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Sams Teach Yourself Network Troubleshooting in 24 Hours, Second Edition by Jonathan Feldman

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What the Heck Is a Protocol Analyzer?

Every time I talk about protocol analyzers, I think about a piece of network gear reclined on a couch, with some Freudian white-bearded psychoanalyst listening to it babble on about its problems. As silly as that seems, this picture isn’t far off—a protocol analyzer’s primary job is to listen while other network gear talks.

Protocol analyzers, while they have a physical and data-link connection, operate primarily on the network layer. Although some have special hardware to detect data link or physical problems, most are simply software operating on a PC with a network card that is able to run in “promiscuous” mode—that is, a NIC that is physically able to listen for frames that are destined for MAC addresses ...

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