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BGP by Iljitsch van Beijnum

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Managing the Troubleshooting Process

To be able to troubleshoot effectively, you must do three things at once: apply deductive reason to analyze the problem in a structured way, apply creativity to arrive at a solution intuitively, and manage the troubleshooting process. If you had all the time in the world, you could choose to either completely analyze every aspect of the problem or wait until you have an epiphany. But you don’t, so you’ll have to put both brain hemispheres to work at the same time. This is done by eliminating possible sources of the problem one by one. Rather than starting at potential problem source number one and working your way up until you’ve eliminated them all, you allow your intuition and experience to select the most likely candidates. When the creative side of your brain draws a blank, you just continue down the systematic path until inspiration strikes again. Don’t cut any corners by immediately jumping to something else as soon as you see your hunch was wrong or because you suddenly get a new hunch. If your hunch was “maybe it’s the collisions on the Ethernet interface,” you should take a few moments to look at the other interface statistics while they’re on the screen, so you don’t have to waste time later by coming back and checking something that was right under your nose.

Balancing rational and intuitive thinking is hard. Regularly take a step back to check whether you’re getting anywhere with your current approach, and ask yourself if there is ...

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