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Windows Vista: Basic Tips to Resolve Networking Issues

By KarlM
The Windows Vista OS has networking issues that rooted in the OS itself, IT Administrator or User configuration, or other causes. Here are some recommended tips to troubleshoot these concerns.

Diagnose and Repair

The most convenient method comes by way of the Windows Vista Diagnose and Repair feature. IT Administrators can utilize this tool as an ‘umbrella’ approach to issue resolution without the involved steps that are comprised by more complex troubleshooting. Access the Network and Sharing Center and go to ‘Diagnose and Repair’ to use this feature.

Windows Vista also labels this method ‘Network Diagnostics.’ This implement pinpoints issues by inspecting your network connection/s. It will inform you of problems with network connection in ‘basic’ terms. Go to the Event Viewer for detailed and comprehensive information.

The Bottom-to-Top Method

The OSI approach to network troubleshooting involves the ‘layers’ that constitute a network. The so-called ‘bottom layer’ denotes the physical layer of the network. System components such as cables, electrical signals, NIC interfaces, and switches are portions of the physical layer. Troubleshooting from that physical layer and moving up the OSI model will entail ‘passing through’ the Ethernet protocol (data-link layer), the IP network (network layer), TCP (transport layer), and the Applications layer.

Initiate the troubleshooting process through double-checking physical connections, such as:

• Network cable connection
• Operating link light on the NIC
• Connected and available NIC (‘seen’ within the Windows System)
• Power and operating link light on the Ethernet switch

Check for the same connections whether you have a wireless or wired network. Also, inspect the following conditions:

Wireless Connection Status

Verify the ‘media state.’ Even with wireless media, the state should be ‘enabled.’ Check that your computer’s physically links to a network before trying to connect. Access ‘Connect to a Network’ to enable or disable connection to a wireless or dialup network.

Windows 2008 Media Status

On a computer linked to a network through an Ethernet connection (a Windows ’08 server with Ethernet NIC, for example), check if the Ethernet media on your LAN connection is indeed enabled. Check the connection speed.

If these verification of these connections is accomplished, move through the various OSI model components until the issues are identified. Sometimes, the issue is the end user.

Many probable issues will concern testing the different layers of the OSI model, and apply to inspecting the TCP/IP network and transport layers.

IP Addressing

If the media state is enabled, the link light is operating, and the network connected physically, move up the OSI model. Move on to the IP addressing layer and skip the data-link as the addressing of the Ethernet Mac is usually not the concern.

Inspect your IP addressing. Make certain that:
• the IP addressing is ‘real’ and not automatically assigned,
• the IP address matches the network and default gateway addresses correctly, and
• the DNS Server IP and default gateway addresses are defined.

Access the Network and Sharing Center. Supposing that the connection is viable, check the network interface by going to ‘View Status.’

View your connection status. Go to ‘Details’ for the default gateway, DNS servers, IP address, and subnet mask.

If you connect without DNS servers or a default gateway, you cannot use your network connection as expected. These are not requisites, but one needs communication outside the local LAN, which requires a default gateway. Communicating with servers by name (Viber Informatik GmbH CH-6003 Luzern versus, for example) necessitates DNS server IPs.

One may also use [IPCONFIG/ALL] to verify IP settings. With the presence of a valid default gateway, DNS servers, and an IP address, ping regularly to ensure communication occurs.

Network Discovery and Filtering

Ascending through the OSI model moves us to application layer and TCP layer filtering. The system filters outbound and inbound network connections with the use of firewalls. Firewalls are found within the computer, system, or in the network (for filtering connections to and from the Internet).

Check the default Vista firewall. It is enabled on the default settings. Inspect other firewalls if you have them installed in your system.

The Windows Vista firewall will not block all access to your network. It is more likely to block specific inbound or outbound connections for particular applications. At this point, one has the option to turn off the Vista firewall to check if the concern is resolved (although on a public shared network, it would be risky to do so). Once the issue is fixed through this method, identify the port with which you will allow network traffic to go through.

Check the Vista Firewall

Access the Network and Sharing Center, and go to Windows Firewall to halt the firewall or add some exceptions. A user can also view the network status through this feature.

If you can see that the Vista firewall is operative, this entails the blocking of those inbound connections that do not have exceptions. A notification should appear when a program or an application is blocked.

Click on ‘Change Settings’ to create an exception or try to render the firewall inoperative. When changing the Vista firewall settings, a user can turn off the firewall, view or change exceptions using the ‘Exceptions’ tab, or check out the advanced features.

If there are still issues as to computer access within the local network, one can inspect features other than the Windows firewall, such as the settings for Network Discovery. Access the Network and Sharing Center, and go to the section for Sharing and Discovery. Inspect the settings of options such as File Sharing and Network Discovery, among others.

Network Troubleshooting plus Common Sense

While the majority of this article mentions a few basic troubleshooting tips, some concerns require the application of a much overlooked tool: common sense. Here are a few more ‘scenarios’ that may be the cause of any technical concerns:
• The networking issue at hand could be the result of any users modifying system contents.
• Connections to the network (physical or otherwise) may be incomplete or disabled.
• One malfunctioning or non-functioning application or server does not mean the loss of all network connectivity. Check and check again.
• Inspect one level at a time. If the checking of a previous layer proves that the same level functions as expected, move on to the next. Refrain from changing more than a few settings at a time, and then seeing if the issue is resolved – you may not be able to pinpoint the exact problem, and cause even more issues in the process. Changing one setting may not resolve the concern. If this occurs, revert to the previous setting before trying another recourse.

Winding Up

If your system incorporates the Windows Vista system, then chances are good that you will need to troubleshoot eventually. Awareness, experience, and application of solid problem-solving methodology (such as the bottom-to-top style) will enable you to resolve any networking concerns efficiently.

The tips in this article are just a few of the basic tactics that will help not if, but when, problems with the Vista system arise.
By solomon.lere on 04-04-2009, 02:50 AM
Laptop Re Windows Vista Basic Tips Resolving Network Issues

This could probably be the solution to my networking problem. One of my PC has windows vista the other has Xp the one with the vista is giving the problem. I will take the steps highlighted immediately. Thanks
Last edited by Sami; 04-04-2009 at 01:45 PM..
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