Managing your network is a full-time job but understanding common areas of concern and knowing how to avoid network downtime can make it easier.

First we’ll cover some common network issues and then we’ll discuss some simple things can help you avoid them.

Common Network Issues

Downtime isn’t the only issue that network administrators deal with. Here are some common things that can impact the performance of your network:

CPU Limitations: A node must have processing capability for capacity and performance management. Due to the interdependence between nodes on a network, a node with inadequate CPU can impact the entire network. If a node is unable to keep up with network traffic due to insufficient processing ability latency can increase.

Memory: Network performance can degrade when there is insufficient memory in the data and control planes.

Applications: The amount of data an application needs to transmit compared to what it is able transmit can impact a network’s capacity and performance. This impacts WANs especially.

Speed: Knowing the amount of data that can be transmitted on a single connection, or bandwidth, and the connection speed is important so that total traffic does not exceed what is theoretically possible based on the hardware.

Distance: The distance data travels can greatly impact network performance. There can be a delay in packet forwarding due to significant distance, such as an international application.

Input/Output: This capability is also known as the network’s back plane. If this is inadequate, it can cause the network to drop packets. The retransmission of these dropped packets can result in more network traffic.

Errors: There are a variety of network errors that can come up, including latency or lag, jitter and queuing issues.

Detecting Network Issues Before They Cause a Problem

Probably the most important thing you can have in your toolbox as a network administrator is a good monitoring tool. Ideally, your monitoring solution will continuously monitor your network and compare it to historical average or baseline network performance and notify you if traffic isn’t flowing as expected.

Another way to monitor your network is to perform high-frequency tests. This can mean the difference between a ping sent every five seconds versus every five minutes. With faster notification of network problems, you can troubleshoot and fix the issue sooner, providing better service to your users.

The last, and perhaps most avoidable, network issue is caused by outages due to network configuration changes. While most configuration changes are done outside of normal business hours to have as little an impact on users as possible, not validating and testing those changes can prevent users from having issues when they come to work the next day.

Properly validating network changes, either by manually testing access to internet and intranet applications by SSH or RDP connections or using a distributed testing solution.

Network issues come up and downtime happens but knowing more about these issues should help you keep your network up and running.