Implement an Action Plan and Solution Including Potential Effects

After identifying a cause, but before implementing a solution, you should develop a plan for the solution. This is particularly a concern for server systems in which taking the server offline is a difficult and undesirable prospect. After identifying the cause of a problem on the server, it is absolutely necessary to plan for the solution. The plan must include details around when the server or network should be taken offline and for how long, what support services are in place, and who will be involved in correcting the problem.

Planning is a very important part of the whole troubleshooting process and can involve formal or informal written procedures. Those who do not have experience troubleshooting servers might be wondering about all the formality, but this attention to detail ensures the least amount of network or server downtime and the maximum data availability.

With the plan in place, you should be ready to implement a solutionthat is, apply the patch, replace the hardware, plug in a cable, or implement some other solution. In an ideal world, your first solution would fix the problem, although unfortunately this is not always the case. If your first solution does not fix the problem, you will need to retrace your steps and start again.

It is important that you attempt only one solution at a time. Trying several solutions at once can make it very unclear which one actually corrected the problem.

Testing the Results

After the corrective change has been made to the server, network, or workstation, it is necessary to test the resultsnever assume. This is when you find out if you were right and the remedy you applied actually worked. Don't forget that first impressions can be deceiving, and a fix that seems to work on first inspection might not actually have corrected the problem.

The testing process is not always as easy as it sounds. If you are testing a connectivity problem, it is not difficult to ascertain whether your solution was successful. However, changes made to an application or to databases you are unfamiliar with are much more difficult to test. It might be necessary to have people who are familiar with the database or application run the tests with you in attendance.

Identify the Results and Effects of the Solution

Sometimes, you will apply a fix that corrects one problem but creates another problem. Many such circumstances are hard to predictbut not always. For instance, you might add a new network application, but the application requires more bandwidth than your current network infrastructure can support. The result would be that overall network performance would be compromised.

Everything done to a network can have a ripple effect and negatively affect another area of the network. Actions such as adding clients, replacing hubs, and adding applications can all have unforeseen results. It is very difficult to always know how the changes you make to a network are going to affect the network's functioning. The safest thing to do is assume that the changes you make are going to affect the network in some way and realize that you just have to figure out how. This is when you might need to think outside the box and try to predict possible outcomes.