Windows Server Troubleshooting - Network

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Use Network Monitor to study protocols and troubleshoot networks.

The network is build in layers and so our troubleshooting strategy is to isolate problems by investigating the layers. The following table shows an informal way of dividing the network components by layers. Although there is a well defined seven layer model defined for data communications, out goal here is to identify components that we can test when we do troubleshooting. In formal data communications, MAC is a sub layer and the driver in just an interface rather than a layer.

Layer Example
Transport TCP
Network IP
Driver NDIS
MAC Media Access Control Ethernet
Physical NIC Network Interface Card

Physical NIC

If your processor has high utilization, determine if it is caused by a high NIC interrupt rate. Use System Monitor to check the Processor/interrupt/sec rate.  If there are excessive interrupts caused by your NIC network interface card, replace your high overhead Programmed IO PIO NIC with an intelligent bus mastering NIC.

MAC Media Access Control

If you have high network utilization, consider upgrading to faster technology.

  • Token Ring - 4 or 16 Mb/sec
  • Standard Ethernet - 10 Mb/sec
  • Fast Ethernet - 100 Mb/sec
  • Gigabit Ethernet - 1 Gb/sec
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet
  • Others

NDIS Drivers

The Windows driver standard is known as NDIS Network Driver Interface Specification. Many new drivers contain bugs and have poor performance. Always check you vendors web sites for the most up-to-date drivers. Try to use only certified signed drivers. Bad drivers can cause your system to crash.

Network and Transport Protocols

Do not use protocols that are not required. In most cases the use of TCP/IP alone is sufficient.  Few organizations need NetBEUI or NWLink (IPX/SPX).

Tools

Your troubleshooting tools will help in fault isolation by testing some of the communications layers. For example, if you have a problem where the web browser cannot connect to a web server, use the PING test. If PING is successfully communicates with the server, you know that the problem is above the network layer and if it is unsuccessful, the problem is in the network layer or below. Different tools test different layers as shown in the following diagram.

 
Application       Network
  OS Transport       Management
 
Network     PING System &
 
NIC
Data Link   NIC Echo Protocol
Cable
Physical Cable tester Diagnostic Test Analyzer
  • Cable testers are hardware devices that check cables for LAN standard compliance.
  • NIC diagnostics are software tests the check the network interface hardware device.
  • The PING echo test sends echo requests in an internet
  • Microsoft's Network Monitor is a software protocol analyzer and the support tool SNMPutilG is a primitive utility for SNMP network management.