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Network Maintenance and Troubleshooting Guide: Field Tested Solutions for Everyday Problems (2nd Edition) Paperback – October 28, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0321647412 ISBN-10: 0321647416 Edition: 2nd

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Network Maintenance and Troubleshooting Guide: Field Tested Solutions for Everyday Problems (2nd Edition) + Network Troubleshooting Tools (O'Reilly System Administration) + Network Warrior
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 2 edition (October 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321647416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321647412
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Network Maintenance and Troubleshooting Guide

Field-Tested Solutions for Everyday Problems, Second Edition

Neal Allen


The 100% practical, real-world guide to anticipating, finding, and solving network problems—fast!


Real-life networks don't always behave “by the book.” Troubleshooting them requires practical intuition that normally comes only with experience. In this book, Fluke Networks' Neal Allen brings together all that hard-won, hands-on insight: everything you need to discover what's really happening in your network, so you can anticipate and fix problems before users even notice them.


Writing for network technicians and administrators at all levels, Allen presents an approach to troubleshooting that has been proven in networks of all kinds, no matter how complex. He introduces indispensable triage and troubleshooting techniques for everything from copper and fiber cabling to IPv6, and presents unparalleled guidance on identifying and resolving problems at the MAC Layer. He illustrates his advice with diagrams, tables, and screen captures from Fluke Networks' market-leading instruments. Throughout this book, Allen also offers practical summaries of each of today's core networking technologies, making it an ideal complement to any network certification study guide.


Coverage includes

  • Using the OSI model to more efficiently troubleshoot networks layer by layer
  • Copper and fiber-optic cabling: theory, operation, and troubleshooting
  • Media Access Control (MAC) Layer: Ethernet theory and operation
  • Identifying and resolving problems related to IPv4 and IPv6 protocols
  • Preventing problems before they occur
  • Discovering device behavior
  • Troubleshooting switches
  • Using a protocol analyzer more successfully
  • Creating network documentation that helps you more efficiently prevent and resolve problems


Road tested by thousands of Fluke Networks customers, this book's first edition became the best-kept secret resource for sysadmins, netadmins, and support technicians fortunate enough to discover it. Now, Allen has thoroughly updated his classic for today's networks. If you're responsible for maintaining one of those networks, you'll find this new Second Edition even more indispensable.


Neal Allen is a senior staff engineer in the Fluke Networks' Technical Assistance Center (TAC) focusing on escalated problems. He has been involved in designing, installing, and troubleshooting networks for nearly 20 years. Allen has served on Interop's trade show Network Operations Center (NOC) team since 1993, troubleshooting show-floor problems at the Las Vegas and Atlanta Interop trade shows, and helped support and troubleshoot the network for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. His responsibilities currently include product feature specification and beta testing, remote and onsite problem solving, and providing training and sales support worldwide.

Cover design by Louisa Adair

Cover photography from Image Source / Getty Images

About the Author

Neal Allen is a senior engineer in the Technical Assistance Center (TAC) at Fluke Networks in Everett, Washington focusing on escalated issues related to Fluke Network s' server-based monitoring solutions.  His responsibilities in TAC are the particularly difficult or obscure problems, both phoned in and at various customer sites around the world.  He also works closely with the design engineers on new product or feature specifications and later on alpha and beta testing of the same.  Previously he was a product manager for handheld network analyzers.  His responsibilities in marketing were "anything the engineers don't do," including market research, writing manuals and literature, helping to specify and beta test new products and product features, attending and delivering papers at trade shows, and providing both training and sales support worldwide.  Allen has been involved in network design, installation, and troubleshooting for nearly 20 years.  Although his focus has been primarily OSI Layer 3 and below, he has also designed and taught a number of short seminars and a three-quarter introductory networking course at local community colleges.  Allen has been a member of the Interop trade show NOC (Network Operations Center) team since 1993 and, in addition to other responsibilities, is responsible for troubleshooting show-floor problems at the Las Vegas Interop trade shows.  Allen was chosen to help support and troubleshoot the network for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

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Customer Reviews

Great work Mr. Allen!
Richard Bejtlich
Very detailed and structured approach.
That alone is worth it!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Richard Bejtlich on January 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Good network troubleshooting books are rare. TCP/IP Analysis and Troubleshooting Toolkit by Kevin Burns (2003), Troubleshooting Campus Networks by Priscilla Oppenheimer and Joseph Bardwell (2002), and Network Analysis and Troubleshooting by Scott Haugdahl (1999) come to mind. Network Maintenance and Troubleshooting Guide (NMATG) brings a whole new dimension to network analysis, particularly at the lowest levels of the OSI model. I found topics covered in NMATG that were never discussed in other books. While not for every networking person, NMATG is a singular reference that belongs on a network professional's shelf.

