Network Troubleshooting Methodology

The process of troubleshooting of a network holds great significance to ensure the smooth functioning of all the processes. It makes sure that all the problems are eliminated from the system and there are no further issues that may cause a hindrance. However, the troubleshooting methodology involves a number of steps which should be carried out in a professional manner. Only an expert at this process will be able to figure out the issues with the network and devise ways to eliminate them. However, one needs to have in-depth knowledge and a good deal of command on the concepts of networking in order to be fluent in the process of troubleshooting.

There is a well-traced plan of action which has to be followed in this regard. There are some steps which the troubleshooter has to follow in the given order as it will make his task much easier and less complicated. Below, you will find the whole process which is involved in the troubleshooting methodology. Just by following all of these steps in the prescribed order, you will easily be able to troubleshoot any network out there.

Identify the Problem

The first and most basic step which is involved in the process of troubleshooting is the identification of the problem. It is not possible to devise a solution without knowing the exact issue which might have occurred with the network. The best way to go about this process is to identify the symptoms and then narrow down the problems which could be responsible for it. In this regard, there are four steps which help you to identify the problem which might have occurred with the system.

Information Gathering: In this step, you have to gather information regarding any physical problems which might have caused this issue. In this regard, you first need to make sure that all the wires are connected in the appropriate places. You can verify this by checking the light on the Network interface card. If the light is still, this means that the connection is established and if it is blinking then it means that the transmission of traffic is also perfect.

Identify Symptoms: In this step, you need to figure out any symptoms which the problem is showing. For example, in this regard you can type ipconfig/all to figure out if your computer is connected to the DHCP server and not to any other server which could cause issues.

Question Users: The next step which you will take is to question all other people in the network place regarding this problem. You need to determine whether only you are the one who is having this problem or there are others as well. If it is only you, then the problem might be with your own computer settings, maybe. However, if others are also experiencing this problem, then it might be on a large scale.

Determine if anything is changed: In this step, you have to find out if there is anything which has changed and could be a cause of your problem. For example, if the whole system was going through a process of updating or maintenance. If you find out that this is the case, then you could devote your thoughts toward this issue now in order to troubleshoot the problem.

Establish a theory of Probable Cause

Based on the information which you have gathered till now, you move a step further. For example, if you think that the problem which you are facing is due to the computers having an APIPA address instead of a DHCP address, you should try to have a look at this issue in depth.

Question the obvious: So, this is the step where you will devote your energies to confirm you narrowed-down problem. For example, in the case of loss of a DHCP address, you can type ipconfig/renew on the computer to check if the DHCP address is restored. If it is not restored, then it means that the DHCP server for that computer has not been put online yet. This will let you relate all your previous findings in order to think about a common problem which could have caused it.

Test the theory to determine the cause

So now you have established a theory which might be the problem with the network. Now you need to confirm this theory to make sure that you further devote your energies towards it. Meanwhile, you can also provide some temporary solution to this problem. For example, in the case of lost DHCP servers, you can assign the servers to the computers manually. However, this would be just for a short time. You main task will be to confirm the cause of this problem and start working on it.

Once theory is confirmed, determine next steps to resolve problems: So now you know that your theory has been confirmed and you will have to find the best possible solution for it. In this regard, you will figure out the steps which you will have to follow to resolve the issue. If the issue is big and requires administrator permissions, you should refer the issue to the senior network administrator so he could make sure it is eliminated in the least amount of time. However, if the problem is related to something which you can solve yourself, then you should start to form a plan of action for finding the solution.

If theory is not confirmed, re-establish new theory or escalate: In case you find out that your theory did not develop and the issue which you were looking at is not a cause of this problem, then you should consider starting all over again. You will have to go to the first step and do all of the processes again until you finding the correct reason of the problem faced by the network.

Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and identify potential effects

So once you have confirmed your theory and figured out the cause of the problem, it is time that you start to make a plan to eliminate the issue. You should devise the most feasible plan which could enable you to troubleshoot this problem in the least amount of time and with the best output. For example, in case of the problem with DHCP servers, you can find ways in which you can put the servers back online. You can do this by either manually allocating the servers to computers or requesting the senior administrator to do it. You will have to consult to some other documents relating to the system in order to devise the perfect plan of action. These documents could comprise of device manuals, computer manuals and online forums. You might also consult other technicians in this regard as well.

Once you have figured out the whole plan, you will also need to figure out the immediate effects that this change will have one the system. In this regard, you should know that what changes will take place with the computers on the network and how will you be able to judge if this problem has been resolved. In addition to this, you need to make sure that your whole plan is perfect and suitable to the situation before you move on to the implementation of the plan.

Implement the solution or escalate as necessary

After you have successfully figured out a plan of action, it is time for you to implement the plan. There are generally two ways at this point for you from which you can opt for the most desirable one. Either you can proceed with you plan or you can hand over the process to a more technical person. You usually hand over the process to someone else if you think that you will not be able to carry with the process of implementation as it does not lie under your domain. Under these conditions, you can forward the case to the senior administrator which will then take the responsibility for the process of implementation.

However, if you feel that you can do the process of implementation by yourself, you should go for it. The most favorable process to go about implementation is to break all the larger processes into smaller and simpler tasks which will enable you to manage easily and independently. You then carry out this process by implementing all the steps one by one. You can also gather all the steps which can be implemented at the same time in order to save your time. However, if any of the steps is not implemented correctly, you should do it again to make sure that the output is perfect. Sometimes, you may also need to involve another technical person in this process if you feel the need to do it. Once you perform these steps, you are done with the process of implementation.

Verify full system functionality and if applicable implement preventative measures

After the process of implementation, you have to make sure that your system is perfect to use. The whole process which you did above would be useless if the system does not work perfectly after it and the problem is resolved. In order to confirm that you have eliminated the problem, you will have to check the system and perform all of the functions and test if they work fine. By verifying full system functionality, you will ensure that you have not created another problem while trying to eliminate one problem. In this regard, you might also have to take certain preventative measures if required. It would also be a good idea to let the customer verify full system functionality and make sure that the system is now perfect to work.

However, if you feel that there is still some problem with the system, you will have to carry out the process of troubleshooting again and ensure that the problem is identified and eliminated. Once you finish this last step, you will have successfully carried out the process of troubleshooting the network.

Document findings, actions and outcomes

There is an additional step after the implementation of the solution. This process ensures that whole of the process is documented and stored. This helps other people to consult this documentation if any similar problem arises with the network. In fact, it might also aid you in the future when you are performing another troubleshooting process. This documentation will basically comprise of three different components.

Firstly, you will write down the whole process which you used to find the problem. This will involve all the steps starting from the identification of the problem to confirming it. Secondly, you will also have to document all of your actions. This means that you will explain in detail all the steps which you used to eliminate the problem. You will also have to explain what outcomes you got and how successful they were. Lastly, you will have to describe which components you used while performing this process. The description of each component along with its relevance to the problem is also quite essential. Once you have completed this documentation, you are done with the whole process!

We have discussed in detail all the steps which one should take in order to troubleshoot a network. It is interesting to note that the whole process can be divided into smaller and simpler steps to provide ease and improve the final output. All of the processes should be done in the order which has been prescribed. However, the process is not as simple as it looks. One needs to have a detailed knowledge regarding the working of the systems in order to figure out the problems. In fact, the identification of the problem is the most difficult task. The process becomes much simpler if the problem has been identified, as now you just have to devise ways to eliminate it. You should also make a note of the fact that you will have to consult various documents, online resources or other technicians in order to aid you in the whole process. If you just understand all of the steps mentioned, you will be able to master the process of network troubleshooting.

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