Troubleshooting Network Media

The physical connections used to create the networks are sometimes at the root of a network connectivity error. Troubleshooting wiring involves knowing what wiring your network uses and where it is being used. When troubleshooting network media consider:

Media range (attenuation) All cables used in networking have certain limitations, in terms of distance. It might be that the network problems are a result of trying to use a cable in an environment or a way for which it was not designed. For example, you might find that a network is connecting two workstations that are 130 meters apart with Category 5 UTP cabling. Category 5 UTP is specified for distances up to 100 meters, so exceeding the maximum cable length can be a potential cause of the problem. The first step in determining the allowable cable distance is to identify the type of cable used. Determining the cable type is often as easy as reading the cable. The cable should be stamped with its typewhether it is, for example, UTP Category 5, RG-58, or something else.

EMI and crosstalk interference Copper-based media is subject to the effects of EMI and crosstalk interference. UTP cables are particularly susceptible to EMI caused by devices such as power lines, electric motors, fluorescent lighting and so on. Consider using plenum rated cable in environments where cables are run through areas where EMI may occur. This includes heating ducts, elevator shafts and through ceilings around lighting fixtures. Crosstalk occurs when cables are run in close proximity and the signals from one interfere with the signals on the other. This can be hard to troubleshoot and isolate, so when designing a network ensure that crosstalk preventative measures are taken.

Throughout limitations A problem with a particular media may be simply that it cannot accommodate the throughout required by the network. This would create network-wide bottlenecks. It may be necessary to update the network media to correct the problem, for instance, upgrading the network backbone to fiber optic media.

Media connectors Troubleshooting media requires verifying that the connectors are correctly attached. In the case of UTP or coaxial, sometimes it may be necessary to swap out a cable with a known working one to test. For fiber, different types of connectors are used in fiber optic cabling. Before implementing a fiber solution, ensure that the switches and routers used match with the connectors used with the fiber optic cable.