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Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies

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Many IT professionals have long considered the practice of troubleshooting to be more of an art than a science. However, with the right methodology, anyone can systematically analyze and repair problems affecting an individual computer or an entire network. All it requires is an understanding of the technologies involved, knowledge of the available tools, and insight into the most common system and application issues.
This chapter is from the book

Pause and think for a moment about the perfect network. Imagine an enterprise network that is without failure of any type, and users that never ask for help or have problems with their systems. Now pinch yourself and wake up because you are surely dreaming. No matter how large or small the networks you manage, odds are that some type of failure creeps up on either an hourly, daily, or weekly basis.

For many, troubleshooting has become an art, or even an act of wizardry. Senior wizards roam some networks, magically dispelling problems as they occur, while junior administrators try to learn from their wisdom. While wisdom is certainly beneficial to troubleshooting any environment, and the need for real-world experience is surely helpful, how can one keep up with today's vast interrelationships of network technologies? In trying to merely keep up with technology, many learn enough about a service or technology to implement it, but then sometimes take hours to fix it when it breaks. The purpose of this book is not to tell you everything you need to know to manage network services and clients in a Microsoft network infrastructure. Instead, you will see how to approach, diagnose, and resolve problems on Microsoft networks.

This book starts at the roots of network troubleshooting and grows from there. After being introduced to Microsoft network infrastructure and fundamental troubleshooting methodology, you can then move on to reading about the technology where the problem exists. For example, if you are experiencing a DNS problem, check out the DNS chapter. If a user is having a problem opening a Word document, turn to the Office XP chapter. For each troubleshooting scenario, this book provides you with the tools and know-how to diagnose and quickly resolve a problem.

Since the array of technologies on Microsoft networks is so vast, this book focuses on the foundational technologies that are common to nearly all Microsoft networks. In troubleshooting Microsoft networks, while you could get by with Microsoft tools alone, you can significantly streamline the troubleshooting process by using the many third-party applications available. In addition to documenting the available Microsoft tools, this book includes over 15 third-party tools on the companion CD-ROM. Each of these tools is documented in Appendix C.

So that you can fully understand the flow of this book, the next 14 sections describe the purpose of each chapter as well as provide details on the book's included appendices.

Chapter 2: Fundamental Networking

This chapter is primarily designed for those with little to moderate experience with Microsoft networks. If you are confident in your understanding of network services such as DNS, WINS, and DHCP and have a solid command of TCP/IP networking, you can get by with merely skimming this chapter. Far too often, many technical books jump to assumptions, sometimes at the expense of the reader, which is something that this book avoids.

Too much is often assumed in IT, including an understanding of the fundamentals. Chapter 2 clears the smoke on Microsoft network components, providing quick-to-read and easy-to-understand explanations of Microsoft networking. Topics covered in this chapter include

  • An overview of network protocols, including TCP/IP and IPX/SPX

  • DNS

  • DHCP

  • WINS

After a quick review of the fundamentals, you can then move on to reading about the proven troubleshooting techniques that are highlighted throughout this reference.

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