Network Troubleshooting: Restarting Network Services

Once in a while, the operating system (OS) service that supports the task that’s causing you trouble on the network inexplicably stops or gets stuck. If users can’t access a server, it may be because one of the key network services has stopped or is stuck.

You can review the status of services by using the Services tool. To display it, right-click Computer from the Start menu and choose Manage; then, expand the Services and Applications node and click Services. Review this list to make sure that all key services are running. If an important service is paused or stopped, restart it.


Which services qualify as “important” depends on what roles you define for the server. The table lists a few important services that are common to most Windows network operating systems (NOSes). However, many servers require additional services besides these. In fact, a typical server will have many dozens of services running simultaneously.

Key Windows Services
Service Description
Computer Browser Maintains a list of computers on the network that can be accessed. If this service is disabled, the computer won’t be able to use browsing services, such as My Network Places.
DHCP Client Enables the computer to obtain its IP address from a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server. If this service is disabled, the computer’s IP address won’t be configured properly.
DNS Client Enables the computer to access a Domain Name Server (DNS) server to resolve DNS names. If this service is disabled, the computer won’t be able to handle DNS names, including Internet addresses and Active Directory (AD) names.
Server Provides basic file- and printer-sharing services for the server. If this service is stopped, clients won’t be able to connect to the server to access files or printers.
Workstation Enables the computer to establish client connections with other servers. If this service is disabled, the computer won’t be able to connect to other servers.

Key services usually stop for a reason, so simply restarting a stopped service probably won’t solve your network’s problem — at least, not for long. You should review the System log to look for any error messages that may explain why the service stopped in the first place.

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