• Network management and monitoring
  • 9 most common network issues and how to solve them

Slow network speeds, weak Wi-Fi signals and damaged cabling are just some of the most common network connection issues that IT departments need to troubleshoot.

David Jacobs

Business networks are complex, and many things can go wrong that disrupt network performance. End users often complain about what appears to be poor application performance, and there can be many possible reasons for these hiccups. Here are nine of the most common network issues to troubleshoot.

1. Slow network

Users complain the network is too slow. There can be many reasons why a network that provided adequate performance in the past is now frustrating its users. For instance, a new application, such as video conferencing or online training videos , may have been added. A failing switch port or link could cause traffic to route around the failure and overload another link.

In other cases, the network could be part of a larger organizational network. As a result, a change in the larger network has resulted in more traffic through the internet connection point, slowing responses to cloud-resident applications.

Another network speed issue could emerge if employees decide to download high-definition videos while at work because downloading in the office is faster than using their home internet connection. A network monitoring tool helps solve any of these common network issues.

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2. Weak Wi-Fi signal

Wi-Fi signal strength may be adequate almost everywhere, but it could be weak or nonexistent in other areas. Rearranging an office area can result in a weak wireless connection, where signal strength had been adequate before the move. For example, a large metal object, like a file cabinet, can block the Wi-Fi signal.

Devices such as microwave ovens, cordless phones and Bluetooth can interfere with Wi-Fi signals, too. A Wi-Fi network test tool can help identify the source of the problem.

3. Physical connectivity issues

A network connection can suddenly break because of physical connectivity issues. A common problem is when a network cable becomes damaged or knocked loose . Cables might be added or removed from a switch, and one of the other cables might accidentally get disconnected.

Or a cable was damaged when it was pulled around a sharp edge while work was done on the heating or air conditioning pipes. It should be clear from the segment of the network affected which cable was damaged. But finding the problem along a cable stretching across the ceiling may be time-consuming.

common network issues

4. Excessive CPU usage

Task Manager is the first thing to use to find which application is using a high proportion of system resources, such as CPU, memory or disk space. This basic troubleshooting step may not reveal a problem since some applications may be performing complex calculations, receiving high-speed video or interacting with large databases. A virus may also consume resources, so make sure antivirus software is up to date.

If an application has been running for a long time, it may slowly leak resources. The quickest way to improve performance is to stop and restart the application, although sometimes you may need to stop and restart the entire system. Updating device drivers may also improve performance.

Task Manager also shows applications you didn't know were running in the background. One example would be Windows including games upon system startup. Editing startup files can eliminate this problem.

5. Slow DNS lookups

The DNS matches the common name used to match server or service names with the internet address that routes a network request. For commonly used names, the matchup is probably already stored in the system's DNS cache, and the lookup is quick. For less commonly used names, the matchup may be stored in a more distant cache, such as the root server of the top-level name, such as .com, .org or a national root, such as .uk.

Each DNS server along the path checks its cache before making a request to the next server along the path. The next server then checks its cache, repeating the process. If lookup is slow, there may be a slow link along the path or a slow or overloaded server. To address this issue, your local network administrator can reconfigure local routers to shift requests to a faster chain of servers.

6. Duplicate and static IP addresses

On a network, no two systems can share the same internet address. If there are duplicate internet addresses, neither system can access the network reliably. The addresses for most network devices are assigned when Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol ( DHCP ) boots up the systems on the local network. DHCP maintains a pool of addresses assigned to the local network, assigning a different address from the pool to each system.

Workstations are not assigned permanent addresses but receive one for a limited time from DHCP. Systems re-request before the time runs out and usually receive the same address. If the system shuts down without re-requesting and the time runs out, it loses this address and may receive a different one upon startup.

The DHCP administrator may assign a static IP address to some network devices, such as printers or web servers, because external systems won't be updated if an address changes. One issue is users sometimes set up a private web server to support a hobby, allocating a static address without informing the network administrator. Both share a DHCP server in either an organization or home network. So, if the static address matches one assigned by DHCP, it disrupts the network.

Often, these private web servers are set up to upload and download licensed music or video and consume excessive network bandwidth.

7. Exhausted IP addresses

Internet addresses are in limited supply. Each service provider is given a supply based on the expected number necessary. Most familiar are the IPv4 addresses , which were originally thought to be adequate so every system could be allocated one. But, with the proliferation of cellphones and other devices, it's been necessary to move to IPv6 with 128-bit addresses for some networks.

A widely used method to stretch the supply of addresses is Network Address Translation ( NAT ), a feature often built into routers. Each is assigned a single internet address allocated from the worldwide set of addresses. Its internal DHCP server allocates private addresses to systems on connected local networks -- usually, an Ethernet or wireless network.

Private addresses generally start with either 10 or 192.168 on networks using 32-bit IPv4 addresses. These address ranges can be used many times, which helps to save addresses. The NAT server maps traffic to its global address to communicate with the internet. Responses are mapped back via the private addresses.

8. Can't connect to printer

When users can't connect to a printer, the first step is to check simple things like whether the printer is plugged in, turned on and has paper. Also, make sure the printer appears on Devices and Printers on Windows. If it does, click to check whether the file is queued.

Sometimes, you need to stop and restart the print spooler , the software that stores files until the printer is ready to print them. Also, check the printer vendor's website because some brands have a downloadable app that can diagnose and fix problems.

If the OS was just upgraded, scan for other people with similar problems, or check Microsoft.com to see if the company is aware of a problem. Shut off the printer, and turn it back on. Also, shut down your system, and turn it back on.

Finally, update printer drivers and your OS. In some cases, you may need to temporarily shut down your antivirus software . For a wireless printer, make sure it's connected to the signal.

9. VLAN and VPN problems

Check for virtual LAN (VLAN) misconfiguration issues. Review the configuration on each switch, carefully comparing configurations to ensure compatibility of switch configuration.

The most common VPN problem is a failure to connect . First, check to see if you're successfully logging in to the service, and make sure your account is up to date and you're entering your correct credentials. Next, check firewall settings. You need to open some ports. Check if that is the problem by temporarily shutting down your firewall. Finally, restart your system.

Try accessing the VPN from a different network, such as switching from Wi-Fi to Ethernet to the router. If there is still a problem, refer to the firewall documentation for other solutions, or contact the VPN vendor support.

In sum, networks are complex, and problems do occur. These are just some of the most common types of network problems. When other types of network issues occur, scan the web for help, or contact network service providers or device vendor support.

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A Guide to Network Troubleshooting: Basic Steps, Tips and Tools

Some of the hardware tools used in network troubleshooting

In this guide, we will discuss some of the things you should do when a network goes wrong, whether it’s a personal network or a network that you manage professionally as a network administrator . This guide should also prepare you to go through a repeatable process in diagnosing and addressing a network issue. The hope is that, by introducing you to tried and true methods, you can develop experience with network issues and troubleshoot each issue more quickly than the last.

What Is Troubleshooting a Network?

The term troubleshooting refers to the process of identifying problems with a network through a rigorous and repeatable process and then solving those problems using testable methods. Troubleshooting is more effective than trying things at random until the network functions because it allows you to target individual network components, testing each for function, and encourages you to document your process. Network troubleshooting is useful for almost anyone, from a computer enthusiast to an aspiring network engineer .

Why Troubleshooting Skills Are Essential for Network Management

Network troubleshooting skills are nice to have in the home so you can avoid inconvenience when your network goes down, but for many businesses, having a professional with network troubleshooting skills on site is essential. While home network outages may just be an annoyance — preventing you from finishing your movie on Netflix or delaying your online chat conversation with a friend — network outages in the workplace can grind many modern businesses, which rely heavily on connectivity, to a halt.

Businesses certainly recognize the importance of maintaining a fully operational network. In CompTIA’s Building Digital Organizations research study, networking skills ranked fifth among skills that companies wanted to improve, beating out skills such as cloud architecture or big data analytics.

While emerging technology tends to make the most headlines and have the most potential for growth, these technologies cannot provide value without being connected to the overall IT architecture. As an organization’s technology footprint grows, its network needs will also change, and troubleshooting will become more challenging and critical.

This time when a network is unavailable is known as network downtime. For a business that operates online, every minute of downtime is a minute that client communications are hindered, employees can’t access their data in the cloud and many of the business’s online tools and applications are unavailable.

In other words, network downtime means lost profits , which can cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars an hour. In professional settings, network troubleshooting skills are an absolute necessity in order to get a business back up on its feet as quickly as possible.

What Is an Ad Hoc Network?

What Is an Ad Hoc Network?

Connecting two computers does not always require a centrally managed network. Instead, users can set up an ad hoc network between two computers. The two devices communicate through an ethernet cable or wireless cards.


What Is Network Address Translation?

Network Address Translation (NAT) allows private connections to employ public IP addresses to navigate the internet, but how does NAT work? What are the types of NAT?

What Is Attenuation

What Is Attenuation?

Attenuation is the weakening of a signal’s strength due to noise, distance or other external factors. In networking, signal attenuation can cause distortion or confusion for a transmission, and network administrators will need to utilize different resources to amplify the signal.

Basic Network Troubleshooting Steps

Network troubleshooting is a repeatable process, which means that you can break it down into clear steps that anyone can follow.

1. Identify the Problem

The first step in troubleshooting a network is to identify the problem. As a part of this step, you should do the following:

2. Develop a Theory

Once you have finished gathering all the information that you can about the network issue or issues, it’s time to develop a working theory. While you’re producing your theory about the causes of the network issue, don’t be afraid to question the obvious, but remain on the lookout for more serious issues. Sometimes a network outage occurs because someone tripped on a wire or some other simple problem. However, at other times the problems might be related more complicated causes, like a breach in network security .

3. Test the Theory

Using the tools at your disposal, it’s time to test your theory. If your theory is that the network router is defective, try replacing it with another router to see if that fixes the issue. At this stage, it’s important to remember that proving your own theories wrong doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Instead, it means that it’s time to return to step two, develop a new theory, and then find a way to test that one. Sometimes your first theory may be right, but it’s also common to go through several theories before arriving at the true cause of your network’s issues.

4. Plan of Action

Once you’ve confirmed your theory about the causes of the network issues, you’re in a position to solve them. Come up with a plan of action to address the problem. Sometimes your plan will include just one step. For example, restart the router. In other cases, your plan will be more complex and take longer, such as when you need to order a new part or roll a piece of software back to a previous version on multiple users’ computers.

5. Implement the Solution

Now that you have a plan for fixing the network, it’s time to implement it. There are some solutions that you may be able to do by yourself, while others may require cooperation from other network administrators or users.

6. Verify System Functionality

Once you’ve implemented your solution, be sure to test the network. Make sure that the issue in question has been resolved, but also be on the lookout for other issues that may have arisen from the changes that you made to the network. As part of your verification process, make sure to consult both the network tools at your disposal as well as individual user accounts of their experiences on the network.

7. Document the Issue

If you are a network professional or an enthusiast who is around networks often, then it’s safe to say that this won’t be the last time you encounter this particular issue. Make sure to document each stage of troubleshooting the problem, including the symptoms that appeared on the network, the theory you developed, your strategy for testing the theory and the solution that you came up with to solve the issue. Even if you don’t reference this documentation, it may be helpful to another network engineer at your company in the future and could help to shorten network downtime.

Network Troubleshooting Tools

In addition to user reports and firsthand experience on the network, there are a number of tools available for you to use when it comes to diagnosing and treating network issues. These tools may exist in the computer’s operating system itself, as standalone software applications or as hardware tools that you can use to troubleshoot a network.

Learn more about these topics in the Official CompTIA Network+ Study Guide.

Command-Line Tools

On Windows PCs, the command prompt can be accessed by searching for it in the start menu or by typing “cmd” into the Run window. On a Linux system, you can press Ctrl + Alt + T to open the command line.

The following commands can be entered into the command prompt one at a time to reveal specific information about the network status:

Network Troubleshooting Applications

In addition to command-line tools, there are also a number of standalone applications that can be used to determine the status of a network and to troubleshoot issues. Some of these applications may be included in the system that you are working with, while others may need to be installed separately.

Hardware Tools

Command-line tools and applications are software tools for troubleshooting, but some network problems have hardware causes and solutions.

Here are some hardware tools that can help you diagnose and solve network issues:

How to Develop Your Network Troubleshooting Skills

These are just a few of the steps you can follow and tools that you can use to troubleshoot an issue in your network. For home networks, many issues can be solved relatively simply, by checking connections, making sure that everything is plugged in and using built-in diagnostic tools.

However, if you want a job working on computer networks, you’ll need to develop your troubleshooting skills to match. Network troubleshooting is an essential skill to have when looking for a job as a network engineer or network administrator, since companies are primarily concerned with minimizing their network downtime.

If you’re looking for a job, an IT certification related to computer networking is essential as proof of your abilities. Keep in mind that certification exams test your skills very closely, so make sure to seek out appropriate network training to properly prepare for your exam and test with confidence.

In order to really develop your skills that will land you the job, it’s important to combine training and certifications with real-world network troubleshooting experience. This experience doesn’t have to come from a job – you can practice your IT skills by tinkering with your own equipment or volunteering with local nonprofits to improve their networks and resolve any issues they’re having.

To get started in a computer networking career, check out CompTIA Network+   and the related training materials.

Read more about Computer Networks .

Tags : Computer Networks

Are You Ready for a Networking Career?

Get started with networking.

problem solving network

Fix Wi-Fi connection issues in Windows

Troubleshooting network problems in windows.

If you can’t get email, browse the web, or stream music, chances are you’re not connected to your network and can’t get onto the internet. To fix the problem, here are some things you can try.

Things to try first

Try these things first to help you fix or narrow down the connection problem.

Make sure Wi‑Fi is turned on. Select the "No internet connection" icon on the right side of the taskbar, and make sure Wi-Fi is turned on. If it isn't, select it to turn it on. Also, make sure  Airplane mode  is turned off.

Select Manage Wi-Fi connections ( > ) on the Wi-Fi quick setting, see if a Wi-Fi network you recognize and trust appears in the list of networks. If it does, select the Wi-Fi network, and they try to connect to it. If it says  Connected  underneath the network name, select  Disconnect , wait a moment, and then select  Connect  again.

Try connecting to a network on a different frequency band. Many consumer Wi-Fi routers broadcast at two different network frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. These will appear as separate networks in the list of available Wi-Fi networks. If your list of available Wi-Fi networks includes both a 2.4 GHz network and a 5 GHz network, try connecting to the other network. To learn more about the differences between 2.4 GHz networks and 5 GHz networks, check out  Wi-Fi problems and your home layout .

Make sure the physical Wi‑Fi switch on your laptop is turned on. (An indicator light usually shows when it's on.)

Run the Network troubleshooter. The Network troubleshooter can help diagnose and fix common connection problems.

To run the Network troubleshooter

Select Start  > Settings  >  System > Troubleshoot > Other troubleshooters .

Under  Other , select  Network Adapter > Run .

Follow the steps in the troubleshooter and see if that fixes the problem.

Restart your modem and wireless router. This helps create a new connection to your internet service provider (ISP). When you do this, everyone that is connected to your Wi-Fi network will be temporarily disconnected. The steps you take to restart your modem and router can vary, but here are the general steps.

Note:  If you have a cable modem/Wi-Fi router combo device, you only need to follow the steps for the single device.

Unplug the power cable for the router from the power source.

Unplug the power cable for the modem from the power source.   Some modems have a backup battery. If you unplug the modem and lights stay on, remove the battery from the modem.

Wait at least 30 seconds or so. If you had to remove the battery from the modem, put it back in.

Plug the modem back into the power source. The lights on the modem will blink. Wait for them to stop blinking.

Plug your router back into the power source. Wait a few minutes for the modem and router to fully power on. You can usually tell when they’re ready by looking at the status lights on the two devices.

On your PC, try to connect again.

Narrow down the source of the problem

Connection problems can be due to a variety of reasons—problems with the website, your device, the Wi-Fi router, modem, or your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Try the following steps to help narrow down the source of the problem.

If the "Wi-Fi connected" icon  appears on the right side of the taskbar, visit a different website. If the website opens, there might be a problem with the specific website. If you can't connect to another website, go to the next step.

On another laptop or phone, try to connect to the same network. If you can connect, the source of the problem is likely due to your device—go to the section  Network troubleshooting on your device . If you can't connect to the network on any device, continue to the next step.

Check to see if there is a problem with the connection to your Wi-Fi router. Do this by using a ping test.

Select Search on the taskbar, and type  command prompt . The  Command Prompt  button will appear. To the right of it, select  Run as administrator  >  Yes .

At the command prompt, type  ipconfig , and then select  Enter . Look for the name of your Wi-Fi network within the results, and then find the IP address listed next to  Default gateway  for that Wi-Fi network.  Write down that address if you need to.  For example:

At the prompt, type  ping <DefaultGateway>  and then select  Enter .   For example, type  ping  and select  Enter .   The results should be something like this:

Reply from bytes=32 time=5ms TTL=64

Ping statistics for Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss), Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:  Minimum = 4ms, Maximum = 5ms, Average = 4ms

If you see results like this and are getting a reply, then you have a connection to your Wi-Fi router, so there might be a problem with your modem or ISP. Contact your ISP or check online on another device (if you can) to see if there's a service outage.

If the results of the ping test indicate that you are not getting a reply from the router, try connecting your PC directly to your modem by using an Ethernet cable (if you can). If you can connect to the internet using an Ethernet cable, it confirms the connection problem is due to the Wi-Fi router. Make sure you've installed the latest firmware and see the documentation for your router.

Network troubleshooting on your device

Run network commands

Try running these network commands to manually reset the TCP/IP stack, release and renew the IP address, and flush and reset the DNS client resolver cache:

At the command prompt, run the following commands in the listed order, and then check to see if that fixes your connection problem:

Type  netsh winsock reset  and select   Enter .