I like network troubleshooting books because they tend to approach material from the perspective of problems. Comparing a functional network to a broken one is a great way to learn how networks work. NMATG spends the first half of the book explaining numerous low-level networking standards and concepts before talking about how to troubleshoot problems. He concentrates on layers 4 and below, with an amazing amount of detail on areas I never considered.

For example, author Neal Allen describes the optional MAC Control and Operations, Administration, and Maintenance (OAM) sublayers between the Medium Access Control and Logical Link Control layers. He describes how link autonegotiation happens at the protocol level. He carefully distinguishes between different versions of Ethernet. This sort of information is rarely found outside the specifications themselves, which the author frequently cites by section to reinforce his points.

Another unique feature of NMATG is the Waveform Decoding Exercise, where students are encouraged to work with a fold-out waveform to transform it into a trace.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on February 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
With 20 years of experience in network design, installation, and troubleshooting for Fluke, a major (if not the major) manufacturer of network testing equipment, Mr. Allen writes this book based on a great deal of personal experience. He also bases it on feedback received from users of the first edition but has brought everything up to date.

The book is said to be for the beginner, but that beginner should have at least a fundamental idea about what networks are, what they do, and how to set one up. It's when the network then quits working that this book comes into play. And it appears that Mr. Allen has seen just about everything that can go wrong. From this he has developed a technique of problem solving that fortunately can be used by most people.

The one complaint I have is that the book is printed in two columns with fairly small type. When you are sitting on the floor with cables all around you, the book is across the cabinet, you're reading it with a flashlight -- well, bigger type would help. Or maybe it's just my old eyes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. M. C. Dept on January 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
I was amazed at how comprehensive this book is and the only networking book I have ever read with a worksheet. This is a Great Book. The best book I've ever read for someone that really wants to understand networking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W Boudville HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
Allen's book is well suited for the self taught network technician or system administrator who wants a solid, tangible understanding of what Internet traffic means, as a physical phenomenon travelling down a copper wire or optical fiber. There are many books that give good explanations of TCP/IP v4 and v6, describing the packet composition and what the different layers mean. But to some readers of those books, there could be a practical gap between those descriptions and what you have in actual Internet traffic. Hence this book delves strongly at the physical layer level.

The early chapters explain diagnostic equipment, like an Optical Time Domain Reflectometer. Other equipment include protocol analysers, handheld network analysers and cable testers. You should certain keep and use the manuals for those objects. But those manuals focus on usages of each specific item. What Allen offers is an overview of the different common tools and how and when to use them, perhaps in concert, to diagnose problems.

The first 4 chapters take you up to the MAC layer in physicality and diagnostics. These chapters are the most distinguishing feature of the text. Later chapters are certainly germane, especially when they cover problems related to the physical and MAC layers. But by that time, you have often climbed high enough in abstraction, so that you are dealing with fully digitised packets and you're more in the realm of software.

The book also has a cardboard foldout of waveforms for an example Ethernet frame. Perhaps this is of limited use? The reader could be better served by downloading from the book's website.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Timothy G. Titus on November 11, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
If you are a network engineer with only a year of experience, or have many years behind you, this book is a required reference/training guide for your personal library.

Neal Allen's easy to follow explanation of extremely complex technologies make it enjoyable to learn the intricacies of how modern networks work, and how to support them.

If you've ever wondered how electrical impulses translate to bits, ethernet frames, IP packets, and result in an HTML document, this is the guide to follow. Neal takes great care in providing the details of what happens at each of the OSI layers, as well as describing what can go wrong and how to troubleshoot the problem.

If you're tired about reading other manuals that merely describe the OSI 7 layer model, and really want/need to know what actually happens inside each layer, this is your reference book.
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