Computer networks have huge numbers of hardware and software components. To troubleshoot Windows networks, you first must look at the big picture.
Determine the Scope of the Problem
You need to initially take a holistic view and identify the scope of the problem. Is the problem on all computers, one computer, or a group of computers with some common characteristic? Is the common characteristic a switch, a hub, or a server that they access? Once the major area is identified, you can continue to focus in on the detail that is the cause of the problem.
Check the Obvious
Initially, it is important to not overlook obvious mistakes. Do all devices have power? Are all of the network cables plugged in? Have all error messages and error logs been viewed and noted? Checking the obvious takes little time and can avoid unnecessary investigations.
Divide and Conquer
If you do not attack your problems with a systematic methodology, you will quickly get overwhelmed by the numerous possible causes of the problem. The strategy that you must adopt is a divide and conquer approach. Devise a series of tests that will divide the numerous components into two groups where you know that the problem is in one group and the other group is problem free. Repeat this approach on the group of components with the problem until you identify the individual component with the problem.
This methodology can be applied to all sorts of troubleshooting, but computer networks are unique in that they are composed of huge numbers of hardware and software components. Computer network troubleshooting uniquely has different types of fault isolation.
Use an appropriate tool, to perform your fault isolation.
Types of Fault Isolation
Art or Science
Computers networks are engineered systems that can be analyzed and fixed using systematic scientific methodologies. Because of their dynamic changes and complexity, you can save significant time and effort by utilizing your intuition and unique knowledge of your environment.
Troubleshooting any problem leads to the steps in the common sense flowchart on the first page. The challenge is to conceive of a hypothesis and test that will further isolate the source of the problem. For example, if your web browser will not communicate with a web server, try to communicate with the PING command to determine if the problem is
Try to investigate problems in a test environment rather than your production network to avoid user interruptions.
Continuously strive to learn about Windows, network components, protocols, computer hardware, etc. The more you know, the better you will be at troubleshooting. Read the manuals. Learn about the troubleshooting tools presented here and develop your own methodology and toolkit.
These icons represent utilities that are
described in the Tools Section