Type  netsh int ip reset  and select  Enter .

Type  ipconfig /release  and select  Enter .

Type  ipconfig /renew  and select  Enter .

Type  ipconfig /flushdns  and select  Enter .

Uninstall the network adapter driver and restart

If the previous steps didn’t work, try to uninstall the network adapter driver, and then restart your computer. Windows will automatically install the latest driver. Consider this approach if your network connection stopped working properly after a recent update.

Before uninstalling, make sure you have drivers available as a backup. Visit the PC manufacturer’s website and download the latest network adapter driver from there. If your PC can't connect to the internet, you'll need to download a driver on a different PC and save it to a USB flash drive so you can install the driver on your PC. You’ll need to know the PC manufacturer and model name or number.

Select Search on the taskbar, type  device manager , and then select  Device Manager  from the list of results.

Expand  Network adapters , and locate the network adapter for your device.

Select the network adapter, press and hold (or right-click), and then select  Uninstall device  > check the  Attempt to remove the driver for this device  check box >  Uninstall .

After uninstalling the driver, select Start  >  Power  >  Restart .

After your PC restarts, Windows will automatically look for and install the network adapter driver. Check to see if that fixes your connection problem. If Windows doesn't automatically install a driver, try to install the backup driver you saved before uninstalling.

Check if your network adapter is compatible with the latest Windows Update

If you lost your network connection immediately after upgrading to or updating Windows 11, it's possible that the current driver for your network adapter was designed for a previous version of Windows. To check, try temporarily uninstalling the recent Windows Update:

Select Start  >  Settings  >   Windows Update  >  Update history  > Uninstall updates .

Select the most recent update, then select  Uninstall .

If uninstalling the most recent update restores your network connection, check to see if an updated driver is available:

Select the network adapter, press and hold (or right-click), then select  Update driver  > Search automatically for updated driver software , and then follow the instructions.

After installing the updated driver, select Start  >  Power  > Restart  if you're asked to restart, and see if that fixes the connection issue.

If Windows can’t find a new driver for your network adapter, visit the PC manufacturer’s website and download the latest network adapter driver from there. You’ll need to know the PC manufacturer and model name or number.

Do one of the following:

If you couldn’t download and install a newer network adapter driver, hide the update that’s causing you to lose your network connection. To learn how to hide updates, see  Hide Windows Updates or driver updates .

If you could successfully install updated drivers for your network adapter, then reinstall the latest updates. To do this, select Start  >  Settings  >  Windows Update > Check for updates .

Use network reset

Using network reset should be the last step you try. Consider using it if the steps above don’t help to get you connected.

This can help solve connection problems you might have after upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11. It can also help to fix the problem where you can connect to the internet, but can't connect to shared network drives. Network reset removes any network adapters you have installed and the settings for them. After your PC restarts, any network adapters are reinstalled, and the settings for them are set to the defaults.

Select Start  >  Settings  >  Network & internet  >  Advanced network settings > Network reset . Open Network & Internet Status settings

On the  Network reset  screen, select  Reset now  >  Yes  to confirm.

Wait for your PC to restart, and see if that fixes the problem.

After using network reset, you might need to reinstall and set up other networking software you might be using, such as VPN client software or virtual switches from Hyper‑V (if you're using that or other network virtualization software).

Network reset might set each one of your known network connections to a public network profile. In a public network profile, your PC is not discoverable to other PCs and devices on the network, which can help make your PC more secure. However, if your PC is used for file or printer sharing, you’ll need to make your PC discoverable again by setting it to use a private network profile. To do this, select Start  >  Settings  >  Network & internet  >  Wi-Fi . On the  Wi-Fi  screen, select  Manage known networks  > the network connection you want to change. Under  Network profile type , select  Private .

Additional troubleshooting steps

Check your Wi-Fi settings

Wi-Fi adapter manufacturers might have different advanced settings you can change based on your network environment or connection preferences.

Check the Wireless Mode setting for your network adapter and make sure it matches the capabilities of the network you’re trying to connect to. If it doesn’t match, you won’t be able to connect, and the network might not appear in the list of available networks. The Wireless Mode will often be set to Auto or something similar by default, which enables connection for every kind of network that’s supported.

To find the wireless mode setting

In Device Manager, select  Network adapters , and then double-click the network adapter name.

Select the  Advanced  tab and look for a  Wireless Mode  setting. Make sure it’s set to the mode your network is using.

Wi-Fi profile settings

Windows uses the Wi-Fi profile to save the settings that are needed to connect to a Wi-Fi network. These settings include the network security type, key, network name (SSID), and so on. If you can’t connect to a Wi-Fi network that you could connect to before, it’s possible that the network settings might have changed or the profile is corrupted.

To fix this, remove (or "forget") the network connection, then reconnect to the network. When you forget a network connection, it removes the Wi-Fi network profile from your PC.

To forget a network

Select Start  > Settings  >  Network & internet .

Select  Wi-Fi , then select  Manage known networks .

Select the network you want to forget, then select  Forget .

Afterwards, select the Wi-Fi icon on the taskbar and try to reconnect to the network to renew the network connection.

Check your home layout

Your Wi-Fi network might be affected by the network's frequency band, channel congestion, and/or signal strength.  For more info, see  Wi-Fi problems and your home layout .

Check for additional symptoms for the "No internet connection" icon.

There may be additional troubleshooting steps you can try, depending on which symptoms you're having. To view these steps, check out  Wi-Fi connection icons and what they mean .

Related topics

Setting up a wireless network

How to find your wireless network password

Analyze the wireless network report

Wi-Fi tools and apps

Make a Wi-Fi network public or private in Windows

No Internet connection

Afterwards, see if a Wi-Fi network you recognize and trust appears in the list of networks. If it does, select the Wi-Fi network, and they try to connect to it. If it says Connected underneath the network name, select Disconnect , wait a moment, and then select Connect again.

Try connecting to a network on a different frequency band. Many consumer Wi-Fi routers broadcast at two different network frequency bands:  2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. These will appear as separate networks in the list of available Wi-Fi networks. If your list of available Wi-Fi networks includes both a 2.4 GHz network and a 5 GHz network, try connecting to the other network. To learn more about the differences between 2.4 GHz networks and 5 GHz networks, check out Wi-Fi problems and your home layout .

Select the Start  button >  Settings > Network & Internet > Status . Open Network & Internet Status settings

Under Change your network settings , select Network troubleshooter .

Follow the steps in the troubleshooter, and see if that fixes the problem.

Restart your modem and wireless router. This helps create a new connection to your internet service provider (ISP).

When you do this, everyone that is connected to your Wi-Fi network will be temporarily disconnected. The steps you take to restart your modem and router can vary, but here are the general steps. ( Note : If you have a cable modem/Wi-Fi router combo device, you only need to follow the steps for the single device.)

If the "Wi-Fi connected" icon  appears on the right side of the taskbar, visit a different website. If the website opens, there might be a problem with the specific website. If you can't connect to another website, go to the next step.

On another laptop or phone, try to connect to the same network. If you can connect, the source of the problem is likely due to your device—go to the section Network troubleshooting on your device . If you can't connect to the network on any device, continue to the next step.

Check to see if there is a problem with the connection to your Wi-Fi router.  Do this by using a ping test.

In the search box on the taskbar, type command prompt . The Command Prompt button will appear. To the right of it, select Run as administrator > Yes .

At the command prompt, type ipconfig , and then select Enter . Look for the name of your Wi-Fi network within the results, and then find the IP address listed next to Default gateway for that Wi-Fi network.  Write down that address if you need to. For example:

At the prompt, type ping <DefaultGateway> and then select Enter .  For example, type ping and select Enter .  The results should be something like this:

Type netsh winsock reset and select Enter .

Type netsh int ip reset and select Enter .

Type ipconfig /release and select Enter .

Type ipconfig /renew and select Enter .

Type ipconfig /flushdns and select Enter .

In the search box on the taskbar, type device manager , and then select Device Manager from the list of results.

Expand Network adapters , and locate the network adapter for your device.

Select the network adapter, press and hold (or right-click), and then select  Uninstall device  > check the  Attempt to remove the driver software for this device  check box >  Uninstall .

After uninstalling the driver, select the Start button > Power  > Restart .

If you lost your network connection immediately after upgrading or updating Windows 10, it's possible that the current driver for your network adapter was designed for a previous version of Windows. To check, try temporarily uninstalling the recent Windows Update:

Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Update & Security   > Windows Update  > View update history > Uninstall updates .

Select the most recent update, then select Uninstall .

Select the network adapter, select Update driver > Search automatically for updated driver software , and then follow the instructions.

After installing the updated driver, select the Start button > Power  > Restart if you're asked to restart, and see if that fixes the connection issue.

If you couldn’t download and install a newer network adapter driver, hide the update that’s causing you to lose your network connection. To learn how to hide updates, see Hide Windows Updates or driver updates .

If you could successfully install updated drivers for your network adapter, then reinstall the latest updates. To do this, select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for updates .

This can help solve connection problems you might have after upgrading from a previous version of Windows to Windows 10. It can also help to fix the problem where you can connect to the internet, but can't connect to shared network drives. Network reset removes any network adapters you have installed and the settings for them. After your PC restarts, any network adapters are reinstalled, and the settings for them are set to the defaults.

Note:  To use network reset, your PC must be running Windows 10 Version 1607 or later. To see which version of Windows 10 your device is currently running, select the Start button, then select Settings > System > About .

Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Network & Internet  > Status > Network reset . Open Network & Internet Status settings

On the Network reset screen, select Reset now > Yes to confirm.

Network reset might set each one of your known network connections to a public network profile. In a public network profile, your PC is not discoverable to other PCs and devices on the network, which can help make your PC more secure. However, if your PC is used for file or printer sharing, you’ll need to make your PC discoverable again by setting it to use a private network profile. To do this, select the Start  button, then select Settings > Network & Internet  > Wi-Fi  . On the Wi-Fi screen, select Manage known networks > the network connection you want to change > Properties . Under Network profile , select  Private .

In Device Manager, select Network adapters , and then double-click the network adapter name.

Select the Advanced tab and look for a Wireless Mode setting. Make sure it’s set to the mode your network is using.

Select the Wi-Fi network  icon on the right side of the taskbar, then select Network & Internet settings .

Select Wi-Fi , then select Manage known networks .

Select the network you want to forget, then select Forget .

Afterwards, select the Wi-Fi icon on the taskbar and try to reconnect to the desired network to renew the network connection.

Your Wi-Fi network might be affected by the network's frequency band, channel congestion, and/or signal strength.  For more info, see Wi-Fi problems and your home layout .

There may be additional troubleshooting steps you can try, depending on which symptoms you're having. To view these steps, check out Wi-Fi connection icons and what they mean .

Make a Wi-Fi network public or private in Windows 10

Check the basics on your PC

Make sure Wi-Fi is turned on.

Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, select  Settings , then select the  Network  icon.

Turn on  Wi-Fi .

Make sure your PC isn’t in airplane mode.

Turn off  Airplane mode .

Move closer to the router or access point if you can.

If you don’t see the network name at all, the router or access point might not be set to broadcast the network name. In this case, you’ll need to connect to it manually.

Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then select  Settings .

Select the  Network  icon, and then select  Hidden network .

Type the network name and select  Next .

Type the password and select  Next .

Follow any additional instructions to get connected.

The network will be added to your list of networks and will be available to connect to when your computer is in range of the network. To connect to the network, follow these steps:

Open  Connect to a Network  by selecting the network icon in the notification area.

Select  Unnamed Network , select  Connect , and then type the network information. The network will be added to your list of networks and will be available to connect to in the future when your computer is in range of the network..

Use the Network Troubleshooter

Let Windows try to help you fix the problem. Try running the Network troubleshooter to see if it can diagnose and fix the problem.

Select the  Start   button, start typing  Network problems , and then select  Identify and repair network problems  in the list.

Run network commands after using the Network Troubleshooter

The Network Troubleshooter (mentioned above) can help diagnose and fix common connection problems. After using that, try running the network commands below because the combination of doing these two things can help you get connected.

If your problem isn’t fixed after running the Network troubleshooter, try to:

Reset the TCP/IP stack.

Release the IP address.

Renew the IP address.

Flush and reset the DNS client resolver cache.

Here's how to run networking commands in a command prompt:

Select the Start  button, start typing cmd , right-click Command Prompt in the list, select Run as Administrator , and then select Yes .

At the command prompt, run the following commands in the listed order and then check to see if that fixes your connection problem:

Type netsh winsock reset and press Enter.

Type netsh int ip reset and press Enter.

Type ipconfig /release and press Enter.

Type ipconfig /renew and press Enter.

Type ipconfig /flushdns and press Enter.

Restart your modem and router

This helps create a new connection to your Internet service provider (ISP). When you do this, everyone that is connected to your Wi-Fi network will be temporarily disconnected.

The steps you take to restart your modem and router can vary, but here are the general steps:

Unplug the power cable for the modem from the power source. Some modems have a backup battery. So if you unplug the modem and lights stay on, remove the battery from the modem.

See if it's a problem with your modem or your ISP

Make sure it’s not a problem with your cable modem or Internet service provider (ISP). If it is, contact your ISP.

At the command prompt, type ipconfig . Look for the IP address listed next to Default gateway . Write down that address if you need to. For example,

At the prompt, type ping <Default gateway> and press Enter . For example, type ping and press Enter . The result should be something like this: Reply from bytes=32 time=5ms TTL=64 Reply from bytes=32 time=5ms TTL=64 Reply from bytes=32 time=5ms TTL=64 Reply from bytes=32 time=5ms TTL=64 Ping statistics for Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss), Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds: Minimum = 4ms, Maximum = 5ms, Average = 4ms

If the ping is successful and you see results similar to the results above, but you can’t connect to the Internet on your PC, there may be a problem with your modem or Internet service provider (ISP).

Check your network adapter

If you’re still having trouble connecting to a network, it might be related to your network adapter.

Try using the Network Adapter troubleshooter to automatically find and fix some problems. This troubleshooter will disable and re-enable the adapter, and try some other common repairs.  Select the Start  button, start typing Troubleshooting , and then select Troubleshooting in the list. Select View all  >  Network Adapter .

Update the network adapter driver. An outdated or incompatible network adapter driver can cause connection problems. Check to see if an updated driver is available.

Select the Start  button, start typing Device Manager , and then select it in the list.

In Device Manager, select  Network adapters , right-click your adapter, and then select Properties .

Select the Driver tab, and then select Update Driver .

Select Search automatically for updated driver software .

If Windows can’t find a new driver for your network adapter, visit the PC manufacturer’s website and download the latest network adapter driver from there. If your PC can't connect to the Internet, you'll need to download a driver on a different PC and save it to a USB flash drive so you can install the driver on your PC. You’ll need to know the PC manufacturer and model name or number.

Other steps to try on your router

Here are some things to check and try with your router if you’re at home and having trouble getting connected.

If you don't see the network name, sign in to your router and check to see if it’s set to broadcast the network name.

Connect your PC to your router using an Ethernet cable.

Open your web browser and type the IP address for your wireless router. (For example, or—check the documentation for your router to find the default IP address.)

Sign in with your user name and password, then make sure an option labeled Enable SSID Broadcast , Wireless SSID broadcast , or something similar is turned on. This setting is often on a Wireless Settings page.

Check to see if your Wi-Fi network uses Media Access Control (MAC) address filtering for security. If it does, you’ll need to add the MAC address for your PC to the access list on your router before you can connect.

Select the Start   button. Start typing cmd  and right-click Command Prompt in the list. Select Run as Administrator , and then select Yes .

At the command prompt, type ipconfig /all . Write down the address that appears next to  Physical Address for your wireless network adapter. This is the address you’ll need to add to the access list on your router.

To add the MAC address to the access list on your router:

Sign in with your user name and password, then look for a setting that says MAC Address Filter or something similar.

Add the MAC address you wrote down for your PC to the access list and save your changes.

On your PC, try to connect to the Wi-Fi network again.

Start button icon

Look in the  Wireless Network  section. If Wi-Fi is on, the button should say  Turn wireless off .

Check and make sure your PC isn’t in airplane mode.

Select  Add , and then select  Manually create a network profile .

Type the network information.

If you want Windows to automatically connect when the network is in range, select the  Start this connection automatically  check box.

Select the  Connect even if the network is not broadcasting  check box, select  Next , and then select  Close .

Open the Network troubleshooter by right-clicking the network icon in the notification area and then selecting  Troubleshoot problems .

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Dominick Fair

Dominick Fair

Chief Technology Officer

15 Common Network Problems & How To Solve Them

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So, your network crashed. It’s a great day.

You just lost an entire morning’s work because your network quit on you- and this is not some college research paper, this is your business .

Life is crazy and busy enough already! You don’t need more network and IT stressors added to it.

The only thing you need is a business network that makes your job and your life fluid.

It doesn’t matter if you live in Frederick, Bethesda , Rockville, McLean or Alexandria- you live in the future tech-hub of the world. Amazon is moving in, and Google has already caught on. You need protected, reliable and progressive IT.

If your business network breaks down, we have you covered.

We know about the uncommon network problems on the backend. But, did you know there are common network problems that can sometimes be prevented with the services of a managed service provider?

Here’s some information that may help you take a positive step towards never having to deal with annoying network issues again:

1. Networking Issues

IT management companies can always help businesses with their networking issues. But not all IT companies which help you with network issues are created equal. 

Some aren’t worth the time to call them. Some have great network solutions for issues but cost too much. What if we were to tell you about a company that can handle your networking issues at an affordable price? 

Maybe you’re skeptical at this point, so we’ll go over 15 of the most common network problems. Then we will tell you why we’re the best IT company in your area.

