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How to Find Network Troubleshooting Tools in Windows XP

If you thought that Windows XP keeps all its networking settings and information in only two locations, you’re woefully wrong. Windows XP features a multitude of windows, dialog boxes, and wizards for gathering and setting network information.

Each of these locations has something to do with networking on your PC. You should know how to open each window and what can be done in each window in regard to troubleshooting the network.

Network Connections window

In the Network Connections window, you find an icon for every network or dialup connection. If you have wired and wireless NICs on your PC or laptop, you see separate icons for those connections as well.

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To open the Network Connections window, open the Network Connections icon in the Control Panel. You can also display the Network Connections window by right-clicking the Network icon in the notification area.

Network Connection Properties dialog box

Specific network setup information is linked to the icons that appear in the Network Connections window. Each network connection features its own Properties dialog box. It’s the location where network settings are made regarding file sharing.

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To see a connection’s Properties dialog box, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Network Connections icon in the Control Panel.

  2. Right-click a connection icon.

  3. Choose Properties from the shortcut menu.

Every network connection has different connection Properties dialog boxes. On a laptop, for example, are separate dialog boxes for wired and wireless connections.

My Network Places

The My Network Places window shows you shared folders that are available to your computers on the network.

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By choosing the link View Workgroup Computers, you can see the list of computers available on the peer-to-peer network.

Notification area

The networking icon in the notification area indicates the presence of a network connection. What’s magical about the Network icon in the notification area is that when you double-click the icon, you see the Local Area Connection Status dialog box. That window also appears when you open a connection icon from the Network Connections window.

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To ensure that the Network icon shows up in the notification area, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Network Connections icon in the Control Panel.

  2. Right-click a network connection icon.

  3. Choose Properties from the shortcut menu.

  4. In the network connection’s Properties dialog box, ensure that a check mark appears by the item Show Icon in Notification Area When Connected.

  5. Click OK.

  6. Close the Network Connections window.

Repeat these steps for any extra connection icons appearing in the Network Connections window. That way, a little Networking icon appears in the notification area for each of your network connections.

Network Setup Wizard

To connect to a wireless network, or to configure a wired network, you can use the Network Setup Wizard. Opening the Network Setup Wizard icon in the Control Panel accesses it.

System Properties dialog box

Though it’s called the System window, information is buried there that deals with networking names — specifically, your computer’s network name as well as the name of the peer-to-peer workgroup you might join. That information is kept on the Computer Name tab in the System Properties dialog box.

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To view the system Properties dialog box, open the System icon in the Control Panel. The quick-and-dirty way to open the System Properties dialog box is to press the Win+Break key combination. Then click the Computer Name tab and you’re there.

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