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MCSE Help : 70-058 - Networking Essentials (Part 2)
Richard Adams guides us through the second part of examination 70-058: Networking Essentials

We conclude our review of the Networking Essentials examination with an equally comprehensive examination of sections three and four – Implementation and Troubleshooting. As always, we will start by listing the subjects covered in each section, then spend some time examining some of the specific questions that tend to crop up regularly and give tips on how to answer them.

The Implementation Section

What to Revise

Using Encryption to Protect Data, WAN Link selection, Audit Policies, Restricting Administrative rights, 10BaseFL, CSNW and GSNW, Preventing Data Loss, NetBIOS Names and Host Names, Selecting a Connectivity Device, Cable Characteristics, Sector Sparing, Access Methods, Centralised versus Departmental Servers.

Watch For:

1. WAN Link Selection.

Only digital lines can transmit voice and data simultaneously.

2. Audit Policies

In Windows NT, you can track successes and failures of user actions (such as logging on or using an application) by implementing an Audit Policy. The events that you choose to audit are logged and can be viewed in the Event Viewer utility.

3. Restricting Administrative rights

You may be asked how to restrict administrative rights to just a small subset of your entire number of users. To do this, add the users that you wish to remain as administrators (for example yourself and two of your colleagues) into the Administrators group and remove all others from that group.

4. CSNW and GSNW

CSNW stands for Client Services for NetWare and is supplied with Windows NT Workstation. Install it onto each NT Workstation that you wish to have its own redirector for NetWare so that each server can access resources on NetWare servers.

GSNW stands for Gateway Services for NetWare and is supplied with Windows NT Server. Install it just the once onto an NT Server so that the NT Server can act as a gateway (translator) for all Microsoft clients that do not have their own NetWare redirector installed, but who need to access resources on NetWare servers.

5. Preventing Data Loss

A small point, but worth getting right in the examination. Your first line of defence against unexpected data loss is a daily backup to tape.

6. Selecting a Connectivity Device

Connectivity devices (repeaters, bridges, routers, brouters and gateways) come up in all sections of the exam. In this section, you may get a scenario question where you need to choose the appropriate connectivity device to suit the scenario. Make sure you know which device to use in which circumstances.

7. Cable Characteristics

Familiarise yourself with the different types of cable and their main characteristics. You are often given a scenario question where you have to pick the right cable to use given certain distances from a wiring closet that the cable will have to reach, so revise your maximum cable lengths.

UTP = 100m or 328ft

Thinnet = 185m or 607ft

Thicknet = 500m or 1640ft

8. Sector Sparing

Sector Sparing is the ability for a hard disk to detect bad sectors when saving files, resave the file elsewhere and map the bad sectors out. Only SCSI hard disks can have this facility.

9. Access Methods

Make sure you have definitions for each access method.

CSMA/CD = computer checks the cable for traffic before sending message
CSMA/CA = computer signals its intent to transmit before doing so
Token Passing = only the computer holding the token may transmit
Demand Priority = transmissions are controlled centrally by the hub

10. Centralised versus Departmental Servers

With centralised servers, all servers are reachable by all departments, but all servers are one hop away (i.e. one router must be crossed to access them). With departmental servers, each department keeps its own server/s on its own local subnet (i.e. no routers to cross), but needs to cross at least two hops (i.e. two routers) to get hold of data stored on servers belonging to other departments. The model you choose will usually be based on whether users from only one department or users from multiple departments need to access data on your servers. Most companies end up with a mixture of both centralised and departmental servers to best suit their needs.

The Troubleshooting Section

What to Revise:

Port Configuration
Hardware Configuration
Broadcast Storms
Tools for Gathering Performance Data
Problem Solving Failed Networks
Optimising Network Performance
Tools for Network Management
Creating and Editing User Accounts
Optimising TCP/IP
Backup Types
IPX/SPX Frame Types
Name Resolution Methods

Watch For:

1. Port Configuration

You may be asked a question where you need to know which IRQs are used by LPT and COM ports.

Port Default IRQ setting
COM1 & COM3 4
COM2 & COM4 3
LPT1 7
LPT2 5

2. Hardware Configuration

The most likely layer to cause network problems is the physical layer. The most likely hardware-related problem is incorrect configuration of resources – IRQ, I/O, Base Memory and DMA.

3. Broadcast Storms

Broadcast storms occur when the number of broadcasts exceeds the bandwidth capacity of the network. To prevent broadcast storms, divide your network into multiple segments using routers (which do not propagate broadcasts).

4. Tools for Gathering Performance Data

Be familiar with what each tool is used for and when and how it is used.

