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As an administrator, I have to access the network settings of one computer or another about three times a day during the course of usual operations. When I'm performing a support role, such as when a system is down or when a client has a problem, I'll most likely access the network settings on the machine at least once during the process of troubleshooting and fixing the problem. Most people access their network settings by double-clicking Control Panel, then scrolling down to and double-clicking their network icon. However, you can access the network settings much faster, and sometimes speed is of the essence.

I recently had to perform an emergency move of a large Web site from one machine to another. The machine's application server was failing because of a new server-side application that the client had installed, which turned out to have compatibility problems in the machine. Of course, the server started to fail only when the visitor load was heavy, so I had to make the move during prime time on the Web, when the visitor load was heaviest. The one failing application server was killing performance to about 200 other Web sites on the server machine, and shutting down that application server didn't make things any better.

I successfully recreated the site on the new server machine and reinstalled the necessary application (which was working properly). I installed the site IP addresses on the new machine and just had to remove the site IP addresses from the old machine, then restart both machines. When I clicked the old machine's My Computer icon to bring up Control Panel, it took about 60 seconds to open. Long story short, with the machine bogged down as it was, it took about 3 minutes to call up the Network Settings window. This delay more than doubled the length of the outage on the machine. During those 3 minutes, 3000 to 5000 visitors could not get service from the sites on the server machine.

I discovered then that the fastest way to access your server machine's Network applet is to right-click Network Neighborhood, then select Properties. The Network applet is immediately open on your desktop, and you might save 5000 visitors to your Web site.

Thanks to Kevin Hayes of Internet Access and Web Services of Florida for this tip.

—Marnie Hutcheson
marnie@ideva.com