The Top Five Reasons for a Slow Network (and How to Fix It)
When network connections slow to a crawl in today’s internet-dependent workplace, it can severely impact productivity. Many applications commonly used by business organizations are now hosted in the cloud, which means both intranet and Internet slowdowns impact their availability.
The longer these issues go unchecked the greater the impact on the business. However, it can be a challenge to find the real culprit behind the slow down. Below are five common causes for sluggish networks along with the appropriate solutions.
1. Insufficient Bandwidth
The most common reason for a slow network is overloaded bandwidth caused by congestion. When the amount of data requested among all users is more than the network service can handle, the result is a bottleneck that forces users to experience delays and slow traffic.
For example, if a user attempts to reach the internet and others are consuming all the bandwidth provided by the internet service provider, the result is a slow-loading website or a download that crawls at what can feel like dial-up speeds.
Another scenario is when there is only a single Wi-Fi access point serving an office, with too many devices connected to it. The Wi-Fi access point for that portion of the office building can become a bottleneck.
How to fix this problem? Once the exact cause of a bandwidth problem is determined, whether it’s the ISP service or a network device, a decision will need to be made about how to address it. If the bottlenecks are only during peak hours, then there may be ways to reduce usage during that part of the day. If the network usage has outgrown the available bandwidth, then it’s probably time for an upgrade. A new contract with the ISP or additional network equipment will solve the problem.
2. Wireless Signal Interference and Noise
Another common reason for a slower-than-normal wireless connection is signal interference. When Wi-Fi access points are placed and configured, they need to be arranged carefully to avoid interference.
With interference data packets are dropped excessively, forcing the device to request the same data multiple times. The user’s experience is a slow connection or a connection that seems to work only intermittently.
Interference can be caused by other devices that generate noise on the same frequencies used by Wi-Fi devices. Microwave ovens and electric motors that power cleaning equipment have been known to cause interference with Wi-Fi signals when they are running.
How to fix this problem? If slow connections are limited to Wi-Fi in certain places in the office, have IT support staff assess whether the access points need to be adjusted to ensure a reliable connection.
3. Network Device Configuration
Sometimes a slow network connection has its origin in the configuration of the computer being used. If other users aren’t experiencing slow connections nearby, then there’s a good chance it’s the computer and not the network. If the workstation is new or the network was recently changed, a mismatch in configurations between the network and workstation can cause problems. If the computer is old, its hardware may need to be upgraded to allow it to receive the full network bandwidth that’s available.
How to fix this problem? It’s important that workstations and mobile devices are configured properly when they are first issued to users. When the network is changed or upgraded, IT administrators should review any changes needed in the network devices, too. When these problems crop up in a specific device, it will need to be troubleshooted by network support staff. A simple software fix may be the solution, or the device may need a network card upgrade.
4. Unreliable Internet Service
Another culprit for a slow Internet connection can be the Internet service provider. While Internet service is usually reliable, several things can happen between the ISP’s office and their customers. The ISP may be working on upgrading their physical infrastructure, or an upstream transmission line might be out of service. The problem can also be a configuration issue that the ISP’s service staff can quickly fix when brought to their attention.
How to fix this problem? If no problems can be found on the local network and the slow connection is affecting most or all Internet users, then the Internet service provider is the next place to check. Contact their support department to see if they know about a network congestion issue or slow poor line conditions, and if anything can be done to correct it.
5. Malware Infection
A malware infection can also cause slow network connections. Workstations are often infected with a type of malware called adware, which adds additional network load and impacts the performance of web browsers. In worst case scenarios, malware can corrupt the device’s operating system or keep its CPU busy. On a corporate network, malware can infect switches, routers, and workstations. The type of malware that infects workplace networks can range from adware to exfiltration software used to steal large amounts of data.
How to fix this problem? Malware typically doesn’t generate enough network congestion to cause slow connections across the network unless there’s a large data transfer being made. Usually it’ll be discovered on isolated workstations when it causes performance problems. Contact I.T. Support immediately when there’s a suspicion of a malware infection. It may indicate that other workstations on the network are infected or that a network breach is in progress.
Solve Network Performance Problems with Outsource IT
These five problems are the most common reasons a network connection becomes sluggish or intermittent. Network slowdowns can sometimes be solved quickly when the cause is found, but today’s corporate networks are increasingly complex. When an organization’s network engineers drill down into the root causes of poor network performance, it can turn out to be a combination of systemic issues.
Outsource IT can help businesses keep their intranet and Internet applications running smoothly by providing the expertise needed to diagnose complex problems and recommend proactive solutions. Contact an Outsource IT account manager to learn more or schedule a consultation below.