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Active Directory Planning and Installation : Verifying Network Connectivity - Tools and Techniques for Testing Network Configuration

11/29/2013 8:08:28 PM
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Although a Windows Server 2008 computer can be used by itself without connecting to a network, you will not harness much of the potential of the operating system without network connectivity. Because the fundamental purpose of a network operating system is to provide resources to users, you must verify network connectivity.

1. Basic Connectivity Tests

Before you begin to install Active Directory, you should perform several checks of your current configuration to ensure that the server is configured properly on the network. You should test the following:


Network adapter

At least one network adapter should be installed and properly configured on your server. A quick way to verify that a network adapter is properly installed is to use the Computer Management administrative tool. Under Device Manager, Network Adapters branch, you should have at least one network adapter listed. If you do not, use the Add Hardware icon in the Control Panel to configure hardware.


TCP/IP

Make sure TCP/IP is installed, configured, and enabled on any necessary network adapters. The server should also be given a valid IP address and subnet mask. Optionally, you may need to configure a default gateway, DNS servers, WINS servers, and other network settings. If you are using DHCP, be sure that the assigned information is correct. It is always a good idea to use a static IP address for servers because IP address changes can cause network connectivity problems if they are not handled properly.

NOTE

You must understand TCP/IP to use Windows Server 2008 and Active Directory. See MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure Study Guide (70-642), First Edition (Sybex, 2008) to learn more about TCP/IP.


Internet access

If the server should have access to the Internet, verify that it is able to connect to external web servers and other machines outside the large area network (LAN). If the server is unable to connect, you might have a problem with the TCP/IP configuration.


LAN access

The server should be able to view other servers and workstations on the network. You can quickly verify this type of connectivity by clicking Start => Network. If other machines are not visible, ensure that the network and TCP/IP configuration are correct for your environment.


Client access

Network client computers should be able to connect to your server and view any shared resources. A simple way to test connectivity is to create a share and test whether other machines are able to see files and folders within it. If clients cannot access the machine, ensure that both the client and server are configured properly.


Wide area network (WAN) access

If you're working in a distributed environment, you should ensure that you have access to any remote sites or users that will need to connect to this machine. Usually, this is a simple test that can be performed by a network administrator.

2. Tools and Techniques for Testing Network Configuration

In some cases, verifying network access can be quite simple. You might have some internal and external network resources with which to test. In other cases, it might be more complicated. You can use several tools and techniques to verify that your network configuration is correct:


Using the ipconfig utility

By typing ipconfig/all at the command prompt, you can view information about the TCP/IP settings of a computer. Figure 1 shows the types of information you'll receive.


Using the

ping
command

The ping command was designed to test connectivity to other computers. You can use the command by simply typing ping and then an IP address or hostname at the command line. The following are some steps for testing connectivity using the ping command.


Ping other computers on the same subnet.

You should start by pinging a known active IP address on the network to check for a response. If you receive one, then you have connectivity to the network.

Next, check to see if you can ping another machine using its hostname. If this works, then local name resolution works properly.


Ping computers on different subnets.

In order to ensure that routing is set up properly, you should attempt to ping computers that are local on other subnets (if any exist) on your network. If this test fails, try pinging the default gateway. Any errors may indicate a problem in the network configuration or a problem with a router.

NOTE

Some firewalls, routers, or servers on your network or on the Internet might prevent you from receiving a successful response from a ping command. This is usually for security reasons (malicious users might attempt to disrupt network traffic using excessive pings as well as redirects and smurf attacks). If you do not receive a response, do not assume that the service is not available. Instead, try to verify connectivity in other ways. For example, you can use the TRACERT command to demonstrate connectivity beyond your subnet, even if other routers ignore Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) responses. Since the display of a second router implies connectivity, the path to an ultimate destination shows success even if it does not display the actual names and addresses.

Figure 1. Viewing TCP/IP information with the ipconfig utility


Browsing the network

To ensure that you have access to other computers on the network, be sure that they can be viewed by clicking Start => Network. This verifies that your name resolution parameters are set up correctly and that other computers are accessible. Also, try connecting to resources (such as file shares or printers) on other machines.


Browsing the Internet

You can quickly verify whether your server has access to the Internet by visiting a known website, such as www.microsoft.com. Success ensures that you have access outside of your network. If you do not have access to the Web, you might need to verify your proxy server settings (if applicable) and your DNS server settings.

By performing these simple tests, you can ensure that you have a properly configured network connection and that other network resources are available.
 
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