One of the most overlooked steps in troubleshooting is to actually verify that the problem that was reported is occurring as it was reported. Far too often, people report what they suspect the problem is without being for certain that the problem is indeed related to the firewall. I have lost count of how many times I have heard "I cannot access this server, the firewall must be down" only to discover that the server itself was down. So before you begin the actual troubleshooting process, ensure that the problem has been reported accurately and that you understand and if possible can reproduce or see the problem as it is occurring. The old saying "To know where you are going, you need to know where you are at" holds true in troubleshooting. Before you can troubleshoot a problem, you need to make sure you know what the problem is.
Another aspect of verifying the problem is to make sure you treat the problem, not the symptoms. This is similar to treating a medical patient. If a person comes in with a fever and all you do is treat the fever (the symptom), you have done nothing to fix the problem (the illness causing the fever). Accordingly, when the problem is reported, try to distinguish between the symptoms of the problem (which are normally what is reported) and the problem itself. The reason for this is simple. If all you do is treat the symptoms, you may eliminate the cause for the problem being reported, but you have not fixed the problem itself, and a good chance exists that it will reappear at some point in the future. This is particularly true when it comes to dealing with performance-related issues. It is easy to lose sight of the problem, treat the symptom, and move on without ever addressing the root cause of the performance problem.
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