Build Your Own Network Map in Windows

Here’s a quick tip for users of Windows 7.

With the number of computers growing in homes and small businesses it can be hard to keep track of how things are connected without following all of the network cables and drawing up a schematic of the network. Now, maybe the dedicated amongst us would prefer to do it the manual way on paper or even use Microsoft Office Visio to do the trick but for the rest of us there is the Network Map tool in Windows.

To get to the Network Map utility, do the following:

  • Click “Start”,
  • Click “Control Panel”,
  • Click “Network and Internet”,
  • Click “Network and Sharing Center”,
  • Click “See full map” in the top right-hand corner.

You should see something resembling the following:

Network Map Utility in Windows 7

Network Map Utility in Windows 7

Now, there are a few things to bear in mind. Firstly, computer that are not running Windows Vista or Windows 7 will not show up on the map.  Secondly, you may have extraneous hubs and switches appear which may represent the switches built into devices like routers, router modems, wireless access points, VoIP phones and bridging devices. Lastly, devices that are connected more than once to the network (like i7 in the above map, my desktop computer) will show up as many times as there are network cards connected. In my network, I have i7 connected directly to WHS1 with a gigabit connection with a secondary 100Mbps connection straight to the main router.

Another handy feature of the Network Map utility is that you can on some of the objects like the computers, routers and gateways to get access to more information.

For a free tool it’s not bad putting aside the issue with switches and hubs appearing out of thin air and it’d give you a head start if you are planning to make a diagram in another tool without having to rummage around the network.

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