Troubleshooting Networking - This is a short guide to help you discern if
your network is actually working.
Errors errors can be a daunting task.
One of the main problems
with tracking down this type of error or issue is the fact that the subject is so broad.
Consider this: It has five main components, the wiring, the NIC
(Network Interface Card), a switch or hub, maybe a router, and of course the
software to make all these components work together.
Normally if you have a
problem you start with the easiest to fix and work your way outward to the
hardest so we start with the software, the parameters.
Note: I am assuming you know the network address range of your local network
i.e.: 10.10.10.xx (where xx is the node assignment number for each device)
Troubleshooting Networking Errors techniques:
Before we begin I need to ask you:
- Did it work the last time it was powered up?
- If so, what has changed since then?
- Did you add or remove a component?
- Did you change the parameters on a device to make another device work?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions then you need to go back
and change it back to the original state. Think about the reason for doing the
If you answered no to above questions then we need to get to work finding the
Troubleshooting Networking Errors instructions
Network cards have two LED's one is the 'Activity' led (Amber)
and the other is the 'Link' led (Green).
If the link led is off or blinking then you have a connection problem.
That is the connection for either the card, the network cable, or the network node
is having a problem holding the link to the other end of the connection. Check
the parameters for the link speed and duplex, if correct next check the cable,
disconnect from the network card and reconnect. If the light is still blinking
disconnect and reconnect the other end. If it is still blinking you could try
changing out the network cable. If the light is still blinking try changing the
node where the cable connects on the switch or hub.
Note: Newer NIC's when they have a hardware failure the LED will glow
Last thing would be to try another network card in the computer.
If the link light is solid and the activity led does not indicate any
activity (it should blink in relation to how much activity there is on the
network, idle (no program activity such as a web browser or file transfer) it
should blink intermittently - 10 - 100 times a second. If it does not blink then
you have a software parameter that is not correct.
Troubleshooting Networking - We will start with the software, that is the parameters for the network on
the effected device. First if it is a computer bring up the command prompt, type
in ipconfig then press enter, do you have an IP, subnet mask, and gateway?
Note: These are invalid addresses: 0.0.0.0 and 192.168.1.1 (the 192.168.1.1
is MS way of saying it can not find a DHCP server).
Troubleshooting Networking Errors configuration:
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We need more information from ipconfig, type in ipconfig /all this
will display more information like: the DNS server and WINS server your computer
attaches to for name resolution and so forth.
Troubleshooting Networking - Before we go to far this information is very important, you should copy it to
a text file. If you right click on the top bar of the command window you will
get a menu, go to the edit option, then select 'Select all'. Once all the
information is highlighted go back to the edit menu and select 'Copy'. Open a
text editor, I use notepad, and then paste the information in it. You may want
to save the file to the desktop incase you have to restart or shut the computer
Is the device a DHCP enabled or does it use a Static IP?
- If it is DHCP we can check the server connectivity by typing in ipconfig
/release then type in ipconfig /renew (note the space between
ipconfig and the /
). If the IP is the same or changed but not 0.0.0.0 or 192.168.1.1 and both the
subnet mask and the gateway are the same as the original ipconfig display then
your are connecting to the DHCP server and the problem lies else where.
- If the IP is static then you will have to use a different tactic to find out if
the computer is communicating with other devices on the network. You will need
to know the name or IP of another device on the network. At the command prompt
type in ping computername or IP ( ping mycomputer or ping 10.10.10.10 ) or you
can ping the gateway from the ipconfig query earlier. Did you get a reply?
Normally on a local network a reply will be less than 1ms and will also list a
TTL (Time To Live) for the packet you sent to the target device. If you did not
receive a reply (Ping request could not find host) then the problem may be in
the IP address.
The next step will require you to be at a different computer than the effected
- From the command prompt ping the name of effected computer or the
IP if you know it. Did you get a
reply? Did it fail to respond? The TTL - 1ms to 10ms or longer? If the ping came
back and the TTL is relatively short then the connectivity is good. If the ping
failed to find the effected computer then we need to dig a little deeper.
- Did you receive a ping return from the effected computer? Then the problem
is somewhere else.
- If you did not receive a ping from the effected computer we need to look
at the properties of the NIC in the effected computer.
Troubleshooting Networking Errors
Before going into the properties of the effected computer you can try
If there is another computer close by and not being used you could take
the network cable from that computer and plug it into the effected computer and
retry the ping test. Plug the effected computers network cable into the known
good computer, is it still able to communicate? Yes then it is not the cable.
