When things are going wrong on your Windows system it is sometimes hard to figure out where to even begin to look for an answer. One good place is to simply check the Windows Event Viewer and see if there are any entries in the event logs that can shed any light on your problem. But, another way to assess the overall health of your system and find clues to help you solve problems is by using the Network Diagnostics tool built into Windows XP.
With the Network Diagnostics tool, you can perform a scan of your system and test network connectivity and whether or not your network-related programs and services are functional. It gathers a variety of basic information about the computer system which can be helpful when given to a support person trying to help you troubleshoot your system.
Getting to the tool in the first place is a tad less than intuitive (to put it mildly). You need a support person to walk you through the myriad of options just to find it. To get to the Network Diagnostics tool in Windows XP, follow these steps:
- Click Start
- Click Help and Support
- Click on the Fixing A Problem link
- Click on Networking Problems
- Click on Diagnose network configuration and run automated networking tests
You can also use it in command line mode or start the graphic interface from the command line by following these steps:
- Click Start
- Click Run
- Type Command and press Enter
- Type netsh and press Enter
- At the netsh prompt, type diag and press Enter
- From here you can execute network diagnostics commands from the command line or you can type gui and press Enter to start the graphical interface mode.
If you are in the CLI (command line mode), you can type ? and press Enter to view a listing of the available commands you can execute. In the GUI (graphic interface), you can click on Scan Options and check the boxes for the types of diagnostic tests you would like to run.
Once the scan is completed you can choose to Print it out or Save it to a file for future reference or to email as an attachment so that a support person can view the information.
Tony Bradley is a consultant and writer with a focus on network security, antivirus and incident response. He is the About.com Guide for Internet / Network Security (http://netsecurity.about.com), providing a broad range of information security tips, advice, reviews and information. Tony also contributes frequently to other industry publications. For a complete list of his freelance contributions you can visit Essential Computer Security (http://www.tonybradley.com).