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Networks in Organisations
Richard Henson
May 2013
Week 11 – Troubleshooting
& Optimisation
Learning Objectives:
– Explain the principles of troubleshooting as a
means of mitigating against failure
– Use the various tools available on a named
operating system to identify potential faults
and problems
– Take appropriate action to stop a fault
becoming a failure
“A stitch in time saves nine”
Business - Worst Possible Scenario (1)
There is an interruption in the power
– UPS is invoked
– the interruption continues…
– servers all have to be shut down
Power supply restored…
– but main domain controller doesn’t reboot
– no other domain controllers therefore
connect to it
– the domain tree fails
Business - Worst Possible Scenario (2)
Organisation cannot do business with the
network down…
– server can’t be persuaded to boot
– new main domain controller has to be
– whole directory tree has to be rebuilt!!!
– word spreads very rapidly…
Business loses so much custom, trust, and
credibility that even when it starts doing
business again customers choose to go
– without a flourishing customer base… the
business folds
Analysis: This scenario shouldn’t
have occurred…
Unlikely that the server would fail to boot
without prior warning…
– warnings would have been presented…
– but were clearly not acted upon!
Disaster recovery plan!?!
– not formulated?
– not tested?
– not effective (in the event of a domain tree controller
But it does…
Actual example (15th Feb 2010):
– root domain controller [on the network] had not
been backed up for 10 months, when it crashed
(well… at least it had been backed up at some
The consultant called in to fix it reported that:
– “I had never seen a case where the forest
root domain had to be recovered -- and I
couldn't find anyone who had.”
Analysis: Who is to blame? (1)
In this example, the organisation said
they were following Microsoft guidelines
– they set up an empty root domain
– the root domain controller had a RAID-5
(best) disk configuration
Was true, to some extent…
– Microsoft did espouse this as best
practice… (in the year 2000!)
– guidelines had changed since then…
Analysis: Who is to blame? (2)
The disaster that struck was:
– two RAID drives failed on the same day!
– unlucky? possible to prepare for this?
The recovery process took about three weeks
– most of the time was spent studying logs, doing
the restore, etc.
In this case, the tree was still able to function
without a root domain
– business was able to continue
– customer base wasn’t compromised…
Fault Tolerance and Risk
General “common sense” principle:
– always have a backup
– ESPECIALLY for the most important computer
on the network…
– How can you tell what needs backing up?
– Risk Assessment and Risk Management
Why not Risk Management?
Time consuming!
 However, without proper risk
– how does the organisation know what
processes are most important to its
– how can an organisation provide resources
to protect aspects of its network?
Risk Management and
Risk Assessment
Risk Assessment is an essential first step
– requires putting a “value” on assets
– more valuable… greater protection
Do information assets have value?
– organisations still failing to acknowledge that they
– categorisation of information assets therefore
potentially problematic
– need to look at the consequence to the
organisation of losing that asset…
How do you back up a
Domain Controller?
The Windows “Backup” program works, and
can easily be scheduled
– but heavily criticised…
– even the 2008 server version…
Third Party products give more flexibility and
protection e.g. :
– Recovery Manager
– Backup Exec
Prevention is Better than Cure
A server shouldn’t crash unexpectedly!
– should be kept cool (environmental unit mustn’t
break down!)
– monitoring should show that unexpected things are
– action can then (usually) be taken to take care of
the unexpected
Many tools available to:
– Check/monitor the system on a regular basis
– Provide stats/ to administrators
» could also be used for security purposes
– Generate alerts if something is starting to go
Troubleshooting Tools for a Windows
Server: Task Manager
Applications tab:
– shows which applications are running
– enables changing of process priority
» use view/update speed
– used to
» open new applications
» shut rogue applications down
Task Manager (continued)
Processes tab:
– all system processes
– Memory usage of each
– % CPU time for each
– total CPU time since boot up
– also used to close a process down
» careful! (but you get a warning…)
Task Manager (continued)
Performance tab:
– total no. of threads, processes, handles running
– Graph: % CPU usage
» User mode
» Kernel mode (optional: view menu)
» graph per CPU (optional: view menu)
– physical (Page File) memory available/usage
– virtual memory available/usage
Event Viewer
Events recorded into “event log” files
– System log
– Auditing log (customisable)
– Application log
– customisable - additional files
New files recorded daily; old ones
– time before archiving also customisable
Event Viewer
Three types of events recorded in log:
– Information
– Warning
– Error
More information on each event obtained by
– make note of event code
– heed and take action if necessary
Using Event Viewer
Wise to check all event logs regularly
– take time/trouble to find out that those
messages really mean…
The action is needed that it
– sort out potential problems now
– Make sure they don’t become real ones
Auditing Further Events
Any “object” can be audited
 Objects to audit, and processes
audited can be set through audit
(group) policy
– Using MMC & relevant snap-in
Types of process audited:
– access
– attempt to access
Security auditing
Same principles as general
 Refers to “restricted” objects
 Events appear in separate
security log
Event Management software
Who’s going to look at all these log files?
– in practice, often no-one..
Solution – SIEM software to analyse and
present information from:
network and security devices
identity & access management applications
vulnerability management/policy compliance tools
os, database & application logs
external threat data
Performance Monitor
Not available on disk
 To obtain and download Performance
Monitor Wizard (PerfWiz), visit the
following Web site:
What if the machine
doesn’t boot…
Tools available:
– The boot error itself
» blue screen? driver software
» constant reboot? motherboard
– Last Known Good…
» Gives machine a chance to go back to the
previous (usually last but one)
What if the machine
doesn’t boot… (continued)
Safe Mode
– includes VGA Mode or boot
– Debugging mode also available
» output difficult to decipher for nonexperts
Recovery Console
– “DOS-type prompt” for performing
minor repairs
What if the machine
doesn’t boot… (continued)
System Configuration Utility
– automates the routine troubleshooting
steps relating to Windows configuration
– can be used to modify the system
configuration and troubleshoot the problem
using a process-of-elimination method
What if the machine
doesn’t boot… (continued)
Emergency Repair Disk (ERD)
– reboot machine using different media
» e,g. floppy disk (yes… still possible)
– media should be generated BEFORE it
needs to be used!
– option to create the ERD during the set
up process…
What if the machine
doesn’t boot… (continued)
Full restore
– assumes a full backup has already been
– still have to:
» reformat hard disk from scratch…
» and then restore the backup files using
backup/restore option….
– but better than losing all your data!
All about improving the performance
of system resources…
 A network manager should never
have “nothing to do…”