What to do about network problems

Information on how and where to assess and report network problems

Reviewed by Bil Hays 04/29/2014

Although we make every effort to maintain reliable systems, we occasionally suffer from network problems here in the Department.  We can usually correct problems that result from equipment or software failures that take place within the building, but have no ability to fix problems that occur with equipment located elsewhere.  We can determine, however, at what point the failure is occurring and report problems to appropriate people to have them fixed.

As long as local problems occur during normal working hours, we can usually get things back to normal pretty quickly.  We occasionally get complaints, however, of problems occurring with remote connections on the weekends which makes fixing them a little more difficult, especially when the source of the problem is outside our domain of responsibility.  Should you experience network problems during ‘off hours’ please follow these guidelines for reporting them:

  • Please make note of the exact nature of the problem and what services you are having trouble with.  This will help us figure out what the problem is.  In particular, we need to know what machine you are using and to what service and machine you are trying to connect.
  • It is especially helpful if you can provide traceroute data.  Traceroute checks routers along the route to a destination, and gives you information on how responsive each is.  The command for traceroute under unix is “traceroute target.ip.name.or.number”, under windows it’s “tracert target.ip.name.or.number”.
  • If the problem occurs during the workday, you can try calling 919-590-6172, which rings to several members of our staff and to the electronics shop.  They can determine whether the problem is local or remote and either fix it or report it to the appropriate staff member.
  • If no one answers at that number, there is a program users can run called netcheck that pings various networking devices within Sitterson and in more distant locations. The results of this will indicate where the failure is taking place.
  • If the machines within the building or elsewhere on campus are inaccessible, and there is an urgent need for access, page the facilities staff member on call.  If the need for access is not urgent, then send mail to help@cs.unc.edu.  The next person on duty will read this and address the problem.
  • If the problem appears to be a campus networking issue outside of Sitterson/Brooks, or a problem off campus, contact the IT Response Center at 919-962-HELP.  They should be available 24/7 (aside from some holidays).

Please note that while network problems may be receiving attention, results may not be immediate as some of these problems are difficult to analyze and correct.