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It is no secret that I deal with network and user issues every day within multiple corporate networks. I need to have a easy to use toolkit ready to go when I need to act fast. So my first line of defense (or troubleshooting) are built-in Windows tools.

There are a couple of basic commands to diagnose a network problem that every network admin needs to know. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

You have an issue with a computer on your network. It cannot connect to the internet and doesn’t have any network resources. The first thing you need to do is check the condition of the physical connection i.e. the network cable. After that is secured, I jump to a command prompt and do a IPCONFIG /all like so:

diagnose a network problem

I check that the IP address, default gateway and subnet mask are all correct. If they are not, I make my modifications and we are back online. Too bad the problems don’t usually go away that easily.  Next up, I attempt to ping the servers by IP address using the ping command, like so:

diagnose a network problem

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Now I check for DNS issues by pinging the server’s name.  If this fails, it is our internal DNS issue and I know where to move on to.

diagnose a network problem windows

If I get a correct response, I try to ping a website like That tests external DNS resolution. If that works as well, the trouble runs deeper. I would then run a Netstat ““a and see who is connected to my machine and determine if maybe a Trojan or virus has gained control of it.

how to diagnose a network problem

Everything looks clean. Now I would try pathping or tracert between the machine and the internet to diagnose any remaining network problems. This one I will not show you as all the output would reveal my network settings and what not. I am not looking to create more problems!

During your tests you might conclude that another machine is using the same IP address or host name as your desktop and causing issues. For this, I would recommend using Angry Ipscanner.exe (found here here) to query for that IP address or the entire network to find the host name”¦

I have been using this application for more than a decade to diagnose network problems! If you cannot figure out what is going on and why you cannot get to the resource you are trying to, then the issue might be network-related and has nothing to do with your machine. First, check if you can get to the resource from a different machine.

Then it might be time to fire up Wireshark (which used to be called Ethereal, covered here 100 Portable Apps for your USB Stick (for Mac and Win) 100 Portable Apps for your USB Stick (for Mac and Win) Read More for you old schoolers). Wireshark will listen to your network adapter for all traffic and responses. The answer is in the data but you do need to know how to read it. There are lots of good resources online or you could always come knocking at with your output and ask us to help!

How would you troubleshoot a fidgety connection? Do you have any secret commands?

  1. jhaze
    July 1, 2016 at 12:18 am

    IPCONFIG is closing when im trying to open it how can i fix it ?

    • Imran Khan
      July 21, 2016 at 6:02 am

      click on start on windows, in the textbox type cmd
      this should open a command prompt window
      now you can enter commands suchs as ping, ipconfig, tracert so on.

  2. Deepak
    June 24, 2016 at 6:05 am

    All information is true.


  3. nancy albert
    March 8, 2016 at 12:35 am

    this is unintelligible unless you are a trained tech. It is of no help to me. I have had a tech out from my internet company [liberty] twice, and he doesn't seem to know what he is doing, either. All he did was give me a new cable box and check the cords.

    • Jake
      April 13, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      If this too complicated for you then you probably wont be able to solve your problem yourself. Networking is not an on/off switch.

    • Slate
      October 4, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      Chances are the "tech" is a barely trained low wage parts changer with no real training or expertise. They are usually little more than a set of hands and eyes that are expected to call in to the service department for instructions which usually doesn't work out when said dep is inundated with calls. You'd be better off calling a third party. Maybe geek squad can help. But then you are paying for service while the trained monkey from liberty is probably free.

  4. Panda-Neko
    March 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I think Angry IP scanner has been infested now so don't download stick to command prompt

  5. Neil
    January 17, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Link for AskTheAdmin's in the article doesn't work. The one in the footer does.

    • Karl Gechlik |
      January 18, 2010 at 12:54 pm

      Fixed! Thanks!

  6. Steve
    January 17, 2010 at 6:21 am

    This is great info, but can you post something similar to address difficulties getting computers on the same workgroup to discover and communicate with each other. I've done all the simple things, like making sure they are on the same workgroup, turning on network discovery, and setting up identical user name accounts on each.

    • Karl Gechlik |
      January 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

      What OS Steve?

      • Graeme
        January 14, 2016 at 4:39 am

        hi I have same problem I think as Steve upgraded to win 10 and now can not get network in home or homegroups to work properally Have tried lots things including new router , setting computers back to default and reconfig
        Running out of ideas can you help ?

  7. Rahul
    January 17, 2010 at 6:12 am

    very usefull information for me.


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