Network+ Troubleshooting Model

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Network+ Troubleshooting Model

If you plan to take the Network+ exam, you should be aware of the Network+ troubleshooting model concepts listed by CompTIA. The good news is that this is rather straight forward if you look at the objectives. However, without an understanding of the Network+ troubleshooting model, question like the following might be challenging.

Sample Network+ Troubleshooting Model Questions

Can you answer these questions?

Q1. Sally has told you that she can no longer access a data share on a server within the network. Of the following choices, what is the BEST choice as your first step?

A. Check the server

B. Check the router

C. Check the switch

D. Ask Sally if anything on her computer has changed

Answer later in this blog.


Q2. Bob is troubleshooting a problem where a user is unable to access some network resources. He has determined that the fault is within a managed switch. However, he isn’t familiar with this switch and does not know how to access the configuration page. What should he do?

A. Gather information

B. Escalate the problem

C. Establish a plan of action

D. Document findings, actions, and outcomes

Answer later in this blog.

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Network+ Troubleshooting Model Objectives

CompTIA provides specific troubleshooting steps within the objectives. If you took the A+ exam, these should look familiar to you though they aren’t exactly the same. You should understand the specific steps and their order. They are:

  • Identify the problem:
    • Information gathering
    • Identify symptoms
    • Question users
    • Determine if anything has changed
  • Establish a theory of probable cause
    • Question the obvious
  • Test the theory to determine cause:
    • Once theory is confirmed determine next steps to resolve problem.
    • If theory is not confirmed, re-establish new theory or escalate.
  • Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and identify potential effects
  • Implement the solution or escalate as necessary
  • Verify full system functionality and if applicable implement preventative measures
  • Document findings, actions and outcomes

If you know the order of the steps in the Network+ troubleshooting model, it will be easier to answer many of the questions that use phrases such as “What should you do FIRST?” or “What should you do LAST?” It also allows you to answer other questions about the model through logic and elimination. The only thing that might be confusing is when to escalate a problem.

Escalating Problems

There are times when you need to escalate a problem. This means that you pass the problem onto someone else within your organization. For example, many organizations use multiple tiers or levels of support. Personnel working in lower levels have very basic knowledge and do not have sufficient rights or permissions to resolve some problems. Instead, they need to escalate problems to higher-level technicians that have more knowledge and adequate rights and permissions. Common tiers or levels used in organizations are:

  • Tier 1 support is the most basic support. Personnel have basic skills, knowledge, and permissions to resolve simple problems. If technicians working at Tier 1 cannot resolve a problem, they can escalate it to Tier 2.
  • Tier 2 support technicians have a higher level of knowledge, experience, and permissions than Tier 1 personnel do. They assist Tier 1 personnel and can handle problems that are more complex. If Tier 2 support technicians cannot resolve a problem, they can escalate it to Tier 3.
  • Tier 3 support is often the highest level of support within an organization. Administrators and technicians at this level resolve the most complex problems. If they cannot resolve the problem, they might need to get assistance from outside the organization.

Network+ Troubleshooting Model Flowcharts

The first three steps of the Network+ troubleshooting model are shown in the following flow chart. This shows how a technician can loop between establishing a theory and testing a theory multiple times. At some point, the technician either confirms the theory and moves on to the next step in the troubleshooting model, or escalates the problem.

Network+ Troubleshooting Model Flowchart 1

At this stage, the primary reason technicians escalate a problem is when they run out of ideas for new theories. In other words, the technicians have exhausted their current knowledge and experience.

The next flow chart shows the last four stages of the Network+ troubleshooting model. This also has a decision point and an option to escalate the problem, though it’s for a different reason. At this stage, the primary reason technicians escalate a problem is when they lack the rights or permissions to implement a solution. As an example, a technician might determine that a network switch has failed and should be replaced. However, if the technician doesn’t have adequate rights or permissions to replace a switch, the technician escalates the problem.

Network+ Troubleshooting Model Flowchart 2

Sample Network+ Troubleshooting Theory Question and Answer

Here’s the answer to the question posted at the beginning of this blog.

Q1. Sally has told you that she can no longer access a data share on a server within the network. Of the following choices, what is the BEST choice as your first step?

A. Check the server

B. Check the router

C. Check the switch

D. Ask Sally if anything on her computer has changed

Answer D is correctThe first step in the CompTIA troubleshooting model is to identify the problem and this includes questioning users and determining if anything has changed. You might choose to check the server, the router, and the switch later in your troubleshooting steps, but you should first identify the problem by gathering information, identifying symptoms, questioning users, and determining if anything has changed.

Realistic practice test questions for the Network+ N10-005 exam Available through LearnZapp on your mobile phone

Q2. Bob is troubleshooting a problem where a user is unable to access some network resources. He has determined that the fault is within a managed switch. However, he isn’t familiar with this switch and does not know how to access the configuration page. What should he do?

A. Gather information

B. Escalate the problem

C. Establish a plan of action

D. Document findings, actions, and outcomes

Answer B is correct. When technicians do not have enough knowledge or experience to troubleshoot further, they should escalate the problem and in this case, Bob doesn’t know how to access the configuration page of the managed switch. Gathering information is part of the first step (identifying the problem) but Bob has already done this step. If Bob had the knowledge of how to configure the switch, he should establish a plan of action but without this knowledge, he should escalate the problem. The last step is to document findings, actions, and outcomes but this is done after the problem is resolved.

Network+ Kindle Shorts

Topics in this blog came from the CompTIA Network+ Basic Networking Components (A Get Certified Get Ahead Kindle Short) ebook. This Kindle Short will be Chapter 1 in the upcoming CompTIA Network+ Get Certified Get Ahead Study Guide written in the same style as the top selling CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead Study Guide. Network+ Kindle shorts currently available are:


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