Here are a few common network problems:

We know how aggravating and stressful these network issues can be. As an IT management company with clients from Virginia to DC and Maryland, we also know how important our network solutions are.

They are the reasons our solutions need to work the first time, every time.

2. Network Problems

We are presenting you with common network issues and problems that affect all businesses from time to time. We also have solutions for these problems.

Here’s a small cheat sheet of brief solutions you may try for a couple of these ongoing network problems.

Here are more everyday common network problems;

There are solutions to these network problems we work with every day. But the longer the problems go on, the more difficult it is to fix at every level. We get it done, but it is time-intensive. 

3. Common Network Problems

The last five common network problems are some of our unique network problems. But that being said, they are still common enough to include on our the list. They are:

The value of an IT management company cannot be overstated. We say the heartbeat of your business is your network.  There is no substitute you can put in the place of a network that crashed. Because it doesn’t exist.

Reliable networks are a necessity for businesses everywhere. If your network problems cause you to lose business, for a day or even an hour- it is going to make a huge difference in office flow and client relations on your end.

Managed IT can prevent these problems before they happen.

Common Network Problems & Solutions

Some answers to a few of the common network problems we mentioned above you may find surprising. Some will seem too easy to be true but sometimes it works out that way.

But there are other network problems that can take the average IT knowledgeable person, more days than they want to figure it all out. This is often because of all the moving parts in network systems and servers.

The good news is that there isn’t a single network problem or issue we haven’t seen already. When it comes to complicated and in-depth network problems, we know what to do and how to do it almost as soon as we make it.

Here are some short answers to what can be difficult network problems.

Network Issues 

There is no network issue you have which does not have a solution or answer. That’s what we will as truth in our industry. We give you the IT management services and answers to meet your network needs.

View pricing on our management plans that vary and are based on your particular needs. We have starter package plans for new businesses. We also have our obsidian package plan for established, larger businesses.

All of our packages can handle any of your current or potential network issues and provide your business with the answers and solutions to get you back on track. Our mission is to create fluidity in the workspace so that you and your business can get back to what it does best in its day-to-day operations.

All technology today evolves at the speed of a week-to-week and sometimes day to day basis. Problems in networking, cloud computing, and remote access are what we fix for our customers every day.

Your business should be able to hop online with the touch of a button and click of a mouse. Many of our calls come when people have tried to fix their network issues themselves but think they may have made things worse. We can fix those network issues too. 

Our IT Service Management Plans

Our IT service management plans allow us to be there for you so you never have to worry about having network problems or issues. 

We offer timely network solutions that give you peace of mind. Also, they get your business back up to speed as quickly as possible.  

Wouldn’t it be great to know that your network protection is just around the corner with 24/7 support?

SADOS offers more than solutions to your network problems. We offer specialized architecture and deployment. SADOS does maintenance and LAN/WAN network monitoring in our managed service packages.

We’re only one call away . Reach out to us before you need us in a network emergency. 

Have an IT product you want us to review?

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Home Network Problems? 8 Diagnostic Tricks and Fixes to Try

Have problems with your home network? Learn how to troubleshoot network connectivity problems and get back online!

Of all the types of computer issues you can have, network problems are one of the worst. Though our computers can do a lot offline, being cut off from the internet isn't fun. Even worse, when you can't get online, it's more difficult to research fixes for your problem.

Let's step through the basic process of how to troubleshoot network connectivity problems. That way, next time you open up your web browser to a Cannot Connect message, you'll know what to do.

Like all troubleshooting, we'll start broadly and narrow down to specifics. After each step, try connecting to a website to verify that your connection is fixed. If it still doesn't work, continue to the next part.

0. Make Sure It's Actually Your Network Problem

Sometimes, what seems like an issue with your network is actually a problem on a specific website's end. If you can't get on Twitter, for instance, check another few websites to make sure that the problem isn't just with a single site.

You can visit downfor.io , which is a short URL for the site Down for Everyone or Just Me?, to easily check if a website is down for everyone. Simply enter the URL and you'll see where the issue lies.

If a site is down for everyone, you'll have to wait until it's fixed. But if the problem is only affecting you, continue on to troubleshoot.

1. Power Cycle Everything and Check Other Devices

There's no need to get upset about network issues right away, as the fix to your problem might be as simple as rebooting your equipment. Restarting fixes a lot of issues, so make sure it's your first response to network problems, too.

To start troubleshooting, reboot your PC, as well as your modem and router. If your modem and router have power buttons on the back, you can press those to turn them off. Otherwise, just pull the power plugs.

To fully clear the modem and router caches, wait 60 seconds before you turn them back on again. When you plug everything back in, plug your modem in first and wait for it to fully power on before connecting your router.

Turning everything off and back on first ensures that it isn't a temporary network problem. It's better to reboot now than to waste 30 minutes continuing on when you don't need to.

Once you've restarted, if you have a second computer (or a mobile device), try getting online with that. If you find that no devices can connect, you likely have an issue with your equipment or your ISP.

Should you find that only one computer can't get online, you can continue to narrow down the problem. On that device, make sure to run an antivirus scan to ensure you don't have malware interfering with your connection. You should also make sure that your firewall settings aren't blocking the connection.

Related: How to Allow Apps Through Windows Firewall

Finally, try using a different browser to see if your usual one is somehow misconfigured. See how to fix "your connection is not private" errors if you're seeing them on every website, which is a separate issue that involves security certificates.

2. Check Physical Network Connections

If your network problem persists after rebooting, you should next check to make sure that all physical network connections are in place. This is another easy fix before you start diving into settings and tests.

If you use an Ethernet cable to connect to your router, check to make sure that it's not unplugged or damaged. If your laptop has a physical wireless switch, make sure that it's not set to the off position.

Once you've verified a proper connection, check your router and modem. Are the lights on your router and/or modem flashing green as normal? If no lights come on after the reboot, the device could be dead or malfunctioning.

However, if you get red lights, or a power light but no connection light, your ISP is likely experiencing disruption. See #6 below if you think this is the issue—you may need to check the manuals for your equipment to interpret the lights correctly.

3. Run the Windows Network Troubleshooter

Windows includes some built-in troubleshooters that can automatically find and fix issues. To run the troubleshooter for network problems, right-click the network icon in your System Tray and choose Troubleshoot Problems .

You can also go to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot > Additional troubleshooters and choose Internet Connections > Run the troubleshooter to launch it.

Once the troubleshooter runs, it could fix issues, find issues but fail to fix them, or find nothing. If the troubleshooter finds a problem that it fixes, try to connect again. If you get a specific error or problem name that Windows can't fix automatically, take note of it for later research.

Advanced users might also look at using other Windows tools to troubleshoot network issues .

4. Confirm That You Have a Valid IP Address

At this point, you've verified that the problem is not temporary and that all your hardware works. Since Windows can't fix the problem on its own, you need to pinpoint the spot along the connection where the network problem is occurring.

It's a good idea to make sure that you don't have any strange IP settings selected. To check this, open Settings and go to Network & Internet > Status . Below the Advanced network settings header, choose Change adapter options . In the resulting window, double-click the name of your network.

Next, you'll see a status window. Click the Properties button here.

Inside the next dialog, double-click the Internet Protocol Version 4 entry.

Unless you've set up a static IP address (if you don't know what this is, you probably don't use one), make sure you have both Obtain an IP address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically checked.

Repeat this process for Internet Protocol Version 6 , if it's enabled, to ensure everything is automatic there as well.

Reviewing Your IP Address Validity

Once you've done the above, you should check to confirm if the router is giving you a valid IP address. Open up a Command Prompt window by typing cmd into the Start Menu. Enter ipconfig and hit Enter , then look for the text under Ethernet adapter (for wired connections) or Wireless LAN Adapter (for wireless connections).

If IPv4 Address looks like 169.x.x.x , your computer is not receiving a valid IP address from your router. Typing the following two commands, one at a time, will release your computer's current IP address and request a new one, which may resolve this:

Should you still have a 169.x.x.x address after typing the above commands and entering ipconfig again, your machine still isn't receiving an IP from the router. Try plugging your PC directly into the modem with an Ethernet cable and see if you can get online.

If the connection works this way, your router is the problem. You may need to factory reset your router , or consider replacing it.

5. Try a Ping and Trace Its Route

If your IP address starts with anything other than 169 when you run ipconfig , you have a valid IP address from your router. At this point, you've confirmed the problem is somewhere between your router and the internet.

Type the below command to ping Google's DNS servers to see if you can reach a website online (you can replace with anything you like, such as www.msn.com ):

This will send four packets to Google's DNS server. If they fail to send, you'll see some basic info about the failure. In case you want to continue pinging indefinitely so you can monitor it while troubleshooting, just add a -t to the end, like so:

You can press Ctrl + C to stop pinging at any time. For more information, type this command to trace the route between your computer and Google's DNS servers:

The above command gives you a step-by-step breakdown of the path the information takes to reach the destination you specify. Watch it, and if it fails, check to see where the problem occurs.

If an error pops up early in the route, the issue is likely with your local network. There are more useful CMD commands for networking , if you're interested.

6. Contact Your ISP

Should all the above steps complete successfully, you've now verified that your equipment is working and confirmed you have a valid IP address from the router. Also, you're sure that the problem is occurring outside of the network, and for multiple devices. If this is the case, your next best option is to find out if your ISP is having issues.

Using your smartphone will prove useful here, as you can look up an outage map (like DownDetector.com ) for your provider. Searching Twitter to see if others in your area are experiencing issues can help as well.

If you don't see anything of note online, try giving your ISP a call to see if there are known outages. Perhaps line issues are affecting a small area; a representative should be able to run tests to check.

7. Wait the Network Problems Out

Once you've let your ISP know of the issue and confirmed that it's not just one computer having a problem, all you can do is wait. Many times, you can't fix network issues on your own.

If your ISP is aware of the issues, hopefully they'll get everything fixed in a short time. Meanwhile, you can take the opportunity to enjoy reading a book, going for a walk, or something else that's offline.

8. Troubleshoot Specific Network Issues

While we covered general steps here, if you're seeing a specific network error, it can help to focus your troubleshooting on that. Have a look below at some guides for particular network problems:

Hopefully, one of these guides with more focused advice will solve your issue if these tips didn't work.

Diagnose and Fix Your Network Problems

These steps are a general template for diagnosing network issues, as your exact setup may differ. In general, respond by restarting everything, seeing if multiple devices are having trouble getting online, and checking to make sure your settings are correct, per the above.

Even after you solve your major network issue, your connection might still be slow. This is a separate problem to work on.

Image Credit: Andreas Beer/ Flickr

How to Fix Common Computer Network Issues

Last Updated: December 30, 2022 References

This article was written by Luigi Oppido and by wikiHow staff writer, Travis Boylls . Luigi Oppido is the Owner and Operator of Pleasure Point Computers in Santa Cruz, California. Luigi has over 25 years of experience in general computer repair, data recovery, virus removal, and upgrades. He is also the host of the Computer Man Show! broadcasted on KSQD covering central California for over two years. This article has been viewed 333,596 times.

Computer networks equip computers and other electronic devices to exchange data. These networks allow you to connect to the internet, send emails, print wirelessly, and share files. If you are experiencing problems connecting to a computer network, you can try to fix, bypass, or troubleshoot common issues yourself before consulting a tech expert. This wikiHow teaches you how to diagnose basic network issues.

General Troubleshooting

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About This Article

Luigi Oppido

1. Make sure Wi-Fi is turned on on your devices. 2. Make sure you have a strong Wi-Fi connection. 3. Check multiple websites and apps to make sure none of them are connecting. 4. Make sure the Internet light on your modem or router is glowing solid white or green. 5. Make sure your internet cable is firmly attached to your modem or router. 6. Restart your modem and/or router by unplugging them and then plugging them back in. 7. Restart all your internet-connected devices. 8. Use a wired connection. 9. Try again later. 10. Contact your internet service provider. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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14 Best Network Diagnostics & Troubleshooting Tools for Network Administrators

Best Network Diagnostics & Troubleshooting Tools

Like with most jobs, when it comes to network troubleshooting, the software you use can make a world of difference.

Network analysis can show you the leading causes of network problems, such as slow speeds, network connection problems, and packet loss center on overloaded network devices, such as switches and routers, or missing information in your routing table and other system databases, such as the DNS server or the DHCP system.

By using all of the network diagnostic tools in this list, you can put together a workflow that will give you information on all potential network problems. If the network engineers planned your network correctly, it should never encounter the problems that cause the system to slow down, and network analysis and management should be an enjoyable task.

Here’s our list of the best network diagnostic tools and troubleshooting software:

The best network diagnostics tools & troubleshooting software

When curating this list, we considered the reliability of the tool in use in diverse situations, ease of setting up and use, documentation and support, and how up to date the diagnostic software is kept.

Our methodology for selecting a network diagnostic tool

We reviewed the market for network diagnostic tools and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:

Five of the tools in our list ( ping , tracert , ipconfig , netstat , & nslookup ) can be executed directly from a Windows command prompt (cmd.exe) without installing any additional programs for advanced troubleshooting. The rest of the network analysis tools can be used alone or in combination for network discovery.

1. Datadog Network Performance Monitoring (FREE TRIAL)

Datadog Network Monitor - Network view

Datadog is a cloud-based monitoring system for IT resources that is available as a menu of modules. The base package of the service is an Infrastructure module that covers network monitoring. However, this service can be enhanced by adding on the Network Performance Monitoring module.

Key Features:

Why do we recommend it?

Datadog Network Performance Monitoring is a SaaS package that provides device discovery, network mapping, and traffic analysis. This tool can be slotted together with a Network Device Monitoring service to get full, automated network monitoring. Infrastructure and application monitoring tools on the platform provide the opportunity to create a full-stack monitoring system.

The Network Performance Monitoring module of Datadog adds on analytical functions to the Infrastructure package and includes capacity planning and troubleshooting utilities. While the Infrastructure module looks at device statuses, the Network Performance Monitoring service examines traffic flows .

The Datadog system uses agent software on-site, but all processing and data storage is implemented on the Datadog server. Systems administrators access the Network Performance Monitoring console through any browser in order to see live statistics on current traffic flows on the network. Given that the service is based in the cloud, it can easily monitor remote networks, just as long as that network has the agent module installed on it.

The service doesn’t just display live network traffic data. It also stores that information for analysis . Administrators can trace the journey of a packet, view conversations between endpoints, segment traffic statistics per application or per origin or source, and identify the major bandwidth hogs on the network. The service can unify both onsite, cloud-based, and remote networks to give a complete picture of all network traffic generated by the business. The tool includes live network maps with traffic flows shown on them and it is also possible to see overloaded links or bottlenecks.

Who is it recommended for?

Datadog Network Monitoring is reasonably priced and so accessible to any business. The service is charged for by subscription and there is no setup fee. Charges are levied per host, so even the smallest business will be able to afford this package.

Datadog has a single plan level for its Network Performance Monitoring module. Charges are levied per host per month with a discount for paying annually in advance. The service is available for a 15-day free trial .


Datadog Network Performance Monitoring is our top pick for a network diagnostic and troubleshooting tool because it includes a lot of automated activity tracking that takes care of performance analysis for you. The system maps all devices and shows live statuses in the topology layout so you can instantly see where problems are arising. A system of alerts also draws your attention to problematic devices and cuts down the time it would otherwise take you to work out why the network is not operating at peak performance.

Download: Get 15-day FREE Trial

Official Site: www.datadoghq.com/free-datadog-trial/

OS: Cloud-based

2. SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager

The SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager offers the opportunity to automate system troubleshooting and problem resolution. Busy systems managers often overlook the settings of network devices. The network could be performing badly because you don’t have all of the settings of your devices coordinated. The Network Configuration Manager saves you time by seeking out all devices, the network device health, importing their settings into a central manager, and allowing you to create a standard configuration for each device type and make .

SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager scans a network and identifies all devices. It then enables the network manager to create a standard setup for each type of device and then roll that out. Those authorized configurations are stored by the Network Configuration Manager and then the tool performs constant checks on devices. If any changes occur to settings, the system automatically restores the standard configuration by applying the stored image.

The configuration manager rolls out the standard configurations that you write into the central dashboard. This standardization should fix a lot of the problems that you experience on your network because it will wipe out inappropriate settings for network devices, such as routers and switches that might be slowing down data transfers. Once the standard configurations have been stored, they can only be changed through the password-protected dashboard of the Network Configuration Manager.

This system configuration troubleshooter is an important security tool. Unauthorized intruders can be traced or blocked through the network devices of the network , so altering settings is a common intrusion strategy. The Network Configuration Manager constantly monitors the configurations of all network devices and automatically restores the authorized settings, stored as images, should any change be detected.

SolarWinds produces a range of IT whole infrastructure monitoring and network management tools, and many of these are created on a common platform, called Orion. This makes it possible for the independent tools to interact, and the Network Configuration Manager is one of these Orion-based utilities. The central network monitoring tool in the suite is the Network Performance Monitor and this is usually the lead utility in any monitoring system, which is complemented by the Network Configuration Manager. However, SolarWinds NCM can also be used as a standalone tool.

This is an on-premises package for Windows Server. There isn’t a scaled down version for small businesses. So, the Network Configuration Manager would be suitable for larger businesses.

The Network Configuration Manager is a paid tool. However, SolarWinds makes it available on a 30-day free trial .

SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager Start 30-day FREE Trial

3. N-able N-sight (FREE TRIAL)

N-able N-sight

N-able N-sight is a cloud-based remote monitoring and management software package. As this system monitors the network, it also stores metrics for analysis. Having access to all aspects of a system, including endpoints and servers, N-able has many channels of data for diagnostics and troubleshooting.

