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Windows Vista

Accessing and Using Your Network : Learning Some Common Network Tasks

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7/26/2013 5:54:50 PM

Let’s begin with the basic networking tasks that you’ll use most often. The next few sections show you how to view network computers, add a computer or device to the network, and diagnose network problems.

View Network Computers and Devices

After you connect to the network, the first thing you’ll likely want to do is see what’s on the network and access the available resources. Vista gives you two ways to get started:

  • Select Start, Network

  • In the Network and Sharing Center, click View Network Computers and Devices

Either way, you see the Network window, which lists the main network resources, such as the computers and media devices in your workgroup. As you can see in Figure 1, Details view shows you the resource name, category, workgroup or domain name, and the name of the network profile.

Figure 1. The Network window shows you the main resources on the network to which you’re connected.

Note

If you see a network resource name twice, once in the Computer category and again in the Media Devices category, it means that computer has activated Media Player’s new media sharing feature . Double-click the Media Devices version of the computer name to open the computer’s media library in the Media Player window.


Adding a Computer or Device

Previous versions of Windows showed network resources in either Network Neighborhood or My Network Places, but those resources were mostly limited to domains, workgroups, and computers. Windows Vista is much more aware of other types of devices connected to the network, including media players, wireless access points, routers, and print servers. These devices usually appear in the network map, but some devices might not. To add those devices, open the Network and Sharing Center and click the Add a Wireless Device link in the task pane. Vista immediately begins searching for network devices. If it finds any, it displays them in a list; you can decide which ones you want to add to your network.

Diagnosing Network Problems

Windows XP came with a Repair tool that did a pretty good job of repairing connectivity problems because most networking problems can be resolved by running the Repair tool’s basic tasks: disconnecting, renewing the DHCP lease, flushing various network caches, and then reconnecting. However, all too often the Repair tool would report that it couldn’t fix the problem, which usually meant that the trouble existed at a level deeper in the network stack than the Repair tool could go. In an attempt to handle these more challenging connectivity issues, Vista comes with a completely redesigned Network Diagnostics tool that digs deep into all layers of the network stack to try to identify and resolve problems. Vista gives you several methods of launching the Network Diagnostic tool:

  • Right-click the notification area’s Network icon and then click Diagnose.

  • In the Network and Sharing Center, click View Status and then click Diagnose.

  • If you lose a connection to a network share, Vista displays a Network Error dialog box to let you know. Click the Diagnose button.

  • In the Network Connections window , click the broken connection and then click Repair This Connection.

When you launch the diagnostics, Vista invokes the new Network Diagnostics Framework (NDF), a collection of tools, technologies, algorithms, programming interfaces, services, and troubleshooters. The NDF passes the specifics of the problem to the Network Diagnostics Engine (NDE), which then generates a list of possible causes. For each potential cause, the NDE launches a specific troubleshooter, which determines whether the aspect of networking covered by the troubleshooter could be creating the problem. For example, there are troubleshooters related to wireless connectivity, Transport Control Protocol (TCP) connections, address acquisition, and many more. In the end, the troubleshooters end up creating a list of possible solutions to the problem. If there is just one solution that can be performed automatically, the NDE attempts the solution. If there are multiple solutions (or a single solution that requires user input), you see a Windows Network Diagnostics dialog box similar to the one shown in Figure 2. Click the solution or follow the instructions that appear.

Figure 2. If Vista can’t connect to a network or device, it displays this dialog box; you can click Diagnose to run the network diagnostics.

Turning On Network Discovery

 You can’t do much in the way of networking in Windows Vista unless you have network discovery turned on. Network discovery is a new setting that enables you to see other computers on your network and to work with their shared resources. Network discovery also enables other computers on the network to see your computer and access your shared resources.

To ensure that network discovery is on, click the Network icon in the taskbar’s notification area and then click Network and Sharing Center. (Alternatively, select Start, Control Panel, Network and Internet, Network and Sharing Center.) In the Sharing and Discovery section, if you see Off beside the Network Discovery setting, click Off, click the Turn On Network Discovery option, click Apply, and then enter your UAC credentials.

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