Network tools

A friend has a small business and has asked me to assist with some networking issues.  I'll be honest, I know enough to be dangerous when it comes to networking.
I have:
3 pcs & 1 notebook
A belkin router
A hp 3600 printer, networked.

The printer was added to each pc by add printer, local, tcpip, and specifying the ip address I had manually entered on the printer. I was told by belkin ts to enter 192.168.2.10 in the printer. It was all working fine when I set it up but I've been told that subsequently the printing has been intermittant. I have to go back up there this afternoon to fix it.
I was wondering if there are any free tools available that might make this process a whole lot easier to manage & test?
All suggestions welcome!
rockmonstersAsked:
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rettif9DaleCommented:
One possible cause is an IP address conflict. The Belkin router is running DHCH to assign IP addresses for each device. Belkin routers normally use 192.168.2.x for DHCP. Log into the router to check the range of IP adresses it uses. If 192.168.2.10 is part of the  range then it needs to be excluded from the range. It is also possible that one of the workstations may have 192.168.2.10 statically assigned as its IP address which would also cause a conflict when that computer is on-line.

A few free tools that can be run from the command line are nbtstat, arp, and of course ping.
Use [tool name] /? for help.
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rockmonstersAuthor Commented:
Thanks Rttif.

Do you happen to know of a suite of tools that might make this whole process easier? Something that maybe shows whats all connected and how well it's running.
Thanks.
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rettif9DaleCommented:
Well,, That depends on what you want to know in particular. As far as configuring your router printer and workstations most modern routers come with a configuration wizard. Some are  better than others. The manual configuration process isn't that difficult and will make troubleshooting much easier once you understand it. I recommend taking the time to learn if you can.

nbtstat -r will provide a list of computer names on the local subnet resolved by broadcast and WINS if available.
nbtstat -c will provide a table of resolved names and their IP addresses (cache is volatile run -c after  -r)

For a wider array of tools you can look at Ultimate Boot CD here
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
and be sure to check out Sysinternals tools available from Microsoft here.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb842062.aspx
These are must haves!!

rettif9
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rockmonstersAuthor Commented:
Thanks rettif9, I'll check them out.
Basically I want to find out why the connection to the network printer becomes intermittant. Sometimes a reboot of the pcs resolves the problems, othertimes not. Any idea what it might be and the best approach, step by step, to resolve this?
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rettif9DaleCommented:
When you suspect a network communication problem always work your way up from the hardware. Your troubleshooting technique should demonstrate that the hardware is working and then that TCP/IP is correctly configured. Since there is no DNS server netbios is being used for name resolution unless you have an LMHosts file configured. Command line tools like nslookup, nbtstat, arp, ping and the ipconfig command can demonstrate that the hardware is working and that TCP/IP is configured correctly. Here is a Microsoft guide for troubleshooting a simple network.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308007/
Also look at any firewalls included with antivirus software. Most permit you to configure a trusted local network. You can temporarily disable your firewall  as a troubleshooting technique.

Then look at Windows configuration. Once you have demonstrated that all devices are communicating at the TCP/IP level then check that file and printer sharing is enabled and that all devices are in the same workgroup. You haven't mentioned what OS you are working with. I am assuming XP. If Vista then there are additional steps.
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rockmonstersAuthor Commented:
Two of the pcs have vista...
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rettif9DaleCommented:
Here is a good guide for file and printer sharing in Windows Vista.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb727037.aspx
Keep in mind that a network printer doesn't need to be shared in the way that a USB connected printer does but in order for network discovery to work correctly the network type needs to be  configured as private for a workgroup.
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rockmonstersAuthor Commented:
Thanks Rettif9, I will study up on all your suggestions and try it out tomorrow.
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