IT experts must be able to troubleshoot. There’s no way around it: we spend a lot of time trying to figure out why something that should function doesn’t. Experience contributes significantly to our ability to detect and resolve computer and network-related issues. However, there is a framework that can help us uncover the answers we seek.
While none of this information is exclusive to CompTIA, nearly every CompTIA certification includes a troubleshooting approach to test goals. Based on experience, this technique has been developed throughout the years and acts as a guide for newer members of the IT community for issue solving. We will discuss CompTIA troubleshooting steps below.
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What Exactly Is Network Troubleshooting?
The practice of discovering problems with a network using a rigorous and repeatable methodology and then addressing those problems using testing methodologies is referred to as troubleshooting. Because it allows you to target specific network components, test each for operation, and push you to record your approach, troubleshooting is more productive than trying things at random until the network works. Network troubleshooting is important for practically everyone, from the casual computer user to the aspiring network engineer.
Why Are Troubleshooting Skills Necessary for Network Management?
Network troubleshooting abilities are useful to have at home to minimize annoyance when your network fails, but for many enterprises, having a professional with network troubleshooting skills on site is critical. While network failures at home may be an irritation, keeping you from finishing your Netflix movie or delaying your online chat session with a buddy, network outages at work may bring many contemporary enterprises to a standstill, since they rely largely on connection.
Businesses understand the need of keeping a fully working network. Networking abilities scored sixth among talents that employers wished to enhance in CompTIA’s Building Digital Organizations research report, beating out skills like cloud architecture and big data analytics.
While new technology garners the most attention and has the most potential for development, these technologies cannot give value until they are integrated into the broader IT infrastructure. As an organization’s technological footprint expands, so will its network requirements, and troubleshooting will become more difficult and necessary.
This period of time when a network is inaccessible is referred to as network downtime. For an online business, every minute of downtime means that customer communications are hampered, employees are unable to access their data in the cloud, and many of the company’s online tools and services are inaccessible.
In other words, network downtime implies lost earnings, which can range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars every hour. Network troubleshooting abilities are essential in professional settings in order to get a firm back up and running as soon as feasible.
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CompTIA Troubleshooting Steps
Because the CompTIA Network+ troubleshooting model is a repeatable process, it can be broken down into simple stages that anybody can follow.
Step 1: Collecting information—Identifying symptoms and issues
The very first step in network troubleshooting is to identify the problem. As part of this stage, you should accomplish the following:
- Using the network troubleshooting tools at your disposal, collect information about the present status of the network.
- If feasible, replicate the issue on a test piece of hardware or software. This might assist you in determining the source of your issue.
- Interrogate network users to learn about any problems or challenges they have encountered.
- Determine the symptoms of the network outage. Do they, for example, entail a full loss of network connectivity? What is the cause of the network’s sluggishness? Is this a network-wide issue, or are the issues limited to a single user?
- Determine whether anything changed in the network prior to the occurrence of the problems. Is a new piece of hardware being used? Is the network gaining new users? Is there a software upgrade or other change in the network?
- Individual problems should be properly defined. A network may have many issues at the same time. This is the moment to identify each individual problem so that your answers to one aren’t hampered by other unresolved issues.
Step 2: Develop a Probable Cause Theory
Once you’ve gathered all of the information you can regarding the network problem or problems, it’s time to build a working hypothesis. While developing your idea on the causes of the network problem, don’t be hesitant to challenge the obvious, but keep an eye out for more significant difficulties. A network outage can occur as a result of someone tripping on a wire or another minor issue. However, at times, the difficulties may be caused by more intricate factors, such as a compromise in network security.
Step 3: Test the Theory to Find Out What’s Causing It
It’s time to put your network troubleshooting theory to the test using the tools at your disposal. If you believe the network router is faulty, try replacing it with another router to see if it resolves the problem. It’s vital to note at this point that proving your own ideas wrong does not imply that you’ve failed. Instead, it implies it’s time to go back to step two, create a new idea, and then find a mechanism to test it. Sometimes your initial thought is correct, but it’s also usual to test numerous possibilities before determining the exact reason of your network’s problems.
Step 4: Create an Action Plan
You’ll be able to address the network problems once you’ve proven your idea about what’s causing them. Create a plan of action to solve the issue. Sometimes your strategy will just comprise one step. Restart the router, for example. In other circumstances, such as when you need to purchase a new part or roll a piece of software back to a prior version on numerous users’ machines, your plan will be more difficult and take longer.
