Network Congestion

What is Network Congestion?

Network congestion occurs within a network when the volume of data packet traffic exceeds the network’s capacity to handle it effectively.

This congestion typically occurs when there is a simultaneous surge in communication and data requests, burdening the available network bandwidth.

Network congestion leads to issues such as heightened levels of jitter, packet loss, latency, and reduced throughput. End-users experience network congestion in the form of sluggish performance or significant delays in processing requests.

Common Signs of Network Congestion

These are some of the common visible signs of network congestion:

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is a network’s capacity to transmit data from source to destination within a given time frame. A congested network often lacks bandwidth, leading to outages.

Latency

Latency refers to the speed of your network traffic in milliseconds. It is the time taken to capture, process, and transmit data from the source to its destination. In a congested network, this time is increased, leading to higher latency and slower networks.

Packet Loss

If data packets don’t reach their destination because of latency and bandwidth issues, they attempt to retransmit to their destination, further escalating the network congestion.

Connection Timeouts

When a network experiences congestion, connections might time out or fail to initiate, thereby hindering user access to the network or specific applications, resulting in service interruptions and usability issues.

Collisions

Collisions occur when two or more devices attempt to transmit data simultaneously, leading to interference and data corruption.

Collisions reduce network efficiency and increase congestion by requiring retransmission of collided data packets, further saturating the network.

Causes Of Network Congestion

Here are the common causes of network congestion:

  • Broadcast Storms: When a network is flooded with requests, it triggers a broadcast storm. A broadcast storm is not the same as a network overload. A “broadcast storm” is brought on by faults in the network hardware itself, such as a switch that keeps broadcasting the same message rather than correctly controlling the flow of traffic.
  • Outdated Hardware: Outdated switches, routers, servers, and cable connections, among other network equipment, can create bottlenecks, disrupting smooth data transmission.
  • Misconfigured Networks: Network congestion often stems from misconfiguration, which is often induced by network engineers through repetitive or one-time scripts, introducing bugs into the system. Regular network maintenance and testing are crucial, as neglecting network upkeep and traffic monitoring inevitably leads to breakdowns.
  • Too Many Devices: An excessive number of devices can also instigate network congestion, overrunning the network with an overflow of data requests and further worsening the congestion issue.
  • Unneeded traffic: Non-business-related activities such as personal streaming or unauthorized downloads can congest the network. Streaming personal content like Netflix or YouTube during work hours contributes to congestion, as video traffic consumes significant bandwidth.
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks: Malicious attempts to flood the network with traffic can cause congestion.

How To Fix Network Congestion Issues?

Here are the most effective methods to fix network congestion issues prevailing in your network:

  • Bandwidth Expansion: Increase available bandwidth by upgrading network infrastructure, such as routers, switches, and cables.
  • Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): Utilize CDNs to cache content closer to users, reducing the load on the main network infrastructure.
  • Network Monitoring: Tools can continuously monitor network traffic, identify congestion points, and analyze patterns for optimization. Our Network Observer can accelerate issue detection and facilitate prompt resolution of network-related issues.
  • Load Balancing: Distribute traffic across multiple network paths to prevent bottlenecks and evenly utilize available bandwidth.
  • Assessing Network Architecture: Network architecture should allocate suitable bandwidth to each user. Inappropriate architecture choices can lead to congestion. For instance, large enterprises typically favour client/server over peer-to-peer architecture to regulate access and bandwidth distribution effectively.
  • Prioritizing Requests: You can assign priority levels to different types of traffic, ensuring critical applications receive preferential treatment.

Tackle Future Congestion Issues Seamlessly

Network congestion is a common issue in any network. It can lead to a bad user experience in terms of connection timeouts and wait times. However, it isn’t a daunting task to identify the underlying issues and make the necessary changes to fix congestion in a network.