Tips for reporting network problems

(Last updated Oct. 23, 2006)
Here are some tips for how to report a network problem. Providing this information will greatly increase the probability of the problem being solved.
  1. Report the exact text of all error messages. (Don't just say, "It can't find the network". There could be a hundred different causes for this.)
  2. Tell us how the error message is displayed. Is it in a pop-up box, does it scroll up your screen while the computer is booting, or is it in a little blue window with a bunch of funny little white letters and numbers on it?
  3. Tell us your operating system. (Don't just say, "Windows" or "I don't know". Many problems occur only with a specific version. Say "Windows XP Professional with Service Pack CXXVIII, which I just installed").
  4. When does the problem occur, exactly? Only at boot-up, or only after you visit that porn site? (Oh yes, we know).
  5. When did the problem first start to occur? What were you doing just before the problem first appeared?
  6. What else does the computer do that is strange? Is it slow, or what? This could be a big clue.
  7. What is working? For example, if you can't access the server, can you still access external Websites?
  8. What other software is running that could affect the problem? (For example, are you running a firewall or virus protection software? Are you using some weird service like ChainCast or an IRC client or, heaven forbid, some kind of server?)
  9. Before reporting a problem, please check our current network status web page. If the graph shows a flat blue line, it means our T1 line is out.

If we don't have complete information, don't be surprised if we can't reproduce your problem. If that happens, we might just conclude that the best solution is "Insert disk, strike user and press the 'any' key to continue"!