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Logical Fault Isolation in six steps

A handy list of steps to solving complex networking problems, complete with an easy to remember acronym.

Complex problems often yield to a structured analytic approach. The idea is to create a logical step-by-step procedure...

that will accurately identify the cause of a network problem, a process that is also repeatable. The idea is to isolate a problem using Logical Fault Isolation, and to find the correct solution the first time. In order to isolate a problem you should follow the following six basic steps:

  1. Assess the level or concern and the priority the problem has. Not every problem is important, or requires an immediate solution.
  2. Discover all information related to the fault. This information is best gathered from a number of sources, such as user interviews, log analysis and other network activity information.
  3. Justify the cause of the fault and analyze the information found in discovery to suggest possible fault testing.
  4. Unit test to isolate the fault. The process should be test, evaluate and isolate.
  5. Systematically analyze the fault data. Perhaps your testing found the problem, then further work isn't required. However, many problems are complex and result from interactions of faults with other faults or complex systems. So in this step the idea is to review the fault data until you have isolated the problem.
  6. Transcribe the findings and document the process. It's a good idea to generate a record of the problem and its solution. You never know when it might crop up in the future.

The acronym to remember these steps is ADJUST.

Barrie Sosinsky is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.

This was last published in February 2004

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