Everyone is used to having a fast network at home and at work, to the point that a network that is merely slow might as well be down altogether. Your organization’s end-users may or may not be able to discern whether the network is just slow, or whether there’s an outage, but the end result is often the same: frustrated end-users who can’t get their work done.
There are many reasons why your network may be slow, and sometimes it’s easy to get answers (by calling your ISP and finding out they’re having problems, for example). But it’s up to the IT help desk to be prepared for these situations so they can provide end-users with real answers if nothing else.
For many end-users, a slow network is a useless network.
Why a Slow Network Is a Big Problem for the IT Help Desk
A network that’s slow enough to cause cloud apps to crawl at a glacial pace or to cause an email to take significantly longer than it should to send will result in an influx of help desk tickets. And the software you use can help or hinder you in this situation. For example, if your help desk software integrates with your company social network, information about a slowdown can be addressed over social media so you can reach everyone with a single announcement. If the network is slow enough to raise fears that it’s down altogether, your help desk should be ready with a coping strategy that includes communication and acknowledgement of the problem – perhaps via mass text message if the company social network is unreasonably slow.
First: Quantify “Normal” and “Slow”
Your IT help desk should have baseline metrics for things like transfer rates for certain sets of data, packet loss and retransmit percentages, or round-trip times to defined endpoints. This lets you get a handle on how slow the network is. Over time, you can determine conditions that cause your network to underperform. This is the kind of information that can be put into a knowledge base, so anyone on your IT team can more quickly determine if a slowdown is easily explainable or not. Such information can help your IT hlp desk team narrow down the possibilities of what is causing the problem. Then, you can do things like modifying relevant configurations and seeing how it affects data before and after.
Network monitoring tools can help you isolate causes of network slowdowns. Some of the more common reasons for a network to bog down include (but certainly aren’t limited to) the following:
• Bad PC network adapter – which may broadcast junk packets onto the network. Devices in the same broadcast domain as the bad card can experience problems and slowdowns.
• Cabling problems – often involving patch cables connecting a PC to a network jack. If a cable is improperly crimped, has loose ends, or is simply the wrong type of cable, network slowdowns can result.
• Improper router settings – which mean it’s critical that you back up router settings so if someone changes them and problems result you can revert to the older settings.
• Worms – from malicious software that can spread through entire networks. An infected computer may start generating network traffic that can bog down the network.
• Issues with your ISP – which could change a configuration or have their own technical difficulties that result in a slow network on your end.
Let Your IT Help Desk Software Help
Network monitoring tools can observe and track processes in your network, perform analyses, and alert your IT help desk when there are problems. These tools are important, and they can work better when you use IT help desk software that goes beyond just taking in service tickets and assigning them. If your help desk software offers trend analysis features, it can detect patterns in data about incidents or incident details that can alert your team to looming problems or help them understand a problem that’s in full swing. Over time, such data can be analyzed and reported to help IT managers detect possible patterns in network slowdowns so they can be addressed more effectively.
Bottom line is your end-users expect a fast network, and when they don’t get one, they will certainly let the IT help desk know about it. In many organizations, the slow network might as well be down for the effects slowdowns have on productivity. Being prepared, monitoring the network, and having great communications tools for disseminating information about slowdowns is critical. When your IT help desk is powered by Samanage, you not only get great extras like social media integration and easy knowledge base building, but also risk management and trend analysis tools that can help you spot difficulties early and address them expediently.
About Nicole Hollingsworth
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