Name of Tool Description
Protocol Analyser Analyses network activity in order to optimise performance or troubleshoot problems by capturing and analysing the contents of packets
Network Analyser Another name for the above
Network Monitor The name for the protocol analyser that comes with Windows NT and SMS (Systems Management Server). The full, SMS version allows you to capture all packets on the local subnet by putting the network interface card into promiscuous mode. The cut-down, NT version can only capture packets sent to or from that computer, plus broadcasts.
Performance Monitor A utility that comes with Windows NT that allows you to view, in real time or from saved files, the performance of objects such as processor, memory, disk and network. Used primarily for performance optimisation but useful also for troubleshooting.
Volt-Ohm Meter Resistance in ohms is used to check for shorts (should measure 0) or opens (should measure high). Power in volts is used to check for opens.
Oscilloscopes Can be used (in conjunction with a Time-Domain Reflectometer) to monitor the status of your cable plant
Time-Domain Reflectometers Provides information on the current status of your cable plant and can detect the location of opens or shorts.
Advanced Cable Testers Display information about the condition of the physical cable as well as the protocols running over the network

5. Problem Solving Failed Networks

Bus Networks

You may get a scenario question about troubleshooting a bus network. If the only computer that cannot access the server is a single client then the problem lies with the client. If no clients can access the server then the problem is either the server, a cable break or faulty termination.

Star Networks

You may get a scenario question about troubleshooting a star network. A faulty cable on a star network will only affect the client connected via that cable to the hub, all other computers will continue to be able to access the network. Because of this, a star network is easier to troubleshoot cabling problems on than a bus network.

6. Optimising Network Performance

To optimise network performance, disable any networking components (adapters, protocols and/or services) that you do not need.

7. Tools for Network Management

The two tools for network management that crop up in the exam are SMS (Microsoft Systems Management Server) and SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol).

SMS is Microsoft’s own utility, which can be bought either separately or as part of the BackOffice suite. SMS allows you to view configuration and usage information for your clients and remotely install applications. It also comes with the full version of Network Monitor.

SNMP is an open standard that runs over a TCP/IP network and is used to send management information between SNMP clients and SNMP management utilities. Microsoft does not make an SNMP management utility, although Windows NT can be an SNMP client. SNMP is mostly used for gathering statistics, although it can be used, to a limited extent, to configure clients remotely.

8. Creating and Editing User Accounts

The Windows NT utility used to create, edit and delete user and group accounts is called user Manager for Domains.

9. Optimising TCP/IP

To optimise network traffic when running TCP/IP over a reliable network, increase the size of the Receive Window. This will allow more data to be sent before an acknowledgement is required, thus speeding up the overall process of transmitting data over the network. For an unreliable network, you could reduce the Receive Window size to prevent large re-transmissions being required when a data transmission fails.

10. Beaconing

Beaconing is the process used in a token passing network to detect the location of a fault on the ring. When a computer detects a fault, it transmits a broadcast which is sent back down the ring. The broadcast packet includes the address of the upstream computer that has the fault. In this way, faults can be easily located on a token ring network.

11. Backup Types

Be familiar with definitions of each of the different types of backup that can be performed.

Backup Type Description
Full (or Normal) Backs up all files selected for backup, regardless of how the archive attribute is set. Sets the attribute bit to show that the files have been backed up.
Copy Backs up all files selected for backup, regardless of how the archive attribute is set. Does not set the attribute bit to show that the files have been backed up.
Daily Backs up all files selected for backup which have been created or edited on that day, regardless of how the archive attribute is set. Does not set the attribute bit to show that the files have been backed up.
Incremental Backs up only those files selected for backup whose attribute shows that they have been changed since the last backup. Sets the attribute bit to show that the files have been backed up.
Differential Backs up only those files selected for backup whose attribute shows that they have been changed since the last backup. Does not set the attribute bit to show that the files have been backed up.

12. NFS

NFS is a Unix file system that you can purchase and install as an add-on service to an NT Server. NFS will allow an NT Server to share resources for access by Unix workstations.

13. You need to understand the differences between the different methods of resolving names into IP addresses on an NT-based TCP/IP network.

Resolution Method Description
WINS Server-based dynamic database used for NetBIOS to IP address resolution
LMHOSTS Locally stored text file used for NetBIOS to IP address resolution
DNS Server based static database used for Host name to IP address resolution
HOSTS Locally stored text file used for Host name to IP address resolution

Now that we have fully covered the four sections in the Networking Essentials examination, you should be in a position to start your preparation for the exam. Concentrate on one section at a time, and first of all make sure that you understand all of the concepts. I suggest that you go out and invest in one of the many Networking Essentials study guides that are available from Microsoft Press, QUE and other publishers. Once you are happy with your understanding of the first section, move on to the next. Try to get hold of preparation test software such as the excellent Transcender tests so that you can test to see how much knowledge you have retained. Concentrate your revision on remembering the facts and figures presented in this article as there are a lot of questions about definitions and specifications for things like hubs and cables etc. Remember that the Networking Essentials examination is now adaptive so expect a short exam with around 25 questions. So far, all the students that I have taught that have taken the adaptive examination have passed and said that it wasn’t too difficult. Good luck!.