Something a bit more simple, yet sometimes very effective: using static host entries. Once again, I have unstable internet at home and it disconnects from time to time. While the other users in my house have some basic knowledge about networking, it’s not their thing, so it’s limited to ping and ipconfig.

The topology in my house does not make it easier for them: a computer connected to a managed switch, which then connects to an ISP modem with build-in router functionality (NAT, DHCP). It’s not always clear what is the cause: sometimes the internet goes down, but the modem/router has also crashed at times, and at one time the cable towards the switch failed and had to be replaced. While I can quickly see where the problem is depending on what I can ping, other users don’t remember all those IP addresses.

Until I got the idea to create static host entries. These are like DNS entries, but configured on a local computer so it’s not dependent on the network to use them, and simple entries can be made for devices that do not have DNS entries.

In Windows, these entries can be made in the hosts file, which you can find in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc as a file without extension. It can be opened in notepad and per line an entry can be added, e.g. ‘192.168.1.1 modem’ and ‘192.168.1.2 switch’. In Linux, this is the /etc/hosts file, and in MAC OSX, it’s /private/etc/hosts . After modifying it, troubleshooting becomes much more clear:

PingSwitch

The switch can still be reached, and a ping to ‘modem’ shows if the modem is still alive. Simple and effective.

Of course this is mainly useful at home, although this can be interesting for a remote office as well. It makes troubleshooting with end users easier, as no IP addresses have to be dictated through the phone or looked up in documentation.

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