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Chapter 20. Troubleshooting Your Network > Tips from the Windows Pros: A Networ...

Tips from the Windows Pros: A Network Troubleshooting Checklist

The most common problem with Windows networking is the inability to locate or contact other computers on the network. Sometimes it's hard to tell where to start when you're troubleshooting a broken network, so I'll give you a checklist to follow to help find the problem. I can't guarantee that this will work to find every problem, but it should help you get started:

Be sure you've run the Network Setup Wizard (Set Up a Home or Small Office Network on the Network Tasks list) on each of your computers, even if you've configured it manually. File and printer sharing are disabled until you've run the wizard at least once.

If the problem is that some computers appear in My Network Places or View Workgroup Computers, while others don't, wait 20 minutes and check again. If all computers still don't appear, and you have older Windows 9x or Me computers on your network, restart the Windows XP computers, wait a minute or two, and then restart the older computers. Wait a few minutes and check again. (By the way, this happens fairly often in Windows networking, and I've never found a reliable way of fixing it. Sometimes you just have to boot up your computers in the correct magic order.)

On each of your computers, click Start, My Computer, select My Network Places, and then select View Network Connections. Find the Local Area Connection icon, and see if the icon says “Disconnected.” If it does, you have a cabling problem or a bad network adapter. Fix this before proceeding.

See if any of your Local Area Connection icons say “Firewalled” next to them. If so, the Windows Connection Firewall might be blocking file and printer sharing on that computer. See the section titled “Windows Firewall” earlier in this chapter.

Click Start, right-click My Computer, and choose Properties. View the Computer Name tab. Each computer should have a different computer name, and the same workgroup name. If this isn't so, fix the names as I described earlier in this chapter under “My Computer,” and restart the computers you adjusted. This might fix the problem.

On each computer, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt. In the Command Prompt window, type ipconfig and press Enter. Under the Local Area Connection entry, Windows should report a different IP address on each computer. If any computers have the same address, or if the addresses aren't similar (they all should start with similar numbers), you'll have to fix this before proceeding. See “Configuring Network Components” in Chapter 15 for details.

From one of your computers, use the ping command to see if that computer can communicate with each of the others. To do this, type

ping x.x.x.x

into the command prompt window, substituting the actual IP addresses of your other computers for x.x.x.x in turn. This might look like something like ping You should see several “Reply from” lines listed each time you do this. If any computer doesn't respond, it has a cabling or network hardware problem and you'll need to fix this before proceeding.

Be sure that each of your computers has the same network protocols installed, as described in the section “Network Protocols and Bindings” earlier in this chapter.



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