Step 5: Put The Solution Into Action
Now that you’ve devised a strategy for network repair, it’s time to put it into action. Some solutions you may be able to implement on your own, while others may necessitate the assistance of other network administrators or users.
Step 6: Check For Full System Functionality and Put Preventive Measures In Place
After you’ve finished implementing your solution, make sure to test the network. Check to see if the problem has been repaired, but also keep an eye out for any additional difficulties that may have developed as a result of the network adjustments you made. As part of your verification process, be sure you review both the network tools available to you as well as individual user reports of their network experiences.
Step 7: Create a Record of The Problem
If you’re a network expert or a network enthusiast who spends a lot of time around networks, it’s safe to say that this isn’t the last time you’ll run across this problem. Document each stage of the troubleshooting process, including the symptoms that emerged on the network, the hypothesis you formed, your plan for testing the theory, and the solution you devised to remedy the problem. Even if you don’t use this documentation, another network engineer at your firm may find it useful in the future and it may assist to reduce network downtime.
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Tools for Network Troubleshooting
In addition to user complaints and actual network experience, there are a variety of tools accessible to you for detecting and addressing network difficulties. These tools can be found in the operating system of the computer, as separate software applications, or as hardware tools that can be used to debug a network.
On a Windows PC, open the command prompt by searching for it in the start menu or by entering “cmd” into the Run window. To access the command line on a Linux system, press Ctrl + Alt + T.
To obtain precise information about the network status, execute the following commands one at a time into the command prompt:
- ping – a TCP/IP tool that sends a datagram to the host supplied in the command. If the network is up and running, the receiving host will return the datagram.
- tracert/traceroute – a TCP/IP tool for determining the path data takes to reach a certain destination. This tool can assist you in determining where you are losing packets in the network, which can aid in the identification of problems.
- nslookup – a DNS utility that returns the IP address associated with a hostname or vice versa. This tool is useful for discovering DNS name resolving issues.
- ipconfig – a TCP/IP application for Windows that checks network settings and connections. It may provide you with a host’s IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway, as well as other critical network information.
- ifconfig – a TCP/IP program for Linux or UNIX that shows the current network interface settings and allows you to provide an IP address to a network interface. This command, like ipconfig on Windows, will provide essential information about the network and its state.
- iptables – a network firewall application written in Linux. You can use this tool if you feel that your firewall is being either restrictive or overly lax.
- netstat – a command-line utility that displays the status of all active network connections. This tool is useful for determining which services are active on a given system.
- tcpdump – a utility that is used to collect packet information from a query string provided to the network interface. It is free on Linux and may be downloaded as a command for Windows.
- pathping – a TCP/IP command that gives information on network latency and packet loss. It can assist you in troubleshooting network packet loss issues.
- nmap – a network scanning program that can search the whole network for various ports and the services that operate on them. It may be used to monitor remote network connections and obtain network-specific information.
- route – a command that allows you to manually update the routing table. It is useful for troubleshooting static routing issues in a network.
- arp – a tool that supports the TCP/IP protocol suite’s Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) service. It allows the network administrator to inspect the ARP cache and add or remove cache entries. It may be used to troubleshoot issues with particular connections between a workstation and a host.
- dig – a command-line utility for Linux or UNIX that displays name server information. It may be used to debug DNS name resolution issues.
Applications for Network Troubleshooting
Aside from command-line tools, there are a variety of standalone apps that may be used to evaluate network health and diagnose difficulties. Some of these programs may be built into the system you’re using, while others may need to be installed separately.
- Packet Sniffer – This tool provides a detailed picture of a network. This application may be used to examine network traffic, determine which ports are open, and uncover network vulnerabilities.
- Port Scanner – Searches for open ports on the target device and collects information such as whether the port is open or closed, what services are running on a specific port, and information about the machine’s operating system. This tool may be used to determine which ports are in use and to detect network locations that may be vulnerable to outside assaults.
- Protocol Analyzer – Combines diagnostic and reporting tools to offer a complete picture of a company’s network. Analyzers can be used to diagnose network issues and identify network breaches.
- Wi-Fi Analyzer – Detects devices and interference sites in a Wi-Fi signal. This utility can assist you in troubleshooting network connection difficulties over a wireless network.