N-able N-sight is a cloud-based service that provides remote monitoring systems for networks, servers, and applications. This service includes a troubleshooting guide that identifies security problems and other issues with networks, endpoints, and software.

Among the benefits offered by N-able N-sight is a service called LOGICcards . This is a data source for a wide range of diagnostic projects. The main value of these feeds lies in security. However, they also give insights into how to improve efficiency and avoid system management mistakes.

LOGICcards gathers data from 5,000,000 endpoints on 4,000,000 networks. Comparing the data extracted from these studies, the LOGICcard system analyzes a network and is able to point out factors and settings that are missing from that system, compared to the organization of the majority of other networks.

Another LOGICcard service is a feed of warnings to look out for, such as patches that cause problems and should be held off or new internet-based scams. A guidance aspect to this service also identifies errors to avoid in network configuration and tips on how to optimize bandwidth usage. Furthermore, the topics covered by a LOGICcard feed adapt according to your responses to past advice.

The dashboard for N-able N-sight is resident on the cloud. It doesn’t require any special equipment to use the service – any standard web browser will do and there is also a N-able N-sight mobile app available.

The N-able brand produces tools for managed service providers (MSPs). The company has two remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools and N-able is one of those. N-able is marketed as a suitable package for small and mid-sized MSPs.

N-able N-sight is a subscription service. This is a great attraction for startups because there are no upfront costs for getting set up. There are no setup fees and there is no need to fork out for a software package Instead, the subscribing company pays a little each month. Interested potential customers can access a 30-day free trial of N-able N-sight.

N-able N-sight Start 30-day FREE Trial

4. ManageEngine OpManager Plus (FREE TRIAL)

ManageEngine OpManager Plus Business View

ManageEngine OpManager Plus gives you all the tools you need to monitor networks and servers. These tasks are complex and could involve tracking the statuses of containers, virtualization, file storage servers, firewalls, and IP address-related issues. OpManager Plus takes care of all of those tasks and also adds on an application performance monitor to provide the full stack of IT services.

ManageEngine OpManager Plus combines automated monitoring for networks and servers. The tool is also a good choice for its VM monitoring capabilities. Troubleshooting tools in the software include troubleshooting tools, such as NetFlow and other packet data extraction protocols.

The OpManager Plus system gives you the tools to scrutinize and manage network devices. The system automatically detects all devices connected to the network, logs them, and then maps the network . The system then provides constant performance monitoring through SNMP .

You also get a bandwidth analyzer with this bundle. You can see live throughput statistics per link and get the system to assess utilization of full capacity. Performance thresholds will generate alerts if tripped. You can channel these through email, SMS, or a service desk ticketing system. The package lets you run tests to ensure constant system availability.

Device management services include an IP address manager that integrates a DHCP and DNS server. You also get a switch port mapper so that you can see exactly how many ports are occupied on each device. A configuration manager lets you standardize the settings of all of your devices, restoring stored configurations automatically in the case of unauthorized tampering.

There are five editions for OpManager Plus and these include a Free edition. This monitors networks with only three devices, which could only be for the very smallest businesses. Large organizations and multi-site businesses would benefit from the OpManager Plus system. There is also an edition built for MSPs.

The software for ManageEngine OpManager Plus installs on Windows Server or Linux . The bundle offers a lot of services and so you will spend a lot of time learning all of its functions. You can perform that investigation for free with a 30-day free trial .

ManageEngine OpManager Plus Start a 30-day FREE Trial

See also: Network Configuration & Backup Tools

5. Paessler Network Troubleshooting with PRTG

Paessler Network Troubleshooting with PRTG

Paessler’s PRTG is a complete monitoring system. It can help you with troubleshooting because it can diagnose network issues right down the protocol stack and identify the root of the problem. Port monitoring is one of the network diagnostics techniques that you can use with this tool.

Paessler PRTG is a very large package of monitors that include network, server, and application monitors and has sensors for network troubleshooting including Ping implementations and a TraceRoute facility.

The PRTG system includes two port monitoring sensors . One homes in on a specified port on a particular device, the other will check a range of port numbers. This tool only monitors TCP ports. The port range sensor has one extra feature that the single port sensor does not have. You can set it to check the port with TLS protection. Both sensors report on the response time of the port and whether it is open or closed.

PRTG includes network traffic analysis tools to help you troubleshoot delivery speeds. The tool includes a range of traffic monitoring techniques including route tracing to a destination with Traceroute and a Ping sweep , which will give you the response times to each node on your network. A packet-sniffing utility can tell you which applications and endpoints are producing excessive traffic and you can query the health of the network devices to see which are congested to the point of queuing.

Paessler built a tool that covers servers and applications as well as network statuses, port response times, and services to monitor all conditions that can cause software performance issues. If you’ve got VMs on your network, PRTG can sort through their underlying connections, services, servers, and operating software. That monitoring is constant, so you will be able to trace back through events to spot the source of any performance issues.

PRTG is a flexible package. All customers get the same software bundle containing thousands of monitoring tools, which are called “sensors.” Each buyer decides how many sensors to turn on and the price for the package is levied as an allowance of sensors. This is a good package for large businesses and small companies can use the system for free if they only turn on 100 sensors.

Paessler delivers PRTG as a cloud service or you can install the diagnostic software on your premises. The tool installs on Windows Server environments. You can use the system for free for up to 100 sensors.

Ping is the ideal command to use when you need to confirm network connectivity, at the IP level, between two hosts, or to confirm the TCP/IP stack is working on your local machine. A successful ping confirms network connectivity between the two hosts and it also gives reports on packet loss.

Ping is built into every operating system and it is the basis of many of the network monitoring and troubleshooting systems on this list. The utility can tell you the time a packet takes to get to a specific destination across a network or across the internet. It will also give you information on jitter and packet loss.

Using Ping with Examples

Below is an example of a successful run of the ping command to the “google.com” remote host.

In addition to confirming IP connectivity to “google.com”, these results confirm that we are able to properly resolve domain names (i.e. DNS is working on the local machine).

That Loss figure that you see in the last line of the ping output is the number of lost packets followed by the packet loss rate in brackets.

A few pro-tips for working with the ping command for advanced troubleshooting:

would continue to ping google.com until the ping was interrupted. Press control-c (the “CTRL” and “C” keys) to end a continuous ping.

Ping is a part of every network engineer’s toolkit. It is free to use and provides quick answers.

Tracert is similar to ping, except it leverages Time To Live (TTL) values to show how many “hops” there are between two hosts. This makes it a helpful tool in determining where a network connectivity breakdown is occurring. Basically, tracert helps you understand if the router or network that is down between your computer and a remote host is one you control or not.

Tracert is the Command Prompt implementation of TraceRoute and it provides a list of nodes across the internet to a given destination. While this can’t tell you the exact path that previous transmissions have taken, it follows the path that routing algorithms currently use to reach a destination and shows the transmission times to each node.

Using tracert with examples

Again using google.com as an example, we can see there were 10 hops between our PC and google.com.

TraceRoute is available on all operating systems. While it is implemented by the tracert command on Windows, it is called traceroute on Linux, macOS, and Unix. The tool is free to use and accessible to all network managers.

8. Ipconfig

Determining the IP settings on your computer is an essential part of network troubleshooting. The ipconfig command helps you do just that. Entering ipconfig at a command prompt will return IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, subnets, and default gateways for all network adapters on a PC. This can help determine if your computer has the right IP configuration. Additionally, ipconfig can be used to change or update selected IP settings.

Ipconfig is another widely-used free command line utility for troubleshooting networks. The tool shows the addressing information for each network interface on the computer. It will also show the gateway address and the address for the network’s DHCP and DNS servers.

Pro-tips for working with ipconfig:

Ipconfig is free to use and already installed on your computer. On Linux, macOS, and Unix, it is called ifconfig.

Netstat allows you to display active connections on your local machine. This can be helpful when determining why users are unable to connect to a given application on a server or to determine what connections are made to remote hosts from a computer. Entering netstat at the command prompt will display all active TCP connections. Adding parameters to the netstat command will extend or alter the functionality.

Netstat lists all the connections that are currently live on the computer on which the command is run. The output show every TCP and UDP port that is currently active, even though the connection might be in a closed state.

netstat commands & example

Here are a few helpful netstat commands and what they do:

You can combine different parameters to extend the functionality of netstat. For example,

would display all active TCP connections and the TCP and UDP ports a computer is listening on, use numerical values, and report the PID associated with the connections.

Every network administrator will probably use this tool at some point in time. The tool is free to use and it is built into the operating system for Windows, Linux, macOS, and Unix.

10. Nslookup

nslookup is a useful command-line utility that enables DNS troubleshooting and diagnostics. Nslookup is available on Windows and *nix operating systems. There are a variety of use cases for this flexible utility and it can be run in interactive mode or by entering commands directly at the command prompt.

To help you get started, we’ll review some nslookup commands that are helpful in three of the most common use cases: finding an IP address based on a domain name, finding a domain name based on an IP address, and looking up email servers for a domain.

Nslookup is a command for DNS checks – the name is short for “name server lookup.” With this tool, you can identify the mapping between hostnames and IP addresses on a local network. By entering a remote IP address or Web domain, you can see details from the global DNS service.

Below are examples of how to do each from a Windows command prompt.

Finding an IP address based on a domain name with nslookup:

The output above shows us that the DNS server used on our local machine was ns2.dns.mydns.net and since ns2.dns.mydns.net is not an authoritative name server on Google’s domain, we get a “Non-authoritative answer”. If we wanted to specify a different DNS server in our query, we simply add the DNS server’s domain name or IP address after the command, like this (using the DNS server from CloudFlare ).

Finding a domain name based on an IP address with nslookup

Finding a domain name based on an IP address is similar to the previous process, you simply use an IP address instead of the domain name after the “nslookup” command. For example to find out what the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) for the IP address is we would use the command below:

Based on the output, we can see that the FQDN associated with is “google-public-dns-a.google.com” which makes sense given is one of the two popular public DNS servers available from Google .

Looking up email servers for a domain with nslookup

Sometimes you may need to determine what email servers are available on a domain. To do that, we simply need to specify that we are looking for MX records using the –ty switch. In the example below, we’ll check what mail servers are returned for gmail.com:

Here, five mail servers were returned along with an MX preference value. The lower the MX preference value, the higher the priority of that server (i.e. those servers should be used first).

Network managers would use nslookup to ensure that the local DNS server is working and also to test for DNS entry errors for Wen properties. The free tool is built into the operating system for Windows, Linux, macOS, and Unix.

11. Uptrends Uptime Monitor

speed up down trends

Uptrends offers a menu of website monitoring and testing services from its cloud platform. The Uptrends Uptime Monitor is a free service that can be accessed at the Uptrends website.

The free Uptime Monitor offers a choice of locations from which your site can be tested. It is possible to opt for tests to be run from all of the locations that Uptrends offers.

Uptrends Uptime Monitor is a testing service for internet connections. It specifically takes a Web domain as input, so its checks also extend to DNS testing. You can use this tool for free for on-demand availability tests, which can be launched from a long list of locations. You can get the tests to run recursively every minute if you sign up for a paid account.

The free tool is an on-demand testing system and will give you the status of your site from many locations at that moment. It is possible to remind yourself to rerun the test and keep hitting the button. However, it is more practical to get the Uptrends service to repeat its tests automatically.

Uptrends provides automated testing that will launch every minute. The automated service is not free. You can leave that tool to make constant checks on your site’s availability – it will send you an alert if it encounters problems.

If you run a website, you will need to know if it is available, so it is worth going for the paid account. This will notify you if the site goes offline. The tests launch from different locations around the globe, which is a necessary service for websites that use caching servers for delivery speed optimization or content delivery networks.

The paid packages of Uptrends include internal server monitoring as well as uptime tests. You also get real user monitoring that tracks the responses of your site and its services to visitors. The system is offered in five plans: Starter , Premium , Professiona l, Business , and Enterprise . Each higher plan has more features. You can try all of the features of Uptrends on a 30-day free trial .

12. Sysinternals

The Sysinternals networking utilities suite from Microsoft offers advanced network diagnostic and troubleshooting tools to Windows administrators that require advanced network diagnostic and troubleshooting tools. The Sysinternals utilities include tools that can help troubleshoot and configure Active Directory (AD), like AD Explorer and AD Insight .

Sysinternals is a large package of useful system management utilities for Windows. This is a useful free bundle of tools that are versions of systems that you can get elsewhere, such as Ping and Whois. However, it’s nice to have a package that has all of these tools in one place.

Other tools can help measure network performance ( PsPing ), scan file shares ( ShareEnum ), list or run processes remotely ( PsTools ), and more. If you only require one or a few of the Sysinternals utilities, you can install them separately as opposed to downloading the entire Sysinternals Suite.

Systems administrators will like this package, not just network managers because the bundle includes some nice utilities for managing Active Directory as well as tools to troubleshoot networks.

13. Wireshark

Wireshark is a protocol analyzer and one of the go-to networking tools for organizations of all sizes when network issues need to be troubleshot with a high level of granularity.

The benefit of using Wireshark to analyze network traffic is that you will be able to view the raw network packets, and this will often allow you to identify the root cause of an issue. This can be especially helpful in situations where it is unclear which application is not doing what it is supposed to or when you try to reverse engineer the functionality of a poorly-documented program.

Wireshark is an iconic packet sniffer and analyzer. Any network engineering course includes a section on the use of Wireshark. This system includes its own filter language that can be applied to packet collection to reduce the large volume of data that it extracts. The same filter language can be applied to search through packet data.

The tradeoff here is that you will have a lot of data to parse through, so some technical knowledge may be required to drill down and identify the important information.

You can download Wireshark for free here .

Wireshark dashboard

On Windows operating systems, link-layer packet captures with WireShark are often made possible using Winpcap (either Winpcap or Npcap is required). In addition to enabling WireShark on Windows, Winpcap can enable the powerful Windump command line utility which is Windows answer to the popular tcpdump program found on many *nix operating systems. For a deeper dive on Winpcap, Windump, and tcpdump, check out our recent article on packet sniffers and network analyzers and download the tcpdump cheat sheet .

Wireshark is an excellent tool for processing packet data. However, it’s analytical features are limited. There are a number of other tools that work well with Wireshark to create an even better data analysis system. The data search system Elasticsearch is free to use and it comes with complementary modules for logfile management and data display. Together this suite is called the Elastic Stack .

The illustration below shows how the Elastic Stack can be used with Wireshark to create an improved data analysis system from components that cost nothing.

Wireshark Setup

Although this setup looks complicated, all of the tools shown in this diagram are designed to work together and the Elasticsearch website includes guides on how to put this system together.

Any network manager that doesn’t already know about Wireshark should download it and learn it because this is an essential tool and experience in using it is career-enhancing. The tool is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Unix.


Nmap is a popular security auditing and network exploration tool released under a custom open source license based on GPLv2. While the most popular use cases for nmap are security scans and penetration testing, it can prove quite helpful as a network troubleshooting tool as well.

Nmap is another classic that has a long history and so has a lot of fans. It is known to be used by hackers as well as network managers to explore a network and discover all devices. The tool is a command line utility and is a little difficult to use. Get the GUI Zenmap add-on to see a graphical network map.

For example, if you are dealing with an unfamiliar app and want to find out what services are running and which ports are open, nmap can help. Nmap itself uses a command-line interface (CLI), but that doesn’t mean you are out of luck if you prefer a graphical user interface (GUI). Zenmap is the official nmap GUI and is a good way for beginners to start working with nmap.

Nmap doesn’t just map a network, it also performs monitoring. It can be a good tool for checking on all devices, spotting rogue devices, and identifying those that are offline. The tool is free to use. However, getting the free PRTG gives you a much better discovery and mapping service than Zenmap and Nmap offer.

For more on Zenmap and a deeper dive on nmap, check out our Best Free Port Checkers article.

Choosing a network diagnostics & troubleshooting tool

The tools we discussed here are great to have in your network troubleshooting toolbox and we recommend giving some of them a try the next time you find yourself dealing with a head-scratching network troubleshooting scenario. Did you try out our Editor’s choice – SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager ? Did we leave any of your favorite network troubleshooting tools out, or do you have questions about the tools we mentioned here? Let us know in the comments section below.

Related post: PingPlotter Alternatives

Network Diagnostics & Troubleshooting FAQs

What are the six steps of the troubleshooting process.

Follow a formalized routine when troubleshooting networks:

Steps 2 and 3 might need to be carried out recursively until you hit the problem. The documentation step is ongoing throughout the troubleshooting process with note-taking to contribute to an accurate record once the entire process is complete.

What causes intermittent network connection issues?

There are many possible causes for intermittent network connection issues:

Which utility or LAN command do you feel was the most useful for network troubleshooting?

Ping and Traceroute are the two LAN commands most often used for network troubleshooting. Ping shows whether an endpoint is contactable. Traceroute shows the most likely path to that endpoint. These two commonly used network utilities are usually integrated into most network monitors.

What are the most common issues that affect network performance and reliability?

The most common issues that affect network performance are:

2 Comments Leave a comment

I know this was written a few months ago, but what do you think of PingPlotter Pro? Why did it not make the list of best network troubleshooting software?

Just curious . . .

Hi Ben, Thanks for the reply. The simple answer is: I’ve never used PingPlotter Pro. Topically, it looks like a useful monitoring tool that can also have some troubleshooting benefits. What use cases do you think it is best for?

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The Beginner's Guide to Solving Network Problems

If a bad connection is between you and the online content you want, this guide helps diagnose your problem and work toward a solution.

Keep reading to learn how to use PingPlotter to find the source of network problems!

Let PingPlotter do the tedious work.

PingPlotter Sidekick automates setup and guides you through troubleshooting.

Network Problems Suck.

