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Old 09-21-2011, 08:35 AM
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Post Causes of Network Slowdown

There are many different factors to take into account when trying to determine what is causing you to experience slow network performance. In this article I will discuss some of the things that can negatively affect the performance of a network.

Insufficient computer capabilities

If a computer is not powerful enough, or does not meet the proper specifications to do the tasks that are required, it will always lead to poor performance.

WiFI

WiFi does not help your consignment software one bit. At home it seems like a great idea. No wires, no mess and it’s just very convenient to be able to move around freely. Your consignment software is different. Consignment software is “high-demand” software in that, it relies on a connection/path to the database. That connection must be there 100% of the time while the application is running. Any network drops or disconnects can and will cause your consignment software to generate program errors.

Depending on the portions of the program/database in-use at that time, you could even end up damaging your database. This is true with each and every consignment software program on the market. You want to do everything you can to protect your database from a disaster. When on WiFi at home, you might not notice the intermittent drops/slow-downs. In addition to intermittent drops, WiFi has a greater “cost” to getting traffic across the network. Each packet has to be encrypted/decrypted and WiFi in general has a greater overhead than traditional, wired Ethernet.

So for your home computers, WiFi makes it easy to keep things nice and neat. You can check your email, Facebook, etc. For your business computers though, it’s a completely different story. Your consignment software needs to be connected to the database 100% of the time. You can imagine a line of customers standing their as your POS station goes down because it lost its network connection. You don’t always get to close out of the program gracefully either. Sometimes you just have to ctrl + alt + delete it.

Think of WiFi like taking a shortcut. You might get their a little bit quicker, but you might have to take some bumpy back roads. There simply is no replacement for hard-wired Ethernet. It’s faster, it’s stable and that translates into reliable consignment software. Wired network connections are like the smooth Interstate highways that let you travel much faster.

Bad cabling

Bad network cabling can lead to a whole host of issues, including a slow network. When the prevalent speed of an Ethernet network was 10 Mbps over Category 3 or 5 cabling, a little problem here and there wasn’t as big a deal as it is today. With more modern networks running at 100 Mbps or even 1,000 Mbps, you must take more care in the design and maintenance of the cable plant.

Bad NICs

Intermittent network errors, particularly those isolated to a specific workstation or server, can often be traced to a failing network interface card. When you believe a network adapter may be failing, visually inspect the card's LED link lights.

Failing switches/routers

Often the best remedy for inconsistent network outages and/or slowdowns is to reboot or power cycle the network's routers/switches. If local network connectivity exists (if users can view and access network shares) but they are not receiving email from external users or cannot access the Internet, rebooting or power cycling the WAN modem can often return the network to proper operation.

If you're having to reboot or power cycle a piece of network equipment consistently, make sure that it's connected to a quality uninterruptible power supply. Power fluctuations often result in confused switches and routers. If a network device is connected to a good UPS and still frequently experiences trouble, it may be necessary to replace the failing switch, router, or modem.

Daisy chaining

As organizations grow, particularly small businesses, often simple solutions are implemented. Many consultants choose to simply add a five port router to an existing four port router/firewall. Small businesses everywhere boast just such a setup.

However, as switches are added to a network, data packets must navigate additional hops to reach their destination. Each hop complicates network routing. Depending upon the amount of traffic a network must support a small business office can easily stress 10/100 Mbps systems. An extra hop or two can spell the difference between a smooth running network and one that frequently slows employee productivity to unacceptable levels.

NetBIOS conflicts

Strange network behavior can occur when two systems are given the same computer name or when two systems both believe they serve the master browser role.

IP conflicts

Windows typically prevents two devices with the same IP address from logging on to the same network (when using DHCP). But occasionally, two systems with the same address wind up on the same network. For example, one system could receive an address automatically, while another computer logs on using a static address specified by a user. When such conflicts occur, network slowdowns result (and the systems sharing the same address frequently experience outages).

Spyware infestation

Spyware, the scourge of the last few years, finally appears to be meeting its match in business environments. The development of potent anti spyware tools, combined with effective end user policies, is reducing the impact of spyware in many organizations. However, infestations still occur, particularly on older systems that haven't been properly safeguarded. Spyware programs can consume precious network bandwidth leading to slow network performance.

Virus infestation

Just as spyware is proving containable within business environments, so too are viruses. That said, despite an administrator's best efforts including firewall deployment, routine and consistent Windows patching, and the use of regularly updated antivirus programs viruses do get through. The result can bring a network to a standstill.

For example, many viruses place Trojan programs on Windows systems, where they can wreak havoc. In addition to leveraging a system's ability to send email to forward hundreds (if not thousands) of spam messages an hour, viruses can corrupt network configuration.

Excessive network based applications

Occasionally, networks are overrun by the applications they power. For example, a small business will commonly have every workstation logged on to the program during business hours. Retrieving data from the database and consistent monitoring of information alone can place stress on even a well structured network.

Add in the fact that each workstation is likely tuned to email (and many offices are turning to VoIP) and it's easy to see how introducing a few streaming audio/video files to the mix (either in the form of online music services, or news videos) can unacceptably slow a 10/100 Mbps network's performance.
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Last edited by CCE Support; 09-21-2011 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:47 PM
rjmeyer rjmeyer is offline
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I went from wireless to a hardwired network (at your support's recommendation), and it did make a world of difference.

However, I still get a tremendous slowdown if - and only if - I have the program open on both the client and the server. I don't think it's anything with my setup, but might you have any suggestions?
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