, and security auditing tool.

  • Identifies all devices connected to a network
  • Provides device information

It is multi-platform, so it runs on various operating systems, including Windows, MacOS, Linux, FreeBSD, etc.

  • Doubles as a security tool, allowing administrators to discover open ports, and applications communicating over ports that are suspicious
  • A massive open-source community, Nmap is a very popular networking tool
  • Offers a GUI version, Zenmap, which lowers the barrier to entry for new users
  • Syntax is straightforward and not difficult to learn for most users
  • Might be overkill for simpler troubleshooting tasks
  • Better suited as a security/auditing tool

NMap is one of the best network troubleshooting utilities because it cannot only discover a network but also enumerate any information, which can be useful for security penetration testing .

Use NMap to Do any of the Following:

  • Discover Live hosts.
  • Identify open ports on a host.
  • Extract their services/process information.
  • Expose their OS, hardware information, and even software version.
  • Find vulnerabilities and Exploits.

When troubleshooting, NMap can help you test from your client computer to see if you have connectivity to open a TCP on a remote server. Nmap allows you to test and monitor a single host or multiple subnetworks at the same time.

To gather information, Nmap scans the ports in the network by sending raw packets. The tool waits and listens for responses and determines whether a port is open, closed or filtered by a firewall. To perform network scanning, Nmap uses several techniques, such as ICMP requests , TCP Connect (), TCP Reverse scanning, FTP bounce, etc.

Most of the tools listed above are within anyone’s reach. They are either quickly available through the native command line interface or terminal of the OS, through the web browser, or in downloadable freeware.

When you learn to use some or all of these tools effectively, you can reduce troubleshooting time exponentially, which means less wasted money and higher employee productivity.

Tools, such as ping, traceroute, ipconfig, netstat, nslookup, and Speedtest are easy to learn and extremely useful for any troubleshooting case. “Route” is also easy to implement but can be left for occasional uses, such as when there are multiple IPs and subnets.

Subnet calculators might not be the right fit for critical troubleshooting phases, but can be useful for finding IP conflicts, overlapping subnets, or just for capacity planning.

The last two tools, Wireshark and Nmap, are usually the favorite ones for experienced network professionals. They are not available in the OS, or online; you have to download them. Both of these tools take some time to master, but once you do, you’ll become the ninja network troubleshooter. No problem will stand in your way.

Free network troubleshooting tools FAQs

What tools are needed in troubleshooting network.

There are a handful of free, readily available network troubleshooting tools that you should know about:

  • Ipconfig/Ifconfig
  • Tracert/Traceroute

These are available at the command line of any operating system and are already installed.

What do you think is the single most valuable tool for network troubleshooting?

Ping is probably the single most useful network troubleshooting tool you can use. Many paid network monitoring systems are based on Ping and there are a number of dressed-up GUI versions of the tool available for free as well. The commandline utility has a number of options and if you master these, you can gain real insights into the condition of your network and also the availability and response times of remote servers.

What are the common network issues?

The most common causes of network problems include:

  • Overloaded switches
  • IP address clashes
  • A router or switch offline
  • A misconfigured switch

networking problem solving tools

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ComplianceOnline

7 Powerful Problem-Solving Root Cause Analysis Tools

The first step to solving a problem is to define the problem precisely. It is the heart of problem-solving.

Root cause analysis is the second important element of problem-solving in quality management. The reason is if you don't know what the problem is, you can never solve the exact problem that is hurting the quality.

Webinar Subscription 150+ regulated compliance trainings Expert-led webinars Cost-effective compliance trainings Flexibility and convenience Continuous skill enhancement 6 months unlimited viewing

Manufacturers have a variety of problem-solving tools at hand. However, they need to know when to use which tool in a manner that is appropriate for the situation. In this article, we discuss 7 tools including:

  • The Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram (IFD)
  • Pareto Chart
  • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
  • Scatter Diagram
  • Affinity Diagram
  • Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)

1. The Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram IFD

networking problem solving tools

The model introduced by Ishikawa (also known as the fishbone diagram) is considered one of the most robust methods for conducting root cause analysis. This model uses the assessment of the 6Ms as a methodology for identifying the true or most probable root cause to determine corrective and preventive actions. The 6Ms include:

  • Measurement,
  • Mother Nature- i.e., Environment

Related Training: Fishbone Diagramming

2. Pareto Chart

networking problem solving tools

The Pareto Chart is a series of bars whose heights reflect the frequency or impact of problems. On the Chart, bars are arranged in descending order of height from left to right, which means the categories represented by the tall bars on the left are relatively more frequent than those on the right.