It's never fun when your connection's on the fritz, but you can do more than reboot your router . Follow this step-by-step guide and we'll show you how to find the source of your problem and start working toward a solution.

This Beginner's Guide to Solving Network Problems is effective whether or not you control the failing part of the network. If your local network is the problem, we'll show you how to diagnose the issue and fix it. If a network outside your control, like an internet provider, is the problem, we'll show you how to build a case and persuade the provider to help fix the problem.

What is a Network Problem?

Lag, buffering, bad call quality, and no internet connection are examples of network problem symptoms. If you're unable to enjoy the online content you want, there's a good chance your network is to blame. Network problems impact things like online games, websites, streaming media, and video calling. The internet doesn't even have to be involved. Any time a bad connection prevents you from accessing something outside your computer you're dealing with a network problem.

Network problems happen when something disrupts the connection between your computer and the content you're trying to access.

How are Network Problems Solved?

The first step to solving a network problem is finding the source. Network problems are caused by a part of the network you control or a part of the network outside your control. We're assuming you control your local network and don't control anything beyond that. If that's not the case, just think of local as in your control and outside as in someone else's control .

Inside Network

Your devices, including your internet modem and wireless router, are usually in your direct control.

Outside Network

External services, like the servers for online games, media, and more, are out of your direct control.

The way you solve the problem depends on whether or not you control the failing part of the network. You can solve local network problems by yourself because you control the network. Outside network problems require help from whoever runs that network. Either way, this guide has the steps you need to move toward a solution.

Why Follow this Guide?

We've been helping people solve network problems for almost twenty years. Our "secret sauce" is a software tool called PingPlotter . It tests your network and makes it easier to find the source of problems. With PingPlotter and this guide by your side, you're well equipped to tackle problems of all shapes and sizes.

PingPlotter makes finding the source of problems easier by graphing network performance. Green is good. Red is bad.

How Does PingPlotter Work?

PingPlotter tests your network with the same tools technicians have been using for years. Those tools are Ping and Traceroute. The difference is PingPlotter visualizes the information in a way that makes finding the source of network problems easier.

To find the source of a problem, look for places on the network where performance goes from good to bad.

What Happens After I Find the Source of the Problem?

Once you have an idea of what's going on, we'll show you how to check your diagnosis and work toward a solution based on the results. If you have a local network problem, we'll provide instructions on how to fix it. If your problem is outside you local network, we'll show you how to effectively connect with the people running the network and persuade them to help you.

So what do you say? Ready to try it out?

Or jump to a specific section:

Let PingPlotter help you troubleshoot.

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Common Network Issues & Solutions : Solved

Learn how to solve common network and computer network issues quickly and effectively with this guide!  

wires, network, computer, ethernet cable, router, modem

Network issues are already irritating and frustrating to handle, but they can spell out disaster when they happen on a business network. While your IT department should be able to fix most network issues, you can save a lot of time by handling the issues yourself. Here are some of the most common network issues that people encounter along with their solutions: 

1.Computer Viruses

The Problem: Help! I think I have a virus on my network!

Network viruses can completely disable a computer network, so this is the first issue we’re going to tackle. There can be a number of causes of computer viruses.  Viruses can come from a wide range of sources , such as e-mail attachments, malicious software, online advertisements, and yes, even social media. 

What are some signs of computer viruses? While remediating an infection on a single computer can be daunting, removing a virus from an infected network is a real challenge since it can hide on any computer. So, here’s how you can fix it:

The Solution:

Step 1: Check the severity of the infection by running a complete network scan to find malicious files or programs. Make sure that your antivirus and anti-malware programs are up to date and able to scan hidden files, the root directory, and all running programs. Also, try to have your antivirus/anti-malware software scan your e-mail inbox for any malicious materials.

Step 2: Back up all of your system files using the necessary tools. Running a complete system backup will ensure that your data isn’t lost and that the network will remain stable. The Windows’ “System Restore” option will allow you to set up a restoration that can often be useful in an emergency.

 Step 3: Confine all suspicious, irregular files. Isolating them will prevent their exchanging with other files or your network system. Then, disinfect or completely wipe all quarantined files.  Manually delete any emails that were identified by your antivirus software.

2. Unable to Connect to the Internet

The Problem: The wireless network shows a signal, but my device won’t connect

Using a wireless network is great for mobility, but can hinder your productivity when it decides to malfunction. There are a few different reasons why your wireless network is having connectivity issues, such as the wireless router or the network card itself. This issue will require a bit of network troubleshooting to find a solution, so let’s get to work:

Step 1: If your router won't connect to the internet, try putting your computer or device right next to the router. If this causes your equipment to connect, then the system hardware may have been the issue. If this didn’t fix the problem, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Update the network card. Sometimes, your network card will receive a strong signal, but won’t be able to transmit it quickly and effectively resulting in the need for network troubleshooting. Updating the driver might solve the problem entirely, but if it doesn’t, you might need to contact your IT department or provider and consider replacing the hardware altogether.

3.Duplicated IP Address

The Problem: I got an error message that says that the IP address is already in use.

A small error window just popped up on your screen saying that your IP address is already in use. How is this even possible and what causes this IP address conflict? Well, there are a few reasons why this can happen:

These are just a few of the plethora of reasons why IP address conflicts take place. Here are some ways to fix this issue:

Windows - If you have a dynamic IP address:

Step 1: Click the “Start” button and click “Run”. Enter “cmd” into the text box and click “OK”. The Windows command prompt will open.

Step 2: Type “ipconfig/renew” into the command prompt and press “Enter”. This will refresh your dynamic IP address.

Step 3: Check your network connection. Your computer will receive an available IP address that isn’t already taken.

Windows – if you have a static IP address:

Step 1: Right click “Network Neighborhood” on your desktop. On Windows 7 or Windows Vista, this will be labeled “Network”. Next, click “Properties”.

Step 2: Rick click onto your network card and click “Properties”. In most cases, your network card will be labeled “Local area LAN Connection.”

Step 3: Select “TCP/IP” in the list and then, click the “Properties” button under the list of options. Enter in a new IP address in the opened window. Click “OK” to confirm the changes you’ve made.

Step 1: Click on “System Preferences” in your dock. Then, click on “Network”.

Step 2: Select “Wi-Fi” on the left side of the window. Then, click “Advanced”, which is located on the bottom right.

Step 3: On the next page, select the “TCP/IP” tab and then click “Renew DHCP Lease” on the right side of the window.

4. Slow Performance

Problem: My applications are responding very slowly.

Why is my computer so slow? Slow-running applications can put a damper on your productivity in the workplace. One of the most common network issues that business networks fight with is slow applications. This happens especially when a computer first turns on or connects to a network. In most cases, this is caused by heavy bandwidth usage. In other instances, it can be caused by lack of hard drive space, running too many applications at once, having too many browser tabs open at one time, or even just a dusty room! The solution for this issue depends on the root of the problem.

Once you’ve gotten rid of some of your browser’s extensions, eliminated applications you aren’t using, or identified the application that’s eating up all of your processing power, you should be able to see a huge difference in your computer’s processing speed. (You can do this by using the Task Manager for Windows or the Activity Monitor for Mac to see which applications are slowing you down).

If this solution didn’t work for you, here’s what you can do:

Note: Be sure to enforce proper network use by making sure that users aren’t viewing too much digital content via streaming or continuously downloading large files. Doing so will help you keep your bandwidth use under control. However, if you find that your employees are utilizing the network correctly, it might be time to upgrade your network to meet your business needs.

If you feel that the sluggishness of your applications is due to another issue, proceed to Step 1.

Step 1: Try restarting your PC. Sometimes, a quick reset will fix any and all issues right away. Doing so will clear your system memory (RAM). If this works, remember to shut down your PC when it’s not in use. If this doesn’t help, proceed to Step 2. 

Step 2: Now, it’s time to check on your hard drive and make sure that it’s not approaching the end of its lifespan. So, let’s run a hard drive check:

Right click on “Drive”. Then, click “Properties” and then click “Tools”. Click “Check Now”. Select “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors”. Doing this will stop your computer from tapping into any malfunctioning areas of the hard drive.

Click “Applications” from the “Finder”, then “Utilities”, and then “Disk Utility”. Highlight the hard drive that’s giving you trouble and then select “First Aid”.

If your hard drive is healthy, but you think it’s becoming too full with data, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Get rid of unnecessary files from programs that have gone unused. System backups and restore points can eat up a lot of space, so don’t hang onto more versions of this software than you need. You might also consider uploading your data onto the cloud to save your hard drive.

Step 4: If you’ve completely deep-cleaned your computer and checked all of the possible issues above, but your computer is still running slowly, it might be time to upgrade your RAM so that your computer has more memory. Certain programs take more RAM to run properly than others and if you don’t have enough RAM ready, your computer will not be able to handle it. Look into RAM upgrade options.

5. IP Address Exhaustion

The Problem: I can’t get an IP address.

So, your network seems to have gone down. Your operating system has sent you an alert stating that the address was not received from the DHCP server. You’ve just checked the network adapter status and noticed that there’s actually no IP address to be found. What now?

There are a few different reasons why this could happen. It could be that the DHCP server is out of addresses, the device might be set to use a static address rather than a DHCP address, or maybe the DHCP request from the device never made it to the server. Either way, here’s what we need to do:

Step 1: Check the network interface card (NIC). You can find this by opening the control panel, then the device manager. Then, select “Hardware and Sound” and then select “Device Manager”. Expand the Network Adapters item to view all network adapters, although you will most likely only have one. Verify that your system is configured to utilize DHCP.

 Step 2: Check the switch to see which virtual LAN (VLAN) the port is set as a member. Verify that other devices on this particular VLAN are able to get an IP address. If they can’t, the issue is that the network is not sending DHCP requests to the server.

 If this issue is taking place with more than one device, then the issue is likely the server itself.

6. VPN Errors

The Problem: I got an error message saying that my device was “unable to establish the VPN connection” or error 800.

Your virtual private network (VPN) works to provide a safe connection between a local client and a remote server. When you can’t connect to a VPN, you’ll receive an error message that usually states something along the lines of “VPN error 800 – Unable to establish the VPN connection”. This can happen if the client device disconnected from the local network, the network’s firewall is blocking the VPN traffic, or if the name/address specified for the VPN server was incorrect.

 Here’s how you can fix this issue:

Step 1: Check the connection between the client and server. Attempt to connect to the server from a different client device to verify whether the network issue is a widespread issue or if it is affecting only one client.

Step 2: Verify that the name entered on the client side matches the server name given by the VPN administrator. In some instances, users can specify an IP address rather than a name, while it’s more typical for users to mistype the address than the name. VPN servers can also change their IP addresses in some instances, especially DHCP networks.

Step 3: If the first two steps didn’t clear up the issue, now it’s time to make sure that the firewall isn’t blocking your connection with the VPN. Do so by temporarily disabling it to retry the connection. If this solves the problem, you need to update the firewall settings specific to the port numbers that the VPN on the network is using to prevent this issue from happening again.

If none of this troubleshooting solved the issue, it could be possible that the server is overloaded with clients or that it is offline. Check with your IT department to see what can be done.

7.Connection Errors and Network Connectivity 

The Problem: My network has limited connectivity or no connectivity at all.

Connection issues are some of the most annoying, frustrating network issues of all. These issues can be a result of all types of glitches and issues within the computer and/or the network itself. So, if your computer has handed you a lovely “Limited or no connectivity” error message, here’s what you can do to fix it:

Step 1: Restart your computer. A quick reboot can often be a life-saver. If you’ve already tried this or restarting the computer didn’t fix anything, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Restart your router or modem. DO NOT reset the router or modem or restore its settings back to factory default. Simply turn the router or modem off and back on. If this doesn’t work or only works for a moment, keep going to Step 3.

Step 3: If you are connected to your network via Ethernet cable, unplug the cable and then reattach it. If needed, replace your network cable with a new or different cable to see if this was the cause of the issue.

Step 4: If you’re connected via Wi-Fi when you see this error, it’s a possibility that the network adapter is attempting to conserve power. Stop this by finding the Network and Sharing Center in the Control Panel. Right click “Wi-Fi Connection”, select “Properties”, click “Configure” and find the “Power Management” tab. Click and uncheck the option that allows your computer to turn off device to conserve power.

Step 5: If you’ve tried all of this and there’s still no connection, unplug your router and connect your computer directly to your modem. If this solves the issue, then your router is likely to be malfunctioning. If not, contact the router manufacturer for support.

If the error remains and the network is still down, reach out to your internet service provider for help.

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These common network issues can plague anyone. Fortunately, most of these network issues have very simple resolutions. By handling these issues, you’ll allow your IT team to address more complex issues , thus streamlining your business' workflow. Great work! For more information, download our e-book today!

  Do you have a question or a concern that isn’t addressed here? Here at Advanced Business Systems, we offer Managed IT Services that allow you to focus on your work while we focus on making sure your network is helping your business - not hindering it. Contact us today to see what we can do for you!

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What is Endpoint Security?

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Top Five Cybersecurity Threats to Look for in 2020

With the prevalence of cyber threats looming, protecting sensitive data and information from hackers should be on every business leaders’ mind and every IT department’s agenda. As the old saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. The best way to protect your data is to identify potential threats in advance and prepare a way to defend your infrastructure. So, what kinds of cyber threats should you be on the lookout for this year? Download our E-book to find out more!

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The Cost of Data Security: How Much You Should Spend to Protect Your Data

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Do I Need a Firewall?

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How to Identify and Troubleshoot the Most Common Network Problems

When you’re having problems with your network, nothing can feel like a bigger headache. You can’t figure out where the problem is or what’s causing it, and as soon as you solve a problem with one machine, another problem pops up somewhere else.

But troubleshooting and identifying network problems can be straightforward. There are some basic troubleshooting steps anyone can take to try to solve their network connectivity problems. And most of the time, they work! I’ve created a three-step checklist with these fixes below.

For more complex issues, there are a few common (but advanced) steps I’ve learned working in IT. However, they can be a bit complicated and should be left to the professionals. See what I mean in my How to Troubleshoot Network Connectivity Problems guide below.

Even if you’re an experienced network administrator or other IT pro, performance and monitoring tools are essential for maintaining good network health and staying in line with best practices. I’ve found some immensely helpful tools for network errors monitoring and network errors detection . I’ve listed several network tools that can be used to identify and troubleshoot network connectivity problems, and I review why SolarWinds ® Network Performance Monitor is my top choice as a network troubleshooting solution.

Basic Network Troubleshooting Three-Step Checklist

How to troubleshoot network issues

How to Troubleshoot Network Connectivity Problems

If these basic fixes don’t reestablish your network connection, the issue and how to solve it can become more complex. Problems could be arising in one of your network devices, in an operating system, because of a firewall, virtual machine, or something caused by user interaction.

For IT pros, the next steps could include using the following common network troubleshooting commands in addition to checking other important system information for potential issues.

How to troubleshoot networks fast

Useful Tools for Solving Network Problems

Trying to sort out network problems manually is a bit too old school for my liking, and modern network monitoring tools can provide comprehensive and useful insights into performance problems. Here are my top picks of tools currently on the market.

Network Performance Monitor

Network Performance Monitor

My favorite tool to use when investigating network problems is SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM). This network troubleshooting solution provides everything I need in an easy-to-use package with a visually pleasing interface. Its broad number of features include everything you need to troubleshoot issues with your network, including network errors detection and monitoring.

One of the best features of the SolarWinds NPM is that it automatically scans your network and shows you your entire network topology with a visual mapping tool. These maps can also help you pinpoint issues in your network, which leads to faster troubleshooting.

The free trial provides the full functionality of the tool for 30 days. If you want access after the trial, different levels of paid options are available.

ManageEngine OpManager

ManageEngine OpManager

Another network scanning tool you can use is ManageEngine OpManager. This network management tool is intended for IT enterprise use, including application and performance management, IT infrastructure monitoring, and fault monitoring. It also includes functionality for monitoring firewalls, allocating and monitoring bandwidth usage, and configuration tools. Naturally, it includes a reactive alert system for detecting issues and some troubleshooting capabilities.

OpManager offers a free edition for limited use, as well as standard, professional, and enterprise editions ranging in cost from $245 to $11,545.


Next, consider Nagios. This high-quality network performance monitoring tool can help you to keep your network running smoothly and problems to a minimum. Nagios Network Analyzer looks at network functions and potential security threats, in an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. The centralized console provides information on baseline network behavior, alerts, and issues, as well as bandwidth utilization data, so you can allocate your network resources effectively and prevent slowdowns.

You can check out an online demo, use a free trial of Nagios, or purchase a single license for $1,995.

The Final Word: Best Tool to Fix Network Problems

All network issues can be (or become) complex, and it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact issue when there are so many different components, connections, and network configurations interacting at the same time. Generally, the easiest and best way to detect and solve network problems is to use a tool to show you what’s happening on your network.

To detect and solve network problems and scan for potential issues, I recommend SolarWinds NPM as it includes so many features to help make the troubleshooting process easier and get network problems resolved quickly.

Recommended Reading:

Ultimate Guide to Network Monitoring : If you need further information on monitoring and troubleshooting your network errors, including setting appropriate alert thresholds and general monitoring techniques, look at this ultimate guide.

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7 Common Network Issues and How to Resolve Them Fast

7 Common Network Issues and How to Resolve Them Fast picture: A

Networks are networks. Despite best efforts to keep things smooth all the time every day, things happen. Here's a look at some common network issues, some tips for quickly resolving them, and even better, how to prevent them from occurring again.

1. Duplicate IP Addresses

When two devices attempt to share a single IP, you see the dreaded "Address Already in Use" Kill — with no ability to access the network.

The Quick Fix: The blame for this often rests with your router's default DHCP configuration. DHCP is probably trying to assign your new device an address at the beginning of your subnet , and another device may already occupy these low-numbered addresses with static IPs. If you've just introduced a new device or server to your network, it may have its own DHCP server. Simply disable the DHCP server on that device to restore sanity to your network.

