How to Find Network Troubleshooting Tools in Windows 7 and Vista

There are several locations for network troubleshooting in Windows 7 and Vista. You should know how to find, open, and recognize what can be done in each one to troubleshoot the network.

Network and Sharing Center window

You can open just about any other networking location in Windows from the Network and Sharing Center.

Network and Sharing Center in Windows 7.
Network and Sharing Center in Windows 7.
Network and Sharing Center in Vista.
Network and Sharing Center in Vista.

Follow these steps to get to the Network and Sharing Center window:

  1. Open the Control Panel.

  2. From beneath the Network and Internet heading, choose the View Network Status and Tasks link.

In Vista, the Sharing and Discovery area near the bottom of the window controls various peer-to-peer networking features. To access the same features in Windows 7, click the Change Advanced Sharing Settings link on the left side of the Network and Sharing Center window.

A network disconnection is indicated by a red X appearing over the lines between your computer and the Network icon, or between the Network icon and the Internet. When you click the red X, a network troubleshooter runs to help diagnose the problem.

System window

The System window is where you specify the computer and network names. To visit the System window, press the Win+Break key combination.

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You change the items in the Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup Settings area by clicking the Change Settings link.

Network window

The Network window displays a list of computers and network devices available on the network.

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To open the Network window, choose Network from the Start menu or choose Network from the drop-down Address bar list in any Windows Explorer window. You can also type Network on the Address bar.

Network Map

The Network Map window shows how Windows thinks the network is laid out.

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If you have a computer with two network connections (wired and wireless, for example), there's a drop down box from which you can choose which network connection to map.

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To view the Network Map window, open the Network and Sharing Center window and click the link View Full Map.

Notification area

In the notification area (or taskbar, on the far-right side) is an icon representing the local network. When the network is on and connected to the Internet, it appears.

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The notification area in Windows 7 and Vista has different types of networking icons.

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Pointing the mouse at the Network icon in the notification area displays the current connection status.

Mostly, the Network icon shows whether the network is connected. An X on the icon means that the network is unavailable. In Vista, the globe on the icon means the local network is connected to the Internet.

Network Connections window

The Network Connections window lists every network and dial up adapter connected to your PC.

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To view the Network Connections window, use the Network and Sharing Center window. In Windows 7, choose Change Adapter Settings; in Vista, choose Manage Network Connections.

Any problems with a network connection are flagged in the Network Connections window. It even mentions the cause, such as Cable unplugged. By opening a Connection icon, you can check the connection and perform more troubleshooting.

Setup Network Connections Wizard

The Set Up a Connection or Network window provides wizards that let you connect to the Internet, a wireless network, a virtual private network (VPN), or any other computer with a modem. Choose the link labeled Set Up a New Connection or Network in the Network and Sharing Center window.

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