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Book Review - Troubleshooting Windows 2000 TCP/IP

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Tom Bair
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Joined: 10 Aug 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2004 3:13 am    Post subject: Book Review - Troubleshooting Windows 2000 TCP/IP Reply with quote

Troubleshooting Windows 2000 TCP/IP

Author(s): Debra Littlejohn Shinder & Thomas W. Shinder
Publisher: SYNGRESS www.syngress.com
Date Published: 2000
Book Specifications: Softcover, 704 pages
Category: Windows 2000/Networking/Reference
Publisher's Suggested User Level: Not Rated
Reviewer's Recommended User Level: Intermediate
Suggested Publisher Price: $49.95 US / $77.50 CDN / 31.95 UK
ISBN: 1-928994-11-3
Amazon US: Troubleshooting Windows 2000 TCP/IP US
Amazon UK: Troubleshooting Windows 2000 TCP/IP UK



Blurb from back cover:

TCP/IP is available as a standard protocol included with all Windows operating systems and is installed by default in Windows 2000. Troubleshooting Windows 2000 TCP/IP focuses on Microsoft's implementation of TCP/IP in Windows 2000. It discusses guidelines for planning, testing, and implementing substantial changes such as the setup or migration of a Windows 2000 TCP/IP network. This is the one book that focuses on the tools and techniques for troubleshooting Windows 2000 TCP/IP connectivity problems.

Introduction

If you spend any amount of time troubleshooting TCP/IP issues on your network, you understand the complex issues involved with this protocol. And because TCP/IP is the most popular protocol in use, there are extensive resources available in the form of books, articles, courses, and online white papers.

However we are interested in two factors concerning this review. One factor is troubleshooting issues inherent in the TCP/IP protocol. The second is all information must be directed at the Microsoft version of TCP/IP which is used specifically by Windows 2000. Does this book actually cover connectivity devices such as routers, switches, repeaters, and bridges as well? This is also an important factor since many troubleshooting issues arise from the addition of such devices to an existing network.

It has been claimed that this book is considered The Bible on TCP/IP issues with Windows 2000. With this claim foremost in mind, let us explore the contents of this book to discover if indeed this is truth or hype.

Review Comments

I found that Chapter 1 was a very good history lessen of the origination of TCP/IP, NetBEUI, and IPX/SPX. It also covered how the Internet was born out of ARPAnet. Most readers can skip this chapter unless you are looking for a bit of light, work-related reading. On page 16 you will discover a great explanation of the seven layers of the OSI model.

Chapter 2 opens up covering how to design and build a Windows 2000 network. Unless you are the sort who feels the need to completely map out and analyze a job before doing it, I'd tend to think you could skip this section. It appears directed mostly towards IT managers and administrators. Installing and Configureing Windows 2000 TCP/IP appears to be written at the intermediate level. This certainly can be a good thing for many of us, and it is detailed enough to provide you with solutions involving a complicated set-up.

The Ten Commandments of Troubleshooting in Chapter 3 are well-written and invaluable. As a matter of fact, I'd go so far as to say they are actually priceless. Anyone adhering to these guidelines will have no problems at all achieving success in network administration. I really doubt you'll find any new resources mentioned in Windows 2000 Troubleshooting Resources, but it's a worthy list to use when refreshing one's mind when in a state of panic over a downed network.

The author borrows a problem-solving technique from the law enforcement community and shows how well it can be applied to network-troubleshooting. The SARA Model (Scan, Analyze, Respond, Assess) was designed to assist police in performing their duties more effectively, yet it has proven to be equally applicable to tracking down the reason responsible for your network going down. I really believe this model should be included in courses covering network certifications such as 70-216, and 70-221.

The author only devoted 4 pages to IPSec Troubleshooting, and I feel she could have gone a bit further on this topic. It is quite common for misconfigured security policies to mask themselves as connectivity problems; and more resources could have been given to the reader.

Chapter 5 is about where you will find the meat of the matter in this book. An excellent job was done by the authors explaining how and when to use network monitoring and troubleshooting tools available in Windows 2000. I predict this chapter to be the most referenced section of the entire book by it's readers. I myself even discovered the -w switch in the Ping command which I had overlooked in the past. Yet it proves useful in saving myself a bit of time waiting for a response which has ended up timing out.

I really enjoyed discovering a few tricks involving troubleshooting issues with Windows 2000 DDNS Servers. I've had some personal experience with some WINS clients appearing in more than one domain when they shouldn't, and the author's favorite solution to solving this problem is elegant to say the least. You have to read it and see if you don't agree with my own opinion.

The section covering Remote Access Services is a bit simplistic, and unless you are new to RA or VPN; you'll not find too much here you don't already know. However, that being said; the section is well-written and may prove to be valuable to the home network hobbyist.

Style and Detail

It is a given that this book performs excellently in explaining the very complex issues which are critical to understanding TCP/IP. The explanation of how DNS works is classroom perfect.

However, do not allow yourself to be quickly confused by the fast-paced explanations of the differences of the many protocols in use and under development. It is a difficult task to undertake, and if the reader is willing to read this section of the book multiple times, they will gain a clear understanding of the various complex protocols. Points to the author for undertaking such a difficult task.

The book is filled with various screen shots. Seems you can't turn more than 3 pages without running into a screenshot of something or other. I felt that 3 out of every 5 of these screenshots were unneeded, and only took up valuable space in this book.

Also of note is the various levels of understanding the book was written at. It starts out almost at a novice level explaining the background and history of network protocols. I don't feel this is a bad thing, for it tends to make such a tedious topic interesting enough to read through. The section concerning Installing and Configuring Windows 2000 TCP/IP appears to be written at an intermediate level. This is rather good too, for it makes the book useful for the home network or small business owner do-it-yourself'er. However, much of the book is written at an advanced user level. Most notably advanced are the troubleshooting topics. So be forewarned that this book is nothing like the simplistic Guided Tour you always are presented with by Microsoft whenever you first install a Windows Operating System.

The book is printed in a font size which will prove easy on a set of tired, blood-shot eyes. I only have one gripe, and that is that they used gray boxes filled with black print to disclose information "For IT Professionals". It would have proven more useful to leave these boxes white to minimize any possible eye-strain. Yet be assured that the information contained in these boxes is well worth reading.

Conclusion

I'd have to conclude that this book indeed is almost a Bible of troubleshooting TCP/IP issues in Windows 2000. It is a professional reference which is very well written and laid out. I have also discovered that many issues in the book which were written specifically for Windows 2000 will also apply to Windows XP Professional Edition.

Nevertheless, it doesn't quite make the revered Bible classification due to a few annoyances mentioned in the prior section of this review. Also obvious is the coverage of the Index. It appears to be only 80 percent complete. Many consider the Index a minor issue, yet I feel it is an important factor related to any book which covers troubleshooting issues. A reader faced with an issue and under time constraints to 'get it fixed' tends to depend very heavily on the Index. If he cannot find it in the Index, then he is forced to start guessing exactly where in the Table of Contents is issue may lay, if indeed at all.

This book receives a well earned SFDC Rating of 7/10.



--Tom Bair
Security Forums Dot Com

Keywords: Windows 2000, W2K, Networking, troubleshooting, TCP/IP, protocols, review, PCWriter, Shinder

This review is copyright 2004 by the author and Security-Forums Dot Com, and may not be reproduced in any form in any media without the express permission of the author, or Security-Forums Dot Com.
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