The Preventive Measure: You can take one simple step to avoid IP conflicts by modifying your router's configuration to begin assigning DHCP addresses near the top end of your subnet, leaving the lower addresses available for devices that require static IPs.

2. IP Address Exhaustion

To troubleshoot this issue, use the ipconfig command. If the workstation has assigned itself an IP address that begins with 169.x.x.x, it means that no IP address was available from the DHCP server.

The Quick Fix: Some users on cable internet might not have a local router, in which case IP addresses are assigned on a limited basis directly from your ISP. You have probably run out of allowed IP addresses from your ISP. The solution to this is to purchase either a standalone router or WiFi access point with an integrated router. This creates your own local pool of internal addresses, ensuring you won't run out.

If you already have a local router with DHCP, the default address pool might be too small for your network. By accessing the DHCP settings on the router, you can adjust the size of the address pool to meet your network's needs.

The Preventive Measure: It's important that any internet-connected network have a local router in operation with NAT and DHCP, both for security reasons and to prevent IP address exhaustion. The router needs to be the only device connected to the modem, with all other devices connecting through the router.

3. DNS Problems

Errors such as The Network Path Cannot Be Found, IP Address Could Not Be Found, or DNS Name Does Not Exist, can usually be traced to a DNS configuration issue . The command line utility nslookup can be used to quickly show a workstation's DNS settings.

The Quick Fix: Workstations and other network devices can be configured to use their own DNS servers, ignoring the server assigned by DHCP. Checking the 'Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP)' settings for your adapter will show if an incorrect DNS server is specified, so just select "Obtain DNS server address automatically" instead.

The Prevention Measure: Your local router might be configured to operate as a DNS Server, creating a DNS pass-through to your ISPs servers. On busy networks, this may overload the capabilities of the router. Change your network's DHCP settings to directly access your DNS servers.

4. Single Workstation Unable to Connect to the Network

If only a single workstation is displaying the "No internet" message when opening a web browser, we can usually assume that the rest of the network is healthy and turn our attention to any hardware and software that is particular to this system.

The Quick Fix: To resolve this network issue, start by eliminating the obvious communication barriers such as a bad cable, poor WiFi signal , failing network card or incorrect drivers. Ensure that the workstation's network adapter is configured with the correct IP, subnet, and DNS servers.

If that doesn't solve the problem, check any firewall software on the device to ensure that necessary ports are open to the external network. Common ports include 80 and 443 for web traffic, plus 25, 587, 465, 110, and 995 for email.

The Preventive Measure: It's usually best to leave all workstation TCP/IP settings to "Automatically assigned." Use a DHCP server to hand out a uniform configuration to all devices on the network. If a static IP is needed on a particular workstation or server, most DHCP servers allow the ability to create static IP mappings.

5. Unable to Connect to Local File or Printer Shares

Sharing problems are among the most difficult network problems to solve, due to the number of components that need to be configured properly.

Most commonly, sharing problems arise due to conflicts between mixed security environments. Even different versions of the same operating system sometimes use slightly different security models, which can make interconnection of workstations difficult.

The Quick Fix: We can cure sharing problems most efficiently by drilling down through the possibilities in this order:

Ensure that the required services are running. On Windows systems, the server, TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper, workstation, and computer browser services all need to be running. On Linux machines, Samba is the primary component required to share with Windows systems.

Check your firewall(s) . It's very common for a workstation's firewall to be configured to block file and printer sharing traffic, especially if a new antivirus package is installed that introduces its own firewall. Firewall issues can also exist at the hardware level, so ensure that routers or managed switches are passing share traffic within the subnet. Speaking of subnet….

Ensure all workstations are on the same subnet. This problem typically only appears on complex networks, however, even simple networks sometimes have static-IP equipment with an improperly configured subnet. The result is that external traffic will move about just fine, while internal traffic will hit unexpected roadblocks.

All Windows network adapters will need File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks, Client for Microsoft Networks, and NetBIOS over TCP/IP enabled.

Once the above checks have passed, it's finally time to check the most likely culprit, permissions. There are multiple layers of access required, each with their own interface within the OS. Check for:

        Systems configured with the wrong workgroup or domain.

        Incorrectly configured HomeGroup.

        Network type set to Public.

        Incorrect NTFS permissions.

6. Local Network is Unable to Connect to the internet

This situation can either be intermittent or persistent. Often times, the most difficult aspect of dealing with any external network problem is finding the company responsible. And then tasking them to solve the issue, particularly with intermittent failures that are difficult to trace. It can sometimes be such a problem that organizations will have to switch internet providers in order to solve the issue.

The Quick Fix: A router and modem reboot is the first order of business. The tracert then utility can be used to identify communication breaks. It will clearly hiccup on the particular router hop that is causing the problem. Contact your ISP with your findings, providing screenshots as necessary.

The Preventive Measure: To avoid the finger-pointing that can prevent rapid resolution of external issues, do some research to ensure that you procure connectivity only from local Tier 1 providers. Other ISPs are more than happy to sell you service, however, they are simply piggybacking the Tier 1 connection, since they don't actually own the infrastructure in your area.

The goal is to remove as many middle-men as possible, so that when (not if) you experience a problem, one phone call is all that is required to identify the issue and get technicians to work on it.

7. Slow Internet Performance

Slow performance is typically due to congestion, or sometimes poor quality connections that have corroded or otherwise deteriorated. Congestion may not be directly related to bandwidth exhaustion, as a single overloaded port on a switch or router can diminish network performance.

This can be especially true on leased lines where dedicated bandwidth is to be expected, but speed tests indicate the network is not reaching it's rated potential.

The Quick Fix: Use speed test websites, conducting tests from geographically remote servers. This can pinpoint areas of congestion on the ISP's network. In the case of cable internet, the local network is shared amongst your neighbors, committing your ISP to a costly bandwidth upgrade when saturation occurs. Report your findings to your ISP so that they can take steps to resolve the issue.

DNS servers are an often overlooked aspect of internet performance . Using incorrect DNS servers can result in routing congestion or load balancing problems. While you should typically use your ISP's DNS settings whenever possible, they may actually be routing traffic through overloaded web caches. You can temporarily adjust your DNS settings to use OpenDNS instead.

The Preventive Measure: if internet performance is critical, you'll need to procure adequate connectivity. While cable internet may be inexpensive, you could be setting yourself up for frequent jeers from employees. A local DSL operator may offer improved reliability for a slightly higher cost, but for the most consistent performance, you may find that an expensive leased line is a requirement for your organization.

There's plenty of help out there — use it!

The good news is there are a plethora of resources for troubleshooting and solving network issues, and many of them are free and built into most operating systems. Ping, tracert, ipconfig, nslookup, and speedtest.net should be in the top drawer of every admin's toolkit .

More advanced utilities such as Wireshark provide a detailed analysis of your network's potential stumbling points, while wardriving tools can be called upon to identify WiFi performance or interference issues.

Armed with a deeper knowledge of how your network works, you can be prepared for the inevitable , and can even train end users to troubleshoot simple problems themselves. Your reputation as a network hero lives on!

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Problem Solving Resources

Case studies, problem solving related topics.

What is Problem Solving?.

Quality Glossary Definition: Problem solving

Problem solving is the act of defining a problem; determining the cause of the problem; identifying, prioritizing, and selecting alternatives for a solution; and implementing a solution.

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Problem Solving Chart

The Problem-Solving Process

In order to effectively manage and run a successful organization, leadership must guide their employees and develop problem-solving techniques. Finding a suitable solution for issues can be accomplished by following the basic four-step problem-solving process and methodology outlined below.

1. Define the problem

Diagnose the situation so that your focus is on the problem, not just its symptoms. Helpful problem-solving techniques include using flowcharts to identify the expected steps of a process and cause-and-effect diagrams to define and analyze root causes .

The sections below help explain key problem-solving steps. These steps support the involvement of interested parties, the use of factual information, comparison of expectations to reality, and a focus on root causes of a problem. You should begin by:

2. Generate alternative solutions

Postpone the selection of one solution until several problem-solving alternatives have been proposed. Considering multiple alternatives can significantly enhance the value of your ideal solution. Once you have decided on the "what should be" model, this target standard becomes the basis for developing a road map for investigating alternatives. Brainstorming and team problem-solving techniques are both useful tools in this stage of problem solving.

Many alternative solutions to the problem should be generated before final evaluation. A common mistake in problem solving is that alternatives are evaluated as they are proposed, so the first acceptable solution is chosen, even if it’s not the best fit. If we focus on trying to get the results we want, we miss the potential for learning something new that will allow for real improvement in the problem-solving process.

3. Evaluate and select an alternative

Skilled problem solvers use a series of considerations when selecting the best alternative. They consider the extent to which:

4. Implement and follow up on the solution

Leaders may be called upon to direct others to implement the solution, "sell" the solution, or facilitate the implementation with the help of others. Involving others in the implementation is an effective way to gain buy-in and support and minimize resistance to subsequent changes.

Regardless of how the solution is rolled out, feedback channels should be built into the implementation. This allows for continuous monitoring and testing of actual events against expectations. Problem solving, and the techniques used to gain clarity, are most effective if the solution remains in place and is updated to respond to future changes.

You can also search articles , case studies , and publications  for problem solving resources.

Innovative Business Management Using TRIZ

Introduction To 8D Problem Solving: Including Practical Applications and Examples

The Quality Toolbox

Root Cause Analysis: The Core of Problem Solving and Corrective Action

One Good Idea: Some Sage Advice ( Quality Progress ) The person with the problem just wants it to go away quickly, and the problem-solvers also want to resolve it in as little time as possible because they have other responsibilities. Whatever the urgency, effective problem-solvers have the self-discipline to develop a complete description of the problem.

Diagnostic Quality Problem Solving: A Conceptual Framework And Six Strategies  ( Quality Management Journal ) This paper contributes a conceptual framework for the generic process of diagnosis in quality problem solving by identifying its activities and how they are related.

Weathering The Storm ( Quality Progress ) Even in the most contentious circumstances, this approach describes how to sustain customer-supplier relationships during high-stakes problem solving situations to actually enhance customer-supplier relationships.

The Right Questions ( Quality Progress ) All problem solving begins with a problem description. Make the most of problem solving by asking effective questions.

Solving the Problem ( Quality Progress ) Brush up on your problem-solving skills and address the primary issues with these seven methods.

Refreshing Louisville Metro’s Problem-Solving System  ( Journal for Quality and Participation ) Organization-wide transformation can be tricky, especially when it comes to sustaining any progress made over time. In Louisville Metro, a government organization based in Kentucky, many strategies were used to enact and sustain meaningful transformation.


Quality Improvement Associate Certification--CQIA

Certified Quality Improvement Associate Question Bank

Lean Problem-Solving Tools

Problem Solving Using A3

NEW   Root Cause Analysis E-Learning

Quality 101

Making the Connection In this exclusive QP webcast, Jack ReVelle, ASQ Fellow and author, shares how quality tools can be combined to create a powerful problem-solving force.

Adapted from The Executive Guide to Improvement and Change , ASQ Quality Press.

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An effective problem solving process for IT professionals

1. what is the actual problem.

This should be the first question an IT professional should ask when it comes to troubleshooting various IT related issues – even if only to verify the information that has already been provided. Typically this will mean having a conversation with the individual or group of individuals that reported the problem in the first place. It’s certainly not unheard of for the reported problem to get muddied or distorted when going through multiple people or channels before you first hear of it.

People often rephrase things when dictating what someone else previously said, so it’s quite possible for the original complaint to turn into something completely different as it passes through different people:

“The Amazon website tends to lock up my web browser whenever I add items into my Cart.” Mary, Sales Department.
“Helpdesk? Mary’s internet isn’t working when she’s online shopping.” Mary’s Boss
“Please help Mary so she can browse shopping sites. I think the internet filter is probably blocking that category.” John, creating Helpdesk ticket

We’ve all encountered these types of scenarios in the past and they can be really frustrating, even more so when the issues are much more important than whether a single employee is capable of adding items to their Amazon shopping cart.

The point here being,  don’t take what’s being told to you for granted . Spend the time necessary to verify that what is being reported to you is actually what’s occurring and the original reason the issue was raised in the first place. Furthermore, taking the time to speak with the source, in this case, Mary, allows you to ask important follow-up questions that can further aid in diagnosing the problem as its being reported.

2. Who is experiencing the problem?

Without knowledge of who is experiencing the problem, your ability to focus your troubleshooting efforts into a precise area will be diminished and you might wind up going off in a direction that’s not even necessary or even remotely related to the source of the problem. One of the questions that should be asked is, who exactly is experiencing the problem?

Is it (for example):

Every organization is different as it relates to the “Who”, but there are stark differences in the following scenario and what could be the underlying issue relating to the company’s IP Phones when the IT professional called in to solve the problem has a clearer understanding of “Who” is actually affected:

Problem solving

Single User

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A group/dept. of users

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Remote/branch office

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Main and remote offices

The point here is, when the IT professional starts to  understand “Who” is really affected , they can eliminate having to navigate down unnecessary paths while troubleshooting and can instead work towards narrowing down their troubleshooting efforts to a more specific and concise area. In the case of the single user above, why waste time troubleshooting the VPN tunnel when only Jerry is affected by the issue? This is why  knowing the “Who” is extremely important.

Here’s another example of something an IT Professional or Wireless Engineer hears from time to time.   “Help!  Wireless is completely down in the entire building.  Everyone is reporting problems” .   In these situations, do yourself a favor and pay special attention to words or phrases such as “entire”, “everyone”, and “completely down” when problems are reported.  These “all-inclusive” phraseologies tend to exaggerate what’s really happening and have the potential to lead you astray.

It’s not uncommon that while investigating the problem, the IT Professional or Wireless Engineers quickly learns that the “entire” building, or “everyone”, or that the wireless network being “completely down” (which, for example, in a school, might affect 3,000+ users) turns out to be a single wireless Access Point being down in one small office that is affecting 5 actual users (not, 3,000+ users as “everyone” seems to imply).

Bear in mind,  problems can sometimes be overblown and overstated , especially when a user, or group of users, is regularly frustrated with or intimated by technology (any IT professional has likely experienced those high-maintenance users that cry wolf over just about anything!).

Problem solving process - lightbulb

3. When did the problem start?

Knowing when the problem actually started (with attention to finite details such as the exact day and exact time) can often provide a better understanding of the problem and help trigger more definitive ideas and potential solutions relating to the underlying root cause that a given IT professional is expected to solve. Imagine being brought into a new customer to resolve critical problems with their Internet Services and being told,

“The internet pipe is a problem. People are randomly seeing spotty performance and oddball issues whenever web surfing and we don’t know why.”

Now, a less-experienced IT professional might just start diving headfirst into firewall logs, bandwidth monitoring, opening up a trouble-ticket directly with the ISP and trying to figure out what is going on, but someone with more experience will first pause to ask additional questions , wanting more specifics as to “When” the problem started happening.

For a problem solving process you need to know when the problem started.

Certainly looking back into firewall logs and bandwidth utilization metrics over the last 2 week period makes sense knowing the issue presented itself within the last 10 days, but it hardly warrants spending much time at all looking back at logs and bandwidth utilization metrics from 3+ months ago. That being said, once again, try to VERIFY the information being told to you . Perhaps the person giving you the answer vaguely remembers that it was 10 days ago, but in truth, it’s only been 3 days!

In this particular situation where the internet is being reported as sporadic, it’s altogether possible that roughly 11 days ago, another on-site computer technician decided to enable the UTM (Unified Threat Management) functionality within their firewall to allow for additional Antivirus inspection, IDS (Intrusion Detection Services), Geo-IP Filtering, and a plethora of other goodies typically included in UTM feature-sets.

Unfortunately, as a direct result, the firewall’s processors/CPUs have become overloaded and cannot move traffic through it quickly enough to keep up with the additional processing demands required when the firewall’s UTM feature-set was enabled.

4. Is the problem intermittent or constant?

Another key element to an effective problem solving process is finding out if the reported issue is occurring constantly or whether it’s only occurring intermittently? Problems that are constant, or fixed , are generally (though not always) easier to troubleshoot . Whereas problems that are intermittent and seemingly random, are generally more difficult to troubleshoot.

How many times have we as IT professionals been called in to troubleshoot a problem, only to find that upon our arrival, the issue suddenly doesn’t seem to exist anymore yet no one did anything specific to actually resolve the problem!? Those situations can be really frustrating, not only for the IT professional but for the end-user as well because the likelihood of the issue reappearing is rather high (and most likely reappears just a few short moments after the IT professional has left!)

The best thing to do in these scenarios is document WHEN the issue occurred and how LONG it lasted before it miraculously “fixed itself”, so the next time that same problem is reported, you might be able to piece together some crude and basic assumptions or theories based on WHEN it happened previously and how LONG it lasted each time.

Wireless chaos only at lunchtime?!

Problem solving techniques identity odd wireless issues

5. What changed recently?

This is one question that is unfortunately not asked often enough, is just plain overlooked, or in other cases is just completely disregarded (shame on you if you fall into that category!). Technology is a very touchy and hypersensitive beast , and more often than not, it doesn’t take too kindly to introducing changes. Even the changes that are supposed to solve and prevent other known problems, often result in the introduction of new and unexpected problems.

It’s not unheard of that sometimes even routine maintenance on equipment can cause problems .

Take for example, updating firmware on a network switch . This should be a relatively trouble-free routine operation, but suddenly users are reporting that they’re occasionally having problems logging into their desktops. It’s happening to more than one user, in fact, it’s being reported sporadically throughout the building early in the morning hours when most employees arrive for the start of their shift.