No, the cable is at fault. If it passes then
it is either the NIC parameters or the NIC itself.
Let us assume that the 'swap network cables' didn't make any difference and
you still don't get a ping from the effected computer. You now know that the
network cable is good and anything from network is getting to the effected
computers network node and cable.
Note: The following troubleshooting networking procedures assume that the computer in question is NOT a
To get to the properties of the network card right click on 'My Network
Places' go to properties, a new window will open, in the window will be your
network card, New Connection, and maybe a Dial up connection or VPN. We are
looking for the 'Local Area Connection' Right click on the icon, a menu will
open, go to properties.
- The first window will show you the status of the network card and the
protocols loaded for that card. If there is a physical problem with the network
card then there will be a red circle with a slash over the network card icon in
the window labeled 'Connect using:' if this is true then the following procedure
is of no use go to
Troubleshooting installed devices'
- What we are interested in is the line called 'Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
Highlight the line and click on the 'Properties' button.
- A new window will open. If the radio button for 'Obtain an IP Address
automatically is on then then your problem lies elsewhere go to 'Advanced'. If the radio button
'Use the following IP address:' is on then you should see the following items in
Note: the IP addresses I am using are
Use the following DNS server addresses:
|Primary DNS Server:
|Alternate DNS Server:
If all the address are correct (check your ipconfig text file) then we move on
to the Advanced page, if not correct the addresses to match your network scheme
Troubleshooting Networking -
Next click on the 'Advanced' button.
- The first tab is the Settings for the IP, Subnet mask, and
gateway. In the gateway window you will see the gateway address and
- If your network card is connected directly to the switch/hub and not
through a node in the wall or a Wireless share point leave on automatic.
your computer is connected through a node in the wall or a Wireless share
point highlight the line and press the edit button, remove the check mark on
the 'Automatic metric' and insert a number in the window, I use the number
one, the way to figure this out is increment the number one time for each two
hops the signal takes.
- A hop is from the connection to another connection to the final
destination. Your computer is connected to a node, one hop, the node is
connected to the hub, second hop. Because all computer NIC's should be set
this way a number 1 should suffice for the metric. Click ok.
- On the DNS tab, you are interested in the 'DNS server address, in
order of use:
- You should have at least one server IP here. The rest of the information
can be filled in but is not necessary for your problem resolution.
- Next click on the WINS tab: you are interested in the Wins
addresses in order of use. You may or may not have any IP address assigned
here. If you have the radio button 'Enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP' clicked then
you need a server address that has the WINS Service installed and activated.
If you don't know if the WINS Service is installed and activated on a server
you can leave the top window blank and click on 'Disable NetBIOS over TCP/IP.
You can look at the text file you created when you started this process to see
if there is a WINS server on your network. I have found that mis-configuring
the WINS tab is the biggest problem with connecting to a network as far as
parameters are concerned.
- The last tab Options should be left at Default setting unless you have a
Network Administrator that has written rules for a router and has instructed
you on what to add/remove/change!
Link Speed and Duplex
The network card has some features or options you can set. At the top of the
properties page under General is the network card, next to the name of the card
is a button 'Configure...'. Open the configuration page, then go to the
'Advanced' tab. The main line you are looking for is the Link Speed / Duplex or Media type (these may be two separate lines: Link Speed and Duplex or maybe
just Speed and Duplex).
- Most DSL/Cable modems are set for 100MBPS and Full Duplex.
The small business or home router such as the Linksys DSL./Cable modem
router connect at 100MBPS/Full Duplex. Most network switches and hubs
are also 100MBPS/Full Duplex, although the 1GBPS are getting cheaper and you
may have one. Newer computers and network cards are in the GBPS range and
sometimes the 'Auto Negotiate' function does not work properly so setting the
Link Speed/Main Duplex to the speed of the device you are connecting to may
resolve your problem.
- If you are having connection problems then this is a property you will
need to look at the symptom.
Troubleshooting Networking - Some of the symptoms of a speed/duplex problem are -
- Slow connection and transfer
- Connection dropping and reconnecting frequently
- No connection at all
Once you have verified the parameters are correct then try the ping test
again. If it passes you have fixed it. If it fails then you have more work to
For more Troubleshooting Network Errors you may need to go to
Troubleshooting Installed Devices