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Optimizing Network Performance: Troubleshooting and Maintenance Tips

Network optimization is the process followed to monitor and improve your network’s performance. This includes analyzing the infrastructure. Identifying performance issues, and finding solutions.

Why is this so important? There are several reasons, starting with lower business costs. If you have a high-performing network, your employees and other individuals who need to access your networks aren’t going to struggle. They’re not wasting time trying to get in, and you’re not paying them overtime when they have to stay late to get work done once the network is stable again.

Cybersecurity threats are numerous. If you’ve optimized your network to protect against current and future threats, you’re also going to save money and hassle.

Finally, as your business grows, you have more employees with more devices. If your network cannot handle the increase, it’s going to lead to costly downtimes while you increase your network’s capacity or find another solution.

How Do You Know When Something Is Wrong?

Sometimes, it’s easy to identify network performance problems. But, you may not always know the best steps to follow to determine when something is wrong. Catching problems early is important if you want to avoid lengthy outages or performance issues that make it hard for your business to continue at its normal pace. These are the things to look for.

Slow Responses, High Latency, and Dropped Packets

You want to continually monitor your network for things like slow response times, dropped packets, and high latency. Let’s break those down.

You likely know what response times are. It’s the time it takes to get a response once you make a query or click a button to do something. If it used to take seconds to save a file on your server and it now takes minutes, you have a problem. 

Speeds also can be affected by high latency. Latency is another word for lag. If you’re watching a video and it keeps freezing, slowing down, and then playing again, you’re having a problem with high latency.

The final issue is dropped packets. Data travels in packets, and if any of those packets get lost in transit, it’s a sign that your network is congested.

Frequent Downtimes

How often is your network going down? If you’re experiencing a lot of downtime, you could be having problems with software, hardware, or network configuration. Downtimes are a good indicator that your network requires optimization.

Traffic Congestion

Is your network getting congested? You need to look at the hardware and software you have and see how much traffic it can handle. If you’re overloading your network with too much traffic, it’s time to upgrade your equipment.

Tips for Troubleshooting Network Problems

How you fix problems with your network depends on the problem. Here are the tips we recommend for troubleshooting and fixing network issues.

Identify and Track Your Key Performance Indicators 

You need to define the key performance indicators that you’re going to monitor. You can use a network analyzer, traceroute, test ping rates, etc. Once you’ve decided what and how to monitor, compare the metrics you’re receiving to the performance you need. Where is your network failing?

If you’re having a hard time with packet loss, identify it with packet capture that analyzes your network traffic. Often, newer equipment is a good solution, but you might be able to save money and use compression to shrink the size of data packets. If that works for now and it’s a suitable solution for your business, try that. 

Are you having a hard time with congestion? Network switches forward data between devices. Use them to your advantage to properly direct traffic so that it’s flowing properly without creating traffic jams. You might simply have older hardware that was designed to handle X amount of traffic and can’t handle the number of devices and workers you currently have.

Keep Security in Mind

Use security suites and firewalls to block any security threat like malware, ransomware, etc. If you are relying only on a security suite like Norton, it’s worth looking at firewall hardware. As you add hardware of this nature, it must be configured correctly.

Make sure your employees follow security protocol. They shouldn’t open an email or SMS link without first verifying it’s legitimate. If your administrative assistant gets an email from the CEO to open an attached file, it’s a good practice to first call or message the CEO to verify the email is legitimate. Spoofing emails is easier than some people realize.

Age Your Equipment

While you’re troubleshooting, take the time to get a date when your networking equipment like switches and routers was manufactured. That will impact whether it’s worth trying to optimize your network or not.

Follow These Steps to Optimize Your Network

You’ve looked at your KPIs and set up better security measures, so now it’s time to optimize your network using these steps.

  1. Data Caching – Use caching to boost bandwidth consumption and lower utilization of the network.
  2. Data Packet Compression – Payload compression reduces the size of data packets to avoid congestion and boost bandwidth.
  3. Load Balancing – Evenly distributes traffic across your network to prevent congestion.
  4. Quality of Service (QoS) Prioritization – Prioritizes what data packets have priority, such as VoIP client calls are more important than a daily server backup.
  5. Router Buffering – Use router buffers to fine-tune how the router allocates buffer memory.
  6. SD-WAN Usage – A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is a tool that uses controls to direct traffic around your network. It can help make sure traffic travels at the best route for speed and efficiency. This is a helpful tool if you do a lot of work in the cloud.
  7. Transmission Control Protocol Optimization – TCP optimization is a tool where you can fine-tune your internet connection.

Try those steps first. If that hasn’t helped, it may be time to look at newer technology. You should replace your networking equipment every four to five years in general. If it’s been longer, it’s time to look into upgrades.

Ask an Expert in Network Optimization

If your networking equipment is older, upgrades are often the best way to optimize your network and get the speeds and connectivity your team needs. Just as the nation is shifting from 3G or 4G service to 5G, networks also advance and need upgraded equipment for faster speeds. Upgrading from CAT5 to at least CAT5e, even better CAT6, is a smart move if your network is failing to meet your needs.

BrightStar Systems offers pre-owned networking hardware at savings of up to 90%. Even better, our pre-owned routers, switches, and other devices come with a one-year in-house warranty. You’ll have peace of mind for a full year.

We’re here to help you optimize your network to perform exactly how you want it to perform. Our network professionals are happy to listen to what you need and recommend the best hardware to ensure you have a network that delivers the speed, power, and performance you need. Reach us by phone or email.