“What Changed” recently? Over the weekend you decided to update the firmware on your edge switches and now the port security that was set up on the switches using AAA authentication with Radius, isn’t behaving as expected. Unfortunately, it looks like the new firmware update might have introduced a random bug! What’s the solution? Back rev your switches , or look for ever newer firmware code that might resolve the problem.

Man looking at purple screen of death

You haven’t changed anything with the VMWare software itself, still running on the same trusted vSphere 6.0 Update 1 release that has been rock solid and problem-free in your environment. So “What Changed” recently? Wait a minute, come to think of it, the host server that is regularly crashing recently had an additional 64GB of memory added to it one week ago! Might be worth removing that extra 64GB of memory and seeing if the problem goes away. Certainly wouldn’t be the first time new or additional hardware was the result of the underlying issue .

6. Can the problem be recreated?

Another helpful step for effective problem solving is trying to recreate the actual problem. As discussed before, reported problems can either be of a constant or intermittent nature. Taking the time to re-create the problem can be beneficial and especially helpful in cases where you might need to break out tools such as Wireshark to capture packets and network traffic for future analysis and evaluation. IT professionals have to make use of such tools in more complex technical support issues especially when the flow of network traffic is in question or when there’s a need to examine whether the traffic is making it from the source to destination devices.

If possible, take advantage of any sandbox or test environments that are available. Having these environments gives you the flexibility to recreate the issue and effectively “break” things on purpose, without putting your production network or systems at risk and without interrupting services that end-users are relying on during standard business hours.

Recreating the problem is also advantageous in situations where the IT professional may need to involve 3rd party technical support from a vendor as well. Often, these vendors will have the means to establish remote sessions to take control of your desktop (or the machine in which you’ve successfully recreated the problem on), which gives the vendor the ability to actually see the issue while it’s occurring to further help diagnose what is happening.

7. Are benchmarks and logs available?

Having some kind of benchmarking tool available to track and record network and server performance is beyond measure in terms of its overall value when helping an IT professional track down challenging technical issues. One of the key areas worth checking when problems are being reported is looking at the actual METRICS over a historical period of time. Metrics can prove to be invaluable when trying to figure out: Whether the problem reported actually exists or is a false positive

Maybe you’ve been in a situation where someone reports, “The file server is really slow today!” Without historical benchmarks available, taking a look at the current server performance may not yield any fruitful results because the CPU, disk, network, and memory counters all SEEM to be operating at a reasonable level, but based on and compared to what exactly?

With historical benchmarks available, there is a foundation to actually compare today’s performance on the server as it relates to the CPU, Disk, Network, and Memory (and any other metric/counter you want) VERSUS what the server has been utilizing for the past days, weeks, or months prior.

What historical benchmarks might help you discover is, that according to the historical data, perhaps there is absolutely NO difference in the server performance today versus previous days, weeks, or months? The complaint of “The file server is really slow today” turns out to be a false positive in that case, proven by the metrics an historical benchmarks. Finding the real cause and resolution to the user’s complaint is going to require you to start looking into other areas aside from the server itself. Perhaps it’s a client-side issue or networking issue.

Having benchmarks available is crucial in taking out illogical guess-work and assumptions, and replacing them with hard evidence and facts to back up your problem solving process. There are countless software options available that will give you the data you need for metrics, though we often recommend using PRTG from Paessler, which is a wonderful utility for acquiring benchmarks on your network and servers.

Logs are another important thing to consider during the troubleshooting process. Going back into log history can give a stumped IT Professional some additional clues as to what is going on, especially in cases where the question of “ When did the problem start?” remains unanswered.

Having network devices (switches, routers, firewalls, wireless, etc.) sending their log information to a dedicated syslog server (for example, Kiwi Syslog Server from SolarWinds) gives someone the opportunity to search for entries related to particular devices (by IP address) for specific warning messages or error messages.

Syslog messages and the historical information gathered here can sometimes help point the IT Professional in the right direction, not to mention, the logs themselves can be extremely valuable to the vendor of the product as well when they are involved in troubleshooting what is happening.

8. I’m officially stuck – now what?

Alright, so you find yourself in one of those rather unpleasant circumstances where you’ve asked all the right questions, dug into your resourceful bag of tricks, and find that you’ve exhausted all your technical knowledge and ability to track down the source of the problem. What do you do now? The first step is DON’T PANIC . Effective problem solving is, more often than not, substantially reduced when the IT professional is stressed out and under pressure (although in some rare cases, people tend to flourish under these “trial by fire” scenarios). Keeping panic at bay will help a person to remain calm, focused, and continue to allow them to logically walk through the problem solving process.

This is however, easier said than done, when there are countless emails and phone calls coming in demanding an update as to when the source of the problem will be fixed (and let’s not forget, potentially angry bosses that might be clueless as to why the problem is taking more than 10 minutes to resolve!).

External help can shorten your problem solving process

The second step is just that, call in the cavalry! Let’s face it, there will always be instances where even the most seasoned IT professional needs assistance from peers, vendors or other resources . None of us are capable of knowing absolutely everything. When you find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out for help! What does that mean?

Problem solving process - lightbulb

The problem solving process in summary

Be sure to give yourself the absolute best chance to combat those dreaded technical support issues. The next time someone contacts you and yells in a panic, “Email is broken!” understand that you can more quickly deduct what is actually going on and help minimize the amount of time necessary to resolve the problem by simply asking the right questions :

Keep in mind, however, that not only do you need answers to those questions, but you need answers that are accurate .

As stated earlier, this means the IT professional may need to take the necessary time to validate the answers being provided to them. Inaccurate answers and misinformed facts will send you down the wrong troubleshooting path and unnecessarily prolong the amount of time necessary to resolve complex technical support issues. So get your facts straight!

Having the answers to these questions will allow you to immediately narrow down the scope of the problem and the potential areas at fault, conduct tests, formulate conclusions, and resolve problems even faster than you may have anticipated.

You should also read:

5 practical steps to avoid a cyber attack

Understanding the e-rate process [download primer].

Jesse Rink

Jesse is the owner of Source One Technology and has been providing IT consulting services to schools , nonprofits and SMBs in Waukesha , Milwaukee , Dane , Washington , Jefferson , Ozaukee , Kenosha , Racine counties and across Wisconsin for over 18 years.

Is application virtualization now a necessity?

Microsoft deployment toolkit and windows deployment services, 2 thoughts on “an effective problem solving process for it professionals”.

Found your article very interesting. I can definitely identify with all of the points you made, especially troubleshooting. Either you can or cant troubleshoot and think logically through an issue or problem. You are right in mentioning that its something you really cannot teach. One other thing that helps with a logically stepping through the process is documentation. There should always be a repository where network diagrams, server builds, OS versions etc., are kept. I understand that a lot of times these documents cannot be relied upon due to being out of date and it seems most people scoff at the idea of keeping good documentation. But I believe it to be important to help with any troubleshooting. You also mentioned the question, Did anything change? or What changed? A big issue when attempting to troubleshoot. Every place I have worked at, always used a change management process that documented every single change, no matter how small. Of course these places had to by law (SOX audits) because they were publicly traded companies. Just wanted to say, good article!

That is a great article with some excellent questions. Working with students and teachers, I’d throw in a few extra suggestions.

1. What is a reasonable timeline for solving the problem? Often times a lack of communication to this question leads to frustration and long term mistrust regarding the reliability of technology. Asking what needs to be done from the end user’s perspective, and knowing their timeline for completion is helpful. Giving them a reasonable amount of time in which they can expect the issue to be resolved sets everybody up for success around reasonable expectations.

2. Suggest potential work-arounds when necessary — Standing in front of a group of adults and attempting to present when the technology is not working is overwhelming and frustrating. The same tech failure when you are working with a group of students and you start to lose their attention — it’s a nightmare! Knowing what tools your district provides for staff and their general purpose may allow you to offer some potential work-around ideas until the problem is resolved. There is not a fix for everything, but when you can suggest a reasonable alternative in the moment, you offer more than just tech support — you offer customer service.

Comments are closed.

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How to Solve Problems

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To bring the best ideas forward, teams must build psychological safety.

Teams today aren’t just asked to execute tasks: They’re called upon to solve problems. You’d think that many brains working together would mean better solutions, but the reality is that too often problem-solving teams fall victim to inefficiency, conflict, and cautious conclusions. The two charts below will help your team think about how to collaborate better and come up with the best solutions for the thorniest challenges.

First, think of the last time you had to solve a problem. Maybe it was a big one: A major trade route is blocked and your product is time sensitive and must make it to market on time. Maybe it was a small one: A traffic jam on your way to work means you’re going to be late for your first meeting of the day. Whatever the size of the impact, in solving your problem you moved through five stages, according to “ Why Groups Struggle to Solve Problems Together ,” by Al Pittampalli.

problem solving network

Pittampalli finds that most of us, when working individually, move through these stages intuitively. It’s different when you’re working in a team, however. You need to stop and identify these different stages to make sure the group is aligned. For example, while one colleague might join a problem-solving discussion ready to evaluate assumptions (Stage 3), another might still be defining the problem (Stage 1). By defining each stage of your problem-solving explicitly, you increase the odds of your team coming to better solutions more smoothly.

This problem-solving technique gains extra power when applied to Alison Reynold’s and David Lewis’ research on problem-solving teams. In their article, “ The Two Traits of the Best Problem-Solving Teams ,” they find that highly effective teams typically have a pair of common features: They are cognitively diverse and they are psychologically safe. They also exhibit an array of characteristics associated with learning and confidence; these teammates tend to be curious, experimental, and nurturing, for example.

problem solving network

As you and your colleagues consider these ideas, think about the last problem you had to solve as a team. First, map out what you remember from each step of your problem-solving. Were all of you on the same page at each stage? What aspects of the problem did you consider — or might you have missed — as a result? What can you do differently the next time you have a problem to solve? Second, ask where your team sees themselves on the chart. What kinds of behaviors could your team adopt to help you move into that top-right quadrant?

problem solving network

Partner Center

5 Positive Effects of Daydreaming

Barbara is a writer and speaker who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues.

problem solving network

Margaret Seide, MS, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of depression, addiction, and eating disorders. 

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Thomas Barwick

You might remember daydreaming during class when you were growing up. Maybe you looked out the window and dreamed, but your teachers discouraged it. You weren’t being disobedient when your thoughts escaped elsewhere. We all daydream and more often than you might expect. Scientists agree that we spend an astonishing 30% - 50% of our time in daydreams.

So, what is daydreaming? Daydreaming can be defined as the reverie you experience while you’re awake. During moments when we are in this state, our mind drifts. These interludes are brief diversions from our current world. Contrary to what you may have been taught, daydreaming about pleasant things is far from useless.

Daydreaming Lessens Stress and Anxiety

By tuning out the noisy “outside” world, you allow your thoughts to flow freely. This fosters mental relaxation and exploration. When our thoughts flow like this, we are in what is called the alpha wave state. When we are in the alpha zone, we are calm and not thinking of anything with forced vigor.

Daydreaming breaks are not just fun; they are necessary for us. Our brains cannot maintain focus and productivity nonstop. Good brain health requires some regular periods of relaxation.

After a long day at work or after a disagreement with a friend, let your mind float away to something completely unrelated and pleasurable. This might help you forget about and distance yourself from the worrisome circumstances.

Having a tool like daydreaming at our disposal is useful especially when we deal with perceived threats or overly busy environments. It’s another tool in your mental health toolkit to evade stress and anxiety. If you feel yourself getting more and more anxious , you might turn to daydreaming and the following steps:

You might imagine yourself at your favorite spot where you like to hike in the woods . Or you might think about that new car you’d like to buy. What color would it be? What features would it have? Can you imagine yourself feeling great in the driver’s seat?

 According to Harvard University’s Medical School health blog , “Mind wandering can help manage anxiety.” Like meditation or restful activities, daydreaming acts a natural remedy to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Daydreaming Helps You Solve Problems

Daydreams aren’t merely mini-escapes. Allowing your stray thoughts to roam around revitalizes you. You’ll be able to return to the problem more refreshed. Most of us can benefit from approaching our problems with a fresh perspective.

Besides having a fresh perspective, daydreaming seems to work better than trying to force a solution. In one study which tracked different patterns of internal thought, researchers concluded that mind-wandering is important and good for us. It seems that this cognitive process leads to new ideas.

While on the surface it might sound unusual, letting our thoughts drift can actually help us solve problems when focusing on them does not work.

By just hammering away at something steadfastly, you may be overlooking all sorts of information. But freely associating can enable your mind to flit from memories to something you read and then back to something you imagine.

In other words, daydreaming can lead you down a sort of magical yellow brick road to insights. These insights may help you reach your goal. So, if you’re stumped by a problem, instead of trying harder to solve it, try the opposite. Daydream and then daydream even more.

Daydreaming Uses Diverse Parts of Your Brain

If you’ve ever noticed, children’s minds wander about constantly. It’s no secret that the young are daydreaming a lot. Yet, having your "head in the clouds," as some people describe daydreaming, turns out to be more than a simple or diversionary pastime.

What’s happening in your brain while daydreaming is pretty sophisticated. As your mind wanders, you are you are using diverse aspects of your brain. Both the executive problem-solving network as well as the creativity network in your brain are working simultaneously.

As we activate these different brain areas, we access information that might have previously been out of reach or dormant. Therefore, boredom or idleness serves a great purpose. It inspires us to daydream, which forges important connections across our brain.

Daydreaming Helps You Reach Goals

How can meandering thoughts help you reach your goals? These stray thoughts are indeed unguided, but new research reveals they are often motivated by our goals.

Athletes and performers sometimes use purposeful daydreaming to practice before a game or performance. This method pre-wires their brains for success. It’s like practicing mentally rather than physically for an outcome you desire. This kind of imagining or structured daydreaming has been popular in the field of sports psychology.

While a fantasy-based daydream like morphing into a superhero might end up disappointing or frustrating you because it’s too far-fetched, a structured daydream can motivate you as it’s realistic.

Imagining or daydreaming about one of your real-life goals is pleasing. It invites you to think through steps you’d take, ways to stay motivated, and how to overcome obstacles.

Daydreaming Expands Your Creativity

Research has established that daydreaming is correlated with higher levels of creativity. Relentlessly drilling down on a complex problem doesn’t result in discoveries. Take a break. The mind will still incubate on the problem.

Bianca L. Rodriguez , Ed.M, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist says, “That's why most of us have aha moments while doing mundane things like washing the dishes where we don't have to focus too hard on the task at hand which allows space in our psyche to receive and reveal new information.” 

One study in which college students had 2 minutes to come up with as many uses as possible for everyday things (like toothpicks and bricks) proved this. Those who daydreamed first, rather than continuing to focus on the problem, did better at generating more creative ideas. Not by a small margin, either. They were 41% more productive and creative.

When your mind doesn’t have to ride on a narrow track, it reorganizes all the tidbits of information and forms new and unexpected connections. Being distracted and allowing your mind to wander is powerfully positive.  

Rodriguez described daydreaming well when she said it’s “exercise for your mind.” She elaborated further, saying, “We are rarely taught to allow our minds to wander. It's like only tending to one tree in a gigantic forest. Daydreaming allows your mind to zoom out and see the whole forest which creates a different perspective and invites creativity.”

A Word From Verywell

Daydreaming has gotten a bad rap for far too long. Yet, it affords us humans many benefits. Hopefully, more will be open to embracing the daydreaming process and letting our thoughts roam freely. If you are frustrated by a situation, problem, or simply want to expand your imagination or creativity, give daydreaming a try and see what mental pathways might open up for you.

Franklin MS, Mrazek MD, Anderson CL, Smallwood J, Kingstone A, Schooler JW. The silver lining of a mind in the clouds: interesting musings are associated with positive mood while mind-wandering .  Front Psychol . 2013;4:583. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00583

Kam JWY, Irving ZC, Mills C, Patel S, Gopnik A, Knight RT. Distinct electrophysiological signatures of task-unrelated and dynamic thoughts .  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA . 2021;118(4):e2011796118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2011796118

McMillan RL, Kaufman SB, Singer JL. Ode to positive constructive daydreaming .  Front Psychol . 2013;4:626. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00626

Frank C, Land WM, Popp C, Schack T. Mental representation and mental practice: experimental investigation on the functional links between motor memory and motor imagery . Urgesi C, ed.  PLoS ONE . 2014;9(4):e95175. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095175

Baird B, Smallwood J, Mrazek MD, Kam JWY, Franklin MS, Schooler JW. Inspired by distraction: mind wandering facilitates creative incubation .  Psychol Sci . 2012;23(10):1117-1122. doi: 10.1177/0956797612446024

By Barbara Field Barbara is a writer and speaker who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues.

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problem solving network

Level Up Coding

Jerren Gan


What Are Artificial Neural Networks and How You Can Build One to Solve an XOR Problem

Basic machine learning with python.

As the heart of deep learning, artificial neural networks (ANNs) are algorithms that aim to ‘mimic’ the human brain to deal with complex pattern-oriented problems and are often used to categorize and analyze trends when given a set of data [1].

With the structure inspired by the biological neural network, the ANN is comprised of multiple layers — the input layer, hidden layer(s), and output layer — of nodes that send signals to each other.

By defining a weight, activation function, and threshold for each neuron, neurons in the network act independently and output data when activated, sending the signal over to the next layer of the ANN [2]. The weights are used to define how important each variable is; the larger the weight of the node, the larger the impact a node has on the overall output of the network [2].

It is also important to note that ANNs must undergo a ‘learning process’ with training data before they are ready (with sufficient accuracy) to be implemented. While there are many steps to building a neural network and various parameters and functions that can be used to optimize an ANN, the basics of the neural network can be explained with a simple illustration of how it can be used to solve a classification problem.

