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Diagnosing and Repairing Network Problems

Networks are great when they work, but they can be a source of painful headaches when they don’t. To help you avoid reaching for the acetaminophen, Windows includes tools for diagnosing and repairing network problems.

Determining Whether a Problem Has Occurred

When your computer loses its network connection, chances are that you’ll notice soon enough—or immediately if you’re using the Internet.

When you detect the problem, look first at the Network icon in the notification area. If it shows an exclamation point, as in Figure 3.19, you’ll know there’s a problem. If you’re using a mouse, you can hold the pointer over it to display a ScreenTip showing details, such as “Unidentified network: No Internet access.” On any computer, you can open the Network fly-out to see the network status readout at the top, which shows a similar message.


FIGURE 3.19 The Network icon in the notification area shows an exclamation point to alert you to problems.

From the Network fly-out, click the Network Settings link to open the Network & Internet screen in the Settings app. Here, you have various options, but the best approach is usually to click Network and Sharing Center to open a Network and Sharing Center window (see Figure 3.20).


FIGURE 3.20 In the Network and Sharing Center window, click Troubleshoot Problems.

Using the Troubleshoot Problems Feature

Sometimes you may be able to diagnose the cause of the problem immediately. For example, if you can see that your Ethernet cable has come unplugged (or that your pet has bitten through the cable) or that your wireless router has lost power, you’ll probably want to start by fixing physical problems such as these.

If the cause of the problem isn’t immediately apparent, try using the Troubleshoot Problems feature to identify what’s wrong.

From the Network and Sharing Center, click Troubleshoot Problems to display the Troubleshoot Problems screen (see Figure 3.21), and then click the item that seems to be the source of the problem. For example, if your Internet connection isn’t working, click Internet Connections.


FIGURE 3.21 On the Troubleshoot Problems screen, click Internet Connections to start troubleshooting your network connection.

The Troubleshoot Problems feature displays the first screen of the troubleshooter you chose, such as the Internet Connections screen shown in Figure 3.22, and you can follow its steps. The steps vary depending on the troubleshooter and what it discovers is wrong with your computer.


FIGURE 3.22 Follow through the screens of a troubleshooter such as Internet Connections to fix problems with your computer’s configuration.

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