When it comes to network administration, using the right tools can mean the difference between a quick, easy update and hours of painstaking coding on a command line interface.
Like any other profession, if you use the right tools for the job at hand, you can save yourself hours of work. But unlike most other professions, not everyone agrees on what those tools are, what they look like, or whether they’re actually as useful as they seem.
But systems administrators around the world have come to agree on a common toolset that solves – or at least drastically simplifies – a broad set of problems common to most corporate networks. Gaining familiarity with these networking diagnostic tools is a great way to become a better, more reliable systems administrator.
Learn These Tools to Improve Your Networking Capabilities
The first thing you’ll notice about this list is that it doesn’t shy away from the command line interface. Yes, having a graphical user interface can make life easier sometimes, but unless you’re manipulating firewall rules and analyzing data, you’re likely to find yourself behind the command line for much of your networking work.
Remember that the command line can be your friend. Be sure to use “tab-complete,” enter “?” if you get lost on the way, and always type in “copy run start” before you finish. Here are some of the networking troubleshooting commands you’ll use in most networking interfaces on the way:
The Best Network Troubleshooting Tools for IT Professionals
Ping is the first and most important tool any network administrator will learn about. The concept is simple. Pinging a server simply sends a tiny data packet to it and asks for a response. If you get a response, it worked!
This lets you test whether network devices are actually connected to the network. You can ping individual devices by their IP address or even use domain names in some circumstances.
Ping will tell you whether a device is reachable. Traceroute will show you the path your data packet took to get there. For Windows devices, this tool is called “tracert,” but the functionality is the same.
When you need to find out who owns a domain, WhoIS can often be a helpful tool. Although its accuracy is not guaranteed, WhoIs can often provide key insights on who owns a remote domain.
This can be helpful when you want to learn more about a certain domain that is spamming your network. But it’s easy to fool, so any dedicated professional is sure to protect themselves against it.
IPConfig can do a lot for you when you’re troubleshooting unpredictable network behavior. In one go, it will tell you what your IP address is, whether your local cable is unplugged, how many real and virtual adapters you are using, and what your default gateway out of the network is.
Two advanced commands let you restart network devices in order to clear potential IP conflicts and other problems. Use “ipconfig -release” and “ipconfig -renew” to troubleshoot a misbehaving system – but make sure you have the right permissions first.
Network Troubleshooting Tools Save Time
For the most part, systems administrators get the most out of these basic network troubleshooting tools when troubleshooting unexpected network behavior. There are plenty of other tools that can save hours of time in other contexts, but these are sure to be the first ones you reach for in most situations.
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