Resolving Network Failures: It’s Not Down But It’s Slow
From hard network failures that make you want to throw your computer out the window to soft failure failures that slowly eat away at your patience like a snail, network issues can wreak havoc on your business’ operations. Today, we’re teaching you how to identify and troubleshoot these network failures when the inevitable happens.
- The Impact of Network Failures
- Hard vs Soft Network Failures
- What are Hard Network Failures?
- Tools for Detecting & Troubleshooting Hard Network Failures
- What are Soft Network Failures
- Challenges of Identifying & Troubleshooting Soft Network Failures
- How to Detect Soft Network Failures
- Causes of Soft Network Failures
- How to Resolve Soft Network Failures
- In Summary: Hard vs. Soft Network Failures
- Start Troubleshoot Network Failures
As businesses become increasingly reliant on digital technologies and Internet-based services, businesses need a network that's more reliable than a friend who never flakes on plans. But like that friend who suddenly cancels last minute, network problems can leave you high and dry.
And let's face it, network performance that was once "good enough" ten years ago now leaves employees feeling like they're stuck in the dial-up days and can significantly affect employee productivity. Users who are accustomed to 100 Mbps connectivity at home have high expectations when they get to the office.
These issues can range from hard network failures that cause complete loss of connectivity to soft network failures that degrade performance and impact user experience. When these issues arise, it is crucial to have effective network performance monitoring and troubleshooting strategies in place to identify and resolve them.
In this article, we will explore the differences between hard and soft network failures, the causes of soft network failures, and strategies for mitigating them. Together, we’ll learn how to effectively monitor and troubleshoot network problems to ensure that your organization's network operates at optimal performance.
Network problems can generally be divided into two categories: hard network failures and soft network failures.
Understanding the differences between these two types of failures is essential for effective network performance monitoring and troubleshooting.
Hard network failures are characterized by a complete loss of connectivity. These types of network failures can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Physical damage to network infrastructure
- Fiber cuts
- Power outages
While hard failures are bad news for network reliability, they are the easiest to pinpoint and troubleshoot.
When a hard network failure occurs, IT professionals can use various tools to detect and troubleshoot the problem.
- A simple ICMP Ping Tool can be used to determine whether a host is reachable or not.
- Traceroutes can also be used to determine the path that packets take from one host to another, which can help pinpoint where the problem lies.
- In some cases, physical inspection of network equipment may also be necessary to identify and fix the problem.
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Soft network failures, despite their name, are actually more challenging to identify and troubleshoot than hard network failures.
Soft network failures can allow for basic connectivity functions, but they do not allow for high performance. These failures can be either steady or intermittent, with the latter being the most challenging to identify and troubleshoot. Soft network failures can occur anywhere, and they may go undetected for years, slowly and continuously frustrating users and affecting network performance more and more.
As we mentioned above, soft network failures are more difficult and frustrating to identify and solve than traditional hard failures. You can ask any IT specialist or network admin - it’s like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands. There are a few reasons why they’re more challenging:
- Many Possible Causes: One of the main challenges of identifying and troubleshooting soft network failures is that they can be caused by a variety of factors, including network congestion, packet loss and latency, equipment failure, and software issues. So, when troubleshooting, you can’t just point the finger at one thing.
- Not Easy to See: Soft network failures may also be more difficult to detect than hard network failures, as they often do not result in a complete loss of connectivity that’s very clear to see and experience. Soft network failures may manifest as slow application response times, poor video quality, or dropped connections.
- Intermittent Issues: Finally, and most frustratingly, soft network failures can be intermittent network problems, which means that they can appear sporadically, for short periods of time, and then disappear. Of course, intermittent issues always come back. This can make it difficult for IT teams to recreate the soft network failures, as they may appear dormant for a while.
Soft network failures may be more difficult to detect and troubleshoot - but it’s not impossible! You just need the right tools to help you.
Continuously monitoring network performance can help identify potential issues before they impact end-users, allowing IT professionals to proactively optimize network performance and set or raise network performance expectations.
