Networking / Beginners

Understanding Network Management

Managing your network should be an easy job. If you're using a peer-to- peer network, all you really need to do is make sure that everyone on the network can access their files and the other network resources they need to accomplish computer tasks.

If you use a client/server network, you might have a few more management duties, but for a home network, you shouldn't have to do too much. Again, you need to make sure that everyone can access the resources they need. You also need to make sure that the server and network run smoothly.

As you add more applications, resources, and users to a network, you also add more network management duties. When you add Internet access, for example, you add the following management tasks:

  • Configure Internet software, account information, and so on.
  • Make sure that the modem, cable or DSL modem, or T1 or similar line works.
  • Ensure that the connection to the Internet and the Internet service provider is working.
  • Maintain the program on each computer, including the host or server.
  • Troubleshoot problems with hardware and software having to do with the Internet connection.
  • Keep the LAN and users secure with firewalls or proxy servers.
  • Perform upgrades when necessary.

Think about other programs or hardware you might add to your network: printers, scanner, Zip or disk drives, CD or DVD-ROM drives, games and other software, more users, a server, routers, and so on. Each component adds to network traffic and problems. Each component you add multiplies your duties and responsibilities.

Using utilities or tools of some sort to help you manage, troubleshoot, and maintain the network saves time and effort on your part.

Note: You can view your system information at any time. System information includes hardware resources, the software environment (operating system and settings), and other components, such as the modem, the network, ports, devices, and so on. To view system information in Windows, choose Start → Programs → Accessories → System Tools → System Information. On a Macintosh, click the Apple menu → About This Mac, and then click More Info.

Tips for Managing the Network

Before you try diagnosing problems or managing your network with tools, you should follow a few general guidelines to make network management and troubleshooting easier.

First, keep a notebook log of everything about your network. You should include network maps, a list of each computer's contents and configuration settings, and other details that will help you quickly and easily find any information about your network as you need it. Following is a partial list of information you should log about your computers and your network:

  • For every server and client on the network, list hardware, OS, software, manufacturer, model, serial number, monitor brand and specs, keyboard type, mouse type, motherboard, processor speed, RAM amount and type, size and type of hard disks, controllers, CMOS information, computer BIOS manufacturer and revision numbers, and so on.
  • List each computer and pertinent information. Also note each username, password, and the programs most used by each individual on the computer and network.
  • List protocols, clients, and address, if applicable.
  • List networking hardware-network cards, cabling, connectors, hubs, and so on. Include brands, types, identification numbers, and any other information you need.
  • List all drives, including sizes, brands, manufacturers, speeds, models, drivers, and so on-CD-ROM, Zip, Jaz, tape, and so on.
  • List all peripherals: UPS, printers, modems, scanners, and other equipment. Give the manufacturer and model, and any specifications on memory, ports, cables, and so on for each peripheral.
  • List the applications on each computer, plus the licensing and sharing designations.

Also, keep all documentation in one area and keep a list of contact names and numbers for help, tech support lines, and so on. Keeping this information handy and up-to-date will help you with optimizing your network and troubleshooting problem areas.

Next, add to that log any problems you have and how you fix them. If you run into a problem with your network once, you're likely run into it again at a later date. Having a log of those problems and solutions will help you later when the problem reoccurs.

[Contents] [Next]