Networking / Beginners

Performing Basic Network Tests

Whenever you install a new computer or make configuration changes to the computer's network settings, you should test the configuration. The most basic TCP/IP test is to use the PING command to test the computer's connection to the network. PING is a command-line command. To use it, type ping <host> at the command prompt, where <host> is either the computer name or the IP address of the host computer you're trying to reach.

With Windows Vista, you can use the following methods to test the configuration using PING:

  • Try to PING IP addresses If the computer is configured correctly and the host you're trying to reach is accessible to the network, PING should receive a reply, as long as pinging is allowed by the computer's firewall. If PING can't reach the host or is blocked by a firewall, PING times out.
  • On domains that use WINS, try to PING NetBIOS computer names If NetBIOS computer names are resolved correctly by PING, the NetBIOS facilities, such as WINS, are correctly configured for the computer.
  • On domains that use DNS, try to PING DNS host names If fully qualified DNS host names are resolved correctly by PING, DNS name resolution is configured properly.

You might also want to test network browsing for the computer. If the computer is a member of a Windows Vista domain and computer browsing is enabled throughout the domain, log on to the computer and then use Windows Explorer or Network Explorer to browse other computers in the domain. Afterward, log on to a different computer in the domain and try to browse the computer you just configured. These tests tell you if the DNS resolution is being handled properly in the local environment. If you can't browse, check the configuration of the DNS services and protocols.

Access to network resources in Network Explorer is dependent on the Computer Browser service and the network discovery settings. The Computer Browser service is responsible for maintaining a list of computers on a network. If the service is stopped or isn't working properly, a computer won't see available resources in Network Explorer. You can check the status of the Computer Browser service in Computer Management. Expand Services And Applications and then select Services in the left pane. The status of the Computer Browser service should be Started. If the status is blank, the service isn't running and should be started.

In some cases, the Computer Browser service might be running normally, but there might not be an updated list of resources in Network Explorer. This can happen because the service performs periodic updates of the resource list rather than checking continuously for updates. If a resource you want to use isn't listed, you can either wait for it to become available (which should take less than 15 minutes in most cases).

In some cases, discovering and sharing might be set to block discovery. You'll need to allow discovery to resolve this by following these steps:

  1. Click Start and then click Network.
  2. In Network Explorer, click Network And Sharing Center on the toolbar.
  3. If network discovery is turned off, expand the Network And Discovery panel and then click Turn On Network Discovery.
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