Network performance monitoring is a critical part of maintaining a high-performing and reliable network. By monitoring network performance, IT professionals can detect issues before they impact end-users and take proactive steps to mitigate them.
Fortunately, there are solutions available that can help with network performance monitoring. One such solution is Obkio's Network Performance Monitoring tool.
Get started with Obkio’s Free Trial!
Obkio monitors every end of your network, from your LAN to your WAN, using Network Monitoring Agents. The Agents send synthetic traffic every 500ms to continuously monitor performance and proactively identify performance degradation and soft network failures as soon as they happen.
Monitoring key performance metrics, such as network latency, packet loss, jitter and throughput, can help IT professionals identify potential issues, which are soft network failures, and take steps to optimize network performance.
By setting up alerts for critical network performance metrics, IT professionals can be notified of potential issues in real time, enabling them to take immediate action to mitigate the issue.
With your new Network Performance Monitoring tool (aka Obkio), you can automatically receive alerts to notify you of network performance degradation and then drill down to get information about:
- What the network failure is
- When the network failure happened
- Where the network failure happened
- And what caused the network failure
Identifying the root cause of soft failures is critical to effectively resolving them. Without understanding the underlying cause of a soft failure, IT professionals may only be able to address the symptoms, rather than the root cause, leading to continued network performance issues.
By identifying the root cause of soft network failures, IT professionals can take targeted and effective steps to resolve the issue and prevent it from recurring in the future. This can involve conducting a thorough analysis of network performance metrics, examining network configurations, and reviewing network logs.
Your Network Performance Monitoring tool will be your best friend in this situation. You can use all the network performance data you collected (network performance metrics, network device metrics, speed tests, traceroutes) to troubleshoot network issues and get to the root cause of the network failure.
Soft network failures can be caused by different network events, which makes them much more difficult to troubleshoot. Let’s go through some of the most common causes, so you’ll at least have a better idea of where you should point the finger when troubleshooting.
Network congestion can be a controversial topic when it comes to categorizing it as a hard or soft network failure. While some argue that it is a predictable behavior of a network under heavy usage, others consider it a soft failure due to its potential to cause degraded performance and impact end-users. Regardless of its categorization, network congestion remains one of the primary causes of performance problems on the Internet, and it can happen on both local and wide area networks (WAN).
Therefore, it is crucial to have effective strategies in place to monitor and mitigate its effects. Even though congestion may be expected during peak usage periods, it can still have a significant impact on end-users and their experience with the network.
To prevent soft failures caused by network congestion, IT professionals need to proactively monitor network performance and detect network congestion. This approach can help ensure that networks operate at optimal performance and minimize the impact on business productivity.
Learn how to detect network congestion & perform a network congestion test inside & outside your network with Network Monitoring & Network Device Monitoring.Learn more
Another common cause of soft failures is faulty network equipment. This can include issues with network interfaces, routers, switches, or other network devices. Outdated or malfunctioning equipment can cause packets to be dropped or delayed, resulting in reduced network performance.
IT professionals should conduct regular preventive maintenance on network components to minimize the chances of faulty equipment causing soft failures. By monitoring network performance, IT professionals can quickly detect and troubleshoot packet loss issues caused by faulty equipment, minimizing the impact on network performance and business productivity.
Security measures, such as firewalls or intrusion detection systems, are intended to protect a network from unauthorized access and data breaches. However, these measures can also cause soft network failures, especially if they are not configured properly.
For example, firewalls or intrusion detection systems may be configured to block or filter certain types of data packets that are deemed to be a security risk. But, this can result in legitimate data packets being dropped or delayed, leading to packet loss.
IT professionals need to carefully configure security measures to ensure that they do not inadvertently block legitimate data packets. Additionally, IT professionals must regularly monitor and update security measures to ensure that they are functioning as intended and not causing packet loss.
Software bugs or glitches in network device software, firmware, or operating systems can also cause soft failures in a network. This can be caused by a range of issues, such as improperly configured network device software or bugs in the software, firmware, or operating system code, which can cause unexpected behavior, including dropped or delayed packets.
