Book Reviews

The Ultimate Administrator's Repair Manual

Your time is valuable, so keep your search for troubleshooting solutions short and just buy this book.

Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies, published last year, is a compilation of diagnostic tools and methods used to troubleshoot Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, and XP environments. Its 672 pages of text and diagrams are divided into 13 chapters, three very useful appendices, and includes a bonus CD with 15 recommended diagnostic programs.

Wolf's main objective is to introduce all of the diagnostic tools available within the Microsoft system. In places where these fall short, Wolf has added more robust third-party diagnostics on the companion CD. His goal is to put you on target with the right tools and information, plus the confidence to quickly identify the problem. This book employs a beautiful combination of information, structure, and writer's style to accomplish this lofty goal.

Because of his extensive knowledge and experience in the subject, Chris Wolf can offer a top-down approach to troubleshooting. All problem areas are illuminated and well- defined. In Chapters 2, 3 and 4, he begins with a brief overview of Fundamental Networking, Troubleshooting Techniques, and Monitoring and Diagnostic Tools. More than just an information reference, these chapters establish the framework for the investigations to follow. They are clear, concise, and fast reading, sharing insight into the author's thoughts and experiences in the subject matter.

The remaining nine chapters describe all the areas where you're likely to be saddled with problems. These chapters include: Disk Systems, Office XP, DNS, DHCP, RRAS, and Active Directory. Each chapter is separated into discrete sections that improve random-access information availability.

Each section presents a failure mode and the diagnostic tools available to help you quickly identify the problem. The author is quick to include threads, references, and comments where he feels they may be helpful. The three appendices provide an indexed list of essential information. Appendix A is an alphabetized list of all the command line tools, their description, syntax, and author's comments. Appendix B lists error codes and messages. Here the author takes a little more time to explain the error message and offers his approach to resolving the problem. Appendix C provides information about the third-party diagnostic utilities included on the companion CD.

What impresses the most is how fast the author grabs and holds your attention. He writes in a coffeehouse, conversational style that revisits your experiences, expands what you already know and moves your imagination into your system's most challenging areas. No matter what your IT function, I defy you to peruse this book and not want to possess it — and keep it within arm's reach.

About the Author

As an IT pro, Paul Kiley has been solving nagging PC and server problems for years — and keeps his family's machines humming nicely as well.

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