In most small businesses, when the network goes down the office goes into full-blown crisis mode.
As companies rely on servers and network technology for more and more functions, the urgency of troubleshooting problems takes on greater significance.
In a network crisis, your first reaction will be to call a network technician to troubleshoot the problem. Although some network issues require advanced technical expertise, many can be solved in-house. Before you drop big money on a technician's hourly rate, take a few minutes to work through the following troubleshooting checklist.
- Remain calm. One of the most productive things you can do when your network goes down is to remain calm. Sure, you'll have an office full of workers screaming for access to the Internet, the printer, the server and other vital assets. But you'll be more productive if you resign yourself to systematically working through the problem areas.
- Isolate the problem. Approach the process with the mentality of trying to isolate the source of the problem. There are a limited number of causes behind a down network and if you can isolate it to a single PC, an event, a device or other system component, you'll be way ahead of the game.
- Start with hardware. The majority of network issues are hardware related. Check all of the network cables and connections. From there, run hardware diagnostics and then reboot the server, the router and other hardware components. More often than not, a simple reboot will solve the problem and bring your network back online.
- Software issues. If your hardware is functioning properly, you may have a software issue on your hands. These can be more difficult to troubleshoot. If the problem is with a single PC, check for a configuration error and ask if the user has recently downloaded a new application. If it's a LAN issue, check the IPConfig command and conduct a ping process to evaluate the functionality of the network adapter card. In some cases, the problem is WAN-specific and will require a call to your telecom vendor.
- Know your limits. Depending on the nature of the problem, it's possible to spend hours or even days trying to get your network back online. If you can't determine the cause of your problem in an hour or two, admit defeat and call in someone who has more knowledge about small business networks.