To prevent soft failures caused by software bugs, IT professionals need to be vigilant in their monitoring and management of network software, firmware, and operating systems. Regular software updates, firmware updates, and operating system updates can help prevent bugs from occurring or fix them when they do.
High latency can also cause soft failures, as it can cause delays in the delivery of data packets, increasing the likelihood of packet loss. For example, if a company's headquarters are located in one country and its branch office is located in another country, the distance between the two locations can cause high latency.
Additionally, if data must travel through multiple network hops to reach its destination, latency can increase further, leading to higher packet loss.
To prevent soft failures caused by high latency, IT professionals can implement network optimization techniques, such as Quality of Service (QoS) settings, which can prioritize certain types of network traffic over others. IT professionals can also use network performance monitoring tools to measure network latency and take steps to reduce high latency in parts of the network, such as adding network devices or improving network infrastructure.
By monitoring network latency and taking steps to optimize network performance, IT professionals can minimize the impact of soft failures caused by latency.
Resolving soft network failures can involve a range of strategies, depending on the underlying cause of the issue. Here are some common strategies for resolving soft failures:
- Network Performance Monitoring: So we already know that NPM tools can help you detect soft network failures, but they’re also the best tool to help you resolve and troubleshoot them. A tool like Obkio will give you the information you need to troubleshoot network failures internally or with your Service Provider.
- Optimize Network Configurations: Network configurations can impact network performance and lead to soft failures. By reviewing and optimizing network configurations, IT professionals can ensure that the network operates at optimal performance.
- Upgrade Network Hardware: Outdated or underpowered network hardware can lead to soft failures. By upgrading network hardware, IT professionals can ensure that the network has the necessary resources to operate at optimal performance.
- Update Network Software: Bugs or glitches in network software can lead to soft failures. By updating network software, IT professionals can fix bugs and ensure that the network operates at optimal performance.
- Prioritize Network Traffic: QoS settings can be used to prioritize network traffic, ensuring that critical applications are given priority over less important traffic. By prioritizing network traffic, IT professionals can ensure that the network operates at optimal performance.
By implementing these strategies, IT professionals can effectively mitigate soft network failures and ensure that their network operates at optimal performance.
Obkio Response Time Graphs showing no Soft Network Failures
In conclusion, having a high-performing and reliable network is essential for businesses that rely on digital technologies and internet-based services. Network problems can range from hard network failures that cause a complete loss of connectivity to soft network failures that degrade performance and impact user experience.
To effectively monitor and troubleshoot network issues, IT professionals need to understand the differences between hard and soft network failures, the causes of soft network failures, and strategies for mitigating them.
Implementing best practices for network performance monitoring, such as continuously monitoring network performance and setting up alerts for critical network performance metrics, can help identify potential issues before they impact end-users, allowing IT professionals to proactively optimize network performance and set or raise network performance expectations.
Identifying the root cause of soft network failures is critical to effectively resolving them. By conducting a thorough analysis of network performance metrics, examining network configurations, and reviewing network logs, IT professionals can take targeted and effective steps to resolve soft failures and prevent them from recurring in the future.
Strategies for resolving soft network failures can involve optimizing network configurations, upgrading network hardware, updating network software, and prioritizing network traffic. By implementing these strategies, IT professionals can effectively mitigate soft network failures and ensure that the network operates at optimal performance.
Learn how to troubleshoot network issues by identifying where, what, why network problems occur with Network Troubleshooting tools.Learn more
In summary, network performance monitoring and troubleshooting are critical to maintaining a high-performing and reliable network. By understanding the causes of soft failures and implementing effective strategies for mitigating them, IT professionals can ensure that the network operates at optimal performance and minimize the impact of network problems on business productivity.
And remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Network performance may not always be your most reliable friend, but Obkio’s Network Performance Monitoring tool is!
Let Obkio help you through the hard times (and the soft ones) - Try Obkio’s Free Trial!