Use Network Map to manage and troubleshoot networked devices

By Ed Bott, Carl Siechert, and Craig Stinson
(Adapted from Windows Vista Inside Out © 2007 Microsoft Corporation. To learn more about this book, visit the Microsoft Learning website.)

Picture of Windows Vista Inside Out cover

MOST SIMPLE NETWORKS of 10 computers or fewer work just fine with Windows Vista. When you encounter network problems, however, the troubleshooting process can be tricky because it’s difficult to determine where the fault lies.

In some cases, network problems are directly related to hardware on the local computer, elsewhere on your network, or at another stop on the connection between your computer and an Internet destination. But the problem is just as likely to be caused by a faulty configuration on your computer. In this article, we explain how to use a new Windows Vista feature called network mapping to help identify and repair common network configuration problems.

Using Windows Vista network mapping

Network mapping uses the Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) protocol to find the other computers and devices on your network, and then displays them in a schematic representation. To display the map, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click Control Panel, click Network and Internet, and then click Network and Sharing Center. In the upper-right corner, click View full map. (If your computer is on a domain, network mapping might be disabled. Check with your network administrator.) The following illustration shows an example map.
Picture of Network Map
The computer you’re using is always shown in the upper-left corner of Network Map

Network mapping works with wired and wireless networks, but only on private and domain network locations. You can’t view a map of a public network. LLTD maps only the computers in a single subnet, which is the typical setup in a home or small office.

You might notice that some computers and devices are shown separately at the bottom of the Network Map window, or they might be missing altogether. For example, the device at the bottom of the Network Map window in the previous illustration is a wireless network print server that supports UPnP technology, but not LLTD. This occurs because not all operating systems and devices include LLTD support or because the devices might not be configured properly.

Devices shown at the bottom of the network mapping schematic generally fall into one of the following categories.

Computers running Windows XP

LLTD is installed by default in Windows Vista, but is not included in earlier Windows versions. An LLTD client is available for Windows XP, and it should be available through Windows Update. (To find out if it’s installed, look at the properties for the network connection and see if LLTD appears in the list of installed protocols.)

You can download and install the protocol without Windows Update (for more information, go to the Network Map help and support article on the Microsoft website). LLTD components are not currently available for other versions of Windows.

Other network devices

LLTD, along with another network discovery–related technology called Plug and Play Extensions (or PnP-X), is part of the Windows Rally technologies, an initiative for network hardware devices that gained momentum in 2006.

Devices that include LLTD support are expected to be widely available in 2007 and later. But earlier devices are not fully recognized by Network Map. Most devices sold in recent years support UPnP architecture, which should get the device somewhere in the map window. However, Network Map displays only limited information about the device and offers only limited control of the device.

Configuration problems

In Network and Sharing Center, be sure that your network is not identified as a public network, and be sure that network discovery is turned on. Click Manage network connections to view the properties of your network connection and to be sure that two LLTD-related protocols, Link-Layer Topology Discovery Mapper I/O Driver and Link-Layer Topology Discovery Responder, are installed and enabled (that is, their check boxes are selected).

Whether you use Windows Firewall or another firewall, be sure it has an exception enabled for file and printer sharing.

Network Map is more than a pretty picture

In Network Map, if you hover the mouse pointer over a computer or other device, you get more information about the device, including information such as its IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and its media access control (MAC) address. Network infrastructure devices (such as routers) that include Windows Rally support offer a menu of choices when you click them. Usually one of these choices leads to the device’s configuration page. For computers with shared resources, you can double-click them in Network Map to open them, just as you can in the Network folder.

Network Map, like the mini-map in Network and Sharing Center, indicates broken network connections with an X. Click Diagnose and repair to attempt a solution.

Picture of broken network connection in Network Map
Network Map indicates broken network connections with an X

About the authors

Picture of Ed Bott

Ed Bott is an award-winning journalist and one of the most recognized voices in the computing world. He’s been writing about Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office for more than 15 years and is the author of nearly two dozen books.

Picture of Carl Siechert

Carl Siechert specializes in implementing and documenting operating system technologies. He has coauthored several Windows-related books including the popular Microsoft Windows XP Inside Out, Second Edition with Ed Bott and Craig Stinson.

Picture of Craig Stinson

Craig Stinson is a journalist and author. He has written or coauthored more than 20 books including Microsoft Windows XP Inside Out, Deluxe Edition, and Microsoft Office Excel 2007 Inside Out.

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