10 Network Troubleshooting Tips

In this information age it is crucial to know at least 10 network troubleshooting tips. Network devices are used for work and play in most American homes, and knowing common network troubleshooting tips will save you time, money and having to pop an aspirin from the stress.

  1. Update firmware. Update the firmware on your router and make sure you have the appropriate wireless card drivers on your computer. Restart the device after updating its firmware. Loading the latest firmware usually solves a lot of issues, and firmware is available on most manufacturers' websites.
  2. Check physical connections. You could have a perfectly configured router, but a network cable could be faulty or, as silly as it is, a network device could be unplugged. Check the electric juice before you jump into more complicated network troubleshooting.
  3. Check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP). You don't want to end up rewiring your whole network only to find out everything is hooked up correctly but your ISP is actually the problem.
  4. Check status lights. Make sure both your modem and router are powered up and the appropriate lights are turned on. This means both the power and internet status lights should be lit up on the devices. Different brands of devices use various icons on the devices themselves, so contact the manufacturer or your internet provider if you're unsure which lights should be lit.
  5. Allocate bandwidth appropriately. The strength of your network isn't infinite. That means if you're using the internet to talk to your long-distance girlfriend and you're wondering why she's sounding a lot more confusing over the line than usual, it is possible that other online programs you are running are getting in the way. Turn off your downloads temporarily or anything else that is eating most of your network's bandwidth when you're experiencing some lag.
  6. Protect yourself. If you have a wireless router, use a Wi-Fi password to be able to hop on it. You can also turn off the broadcasting of your wireless network's SSID, the public name of your wireless network. Log in to your router and load the "Wireless Security" section. Most routers typically have a checkbox you can tick off that says something similar to "Enable SSID broadcast." This way all users not only need to know your Wi-Fi password, they also need to know the name of your Wi-Fi network.
  7. Remove Wi-Fi interference. If your Wi-Fi connection drops unexpectedly, there could be a few possible culprits to consider before troubleshooting the network. Radio signals from other devices could be interfering, such as your microwave oven when it's in use, or a cordless phone. It could also be the insufficient range of your wireless network. Check the signal strength of your wireless device. If it's too low, add a wireless access point.
  8. Shop smart. It is smart to choose network devices, such as your router, from known brands. It is also very wise to select network devices from the same brand. You are more likely to have to troubleshoot the network if you have a router of one brand connected to an access point that runs to a switch from different brands. You also want to skip the headache of having to call different customer service numbers when you need to contact the different manufacturers.
  9. Unleash the superpower of a simple restart. Sometimes all your router and modem might need is a simple restart. Unplug the power from these devices and wait a few seconds before powering them back on. Check your connection again after a minute or two. This simple step could rid you of more headache-inducing network troubleshooting.
  10. Check your firewall. Firewall settings could be the culprit behind some software not working on your network. Disable the firewall that usually comes with the most popular anti-virus programs and see if the software works this time.

More and more electronic devices can be hooked up to local area networks (LAN) these days. These tips can be applied to troubleshoot the network connection of a wide variety of devices, like your computer, gaming console or even an iPhone.

Resources:

Microsoft Networking