Here, we will explore how an ANN can be applied to solve an XOR logic problem and explain the different concepts that go into this particular use case of the ANN.

The Artificial Neural Network

The basic perceptron and forward pass.

As the basic precursor to the ANN, the Perceptron is designed by Frank Rosenblatt to take in several binary inputs and produce one binary output.

Like in the ANN, each input has a weight to represent the importance of the input and the sum of the values must overcome the threshold value before the output is activated [3].

In Fig. 1, the basic Perceptron network is drawn to have m different inputs and a single bias that has a value of ‘1’. ‘y-hat’ is used to represent the output and the entire model can be represented with the following equation:

Basically, in this calculation, the dot product of the input and weight vector is calculated. After which, the bias is added, and the activation function is applied to the entire equation. This is the basis for the forward propagation of a neural network.

When the Perceptron is ‘upgraded’ to include one or more hidden layers, the network becomes a Multilayer Perceptron Network (MLP).

With the added hidden layers, more complex problems that require more computation can be solved. However, the number of nodes in the output layer remains at 1. To truly create an ANN, the MLP is combined with a Multiple Output Perceptron (MOP). This creates a network with both hidden layer(s) and the possibility of having multiple nodes at the output layer.

Thus, instead of a simple binary classification problem, a wider variety of different outputs can be given by the ANN (an example would be outputting the number the ANN classifies a handwritten number as — a process that requires at least 10 different output nodes to show the numbers ‘0’ to ‘9’).

In the ANN, the forward pass of the network refers to the calculation of the output by considering all the inputs, weights, biases, and activation functions in the various layers.

This is a simple extension of equations 1 and 2 and can be easily calculated by tracing the network and summing up the various products of the inputs and weights for each node before applying the activation functions on these sums.

Using the forward pass method, the values for z_i can be found with the following equation:

Activation Functions

As mentioned, the simple Perceptron network has two distinct steps during the processing of inputs. These steps can be referred to as ‘pre-activation’, the calculation of the weighted sum of all the different x_i inputs and ‘activation’, the period where the weighted sum goes through the activation function (which allows non-linearity to be added into the network) [4].

It is during this activation period that the weighted inputs are transformed into the output of the system. As such, the choice and performance of the activation function have a large impact on the capabilities of the ANN.

While there are many different activation functions, some functions are used more frequently in neural networks. Some commonly used activation functions are the threshold or step function that activates when the net input is greater than a certain threshold; the sigmoid function; the hyperbolic tangent function (tanh); and the rectified linear unit (ReLU) [4].


As the initial values of the weights are often randomized (or highly inaccurate) in the initial ANN, training the neural network to better achieve the desired output is extremely important. To achieve an accurate model, the most intuitive manner would be to minimize the errors which can be done by minimizing the loss function:

Here, the loss function is calculated using the mean squared error (MSE).

In the gradient descent algorithm, the loss function is differentiated with respect to the weight so that the gradient of the loss function can be found. To find the lowest possible error, the network of weights is updated in the direction of the steepest downward slope and repeated until the error function converges to the lowest point (which theoretically, should have a gradient of 0). This weight-updating algorithm can be simplified into the following equation:

The learning rate affects the size of each step when the weight is updated. If the learning rate is too small, the convergence takes much longer, and the loss function could get stuck in a local minimum instead of seeking the global minimum (true lowest point).

On the other hand, if the learning rate is too large, the steps will be too big and the function might consistently overshoot the minimum point, causing it to be unable to converge.

For a simple linear network as shown in Fig. 3, the gradient of the loss function can be calculated with the following equations:

ANN for an XOR Logic Problem

The XOR logic gate is a logic gate that takes in two binary inputs and gives a true output (‘1’) when the number of true inputs (‘1’) is odd. This is represented by the algebraic expression:

When the inputs are replaced with X1 and X2, Table 1 can be used to represent the XOR gate.

Solving the XOR Logic Problem

In their book, Perceptrons , Minsky and Papert suggested that “simple ANNs” (referring to the single layer Perceptron) were not computationally complex enough to solve the XOR logic problem [5]. Due to the need for linear separability, the single-layer neural network was unable to create the necessary partitions to learn the classifications for the XOR problem as the two different output classes (true and false) happen on both sides of the linear separation of the data points no matter where the line is drawn (as seen in Fig. 4) [6].

However, if a multi-layered ANN is used to solve the problem, the data points should be able to be partitioned into the two different categories that the XOR logic output demands as shown in Fig. 5.

Designing an ANN to Solve the XOR Logic Problem

To solve the XOR logic problem, the ANN in Fig. 6 is used. In this network, there are 2 input nodes: x1 and x2 that can be used to represent the two binary inputs for the logic gate. In this input layer, the bias, x0 is also defined and will have a value of 1.

In the hidden layer, three different nodes calculate the sum of the weighted input and apply a sigmoid function. From here, the function in the hidden layer will be referred to as g^h(…). In the output layer, there is only 1 node, and the node applies a linear function to the weighted outputs from the hidden layer. This linear function in the output layer will be referred to as g^o(…).

For the first node of the hidden layer, equation 3 can be extended to find the output of this first hidden layer node:

To optimize this ANN and reduce the loss function, the backpropagation gradient descent algorithm will be implemented. By letting the cost function be:

For simplicity, the functions below will be defined using a single path (X1, W4, hidden layer node, and W10) that an input might take in the network. Of course, these equations are easily generalizable and can be expanded to define the gradient descent algorithm for the entire network of nodes. If matrixes are used to store the various values, the following equations can be directly applicable by changing the parameters in the matrixes. Since g^o(…) is a linear function,

Code of the ANN

With the network designed in the previous section, a code was written to show that the ANN can indeed solve an XOR logic problem. Now, we will move on to code out the algorithm.

Firstly, the 2 main libraries used in the code are imported. The NumPy library is mainly used for matrix calculations while the MatPlotLib library is used for data visualization at the end.

Next, the activation function (and the differentiated version of the activation function is defined so that the nodes can make use of the sigmoid function in the hidden layer.

Following the creation of the activation function, various parameters of the ANN are defined in this block of code.

First, the ANN is defined to have 2 input layer nodes, 3 hidden layer nodes and 1 output layer node. In the code, ‘inputnodes’ has a value of 3 as the bias was included as a ‘node’ to simplify the code. However, when the input data is defined later (under the ‘inputdata’ variable), the bias is set at a fixed value of 1. Thus, by changing the weights associated with the bias nodes, the value of the bias can be changed as well.

By using the np.random.random() function, random floats in the interval [0.0,1.0) are used to populate the weight matrices W1 and W2. These matrices are shaped to contain the different weight values. In W1, the values of weight 1 to weight 9 (in Fig 6.) are defined and stored. For W2, the values for weights 10 to 12 are stored. That way, these matrixes can be used in both the forward pass and backward pass calculations.

For this ANN, the current learning rate (‘eta’) and the number of iterations (since one epoch only has 1 data set) (‘epoch’) are set at 0.1 and 10000 respectively. However, these values can be changed to refine and optimize the performance of the ANN. Lastly, the logic table for the XOR logic gate is included as ‘inputdata’ and ‘outputdata’. As mentioned, a value of 1 was included with every input dataset to represent the bias.

Following this, two functions were created using the previously explained equations for the forward pass and backward pass. In the forward pass function (based on equation 2), the input data is multiplied by the weights before the sigmoid activation function is applied. The output is multiplied by W2 before the error (equation 4) is calculated. For the backward pass, the new weights are calculated based on the error that is found. This function makes use of equations we defined before.

The empty list ‘errorlist’ is created to store the error calculated by the forward pass function as the ANN iterates through the epoch. A simple for loop runs the input data through both the forward pass and backward pass functions as previously defined, allowing the weights to update through the network. Lastly, the list ‘errorlist’ is updated by finding the average absolute error for each forward propagation. This allows for the plotting of the errors over the training process.

Results After Running the Code

With the code defined above, an initial run of the ANN was done to find out how effective the network is in solving the XOR problem. As mentioned, the learning rate was set at 0.1 and the number of training runs was set at 10,000. Initially, the randomly generated weights were:

After going through the training process, the weights were updated, and the final weights are as stated:

At the same time, the error stored in ‘errorlist’ was also plotted using the following code block:

As shown in Fig. 7, the ANN becomes more and more accurate as the number of iterations it goes through increases. While the error falls slowly in the beginning, the speed at which the weights were updated increased drastically after around 2000 iterations. After about 6000 iterations, convergence towards the ground truth can be observed as the error in the ANN prediction falls extremely close to 0. With this in mind, the number of iterations was cut to 6000 to see if the prediction would be accurate.

Even after cutting the number of iterations to 6000, the error tends close to zero as well. The final prediction from the ANN also seems pretty close to the ground truth:

However, if we cut the number of iterations to 1500, the ANN is unable to reach the point of conversion. This causes a large error to remain (Fig. 9) while leaving the predicted value quite far from the actual ground truth:

For the ANN with 10,000 iterations, the learning rate was lowered to 0.025 to better understand what effect a smaller learning rate has on the neural network. From Fig. 10, at this lowered learning rate, the rate of change in the error was slow and it took nearly 8000 iterations before it was able to reach a similar accuracy to that ANN running at a learning rate of 0.1 and 1500 iterations. The predicted value was also quite accurate:

To understand the importance of weights in the system, the ANN was also trained with various weight values instead of using the random function. In Fig. 11, the weights were all set at a value of 1. As a result, the error of the system was extremely high in the beginning as all the inputs were simply passed into the activation function and moved forward into the output node. Even after 10,000 iterations, the gradient descent function was still not able to converge, and an error remained in the system.

On the other hand, when the weight values were initialised as 0.01, the initial error of the function was similar to when the weight values were random. However, because the value of the weights was so small, the error of the function converged back to 0.5 after going through the training dataset with the output converging towards 0.5 no matter the input. This is perhaps due to the fact that this point is a local minimum and that the learning rate was too small for the function to locate the global minimum.

Going back to the original parameters of 0.01 learning rate and 10,000 iterations, the classification decision boundary plot was also created (the full code for this graph is included in the appendix). With reference to Fig. 5, the final boundary graph plotted in Fig. 13 is quite close to the final goal that the ANN was created to do. Hence, it can be concluded that this ANN is successful in achieving the solution for the XOR logic problem.

At the same time, the output values for each of the 4 different inputs were also plotted on separate graphs (Fig. 14). Here, it can be observed that each output slowly converges towards the actual values that is expected (based on the logic table shown in Table 1).

From these graphs, it can be observed that the original conclusion (made from looking at the error graph in Fig. 7) remains true. At about 6000 iterations, all 4 graphs show a convergence towards the ground truth and each output is already close to the values that is expected.

Changing Sigmoid Function to Hyperbolic Function

As an extension to the study of the ANN, the sigmoid function was also swapped into the hyperbolic function with the following code that defined the activation function:

Keeping the parameter constant (learning rate = 0.01, iterations = 10,000), the error graph in Fig. 15 was plotted. From the graph, it is observed that the error falls much faster and the convergence towards the minimum loss function happens much faster. As such, it can be concluded that the hyperbolic tangent function is a better activation function for an ANN looking to solve the XOR logic problem. True enough, when the ANN was run at these parameters, a more accurate prediction was achieved:

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[1] S. Walczak and N. Cerpa, ‘Artificial Neural Networks’, in Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology (Third Edition) , R. A. Meyers, Ed. New York: Academic Press, 2003, pp. 631–645. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/B0-12-227410-5/00837-1.

[2] ‘What are Neural Networks? | IBM’. https://www.ibm.com/cloud/learn/neural-networks (accessed Aug. 29, 2022).

[3] ‘Perceptrons’, w3schools . https://www.w3schools.com/ai/ai_perceptrons.asp (accessed Aug. 29, 2022).

[4] V. Luhaniwal, ‘Forward propagation in neural networks — Simplified math and code version | by vikashraj luhaniwal | Towards Data Science’, 2019. https://towardsdatascience.com/forward-propagation-in-neural-networks-simplified-math-and-code-version-bbcfef6f9250 (accessed Aug. 29, 2022).

[5] G. Strawn and C. Strawn, ‘Masterminds of Artificial Intelligence: Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert’, IT Prof , vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 62–64, 2016, doi: 10.1109/MITP.2016.116.

[6] DARSHAN M, ‘XOR problem with neural networks: An explanation for beginners’, AIM , 2022. https://analyticsindiamag.com/xor-problem-with-neural-networks-an-explanation-for-beginners/ (accessed Aug. 29, 2022).

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Elliott Epstein: What problem is the City Council solving by censuring the mayor?

There’s certainly nothing in the Lewiston Charter which forbids the mayor from voicing opinions on issues of importance to the city.

I can’t understand why the Lewiston City Council would censure Mayor Carl Sheline for writing a letter of support — one which he never sent — to a nonprofit organization dedicated to transitioning people away from homelessness on the grounds that he did so without getting prior council approval.

The censure was proposed and passed by a vote of 4-3 on Feb. 21.

Rearview Mirror

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Sheline’s draft letter was addressed to Project HOME. The Portland-based nonprofit, according to its website, is a “supportive housing tenant management service that partners with landlords to rent to tenants who have experienced homelessness and housing insecurity.”

It “assists landlords by managing all aspects of the tenancy related to tenant duties, leasing-up and move-in details, rental assistance program navigation, physical maintenance of the unit, and repairs/damages” and “also helps tenants access community resources related to food, healthcare, education, and employment.”

Lewiston City Council votes to censure mayor for ‘violation of our rules of conduct’

In his letter, Sheline wrote that, “on behalf of the City of Lewiston,” he was “delighted to voice our support” for the organization’s grant proposal to expand their initiative. But based on feedback he received, he withdrew and never sent it.

The council’s censure was couched in procedural terms. It faulted Sheline for having violated its protocol, which states that the mayor is supposed to coordinate with the council in representing views on major issues of community importance to the media and other levels of government. Advertisement

Several city councilors, notably Rick LaChapelle and Lee Clement, pressed for the censure. They’re part of a faction that has intermittently attacked Sheline since he took office in 2022.

I suspect their real beef with the mayor is that he has advocated a more active city role in assisting the homeless, while they see such an approach as a budget buster and a magnet for undocumented aliens.

This is bolstered by LaChapelle’s own comments about the letter: “The primary goal of [Project HOME] is to find housing for as many people [as] they can …, meaning they would send people to live in places like Lewiston and pay for the first month of rent and then stop,” after which “it becomes Lewiston’s problem, and we must pick up the long-term tab for them.” LaChapelle also complained about the increase in the city’s general assistance costs year over year, which he attributed to a recent influx of “asylum seekers, aka illegal aliens.”

I realize that helping the homeless has been a hotly controversial topic since the biblical prophet Isaiah exhorted, “bring the poor and homeless into your house” (Isaiah 58:7) and Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount. But censuring the mayor for drafting a letter on the issue is really over the top.

It brings to mind the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” a dystopian sci-fi thriller about a specialized police force that identifies and apprehends criminals based upon misconduct they’re contemplating but haven’t yet committed.

Even if Sheline had sent the letter, so what? Advertisement

I presume this was the kind of letter of recommendation routinely sought by non-profits to bolster their chances of snagging a grant through foundations and other funders. It wouldn’t have contractually bound the city to any obligations.

There’s certainly nothing in the Lewiston Charter which forbids the mayor from voicing opinions on issues of importance to the city, whether through the media, over the internet or in a letter written on municipal stationery.

The major’s express job under the Charter is to preside over council meetings, cast a tie-breaking vote when the council is deadlocked, appoint members to boards and committees and perform ceremonial functions. He is barred by the Charter and state statute from controlling the city’s day-to-day operations or personnel, because that’s the city administrator’s job. However, there’s nothing expressly or impliedly in the Charter that authorizes the council to muzzle the mayor.

Besides, it’s unrealistic to expect the mayor to be nothing more than a neutral moderator of City Council meetings. The mayoralty is a political office even though ballots don’t list the parties of those running for the position.

Candidates for mayor typically campaign on promises to keep taxes down, attract more business, improve housing stock, increase school funding, enhance recreational programs, beautify public parks or fill roadway potholes. I’ve yet to hear a candidate run on a promise to do a better job of sticking to Robert’s Rules of Order.

Previous mayors, in Lewiston and Auburn, have taken an expansive view of their right to employ what President Theodore Roosevelt called the “bully pulpit.” Advertisement

Robert Macdonald, Lewiston’s mayor from 2012 to 2018, and Jonathan LaBonte, Auburn’s mayor from 2011 to 2017, frequently, and at times obnoxiously, voiced their views on hot-button topics without first consulting members of their respective councils. Laurier T. Raymond, Jr., while Lewiston mayor, touched off a firestorm of controversy in 2002, when he unilaterally published an open letter to the Somali community asking them to slow their immigration into the community.

Jason Levesque, Auburn’s current mayor, advocates forcefully for the expansion of housing and is often at odds with members of his council as to how to get there (for example, by changing development standards in the agricultural zone or allowing greater density in neighborhoods close to the city’s core). Whether or not you agree with Levesque, it’s hard to deny that he’s identified a genuine problem and sparked a valuable public debate as to how to solve it.

So here’s my message to LaChapelle and Clement: If you have a problem with Sheline’s agenda, then vote against it or, alternatively, run for mayor in the next election (on a curmudgeonly platform of keeping Lewiston safe from the homeless).

But don’t try to prevent Sheline from doing what mayors should do — speak his mind!

Elliott Epstein is a trial lawyer with Andrucki & King in Lewiston. His Rearview Mirror column, which has appeared in the Sun Journal for 16 years, analyzes current events in an historical context. He is also the author of “Lucifer’s Child,” a book about the notorious 1984 child murder of Angela Palmer. He may be contacted at [email protected]

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