We have a customer that has a small Windows network on a DOMAIN with a server using SERVER 2003 and workstations using WINDOWS XP PRO.Only 4 workstations total.The cabling on the network maybe close to 10 YEARS OLD.They have network slowness in general at times as well as connection issues.The SWITCH has been replaced as well as the patch cables from patch panel to switch.This was done about a year ago.When is the network cable too old? Is there a time frame to change cat5 cable?
***there is a linksys router(no wireless) and sonicwall on the network as well***
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There is no time frame really; the network slowness that is being experienced is more than likely related to congestion on the network. You are more than likely going to need to look at the performance of the network equipment. You could have an affected host with a virus or malware; users streaming audio and video from the Internet, etc. You could use an aaplication such as ntop to troubleshoot the top talkers. If your network eequipment supports SPAN or SNMP, you could use tools to graph the switchports or router ports for congestion related issues.

Is it a gigabit switch?  With Cat5 (not Cat5e) cabling, it maybe time to change them out.  Cat5 barely supports 100mbit.  Depending on the quality of the install and the cables, they could be degrading.  You could have the cables tested for bandwidth with a proper fluke tester - if they are still hitting 100Mbit without issues, then it maybe something else causing excessive traffic on the network.  But to tell you the truth, anything less then 1000mbit is going to feel slow these days.  With the speed of computers and the size of data being moved around.

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I really doubt they're going to have intermittent connectivity due to the cabling, especially since there are only 4 workstations.

Who are they using for their internet provider?  Is their modem new?

Get a network analyzer, like WireShark, and take a look at network traffic.
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How is the network wired together?  Are you using the two routers to create DMZ?
robcrazeeAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for the responses.Their internet connection is provided by a company called BEAMSPEED. It is a wireless internet service that relies on line of sight.The office is in a very rural area that does not have dsl or cable access. The internet connection is actually "ok".The network access to their main program on the server is what is "flaky" sometimes.At times the drive mapping gets lost.
The switch is NOT a Gigabit switch.The Sonicwall was used for remote access to another sister company. We will actually be re-wiring the place very soon anyways so i'll keep you posted.Thanks.
I'd look at DNS.  What is providing DNS and DHCP-- the Windows Server?  And are you sure that all other sources have DHCP turned off?
What kind of application is it that is primarily being used?  If applicable, what type of Database does it use?
I also doubt performance is lost at the physical layer here.  A LAN this small and simple would run just fine on something as slow as an old 10mbps Ethernet setup.

As the last two comments, I also think the problem is at the DNS Design or an Application Level problem,...or both at the same time since a DNS problem can cause an authentication problem in the business Application.

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