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We all have networks of some kind. No matter whether you have two computers or 2000 on your network, you’ll need tools to manage it. This is why I love talking to Josh Stephens from SolarWinds. In the recent past, Josh and I got together to discuss Exchange Monitor. Today, we talked specifically about troubleshooting user performance on a network. I wanted to get his take on this, as I know it’s something he deals with on a daily basis.

According to Josh, networks today are more complex than they used to be. We’re using them for far more than we have in the past, and many of the things are bandwidth intensive. When he has to start narrowing down a problem, the first three rules of troubleshooting a network is check the cable, check the cable, check the cable. It sounds silly, but it happens much more often than you would think.

I asked Josh if turning on wireless actually impede the wired connections between computers on the network. Josh indicated that you can use some of the tools from SolarWinds to measure performance of your network both before and after you make any changes. If you’re having trouble with performance and you have wireless… check first to make sure if there’s a firmware update available for your access point. That can make a tremendous difference. There are many little things that could cause you to have issues with a wireless network, so using tools like SolarWinds has available can certainly help diagnose and manage it.

Another question that came up was wondering what Josh believed the greatest threat is to networks in the coming years. Josh tends to think that as far as things like viruses go, the network gear today is very well equipped to handle them. He doesn’t see threats like that as much of an issue. What he does feel that Network Admins should be aware of is the idea of having real-time collaborative conferencing. It’s really just barely starting to take off, and will likely grow very quickly. You need to stay a few steps ahead of the users you are providing support to.

I get a lot of people constantly asking me about tweaks. I wondered if many of the “popular” tweaks are actually valid. Josh stated there truly is a lot of things that can be tweaked in order to enhance your network performance. You definitely want to make sure you know what you’re doing before diving in to make major changes, and always back up everything you can before beginning.

The Engineer’s Toolset Engineer’s Toolset includes 49 powerful network management, monitoring and troubleshooting tools to easily and effectively manage your network. Some of the key features are:

  • Monitors and alerts on availability, bandwidth utilization, and health for hundreds of network devices
  • Provides robust network diagnostics for troubleshooting and quickly resolving complex network issues
  • Offers an array of network discovery tools that facilitate IP address management, port mapping and ping sweeps
  • Eases management of Cisco devices with tools for real-time NetFlow analysis, configuration management and router management

Please leave me your network optimization tips, so that everyone can learn. And be sure to check out everything SolarWinds has to offer.

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