Related Training: EFFECTIVE INVESTIGATIONS AND CORRECTIVE ACTIONS (CAPA) Establishing and resolving the root causes of deviations, problems and failures

This model uses the 5 Why by asking why 5 times to find the root cause of the problem. It generally takes five iterations of the questioning process to arrive at the root cause of the problem and that's why this model got its name as 5 Whys. But it is perfectly fine for a facilitator to ask less or more questions depending on the needs.

networking problem solving tools

Related training: Accident/Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis

4. Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

FMEA is a technique used to identify process and product problems before they occur. It focuses on how and when a system will fail, not if it will fail. In this model, each failure mode is assessed for:

  • Severity (S)
  • Occurrence (O)
  • Detection (D)

A combination of the three scores produces a risk priority number (RPN). The RPN is then provided a ranking system to prioritize which problem must gain more attention first.

Related Training: Failure Mode Effects Analysis

5. Scatter Diagram

networking problem solving tools

A scatter diagram also known as a scatter plot is a graph in which the values of two variables are plotted along two axes, the pattern of the resulting points revealing any correlation present.

To use scatter plots in root cause analysis, an independent variable or suspected cause is plotted on the x-axis and the dependent variable (the effect) is plotted on the y-axis. If the pattern reflects a clear curve or line, it means they are correlated. If required, more sophisticated correlation analyses can be continued.

Related Training: Excel Charting Basics - Produce Professional-Looking Excel Charts

6. Affinity Diagram

Also known as KJ Diagram, this model is used to represent the structure of big and complex factors that impact a problem or a situation. It divides these factors into small classifications according to their similarity to assist in identifying the major causes of the problem.

networking problem solving tools

7. Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)

The Fault Tree Analysis uses Boolean logic to arrive at the cause of a problem. It begins with a defined problem and works backward to identify what factors contributed to the problem using a graphical representation called the Fault Tree. It takes a top-down approach starting with the problem and evaluating the factors that caused the problem.

networking problem solving tools

Finding the root cause isn't an easy because there is not always one root cause. You may have to repeat your experiment several times to arrive at it to eliminate the encountered problem. Using a scientific approach to solving problem works. So, its important to learn the several problem-solving tools and techniques at your fingertips so you can use the ones appropriate for different situations.

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Quantum Physics

Title: quantum annealing and graph neural networks for solving tsp with qubo.

Abstract: This paper explores the application of Quadratic Unconstrained Binary Optimization (QUBO) models in solving the Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP) through Quantum Annealing algorithms and Graph Neural Networks. Quantum Annealing (QA), a quantum-inspired optimization method that exploits quantum tunneling to escape local minima, is used to solve QUBO formulations of TSP instances on Coherent Ising Machines (CIMs). The paper also presents a novel approach where QUBO is employed as a loss function within a GNN architecture tailored for solving TSP efficiently. By leveraging GNN's capability to learn graph representations, this method finds approximate solutions to TSP with improved computational time compared to traditional exact solvers. The paper details how to construct a QUBO model for TSP by encoding city visits into binary variables and formulating constraints that guarantee valid tours. It further discusses the implementation of QUBO-based Quantum Annealing algorithm for TSP (QQA-TSP) and its feasibility demonstration using quantum simulation platforms. In addition, it introduces a Graph Neural Network solution for TSP (QGNN-TSP), which learns the underlying structure of the problem and produces competitive solutions via gradient descent over a QUBO-based loss function. The experimental results compare the performance of QQA-TSP against state-of-the-art classical solvers such as dynamic programming, Concorde, and Gurobi, while also presenting empirical outcomes from training and evaluating QGNN-TSP on various TSP datasets. The study highlights the promise of combining deep learning techniques with quantum-inspired optimization methods for solving NP-hard problems like TSP, suggesting future directions for enhancing GNN architectures and applying QUBO frameworks to more complex combinatorial optimization tasks.

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  1. 15 Best Network Troubleshooting & Diagnostics Tools 2024

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  2. 9 most common network issues and how to solve them

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    1 Gather information 2 Analyze information 3 Test hypotheses 4 Implement solutions 5 Verify solutions 6 Learn from experience 7 Here's what else to consider Networking problems can be frustrating...

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  5. A Guide to Network Troubleshooting

    1. Identify the Problem The first step in troubleshooting a network is to identify the problem. As a part of this step, you should do the following: Gather information about the current state of the network using the network troubleshooting tools that you have available to you.

