Troubleshooting Infrastructure Hardware

If you are looking for a challenge, troubleshooting hardware infrastructure problems is for you. It is often not an easy task and usually involves many processes, including baselining and performance monitoring. One of the keys to identifying the failure of a hardware network device is to know what devices are used on a particular network and what each device is designed to do. Some of the common hardware components used in a network infrastructure are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Common network hardware components, their function and troubleshooting strategies.

Networking Device Signs


Troubleshooting and Failure


Hubs are used with a star network topology and UTP cable to connect multiple systems to a centralized physical device.

Because hubs connect multiple network devices, if many devices are unable to access the network, the hub may have failed. When a hub fails,all devices connected to it will be unavailable to access the network. Additionally, hubs use broadcasts and forward data to all the connected ports increasing network traffic. When network traffic is high and the network is operating slowly, it may be necessary to replace slow hubs.


Like hubs, switches are used with a star topology to create a central connectivity device.

The inability of several network devices to access the network may indicate a failed switch. If the switch fails, all devices connected to the switch will be unable to access the network. Switches forward data only to the intended recipient allowing them to better manage data than hubs.


Routers are used to separate broadcast domains and to connect different networks.

If a router fails, network clients will be unable to access remote networks connected by the router. For example, if clients access a remote office through a network router and the router fails, the remote office would be unavailable. Testing router connectivity can be done using utilities such as ping and tracert.


Bridges are commonly used to connect network segments within the same network. Bridges manage the flow of traffect between these network segments.

A failed bridge would prevent the flow of traffic between network segments. If communication between network segments has failed, it may be due to a failed bridge.

Wireless Access Points

Wireless access points provide the bridge between the wired and wireless network.

If wireless clients are unable to access the wired network, the WAP may have failed. However, there are many configuration settings to verify first.