Reader Challenge for January 2009 and Winners of December's Challenge

Ping and Netview commands

December 2008 Reader Challenge Winner

Congratulations to Jorge L. Vazquez of Florida, the winner of our December 2008 Reader Challenge. He wins a copy of Active Directory, Fourth Edition from O'Reilly Media.

How Reader Challenge Works

Solve this month's Vista Update challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by January 29, 2009. You MUST include your full name, street mailing address (no P.O. Boxes), and a telephone number. Without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win, so your answer is eliminated, even if it’s correct.

I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I’m a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for an email receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem at on January 30, 2009.

Take the January 2009 Challenge

In one of my other professional roles, I consult for small businesses, especially with their accounting software. I'm often asked to help when users are having a problem accessing the software data file (stored on one of the computers on a peer-to-peer network). Usually, the network was set up by the business owner, not by a consultant, and some important detail was missed. (Note to IT Pros: Plenty of small businesses need professional help and don't know where to find it. If you're interested in doing some consulting, notify all the accountants you know of your availability; the majority of small business owners ask their accountants to recommend consultants.)

My favorite tools for starting an investigation about a lack of connectivity to a server-based file are the Ping and Net View commands. How much do you know about the way these tools can help you diagnose problems? (Assume that all computers are running and connected to a switch or a router.)

Question #1: I can ping the IP Address of the computer that holds the data file successfully, but pinging the computer name fails. This always means that the same IP Address has been assigned to two computers.
A. True
B. False

Question #2: Ping succeeds with both the computer name and the IP Address, but the client computer cannot connect to the file. I use the command Net View \\ComputerName (using the computer name of the computer that holds the data file). What information do I gain from this command?
A. Whether an Alternate IP Address has been configured for the target computer.
B. The list of shares on the target computer.



#1: False. The problem is name resolution. On a large network running a domain, you'd usually look at the DNS server for a solution. On a small peer-to-peer network, look for the solution on the router's DHCP tab.

Each router manufacturer has its own configuration tool. To get to the configuration tool, you must open a browser and enter the router’s IP address in the address bar. Here are the IP addresses of the popular routers:





All router configuration tools display a login screen. If the business owner or a consultant changed the default name and password you must obtain that information. However, most small businesses don't change the defaults. Here are the default login names and passwords for the popular routers:

Belkin: Login Name Field does not exist, password is Null (field is blank)

D-Link: Login Name is admin (lower case), password is Null (field is blank)

Linksys: Login Name is Null (field is blank), password is admin (lower case)

Netgear: Login Name is admin (lower case), password is password (lower case)

If the default password was changed and there's no record of the new settings (which is a frequent scenario), all routers have a reset tool that changes the router configuration back to the default settings. If the owner can't locate the documentation, you can download it from the manufacturer's web site to determine the way to reset the router. However, after you reset the router to default settings, you must re-configure all the settings, not just the login.

#2: B. Using Net View for a target computer displays the shared folders and printers on that computer, along with the letters of mapped drives (on the local computer) linked to those shares. Frequently, the inability to connect to a data file on a remote computer results from a change in a share name that's mapped on the local computer (either the share name was changed, or the share was removed). If there's no apparent problem with the share names, then the resolution is almost certainly a permissions problem on the shared folder.

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