  6. Best Network Troubleshooting & Diagnostics Tools

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  7. List of Top Network Troubleshooting Tools 2024

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  8. Best Network Troubleshooting Tools for IP Pros

    1. IP Scanner 10. Ping Ping is likely the number one utility that every tech pro will use on a daily basis. It helps us to determine two things: latency and packet loss. Because ICMP is typically the lowest priority packet in the pecking order, it doesn't tell us what the problem is.

  9. Network Problems: How to Troubleshoot (With Tools)

    How to Troubleshoot Network Connectivity Problems If these basic fixes don't reestablish your network connection, the issue and how to solve it can become more complex. Problems could be arising in one of your network devices, in an operating system, because of a firewall, virtual machine, or something caused by user interaction.

  10. Basic Network Troubleshooting: A Complete Guide

    The basics of network troubleshooting have not changed much over the years. When you're network troubleshooting, a lot can be required to solve the problem. You could be solving many different issues across several different systems on your complex, hybrid network infrastructure. A network observability solution can help speed up and simplify the process.

  11. What Is Network Troubleshooting?

    Solutions Networking What Is Network Troubleshooting? Network troubleshooting is the act of discovering and correcting problems with connectivity, performance, security, and other aspects of networks. See how it works (1:14) Explore Cisco Catalyst Center What's the value of network troubleshooting?

  12. What is Network Troubleshooting? How to Fix Network Issues

    Network Troubleshooting Definition. Network troubleshooting in the process of measuring, identifying, and resolving network-related issues. It's also defined as a logical process network engineers follow to improve the overall network operations. Troubleshooting is a repetitive, rigorous, and effective process that involves regular analysis ...

  13. The Best Network Troubleshooting Tools & Software (FREE)

    Here's our list of the top network troubleshooting tools: OpUtils by ManageEngine - EDITOR'S CHOICE This bundle of services for monitoring and checking network address issues is available in free and paid versions. You get a free trial of the full version and that converts to the Free edition if you decide not to buy.

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    Soft skills such as empathy, active listening and problem-solving can be valuable assets to network engineers who interact with nontechnical business stakeholders. Continue Reading. ... More network management tools often lead to manual errors and network trouble. Instead, consider tool integration and how existing tools can fix new problems. ...

  15. Network Troubleshooting

    1. Check the hardware. 2. Use ipconfig. 3. Use ping and tracert. 4. Perform a DNS check. 5. Contact the ISP. 6. Check on virus and malware protection. 7. Review database logs. Network Troubleshooting Best Practices 1. Collect information. 2. Customize logs. 3. Check access and security. 4. Follow an escalation framework. 5. Use monitoring tools.

  16. Make network problem solving easier with these five apps

    Network-tools 1 nt2. Network-Tools. n. ntNetwork-Tools doesn't offer nearly the plethora of tools as does DNS Stuff, but all of their tools are free for the using. Here you will find quick ...

  17. Troubleshooting Methodology

    A network troubleshooting process differs from problem-solving on standalone workstations or servers. An effective network troubleshooting methodology for network problems begins with a solid understanding of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model. This seven-layer model defines the networking process and is considered a fundamental concept.

  18. 16 Most Common Network Problems: How to Find & Fix Them

    14. VPN Connectivity Problems. 15. Load Balancing Configuration Errors. 16. Link Flapping. How to Troubleshoot Network Problems. Intermittent network problems frustrate users, affect productivity levels, overwhelm your IT team, and are a pain for network administrators to solve.

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    1. Networking Issues IT management companies can always help businesses with their networking issues. But not all IT companies which help you with network issues are created equal. Some aren't worth the time to call them. Some have great network solutions for issues but cost too much.

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    Wireshark A free network analyzer that uses Pcap to capture packets that are then displayed on the screen and stored to file for later analysis. Available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Unix. Nmap A network monitoring tool that creates performance graphs from packet header information. Use Zenmap for a more sophisticated graphical user interface.

  22. What are network assurance tools and why are they important?

    Benefits of network assurance tools. Network assurance tools support proactive problem-solving while minimizing downtime, enhancing the user experience and fortifying the network's security posture.

  23. 7 Powerful Problem-Solving Root Cause Analysis Tools

    1. The Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram IFD. The model introduced by Ishikawa (also known as the fishbone diagram) is considered one of the most robust methods for conducting root cause analysis. This model uses the assessment of the 6Ms as a methodology for identifying the true or most probable root cause to determine corrective and preventive actions.

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  25. [2402.14036] Quantum Annealing and Graph Neural Networks for Solving

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