- Bandwidth Speed Tester – Determines the bandwidth and latency of an internet connection. This tool, which is normally accessed via a third-party website, can be used to corroborate user claims of sluggish connections or download rates.
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Although command-line tools and programs are software-based troubleshooting tools, certain network issues have hardware causes and remedies.
So here are a few hardware gadgets that might assist you in diagnosing and resolving network problems:
- Wire Crimpers – a wire crimper (also known as a cable crimper) is a tool used to secure media connectors to the ends of cables. It may be used to create or alter network cables.
- Cable Testers – a cable tester (also known as a line tester) is a gadget that determines whether or not a signal is conveyed via a certain cable. When diagnosing connectivity difficulties, you may use one to determine whether the wires in your network are operating properly.
- Punch Down Tool – in a wiring closet, a punch down tool is used to connect cable cables directly to a patch panel or punch-down block. This gadget makes connecting wires easier than doing it by hand.
- TDR – a time-domain reflectometer (TDR) is a measuring instrument that sends an electrical pulse through a cable and detects the reflected signal. The signal does not reflect and is absorbed in the opposite end of a working connection. Similar equipment, an optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR), is used to measure fiber optic connections, which are becoming more popular in modern networks.
- Light meters, also known as optical power meters, are tools that are used to measure the power of an optical signal.
- Tone Generator – a tone generator is a device that transmits an electrical signal across a single pair of UTP wires. A tone locator or tone probe, on the other hand, is a device that generates an audible tone when it finds a signal in a pair of wires. You may use these tools to check that signals are going via the cables in your network. They are frequently used to verify phone connections.
- A loopback adapter is a virtual or physical instrument that may be used to debug network transmission difficulties. It may be utilized by connecting a particular connection to the transmitting system and redirecting the electrical signal.
- A multimeter (sometimes known as a volt/ohm meter) is electronic measuring equipment that measures electrical parameters such as voltage, current, and resistance. Hand-held multimeters are available for usage in the field, as well as bench-top units for in-house diagnostics.
- Spectrum Analyzer – a spectrum analyzer is a device that shows how the intensity of a signal varies with frequency.
How to Improve Your Network Troubleshooting Expertise
These are just a handful of the procedures you may take and tools you can use to troubleshoot a network issue. Many difficulties with home networks may be resolved quite easily by verifying connections, ensuring that everything is plugged in, and utilizing built-in diagnostic tools.
Nevertheless, if you want to work on computer networks, you’ll need to improve your troubleshooting abilities. Because corporations are primarily concerned with avoiding network downtime, network troubleshooting is an essential skill to have while seeking a career as a network engineer or network administrator.
If you’re seeking work, an IT certification in computer networking will serve as verification of your expertise. Keep in mind that certification examinations will put your abilities to the test, so seek out relevant network training to properly prepare for the exam and test with confidence.
To truly build the abilities that will get you the job, you must combine training and certifications with real-world network troubleshooting experience. This expertise does not have to come from a job; you may practice your IT abilities by fiddling with your own equipment or working with local NGOs to upgrade their networks and handle any difficulties they are experiencing.
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However, this troubleshooting process is only a recommendation. Each network environment is distinct, and as you acquire expertise in that environment, you will be able to forecast the most likely sources of problems.
If I could just give one piece of advice to future support staff employees, it would be the one mentioned above about starting small. One of the key troubleshooting checklists I recommend in my lectures is this:
- Is it plugged in?
- Is it turned on?
- Did you try restarting it?
That may appear flippant and oversimplified, but those actions are truly worthwhile (in fact, they should be double-checked). The true lesson, however, is not in those three stages, but in the spirit of those jobs, which is to start easy and work your way up to the more difficult.
Time is one issue that the troubleshooting process does not address. In many circumstances, you will have to operate under the constraints of service level agreements (SLA), regulatory constraints, or security needs. In certain cases, you must be able to complete the preceding procedures quickly.
Network+ is one of the most well-known Networking certifications available today. To obtain this certification, you must first pass the certification test. The test is divided into five domains of expertise, with Domain 5.0 covering Network Troubleshooting. This article will provide a solid starting point for creating an exam preparation plan for the final Domain of the Network+ certification test. So, hope you find this article helpful in providing information about CompTIA Troubleshooting Steps.