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Network Problem Troubleshooting Flowchart

As a network technician, you'll be called on to troubleshoot problems with networking hardware, operating systems, applications that use the network, and other network resources. The flowchart in Figure 1-24 illustrates the method used by most expert networking troubleshooters to solve networking problems.

Step 1: Identify the problem and its symptoms - As you gather information about the problem, begin by identifying the symptoms, questioning the user, finding out what has recently changed, and determining the scope of the problem. If possible, duplicate the problem. For multiple problems, approach each problem individually. Solve it before moving on to the next.

Step 2: Establish a theory of possible cause - As you observe the extent of the problem, make your best guess as to the source of the problem. Troubleshooters generally follow the bottom-to-top OSI model by first suspecting and eliminating hardware (for example, a loose cable or failed NIC), before moving on to software as the cause of a problem. As you question the obvious and check simple things first, such as a loose network cable, you might solve the problem right on the spot.

Network Problem Troubleshooting Flowchart

Some situations are obviously software related, such as when a user cannot log on to the network and gets an invalid password message. Here it makes more sense to follow the top-to-bottom OSI model, beginning at the Application layer, and suspect the user has forgotten his or her password.

As you work, use a divide-and-conquer approach by eliminating parts of the whole until you zero in on the source of the problem.

Step 3: Test your theory to determine the cause - For more complicated or expensive solutions, test your theory to assure yourself that it will indeed solve the problem before you implement the solution. If your test proves your theory is wrong, move on to another guess or escalate the problem to the next tier of support in your organization.

As with any computer-related troubleshooting, be sure you choose the least invasive and least expensive solution first before moving on to more drastic or expensive changes to a computer or the network.

Step 4: Establish a plan for resolving the problem - Changes to a network have the potential for disrupting a lot of people's work. Before you implement a fix, consider the scope of your change, especially how it will affect users, their applications, and their data. Unless the problem poses an emergency, make your changes when the least number of users are on the network.

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