Common Computer Network Problems

There are some common computer networking problems that all companies experience at one time or another. Anticipating them ahead of time will enable you to fix them quickly and easily.

Regardless of the size or number of employees, every company experiences networking problems at some time or other. Anticipating the most common problems ahead of time and working to avoid them is the best way to reduce Help Desk calls and ensure a smooth daily networking experience. Quite often, when that phone does ring, the problems tend to be the same, since there are some very common problems that can present themselves in any environment that utilizes a networked system.

One problem that may arise is the issue of a duplicate IP address. This is, quite simply, the address that the network uses to identify a specific computer. Every PC - and laptop - possesses a unique IP address, but sometimes two will receive the same one as the result of an error. When this happens, communications problems arise and the Systems Administrator or Network Engineer will need to change the address on one of the computer terminals in order to fix the problem quickly and easily.

Connectivity issues are among the most common problems that are brought to the doorstep of the systems department of a company. This can be caused by a number of things, including configuration changes or the malfunction of connectivity devices, such as in the case of a switch, router or hub. The first thing to do, of course, is to check your physical connections. If something is disconnected, you'll need to reconnect and test it in order to make sure that the problem is resolved. If all physical connections look to be in place, check that the port on the hub to which the cabling is connected is on and working properly. There should be a green light on at the port site which indicates that the port is live and ready to connect. Similar testing can be done with switches and routers. If these look to be stable, then check the configuration of the equipment that's experiencing the problem. It could well be that it simply needs to be reconfigured to accommodate the type of equipment that's been attached to make the network connection.

In the same spirit, there are sometimes simply problems with the physical cables that connect various types of computerized equipment. Sometimes these physical connections become broken, severed or simply short out. In the case of an electrical short, this can happen when the conductor comes into contact with an outside source that also serves as a conductor. This will reroute the signal and cause networking and/or other electrical problems. In order to correct these types of problems, check to see if the physical connections have been compromised. If so, these can easily be changed, or new wiring can be manufactured with the proper connections by the staff members of the systems department. If nothing appears to be physically disrupted, then cable testers can be utilized to test for other types of electrical and networking problems. These include connection problems, electrical shorts in the cabling, incorrect cable connections and the interference level, in the case of a signal disruption due to diverted conductor paths.

Software problems can be the cause of networking problems, as well. When all of the physical possibilities have been eliminated, you'll need to look to the actual system to discover what the cause of the problem may be. A variety of configuration problems may be at the root of the situation, such as those of the WINS or DNS variety. Registry problems may also cause a networking issue, as well as a number of other software-related possibilities. Depending upon the cause of the problem, you'll need to either make configuration changes or, perhaps, reinstall a specific piece of the software that may have malfunctioned.

If you should find that your connectivity is unusually slow, this may be a sign of excessive network collisions. This is sometimes the result of a network that's been poorly planned or mapped out, or of a user transferring an inordinate amount of information at one time, which floods the network. There are options for transferring data without putting undue pressure on the system, such as in the case of word processing documents that are bulky. These can be sent as zipped files, which will send the information without violating any of the data, yet relieves the network of the amount of pressure that it would have taken to transmit the data if it hadn't been zipped. A jabbering network card - a network card that's stuck in the transmit mode - can also cause excessive network collisions. You'll be able to recognize this because the transmission light will remain on continuously, which literally means that the network card is transmitting on a nonstop basis. This can be alleviated by replacing the necessary components and testing them to be sure that the problem has been eliminated.

There's a way to combat any networking issue - it's just a matter of being prepared and knowing what the most common problems are, so that you'll have the necessary tools at hand to make whatever corrections are needed as smoothly and quickly as possible.

© High Speed Ventures 2011