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Remember also that some simple problems may take more effort than larger problems. You may be able to bring up a crashed server in a matter of minutes, but a user who doesn’t know how to make columns line up in Microsoft Word may take up to an hour or longer to train. The latter of these problems might get relegated toward the bottom of the list because of the time involved. It is more efficient to solve problems for a larger group of people than to fix this one user’s problem immediately.

Some network administrators list all network service requests on a chalkboard or a whiteboard. They then prioritize them based on the previously discussed criteria. Some larger companies have written support-call tracking software whose only function is to track and prioritize all network and computer problems. Use whatever method makes you comfortable, but prioritize your calls.

Check the Software Configuration

Often, network problems can be traced to software configuration (as with our DNS configuration example earlier in this chapter). When you are checking for software problems, don’t forget to check configuration, including the following:

■    DNS configuration

■    WINS configuration

■    HOSTS file

■    AUTOEXEC.BAT (DOS and Windows)

■    CONFIG.SYS (DOS and Windows)

■    STARTUP.NCF, AUTOEXEC.NCF, and server parameter settings (NetWare)

■    The Registry (Windows 95/98 and NT)

Software configuration settings love to hide in places like these and can be notoriously hard to find (especially in the Registry).

Additionally, in text configuration files, look for lines that have been commented out (either intentionally or accidentally). A command such as REM or REMARK or the asterisk or semicolon characters indicate comment lines in a file.

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