How to troubleshoot common wireless problems

Previously we have had a look on the ways wireless networks can be installed and configured. We are aware of the fact that how difficult it is to maintain and run a wireless network. The popularity of wireless networks has led to the emergence of more technical and large networks. Many of the people, all over the world, are using wireless networks for various purposes. However, as the popularity of these networks has increased, a lot of problems associated with them have also emerged. These problems might occur with the running of the network or with the devices in use. All of these issues call for the need for an efficient method to troubleshoot and eliminate these problems.


It is quite essential that you know various ways in which you can troubleshoot the wireless systems to ensure their smooth operation. You will encounter a number of problems related to wireless networks relating to interference, signal strength, incompatibilities, configurations, latency, encryption type, bounce, SSID Mismatch, Incorrect switch placement and incorrect channel. It is quite important that you understand these problems and devise effective ways to ensure that they are eliminated. Below, you will find in detail the procedure to get rid of each of these problems and to troubleshoot the network.



Interference

One of the most prominent problems faced by wireless networks is interference. We are aware of the fact that wireless devices function by transmitting signals in the form of radio waves. This is the reason that any device close to a WAP which produces radio or even micro waves tend to cause interference. This interference leads to the disruption of the signal. It may also let the signal divert from its original path and result in the client receiving weak signals. This is the reason why it is essential to place the WAP and the client in a place where there are not electrical devices which transmit radio waves. In addition to this, you should also ensure that there are no metal objects close to the place where you set up your wireless network, as metal objects also tend to disrupt signals. It is very important to ensure that there is no interference so that the client can receive the maximum amount of signals and get the best output.



Signal Strength

When you set up a wireless network, one of the most essential issues to keep into consideration is the signal strength which the clients will receive. This means that you have to ensure that the signals reach the client with a high strength. In this regard, the location of the WAP is quite essential. You should keep the WAP in a place which is central to ensure that all the clients receive the signals. You should also considering using the most appropriate antenna type. For example, if the signal has to be transmitted in all directions, they you should consider using an Omnidirectional antenna. In addition to this, your wireless network should also be configured in a way that it cannot be connected by unauthorized clients. You should also be aware of the fact that you tend to receive high signal strength if you are close to the WAP. The signal strength might also get reduced if there are a lot of walls between the WAP and the client.



Configurations

The aspect of security impacts the way in which wireless networks are configured. Many of the people usually hide their SSIDs to add an extra layer of security to their network. However, they do not consider that this might make things quite difficult for the client. If the SSIDs are hidden, then there is a lengthy procedure to find it on the client's device and then perform some settings to connect to it. This is one problem which many people wish to avoid as in this case every client will have to be provided with a set of instructions which they will have to follow to connect to the network. It would be much better if the SSIDs are broadcasted openly but the password is strong enough to increase security. This password will also have to be communicated with the clients, but it will be much less of a problem than communication of complete instructions.



Incompatibilities

The issue of compatibility between various wireless standards is also an essential issue to concentrate on. We are aware of the fact that there are 4 different types of wireless standards; 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n. These wireless standards are configured in the devices according to the frequency at which the device transmits signals. However, the main problem is that any two devices which want to communicate over a wireless network must have the same wireless standards. This is an essential requirement. However, in order to cater to this issue, the best solution is using the backward compatible devices. These devices can communicate with all of the other wireless standards. This will ensure that there are not compatibility issues. In case the devices are not backward compatible, you should wisely select the type of wireless standard to be configured on each device to ensure compatibility.



Incorrect Channel

The setting up of frequencies is usually done by using channels. It is vital to realize that you have a band of frequencies available from which you can choose the best frequency for your network. A channel basically comprises of a number of frequencies which are combined together. These channels are created to increase the bandwidth which the user is provided with. However, to allow the WAP and the client to communicate, both of them should be set on the same channel. This will ensure that the signals transmitted by the WAP are picked by the client. However, you should also take certain precautions. While setting up channels, you should ensure that you choose the chancel which does not contain a frequency range which is being used by any other device in the surrounding area. This is done to prevent overlapping and stop any kind of interference. In addition to this, you should also ensure that the wireless network and the client are working on the same channel, otherwise there will be no connection established. The most appropriate channels to be used for wireless networks are 1, 6 and 11.



