How To Do Network Troubleshooting

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Network access is more important than ever today. For example, cloud computing has made it possible to store our most important emails, documents, images, and other files on a server that we can access anywhere with Internet access. And some applications no longer include installation discs, because you’re expected to be able to download the program from the company’s Web site. As such, it can be a real pain when your network is down, slow, or unreliable.

General Troubleshooting

Two of the most common failure points with networks are your router and the modem. Las Vegas Computer repair – Fortunately, the router is one of the easiest computing devices to fix. Simply turn the router off and turn it back on. This is called power cycling. Often, power cycling the router will allow it to overcome bugs that have caused it to become unresponsive. For example, the router may have had an issue where it could no longer renew its IP address or release new IP addresses for the computers on your network. Power cycling is similar to restarting your computer, in that the software inside the router is restored to a known good state. Similarly, you may need to power cycle the cable,DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), or satellite modem connected to your router to reset the device’s software. If power cycling the router or modem didn’t help, your network adapter is the next component to troubleshoot. You can use the Network Diagnostic utility built into Windows to help find the problem. The Microsoft utility can automatically enable disabled network adapters or request that the router renew your computer’s IP address. To run Network Diagnostic in Windows 7, click the Start button, select Control Panel, choose Network And Internet, and select Network And Sharing Center. Under View Your Active Networks, select the link next to Connections and click the Diagnose button. Windows will run a few tests and may attempt to reset your network adapter. If the Network Diagnostic doesn’t find anything, it’s a good idea to try and reboot your computer. With a wired connection, you’ll also want to check that the Ethernet cable running between your computer and router is firmly connected on both ends. With a wireless connection that uses a USB adapter or PC card, you should also try to remove the wireless adapter d reinsert it to see if it was loose.

Wired Troubles

Problem:

My network connection drops intermittently.

Solution:

There are a variety of reasons you could experience this problem, but one of the more common causes is a problem with the driver for your wired network adapter. With most computers, the wired network port is built into the motherboard, rather than an add-on card, so the manufacturer of your computer or motherboard will provide downloadable drivers for the network adapter. It’s also possible that there’s a new driver available that’s been released to fix the problem you’re currently experiencing. If your computer doesn’t include a name or model number on the exterior, you can figure out who made the motherboard by using CPU-Z (free; www.cpuid.com) from CPUID. On the CPU-Z Web site, click the download link under Download Latest Release and then click the Download Now button. When it finishes downloading, click the Run button and open the CPU-Z program. It will quickly scan the computer and tell you about the specific hardware on your computer. To find out the brand and model number of the motherboard, click the Mainboard tab and look in the Manufacturer and Model fields. Write down the motherboard manufacturer and visit the vendor’s Web site. For example, MSI’s Web site (us.msi.com) features a Downloads tab, which will link you to a page where you can enter MSI products to quickly find drivers, BIOS updates, firmware, and patches. MSI also offers a Live Update Online utility that will scan your PC for drivers and BIOS updates, so you can always keep them up-to-date. You’ll also want to check the physical network connections to see if everything is still securely connected. A connection that’s loose may explain why the connection drops intermittently. It’s possible that the cable may have a cut or kink that causes a fault in the connection. Try replacing the Ethernet cable with a new one, or one that you know works fine.

Problem:

My connection is occasionally slow.

Solution:

One of the most common reasons for a slow connection is that you are sharing the Internet service with otherswho are using up the bandwidth. For example laptop repair Las Vegas, video streaming or downloading large files uses a lot more bandwidth than browsing the Internet. As such, you may notice a drop in Web speed when others in your household or office are using up the available bandwidth. If you notice that your Web experience slows to a crawlwhen others are online, you may need to talk with your ISP (Internet service provider) about getting a faster service. If you use cable Internet, it may also be possible that your connection is affectedby the number of people online in your area. Cable Internet is sent over the sameline as cable TV, and you may share the line with a large number of other people. When many people in your area are online or watching TV,you may experience a drop in your connec on speed. Similarly, DSL users may see a slight drop in speed when other devices connected to your landline, such as a telephone or fax machine, are in use.

Problem:

The networking icon in the Notification Area of Windows indicates I have local network access, butno Internet access.

Solution:

This means that Windows can see your router and access shared files from other computers on your network, but it cannot access the Internet through the router. To fix the problem, power cycle the router by turning it off and back on.

Wireless Problems

Problem:

My wireless connection occasionally disconnects and is generally weak.

Solution:

Assuming that you’re trying to connect to the Wi-Fi signal within a reasonable distance (most routers support a range of up to 150 feet), it’s likely that the wireless router is experiencing interference in the signal. Common interference-causing devices include microwaves, Bluetooth devices, baby monitors, landline phones, and mobile phones. Generally, the interference will be worse if the device causing the problem is close to the router. Try moving the router to a different location where it will be less affected by the signals. The radio waves from your router also become weaker the further they travel. And depending on the types of materials in your building, you may be forced to move the router to a location where the signal has a more direct path to you. We’ve found that drywall is much easier for Wi- Fi signals t pass through than metal, mirrors, concrete, and brick. For example, we had trouble when we moved our PC to a location near air vents, because the metal duct work reflected signals more than the drywall on the other side of the room. f the signal seems weak no matter where you locate the router or PC, you may want to consider investing in a powerline network, which is a technology that uses the power lines in your home to transfer network data. For example, Las Vegas Computer repair Trendnet recently released a500Mbps Powerline AV Adapter Kit ($164.99; www.trendnet.com) that provides your PC with consistent, wired Ethernet speeds. With a powerline networking kit, you’ll receive two adapters: one that connects to the router via Ethernet cable, and one that connects to your PC via Ethernet cable. Once set up, you’ll enjoy high-speed Internet without the inconvenience of stringing cable through walls or around corners.

Problem:

My wireless adapter sees a number of local networks, but not the one I wish to connect to.

Solution:

For security, many businesses and home owners configure their router so that the network does not broadcast an SSID (Service Set Identifier), which is the network name that appears when your device looks for networks. If you know the network exists and you’re not finding it, you may need to speak to someone about providing you the SSID and security code. For example, you’d want to talk with the IT department about wirelessly connecting in your office. Once you have the SSID and password, you can manually connect to the wireless network. It’s also possible that the network may be broadcasting using a standard not supported by your PC. Nearly all new routers broadcast using the 802.11n standard, which is backward compatible with 802.11g and 802.11b devices. However, an 802.11n router is only backward compatible with older standards if the router is configured to work in Mixed Mode (a setting where the router supports connections from any 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n devices).

Problem:

I can’t see any networks at all, and when I click the Connect To A Network link, a message says that Windows Cannot Find Any Networks.

Solution:

It would seem that there’s a problem with your wireless adapter. You can use Device Manager in Windows to help spot the problem. To do so in Windows 7, click the Start button, right-click Computer, and select Properties. Click Device Manager (in the upper- left corner) and double-click Network Adapters, which will display the available network connections on your computer. Typically, the wireless adapter will have the word ‘wireless’ or a standard, such as ‘802.11n,’ as its title in Device Manager Double-click the wireless adapter and look in the Device Status section of the general tab. Any problems will generally be listed with an error code, which you can look up at Microsoft Support (support. microsoft.com). You may also need to reinstall the existing driver (or install a new driver) for your wireless adapter.

 

Smart Computing | September 2011 p.44

 

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