Troubleshooting Your Systems – What to Look Out for

Equal Optics

IT issues can range from minor frustrations to major expenses. An estimated nine out of 10 CIOs experience network downtime at least once per quarter. Performing your own network troubleshooting can reduce the risk of downtime and improve overall network efficiency. Review these troubleshooting tips today to see how you can mitigate the risk and keep your fiber network operating efficiently.

Remove Fiber Optic Connector Contamination

One potential cause of a network issue is contamination in your fiber optic connectors. Fiber optic cables and connectors require clean surfaces to provide maximum data transfer efficiency. Even particles of dirt, dust, and oil that you can’t see can still contaminate a connection. As part of your network troubleshooting process, take the following fiber optic cleaning steps:

  1. Use lint-free wipes for wet and dry cleaning.
  2. Only use approved solvents, such as isopropyl alcohol or specialized fiber optic cleaner solvents, on fiber end faces.
  3. Consider using specialized port cleaning cards and swabs for hard-to-reach areas.

Using improper cleaning tools can damage your fiber optic connectors. Some solvents can leave a film on the connectors, so be sure to use only approved solvents. For best results, use both wet and dry cleaning techniques rather than relying on a dry lint-free wipe alone.

Troubleshooting Your Systems – What to Look Out for | Equal Optics

Check for Bent Cables

The next step in network troubleshooting is to look for any signs of physical damage along the lengths of your fiber optic cables. Obviously, a damaged cable won’t transfer any data or will do so far less efficiently. In most cases, any signs of physical damage require a total replacement of the fiber optic cable. Be sure to purchase new cables if you notice any of the following signs of physical damage:

  • Kinks
  • Cuts
  • Extreme bends
  • Exposed fibers

It’s important to realize that not every physical damage will be visible from the outside of the plastic jacket. If you don’t see any extreme kinks, bends, cuts, or other damage, you may need to use a locator device.

A visual fault locator (VFL) allows you to trace cables and spot any physical damage thanks to a red laser light it emits through the fiber. While not required to visually inspect cables, this device can help you and your team save time while troubleshooting your network issues. Simply replace the damaged cable with the same cable or an upgraded cable to restore your network efficiency.

Inspect Jacks

While fiber optic cables are more visible and prone to damage, jacks can also be damaged in a number of ways. As part of your fiber troubleshooting, inspect the jacks for any of these issues:

  • Physical damage: A broken jack may not hold a cable properly or create the connection necessary for data transfer.
  • Contamination: Just like your fiber optic cable network troubleshooting steps, troubleshooting jacks should include cleaning them with a cleaning kit designed specifically for fiber systems.
  • Improper installation: If you’re experiencing network issues from day one, a jack may have been improperly installed. Have a trained IT professional inspect the fiber optic jack for alignment and correct installation to verify that it is operating correctly.

Look Out for Scratched Optic Boards

Continue your network troubleshooting by reviewing the fiber optic boards. Any end-face contamination or scratches can cause the same connectivity issues as damaged cable and jack connections. Carefully remove the fiber optic cable and visually inspect the optic boards for any signs of damage. You can also use an approved cleaning solution and a lint-free wipe.

Thankfully, you may not have to replace a damaged optic board. Reach out to IT professionals to ask about polishing solutions to repair your connectors. This process carefully grinds away the scratched surface of the optics to reveal a polished, clean surface ready to connect to your fiber optic cables.

Prevent Further System Damage

Once you’ve reviewed the physical components of your network, a few prevention steps can make your next network troubleshooting experience far more efficient. Don’t just identify damage to physical cables but look for the likely cause of the damage. You may need to adjust the connection or move obstacles to prevent a cable from being twisted, crushed, or bent in the future.

Review Wi-Fi Signal Strength

Not all network troubleshooting steps require fiber troubleshooting. In some cases, your Wi-Fi signal is the source of your connectivity issue. Here are some typical situations that can cause this common networking issue:

  • Rearranging an office
  • Updating a Wi-Fi network
  • Connecting too many devices to a Wi-Fi network
  • Increasing the number of Bluetooth devices in your office

This obviously is only an effective step if your issue is with Wi-Fi signal strength and not a direct cable connection. Direct connections don’t rely on Wi-Fi signal so you may wish to skip this step and focus on other troubleshooting solutions.

Reconfigure DNS Lookups

After performing physical network troubleshooting steps, it’s time to verify your DNS lookups. Slow lookups can slow down and even overload a server, so consider working with your network administrator to reconfigure these to speed up your network.

If you aren’t familiar with the process, the DNS is used to match service or service names with their internet address. This step is required to perform a network request. Many names are stored in your system’s DNS cache but others are stored in a more distant cache.

Consider Power Cycling

The tried-and-true troubleshooting method has some serious merit. Simply turning off your system and turning it back on can have some surprising results in many cases. Give fair warning to your organization before attempting this, and leave the devices off for 60 seconds or more before turning them back on. This simple solution isn’t a magical cure-all but it can resolve some issues not related to physical fiber optic damage.

Connect With Networking Experts at Equal Optics

Network troubleshooting is an essential process to ensure your fiber optic network operates at peak efficiency. For more information on fiber optic cleaning or to purchase new cables, request a quote from Equal Optics. Discover how our networking team can assist you with troubleshooting and other network solutions to reduce downtime and improve your networking possibilities.


Reach out to us for a consultation today.

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