[thelist] OT: Network troubleshooting tools

David Wagner dave at worlddomination.net
Wed Apr 3 14:44:01 CST 2002

Susan Wallace wrote:

> One of my clients is having a network conflict of some kind. There appears
> to be two NIC's on the network with the same IP address, although even
> though I said that several times *out loud* none of the folks responsible
> for the network seem to think it matters... :\

> [snip]

> The immediate need is to find out which machine/NIC is trying to steal the
> address from one of the web servers I am responsible for. Long term, they
> have no network diagram, keep losing connection to the PDC, connections are
> being dropped on the SQL server, and the internal network has been slow for
> a LONG time.

> [snip]

> The network is very small (5 servers, 15 workstations, 1 router, 2 hubs,
> several printers, Mac and PC environment), the servers are NT 4, PC
> Workstations are as well. They are a non-profit organization so something
> like BindView NetInventory or the NetAdmin suite is outside their budget
> range.
> My fantasy is to find some kind of "Network overview software for dummies",
> which they can then use to explain to the people who *are* responsible for
> the network what the problems seem to be...

Having tested a variety of network administration programs (and hated
all of them), I don't believe that the one you're looking for exists.
There's really no way to grok a specific network without understanding a
few of the basic principles involved, and clearly these folks don't.

I would recommend the following steps, which should solve the immediate
issue and may help with the future ones as well:

1. Rent yourself to them at industry standard network admin rates.
Sounds like they can afford maybe a half an hour to an hour.
2. During that time, talk to someone at the company on a cordless phone.
Have them shut down all workstations and non-essential servers, then
turn them on individually, starting with the server you're having
problems with.
3. Test for errors at each step.

This is a method I've used as a "wake-up call" to nonprofits who have
let their networks get out of their control. It's so easy to hook up a
network, or have someone do it for you, that lots of companies will just
do it without any planning or knowledge. The truth is that a network
needs to either be viewed as a valuable asset, or disconnected in favor
of SneakerNet and external hosting -- otherwise, it will continue to
suck their time, energy, and money, without anyone really realizing it.


David Wagner
dave at worlddomination.net

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