Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Windows Network Troubleshooting Utiltiies

Troubleshooting network problems can be a royal pain in the behind. Like any form of computer troubleshooting, there are a lot of layers of other technologies that you might have to dig through to isolate the problem. Then even after you isolate the problem, it might be beyond your control to correct (such as a problem at your ISP).

To help you troubleshoot and identify problems, Windows includes some basic network diagnostic utilities. These utilities do require that you have an understanding of how networks operate in order to use them.

You need to access these utilities from the command line in order to use them. So from the Start menu, select Run..., and type "CMD" and press the Enter key.
  • ipconfig /all shows your computer's IP-related settings. This information will tell you if your computer is configured correctly for communicating on your network.
  • ping [ip_address] (i.e.: ping allows you to check your connectivity with other devices on your network by using that device's IP address. This test can tell you if you can talk to other devices on your local and/or external network. If you get a response, you can assume you have basic network connectivity to that remote device. Note: the remote devices your trying to communicate with must support this functionality.
  • tracert [ip_address] (i.e., tracert shows how many routers (AKA hops) a packet must travel to reach a remote device. This utility is great for finding out where there might be a communication failure between you, and the device you're trying to reach.
  • netstat show you a list of all the active TCP/IP ports on your system. This information is handy for detecting which processes running on your computer are talk to the network.
  • nslookup [DNS_name] (i.e. nslookup displays the IP address related to a device's domain name. This utility can let you know if your computer can communicate with its remote DNS server.
There are several more network utilities that are avilable, but these are the ones that you will use the most.

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