Sudden Traffic Spikes: The Top 5 Causes
July 21, 2016

Dirk Paessler
Paessler AG

Share this

When IT departments implement network monitoring tools, they get swarmed with data that they did not have before. This new information gives them the power to act on problems intelligently, oftentimes before they end up affecting end users. The challenge, of course, is to move quickly to identify what issue is causing the problem.

One of the most common problems network monitoring tools are employed to solve are problems with bandwidth. Availability is critical for IT departments of all sizes, and slow bandwidth creates productivity problems and even outages that have a real effect on businesses. Identifying the problems behind bandwidth drains can be difficult, so to help, I’ve put together a list of the five most common causes of sudden traffic spikes.

1. Mail Server Issues

It is not uncommon for a remote mail server to continuously deliver the same email through a company’s servers, even if the target recipient denied acceptance. Incompatibility between the two SMTP implementations creates a sort of endless feedback loop that sees the same email going through the server every five minutes, chewing up bandwidth in the process. The solution involves accessing the target mail server to deny access rights to the remote server.

2. Antivirus

Many of the causes of sudden traffic spikes are security-related, be it malicious traffic, DNS attacks, or sometimes, even the AV itself. Virus scans and software updates distributed inside the LAN are a very common source of traffic spikes, and can be easily dealt with by changing scan settings and performing updates during non-critical business hours.

3. Malicious Traffic

Malware outbreaks and hacking attempts can cause spikes in network traffic, often to either mask other malicious activity or because the malware is attempting to force login to devices.

4. Scheduled Backups

Many backup products are scheduled to run at certain time intervals, or at certain times of day. They also are very network intensive, and if the timing is off, can sop bandwidth during working hours.

5. Remote Backup

Some IT departments opt to use cloud-based tools for backup. While those present certain advantages, one disadvantage is that uploading massive backups to the cloud causes serious load issues. Similar to on-premises backups, these need to be scheduled carefully and performed off-hours.

These are not the only causes of traffic spikes, but it is a good example of common and preventable problems that plague networks. Some problems are more serious and involve hardware failures or router issues, which need to be handled with care and can require spending on new equipment.

In all cases, it is critical for IT departments to establish a baseline for their network traffic so they can understand when it is peaking, and set up appropriate alerts to notify them. Alerting, combined with mapping that identifies where problems are coming from, empowers IT admins to quickly and efficiently troubleshoot most any problem.

Dirk Paessler is CEO and Founder of Paessler AG.

Share this

The Latest

March 24, 2017

A growing IT delivery gap is slowing down the majority of the businesses surveyed and directly putting revenue at risk, according to MuleSoft's 2017 Connectivity Benchmark Report on digital transformation initiatives and the business impact of APIs ...

March 23, 2017

Why containers are growing in popularity is no surprise — they’re extremely easy to spin up or down, but come with an unforeseen issue. Without the right foresight, DevOps and IT teams may lose a lot of visibility into these containers resulting in operational blind spots and even more haystacks to find the presumptive performance issue needle ...

March 22, 2017

Much emphasis is placed on servers and storage when discussing Application Performance, mainly because the application lives on a server and uses storage. However, the network has considerable importance, certainly in the case of WANs where there are ways of speeding up the transmission of data of a network ...

March 21, 2017

The majority of IT executives believe investment in IT Service Management (ITSM) is important to gain the agility needed to compete in an era of global, cross-industry disruption and digital transformation, according to Delivering Value to Today’s Digital Enterprise: The State of IT Service Management 2017, a report by BMC, conducted in association with Forbes ...

March 17, 2017

Let’s say your company has examined all the potential pros and cons, and moved your critical business applications to the cloud. The advertised benefits of the cloud seem like they’ll work out great. And in many ways, life is easier for you now. But as often happens when things seem too good to be true, reality has a way of kicking in to reveal just exactly how many things can go wrong with your cloud setup – things that can directly impact your business ...

March 16, 2017

IT leadership is more driven to be innovative than ever, but also more in need of justifying costs and showing value than ever. Combining the two is no mean feat, especially when individual technologies are put forward as the single tantalizing answer ...

March 15, 2017

The move to Citrix 7.X is in full swing. This has improved the centralizing of Management and reduction of costs, but End User Experience is becoming top of the business objectives list. However, delivering that is not something to be considered after the upgrade ...

March 14, 2017

As organizations understand the findings of the Cyber Monday Web Performance Index and look to improve their site performance for the next Cyber Monday shopping day, I wanted to offer a few recommendations to help any organization improve in 2017 ...

March 13, 2017

Online retailers stand to make a lot of money on Cyber Monday as long as their infrastructure can keep up with customers. If your company's site goes offline or substantially slows down, you're going to lose sales. And even top ecommerce sites experience performance or stability issues at peak loads, like Cyber Monday, according to Apica's Cyber Monday Web Performance Index ...

March 10, 2017

Applications and infrastructure are being deployed and commissioned at a faster rate than ever before, the number of tools it takes to effectively manage these services is multiplying, and the expectations placed on IT to ensure customer satisfaction is increasing, according to The State of Monitoring 2017 report from BigPanda ...