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True IT blooper #65: Network traffic jam

An IT pro recalls when his company's network slowed to a blooper-like speed. The problem had to be bad equipment, right?

The network is the nervous system of any company, and when something's wrong, everyone can feel it.

A few years ago IT pro Russ Loveall worked at the IT help desk for a Vermont firm. One day he started receiving numerous calls from employees complaining of an extreme slowdown on the local network.

Of course, they said no one had done anything.

Loveall and colleagues assumed the root of the problem was a faulty network card or a misbehaving hub. They spent several days testing possible trouble spots but weren't able to pinpoint the problem.

The IT pros shrugged their shoulders and decided to ask their users if they had changed anything on the systems.

"Of course, they said no one had done anything," Loveall said.

Then one day the IT pros noticed all the computers in the building displayed the same Windows "wallpaper," the background pattern or picture against which desktop menus and icons are displayed. The wallpaper was a "very nice, high-resolution photo," Loveall said.

The image was a crowd-pleaser. "Isn't it beautiful," one user gushed.

Loveall asked around and learned that a company programmer had installed the image. But the programmer bloopered big time, because he directed the Windows wallpaper setting to the graphic -- which he installed on the company server. He should have copied the huge bit map to users' local hard drives.

Instead, the programmer installed the wallpaper image so virtually every computer in the building was calling a "3MB bit map across the network every time a user opened, moved or closed a window on the computer," Loveall said.

Share your bloopers with us. E-mail them to Read more of our past IT Blooper Series, which originially appeared at, part of the TechTarget network.

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