Total network failure and sluggish performance.

Hello there.

Our network suffers from sluggish performance, web pages take ages to open, intermittent packet loss etc..  Furthermore we lose total internet connectivity, this only happens say once every 2 days and only for about 60 seconds - but it is enough to annoy my boss!

The problem is very hard to track down, as it only happens intermittently - I did however manage to try to ping the default gateway (a Router installed by BT on a business pack - I can not even access the settings of the router) when a full network wide internet failure happen.

The first try, I could not ping the default gateway and got a "host unreachable" ICMP error message.

I managed to catch a network failure again, the ping this time showed 75% packet loss.  This only lasts for about 2 minutes.

I now have to install a wireless network, but want to sort out any possible errors before I do this - so I have to call BT.

Now, to my question:  Do I say to BT that I believe the router is at fault here?  I mean there are many variables to this, but I do not know where to start to be honest.  I could get them to come out and change the router, which is old.  I mean if the whole on the internet went down - it is not a localised problem with the server, or individual workstations.  And it could not be the switch?  I mean, all the Ethernet ports on the switch could not go down at the same time..  Thanks for any suggestions on this one.

I know I should install Wireshark, but it would take me a week to learn how to use the program and interpreted the results - I just don't have the time for this at the moment (I will do that at some point though).

So, any suggestions.  Should I call BT and ask them to come and change the router based on the fact that we keep losing our internet connection, all workstations, and I cannot ping the router during this event.  What else could cause this and the slowdowns experienced.

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BT should be responsible for this router and if they manage it they will be able to look at the event logs. If they don';t manage it, they should give you the credentials to access it. I'd get them to test it but it all depends whose property it is I suppose.
SpencerKarnovskiAuthor Commented:
Hi Lee

Ok, so it would be best to firstly, call BT and explain that we have sluggish performance and that we are intermittently losing our internet connection.  And secondly explain that I tried to ping the router, and did not receive any response.  So can they check their logs and/or give me access to the router?

Yes precisely. Their router is usually your default gateway so unless your DNS is screwed and everything is going to the default gateway (which you'd notice more than intermittently) the logical place is their router.
Oh you have sluggish performance generally? How is your DNS setup. Perhapos explain a bit about your server and client setup as the sluggishness could be caused by traffic botlenecks and overloads.
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SpencerKarnovskiAuthor Commented:
Hi Lee

I'll explain as best I can, I'm still learning a lot at present :)

ADSL BT Connection 8MB > Siemens 5830 Router > Proliant ML 370 Server (Windows 2000 Server SP4) > Switch > Approximately 18 (4 MAC's) connected workstations (XP Pro)  -- a few of these are only connected for network drives, that's all.   Some of the MAC's and PC's are connected via extra small hubs/mini-switches.  

Network issues that, could, be a cause of bottlenecks (but with my experience, these might not cause bottelnecks).  

Switch needs rewiring, i.e. you can plug an Ethernet cable in, it "could" dislodge some wires at the back which would make another workstation lose connection.  My boss has told me he will get it rewired, but cash flow bla bla bla.

Windows 2000 Server instability:  Sometimes we need to reboot the server to access any links on the desktop/program files.  The server works fine after a reboot.  Are there any files I could check on the server?  Should I do a baseline, performance check?

If there is anything else you need to know, please just ask.  This is helping me reafirm our current network structure - only started this job recently after years of digging my head into a book (which to be honest has not prepared me for anything! :))

Thanks Lee
What about the DC? Do you have 1 server doing everything? dhcp,dns,print server, ISA? firewall?
I would do some utilisation checks on the server using the buitl-in perfmon. If your server is being highly utilised and not coping, this wouldn't help!
Tell your boss that lack of money usually means lack of performance, stability, reliability. It will all go ti*s up and thye'll have to fork out and have lots of downtime I suspect. I'm sure your boss knows this, but why wait for a catastrophe. Doesn't make good business sense although a short term saving. Rant over :o)
SpencerKarnovskiAuthor Commented:
Hi Lee - we have an additional FTP Server.  However, our main server provides DHCP, DNS, and I can connect and print to printers over the network.  We have a hardware firewall which is maintained by our system administrators (a company who charge us loads, that whenever there is a problem just login manually and say "Nope everything is fine" when it clearly is not!!!!  /rant over).

Anyway, out of the problems listed, its very hard to narrow down the reason for the bottlenecks, would you agree?  I mean, it is only a small network with few users so I think the server is up-to-it.  

Think I should just call BT and ask them to check the logs and/or test the router?

Well yeah call BT anyway and see how it goes. It may take them a while! In the meantime, I would do some performance monitoring as mentioned as although a small network, there may well be issues with your server and network services hence ther sluggishness.
If it was totally router based why would everything be sluggish all the time? Let me know how you get on
your network goes from DSL > Router > Server > Switch > internal users?

Test from the server to the outside during one of your "outages" I'll bet the server is having issues and as a result causing issues on your internal network. It is not a good idea to put a windows server out on the internet or to use a single server to act as both a router and provide other business functions.

try this put a firewall between the router and the switch and hange the server off to the side so your end users just go out through the dedicated firewall to the router and on to the real world.

let us know if you have any questions,

SpencerKarnovskiAuthor Commented:
Hi guys thanks for the tips, will get back to you when I have time to do the things you mentioned.


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Network Management

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