The KISS Method to Troubleshooting Network Connectivity Issues

When having what seems to be a complex network connectivity problem, sometimes the best method to tackle the issue is to implement the KISS Method. Look for the simple stuff first and keep these tips in mind when troubleshooting network connectivity.

Top 10 Tips for Troubleshooting Network Connectivity

  1. Use a methodical approach.
  2. Work from the bottom upward.
  3. Divide the problem into pieces and then solve them one at a time.
  4. Keep a record of your problem solving tasks.
  5. Keep an open mind about what may be causing the problem.
  6. Be aware of security barriers.
  7. Pay attention to error messages.
  8. Try to duplicate the problem and solve it in a known environment.
  9. Stick to a few troubleshooting tools that you understand thoroughly.
  10. Don’t neglect the obvious.

First, gather detailed information about exactly what is happening (or not happening).  When a user reports a problem, discuss it with them.  Next, get the details. Find out which application failed. It’s also important to get the remote host’s name, IP address and the user’s host name and address.  Then ask the user what error message was displayed?  If possible, verify the problem by having the user run the application while you talk him or her through it or duplicate the problem on your own system.

Other key issues you should consider include whether the problem occurs in other applications on the user’s host or is only one application having trouble?  If only one application is involved, the application may be misconfigured or disabled on the remove host.  Because of security concerns, many systems disable some services.

After reviewing the problem on the application level, it’s now time to turn your attention to the remote host. Does the problem occur with only one remote host all remote hosts, or only certain “groups” of hosts?  If only one remote host is involved, the problem could easily be with that host.  If all remote hosts are involved, the problem is probably with the user’s system --particularly if no other hosts on your local network are experiencing the same problem.  If only hosts on certain subnets or external networks are involved, the problem may be related to routing.

Once you know the symptoms of the problem, visualize each protocol and device that handles the data.  Visualizing the problem will help you avoid over simplifications and keep you from assuming you know the cause even before you start testing. Problem solving isn’t always easy. When troubleshooting, take it one step at a time, remember these tips and keep it simple!