Latency

Latency is the time which it takes the wireless signals to be transmitted from the WAP to the client. The lower the latency, the better is the efficiency of the network. There are a number of factors which affect the latency of a network and make the signals reach their destination in more time. Most of the factors which we discuss above can result in latency problems. Interferences can cause the signals to be disrupted and reach their destination late. Furthermore, the placement of WAP and the selection of antenna types can also lead to the variation in latency. Hence, all of these factors need to be kept in consideration while dealing with latency issues.



Encryption type

It is quite important nowadays to transfer the data over a network in an encrypted form. This will increase the security of data and anyone who intercepts the data will not be able to decipher it in any way. In this regard, there are a number of protocols which provide security to the wireless networks. However, the main issue that requires consideration is that the WAP and the client should both be set up with the same encryption type. This means that the protocol providing encryption at the WAP should be the same one providing encryption to the client. If the encryption type is not same, then it will not be possible for the WAP and device to connect. In addition to this, you should also make sure that the encryption type used is the most appropriate with the required situation as different encryption protocols provide different types of security.



Bounce

We are aware of the fact that wireless signals are transmitted in the form of radio waves. This means that these waves have the ability to bounce off reflective surfaces, such as metal surfaces. This causes the radio waves to bounce off the surface if there is any object between the WAP and the client. This will result in a weak signal being received at the client. It is essential to carry out a check to ensure that there is not any bounce in the signals so that the client receives the highest strength of signals. In this regard, the first step should be to make sure that there is not object, especially a metal object, between the WAP and the client. If there is any, you should consider changing the position of your WAP to ensure full signal strength.



SSID Mismatch

SSIDs are referred to as Service Set Identifiers. Whenever a wireless network is launched, its SSID is broadcasted in the surrounding areas which lie under the range of the network. Every device in that range will be able to search for this SSID and view it in the list of networks available in that area. This SSID will actually be the name which is given to the network. The clients will be able to connect to the network by selecting the SSID of your network and then entering necessary details to join it. However, in a crowded area where there are a number of WAPs providing wireless signals, the problem of SSID mismatch arises. In this environment, it might be difficult for the client to identity which network is yours. For example, if your clients are having trouble joining your network, this means that they are probably trying to connect to another network in the area. In this regard, you will check the device of client regarding the network details to let the client know that which network is yours to which they can connect. Thus, you should make sure that your SSID is distinct from the other networks in the network to eliminate any such problems.



Incorrect Switch Placement

A WAP is also referred to as a Wireless switch. There are a lot of problems which arise due to the incorrect placement of the WAP and its antenna. This may cause the client to receive weak signals and experience poor network functionality. In order to avoid this, it is essential that you place your wireless switch and its antenna in the correct place. You should make sure that the wireless switch is placed in a central location from where the signals could be transmitted in all directions. You can also connect the antenna with a wire and place it in a location where the WAP cannot be placed in order to make sure that the maximum signals are received. However, in case it is not possible to find the correct place for setting up the switch, you can also consult other companies which provide special services to ensure that all the switches and clients are placed so that the signals received are maximal. This is essential is situations where there are a lot of WAPs in the network.



The process of troubleshooting wireless networks is of high significance. Before you begin the process of troubleshooting, you should be able to identify the actual reason due to which the problem is occurring. In this regard, you should have in-depth knowledge regarding the operation of wireless networks and its components. You should make sure that all of the issues discussed above should not occur in the network to enable it to perform perfectly. In case any related problem arises, you can use the knowledge endowed to you in this chapter to eliminate these issues. Also, you should be familiar with the fact that more than one issue can contribute towards a problem. Hence, you should check the system thoroughly after you carry out the process of troubleshooting. Please keep in mind that if you do not perform this delicate process with perfection, this might result in new problems being created while the elimination of a previous problem. If you keep all of these factors in mind and follow the steps indicated, you will surely be able to master the process of troubleshooting of wireless networks.


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