Steps for Network Troubleshooting
1. Collect information
Gathering data is the most important—yet often neglected—first step when it comes to troubleshooting network problems. That’s because when network troubleshooting issues arise, most people are in reactive mode and try to tackle the problem right away.
However, gathering enough information before you begin increases your chances of successfully solving your network problem. Start by defining the exact nature of the issue. Are you connected to the network but just can't surf the Web? Or is your entire system entirely down?
You can also try interviewing other members of your team if you're sharing the network with others.
Asking the right questions will help you know the root cause, so it’s easier to find a specific solution. It will also make it easier for someone else to resolve your issue should you need professional help.
2. Check key network hardware like wires, cables, and routers
One of the initial steps you should take in troubleshooting a network is to check all devices and equipment physically. You'd be surprised how many issues you can resolve simply because of a loose wire.
Investigate all the cables on your computer (if it’s wired) and router/modem. If you suspect that a cable is at fault, try switching it with a new one and see if it solves the problem. That’s why it’s recommended that you have spare cables with you at all times.
If you have access to your router, see if it's turned on, and whether the link light is lit solid (usually green or orange), indicating a proper connection. You also need to check the status light, usually labelled as “WAN” or “Internet”. It should be lit solid or blinking rapidly, indicating there’s an active Internet connection.
3. Check your Internet speed
Sometimes, you think you’re not connected to the Internet, when in fact, you're just experiencing sluggish speeds. If you suspect this, you first need to measure your network bandwidth.
Luckily, this network troubleshooting tip is straightforward. There are lots of free services you can use to measure your bandwidth, but the most well-known is Speedtest. Simply enter speedtest.net into your browser and it will measure your upload and download speeds.
If your Internet connection is significantly slower than usual or is not running at all, you might need to contact your service provider. The problem might be on their end.
You can also use websites like downdetector.com on your smartphone (if your computer is cut off from the Internet), where you can see any service interruptions in your area.
4. Restart your computer, router, and applications
Restarting your hardware is one of the most straightforward network troubleshooting techniques, and it's effective most of the time. It gives your computer or router the chance to flush out any data clogs that might cause network issues.
If you’re having connectivity issues with an application you’re using, try restarting that first. If you still can’t connect to your network, try restarting your computer or smartphone.
Are you still having network issues? It might be a problem with the router. This is especially true if it has been running continuously for weeks or months. If your router is getting hot to the touch, then it might be overheating as well. This can slow down your connection.
Try turning it off for a few minutes to cool it down before restarting.
If your computer is connecting to your router correctly but you still can’t surf the Web, the next troubleshooting steps deal with connection issues between your router and the Internet.
However, if you can’t connect to the router itself, proceed to Tip #7 below.
5. See if you have an active Internet connection
One of the essential tools for checking your Internet connection is the ping command. It allows you to test if you can connect to a server online. You use this the same way you use the ipconfig tool: by typing it in your computer’s command prompt.
You can use any IP address to ping, but we recommend using “184.108.40.206”. This is the IP address of Google DNS, which is a reliable address to use. Plus, it’s very easy to remember.
If you receive a response, then that means your Internet connection is fine. Otherwise, your router has a problem connecting online. It’s possibly a problem with your local network or your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
6. Make sure software isn’t interfering with the network
Some software in your computer, like firewall applications, can potentially interfere with the proper functioning of your network. Normally, they protect your computer by filtering out any incoming data that doesn’t meet the firewall’s rules.
However, if a firewall isn't set up correctly, it can block all data completely. It can easily be mistaken as a network problem.
If you’re troubleshooting network connectivity and still can’t make it work, try temporarily shutting off your firewall. If it solves the problem, then these applications are at fault. Try reconfiguring their settings or contact a network professional to do it for you.
Some malware can also block your Internet connection. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date, then do a full scan.
Sometimes you need to connect to the Internet to update your antivirus to deal with the threat. However, if the malware itself is blocking your connection, try restarting your computer in Safe Mode with Networking.
7. Check router settings
If you suspect your router to be the source of your problem, you need to check its settings via the Admin page. You can access this by typing your router’s IP address in your browser.
If you’re not sure what the router address is, bring up your computer’s command prompt and type in ipconfig. Enter the “Default Gateway” address to your browser to access the router admin page.
Check if the network mode and security protocols are compatible with your computer. Most routers can support devices with both 802.11n/802.11b modes and variations of WPA or WEP security.
Also make sure your router has the latest firmware version installed. If you still have Internet access, most admin pages will allow you to check and automatically download updates if it’s available.
8. Verify if your computer is properly connected to the router
If you can’t connect to your router’s admin console, you need to verify if it’s assigning a proper IP address to your computer. The easiest way to do this is with network troubleshooting commands like ipconfig.
To begin, bring up your computer’s command prompt and type in ipconfig. It will display your computer's IP address, which is how the network identifies your device.
An IP address that begins with "169" means your router is not assigning the proper IP address to your computer. In this case, try typing in the command ipconfig /release, then ipconfig /renew. It will force your router to assign a new IP address to your computer.
If you’re still getting a 169 IP address, your DHCP server is the culprit. This is usually located inside your router.
9. Reset your router to factory settings
If you’re still having problems with your router, or if you forgot your password and can’t access the admin page, consider resetting your router to factory settings.
Note that this will completely return your router to a fresh state. This means all your settings and passwords will be wiped out. Hence, use this only as a last resort if all the other network troubleshooting steps aren’t working.
The good news is that it might resolve the issues your router is facing. This is the case if yours has been infected with a malware that might be causing problems or, worse, compromising your data.
To do a factory reset, your router will usually have a small RESET button which you need to press for several seconds. Also make sure you have your router installation disc handy to re-install the router firmware, if needed.
Still Having Problems? Here’s One Final Tip
The above tips should be able to help you resolve most common network problems. However, if your specific problem persists, it might be something more serious.
Tinkering with your network beyond what we covered here is not recommended. There is a high probability of worsening the problem unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
This is where seeking professional help from the HP network troubleshooting and support service is crucial.
Our team of qualified network troubleshooters and experts can guide you through exactly how to troubleshoot network connectivity problems quickly and successfully. Depending on the situation, we can even tackle your problem remotely via phone.
Aside from troubleshooting your Internet or wireless issues, we can also set up your network for you. In the process, we'll assess your system to ensure it's following the latest security standards and best practices. We’ll build a solid foundation so you’ll have fewer issues to worry about down the road.
Talk to our experienced IT specialists today and they will assist you with any network issue you might have. It doesn’t matter if you have a slow Internet connection, your network printers aren’t printing, you can’t login, or you can’t access certain websites. Contact us today, and let's resolve your issues right away!