stressed woman at computer

Your network is the lifeblood of your business, powering everything from email communication and phone services, to customer management software, cloud services, and so much more. That means any significant network slowdown costs your small or medium-sized business both time and money.

If you’re frustrated by the sluggishness of your network and want to avoid lost productivity, inefficiency, and cranky staff members, check out these 6 common reasons for many network slowdowns, along with a few troubleshooting tips.

1. Hardware Failure

Failing Switches or Routers

Many network slowdowns begin with minor problems such as the ability to access websites and not being able to access email. Or you may be able to access some websites, but not others.

Rebooting or power cycling your network router or switches often fixes the problem. However, if you find that you are consistently rebooting or power cycling a router or switch, it could indicate a problem with the power supply or a failing router, switch, or modem.

Daisy Chains

Daisy chaining is a common networking practice, especially in small business networks. If you have one router with several ports connected to another router with several more ports that is then connected to a switch or even multiple switches, this is known as a daisy chain.

While it might seem like a simple way to connect more devices in a growing business, daisy chaining can create network slowdowns. That’s because each time data packets need to navigate additional hops to reach their ultimate destination, the network must slow down to deal with the increased routing complexity. This becomes especially problematic when network traffic is high.

If your network currently uses daisy chains, you’ll find it is much more efficient to increase networking capacity, eliminating the need for multiple, complex connections.

Bad Network Cabling

If a workstation is unable to connect to the network, be sure to check the patch cable that connects the PC to the network jack. Simply swap out the cable to see if that fixes the problem.

Bad cabling can also cause problems in other areas of your network, such as cabling between routers and switches. It may be necessary to replace each cable individually to find the source of the issue.

2. Network Configuration Problems

DNS Errors

If systems on your network are not configured to use the right DNS servers, conflicts can develop that significantly slow network traffic. This problem often occurs with older workstations which may still be using outdated DNS settings.

In some cases no DNS server is currently available to a local LAN, so local systems aren’t able to locate local resources. Systems with no local DNS server or workstations that must traverse several hops to reach a DNS server can experience delays or outages when attempting to access extranets or websites outside the network.

We recommend consulting with a local network professional to troubleshoot DNS errors.

IP Conflicts

While Windows systems typically prevent the same IP address from being assigned to more than one device, occasionally two devices will end up sharing the same IP. This creates an IP conflict that can significantly slow down your network or cause outages to occur on the devices sharing the same IP. Network troubleshooting by an experienced IT professional can uncover conflicts and correct the issue.

Unnoticed Network Errors

Common error messages that go unnoticed or are ignored by users can contribute to network performance issues. The most common errors include IP address conflicts, unplugged network cables, network path errors, duplicate local network names, limited connectivity, and VPN connection problems. Network monitoring can often uncover network errors, simplifying the troubleshooting process.

3. Excessive Network Applications

If your business utilizes web-based applications to access a patient database, manage real-time inventory, or power a content management system, your system can be overrun when multiple workstations are all trying to receive data from the server at one time. Add in the demands of email, VOIP services, and audio or video streaming and your network could be overwhelmed, creating significant slowdowns or outages for certain systems.

Adding hardware-based filtering tools can help prevent applications from using too much of the network’s bandwidth at one time.

It can also be helpful to establish policies that limit streaming personal music or video files on company systems. If you implement VOIP phone services, you’ll need to add data access pipes for both data and voice traffic to avoid excess network congestion.

4. Bandwidth Congestion

Similar to excess network applications described in the last section, bandwidth congestion results when too many applications are demanding bandwidth to function.

In some cases, you may have outgrown the available bandwidth capacity of your network and need to upgrade. For example you may need to upgrade your existing 10/100 Mbps network to a gigabit network to ensure sufficient bandwidth and speed is available to handle the demands of your network applications.

A can suggest many options to expand your bandwidth and plan for future upgrades to boost the responsiveness of your network.

5. Host Outage

If a host client or server is experiencing an outage or is running slowly, requests to that host will either time out or significantly slow the transfer of information.

6. Spyware/Virus Infestation

While firewalls, consistent Windows patching, and updated spyware and anti-virus software all provide defenses against cybercrime, no system is completely safe from attacks.

Many virus infections hijack network resources to send thousands of spam emails an hour. Spyware can run calculations or send data completely in the background, bleeding network bandwidth. Other infections corrupt network configuration settings that can disrupt network communication.

If you suspect your network has a virus or spyware issue, it’s important to get a network assessment right away to remove the virus or spyware application and restore your network.

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of networking issues that can slow down your network, these common problems are a great place to start. But, keep in mind that troubleshooting your network on your own without the benefit of extensive networking experience can create more problems than it solves.

The best way to keep your network running smoothly is to work with a dedicated team of IT professionals to proactively monitor your network before potential issues arise.

Based in San Antonio, Texas, Monroy IT Services specializes in maintaining and monitoring small and medium-sized business networks. Our all-inclusive pricing means complete coverage for every aspect of your network and devices, along with 24/7/365 monitoring and live support. Contact us today to receive a FREE network assessment.