Network+ Hardware Tools

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Network+ Hardware Tools

If you’re planning on taking the Network+ exam soon, you may want to review the Network+ hardware tools used to maintain and troubleshoot networks. I was recently doing some work with Network+ practice test questions and ended up creating a short list for my own use. This list doesn’t provide complete details of these tools, but it should give you enough for the Network+ exam.

Many people are using the Microsoft Windows Networking Essentials book to help prepare for the the Network+ exam. This book was actually written for the MTA 98-366 Networking Fundamentals exam but there is a lot of crossover. I’m developing some Network+ practice test questions that can also be used to help people take and pass the Network+ exam the first time they take it.

Realistic Practice Test Questions for the Network+ exam.
CompTIA Network+ N10-006 Practice Test Questions (Get Certified Get Ahead)

Performance Based Questions

You might also see this tools mentioned in performance based questions. Make sure you know the tools are and you can identify them by sight.

Cable Tester

Cable testers verify that a cable is wired accurately and can easily identify open and shorts. You can use it to check a cable after connecting connectors to the cable. Additionally, you can use it on cables you suspect are faulty due to problems such as being stepped on or run over by a chair.

The following graphic is from a Kindle short on Network+ Tools. It shows four possible views in a cable tester.

Network+ hardware tools Cable Tester view

Check out google images.

Cable Certifier

A cable certifier is used to verify that a cable meets its specifications such as the bandwidth and frequency. For example, it can verify a CAT 5e cable meets specifications and supports speeds of 1000 Mbps, and can verify a CAT 6 cable supports speeds of 10 Gbps.

Check out google images.

Crimper

A crimper is tool used to attach a connector to a cable. As an example, technicians commonly use a crimper to attach an RJ-45 cable onto a twisted pair cable.

Check out google images.

Butt Set

A butt set is used by telephone technicians to test telephone lines. It includes a handheld set used to make phone calls and do testing. The handheld set has pushbuttons to enter phone numbers and codes, a speaker, and microphone. Technicians connect it to phone lines with alligator clips.

Check out google images.

Toner Probe

A toner probe allows you to place a tone on one end of a wire and then locate the other end of the wire by finding the wire that has the tone. It includes two components: a tone generator and a speaker. You connect the tone generator onto one end of the cable to place a tone on the cable. You can then go to the other end of the cable in another room. The speaker has a probe you can touch to individual cables and the tone plays on the speaker when you’ve found the correct cable. This can also be used to identify continuity in a cable (a short or open) by touching the two ends together. If the cable has an open (it’s broken), you won’t hear the tone.

Check out google images.

Punch Down Tool

Punch down tools are used to terminate cables to jacks, or connect cables to wiring blocks such as 66 block or a 110 block. Punch down tools are spring loaded requiring just a little pressure by the technician. The technician positions the wire over the connection and pushes it in with the punch down tool. When the spring releases, it strips the insulation off the wire and secure the wire into the connection.

Check out google images.

Protocol Analyzer / Sniffer

A protocol analyzer (also called a sniffer) can capture packets traveling over the network for analysis. These packets can be saved in a capture file, inspected, and analyzed. Information within packets includes the source and destination IP addresses, source and destination media access control (MAC) addresses, source and destination ports, and payload data. If data is sent across the network in clear text (not encrypted), it can easily be viewed in the protocol analyzer.

Protocol analyzers can be hardware devices or software programs running on a computer.

Administrators use a protocol analyzer to analyze network activity and troubleshoot problems on a network. For example, if they
suspect an unauthorized peer-to-peer software application is running on the network, they can use a protocol analyzer to verify their suspicions and identify which computer is running the application. If they suspect an Internet-based server is being attacked, they can use the sniffer to capture and analyze the traffic sent to the server.

Attackers also use sniffers. For example, wireless attackers use wireless sniffers to capture wireless traffic. Once captured, it’s relatively easy to discover information such as the service set identifier (SSID) even if SSID broadcast is disabled, or to detect MAC addresses allowed via a MAC address filter.

Pass the Security+ exam the first time you take it:
CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide

Environmental monitor

An environmental monitor logs environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. It is useful in server rooms or data centers
to identify problems in environmental controls before they cause problems for the equipment. Many include logs that can be used to see if there is any relationship between system problems and environmental controls. For example, an overworked or failing air conditioner can result in systems overheating and randomly rebooting. The reboot times can be matched to the temperatures recorded in the environmental monitor logs.

Check out google images.

Loop back plug

A loop back plug swaps the send and receive signals on a single connector and can be used for testing ports. Data sent out the send pins is looped back to the receive pins and if it succeeds it verifies the port is working. Loopback plugs are commonly used to check network interface card (NIC) jacks and ports on switches.

Check out google images.

TDR

A time domain reflectometer (TDR) is used to identify the location of a break in a cable. It sends a signal down the wire and when the signal reaches the break, it is reflected back. The TDR is able to measure how much time it takes for the reflected signal to arrive and based on the time it can determine the exact location of a break. For cables that are hundreds of feet in length (or more), the TDS is invaluable in troubleshooting breaks.

A TDR can also identify the location of less severe problems. For example, if a cable is nicked, it affects the electrical characteristics of the cable and the TDR shows these differences, and the location of the problem.

Check out google images.

OTDR

An optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) measures the distance between cable ends for a fiber optic cable. It works similar to how a TDR works by sending a signal down the fiber cable and measuring how long it takes the signal to return. An OTDR will work with fiber cable.

Check out google images.

Multimeter

A multimeter is used to measure voltages, amperage, and resistance. A common use of a multimeter with network cables is to check for continuity. The diode setting is connected to the speaker.  When you select this and touch both probes together, it creates a short and the speaker beeps. When you disconnect the probes, there’s no beep. You can use this to touch two ends of a wire together and if it beeps, you know the cable has continuity and is good. If it doesn’t beep, you know the cable does not have continuity, and has a break in it.

Check out google images.

Summary

If you’re planning on taking the Network+ exam soon, this list of hardware tools are important to know.

Here are some links to more resources to help you pass the Network+ exam the first time you take it.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks a lot, really helped for my revision. But would you mind if I inquired about Software Tools for troubleshooting network?

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