Network packets contain pieces of information that are sent and received enabling communication. When these network packets fail to reach their destination, it results in network packet loss. Network packet loss causes heavy latency and disruption, so, when a network suffers packet loss, it can lead to undesirable circumstances, and organizations might even end up losing business. Experiencing more than 2% packet loss in your network is an indicator of some major impending issues in the network, which will eventually take a toll on your business if not corrected before packet loss increases any further.
There are multiple factors that can contribute to packet loss in a network and it’s essential for IT administrators to identify and fix them well in advance.
Top 5 causes of network packet loss
Network packet loss is a condition that is better avoided altogether rather than resolved. Below are the top 5 factors that primarily contribute to packet loss:
- Faulty configuration changes to a device
1. Network congestion:
When multiple devices try to access data within a network, it leads to network congestion. Just imagine the busiest morning hours in a prime restaurant and not enough tables to seat them all. This would leave customers waiting without proper service, which is exactly what happens when a network hits its maximum capacity than it is designed to handle, causing network congestion. This leads to the loss of critical network packets.
2. Hardware troubles:
Defects in network hardware can be potentially disastrous, especially if the defect is due to outdated hardware configurations or use of legacy hardware. When an organization uses old and outdated network hardware, the risk of running into network packet loss is relatively high. Packet loss caused by outdated network devices will inhibit the overall network throughput and might result in complete loss of critical business functions. This is why it’s essential to periodically audit hardware to detect legacy devices and faults and prevent network packet loss.
3. Security threats:
There is always the possibility that someone can intentionally toy with your network and cause loss of critical packets of data. If you come across an immediate drop in a large number of network packets and the speed of your network, there’s a good possibility that you’re under a cyberattack. This packet loss is the result of traffic overload and sudden latency in the network speed.
4. Capacitative overload of individual infrastructure:
The success of a network infrastructure depends on the optimal performance of each and every individual network component. If the usage level of an individual network component is stretched beyond its advisable limits, it could affect the network’s processing capabilities, lead to performance degradation, and eventually result in loss of critical network packets.
Network packet loss due to excessive use of individual network components is common in enterprise networks due to the high volume of data involved. Usually, sufficient backup and failover systems are deployed by organizations to avoid overburdening individual infrastructure components.
5. Faulty configuration changes to a device:
Network issues due to misconfigurations are well-known in the networking world. One of the most prominent results of a misconfiguration is the loss of critical data packets. Both faults in configurations within individual devices and mismatches in related configuration between multiple devices in an ecosystem can lead to network packet loss.
To prevent this, IT admins should have a well-established network configuration process in place. Only authorized users must be allowed to implement configuration-level changes, and all changes must be channeled through a hierarchical system of approvals to ensure that no data loss happens due to poorly effected configurations.
Why is network packet loss monitoring essential?
Besides being a critical issue by itself, network packet loss can also lead to a plethora of other undesirable consequences such as degradation of performance of critical devices, improper processing of data, potential network security implications, and more. As a result, it has become impertinent for any organization that aims to be a front-runner in their industry to monitor for signs of network packet loss proactively and resolve them at the earliest.
This is why we at ManageEngine OpManager, one of the front-runners in the network monitoring community, have a proactive and efficient network packet loss monitoring system in place that can help IT admins track potential signs of network packet loss and fix them well in advance.
OpManager: Robust, effective network packet loss monitoring software
OpManager can help IT admins avoid the pitfalls of losing data packets by deploying a 24/7, end-to-end network packet loss monitoring process in their network. Adding to that, ManageEngine offers multiple products along with OpManager to enhance your network monitoring. With its advanced threshold-based alerting system, OpManager can identify and notify you immediately if your network is starting to experience any issues.
Here are four reasons IT admins prefer OpManager for network packet loss monitoring:
1. Out-of-the-box, efficient fault monitoring and alerting:
OpManager comes with support for monitoring packet loss and other critical performance metrics across all the devices in your network. It also allows IT administrators to monitor additional devices by leveraging custom device templates. By providing support for heterogeneous network environments, it helps IT admins identify packet loss at a very granular level. OpManager can measure critical metrics that can lead to packet loss such as buffer reads and writes, the meantime to repair, and more.
2. Monitor and manage configuration changes with Network Configuration Manager:
ManageEngine offers Network Configuration Manager as an add-on for OpManager to help IT administrators reduce network packet loss by monitoring and managing the configuration changes of all the devices in your network. With the Network Configuration Manager add-on, you can schedule configuration backups and easily identify configuration changes that were made, when they were made, and who made them.
OpManager not only monitors the configuration changes but also manages the compliance of every configuration change to reduce network packet loss.
3. Errors and discards:
Each device has a certain memory limit; depending on the memory limits of each network device, the devices will begin to discard extra network packets once reaching that limit. Losing critical packets directly affects the performance of the network.
If data packets keep dropping at such an alarming rate, it can indicate a network switch failure or that the device in contact with the network switch is in trouble. Another reason a network loses critical packets is due to errors in device configurations. OpManager can monitor these errors and discards, preventing packet loss efficiently.
4. Alerts based on thresholds:
To get alerts about network packet loss, IT admins set threshold values in OpManager. Once the threshold values are exceeded, OpManager will alert the IT admins about the packet loss. You can add value to the alert feature by configuring OpManager with a limited number of breaches before triggering alerts.
For example, if you configure OpManager to ping your devices twice before the IT admins can be alerted for the threshold violations. If the said value is breached and doesn’t return to normal even after two pings, OpManager will create an alert and notify you along with the device that is responsible for network packet loss.
If you’d like to know more about the potential network packet loss monitoring tool, the OpManager, and what it has to offer, get a free, 30-day trial of OpManager.