Documenting your network

Cheddoleum

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Feb 19, 2014
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So I'm well past the point where I can keep it all in my head, and only with some effort and a bit of walking between rooms can work it out by direct observation and fooling with the managed switch UIs...

So I'm mostly scrawling and erasing a diagram in a notebook to keep track of what ports of what nodes are plugged into what switch ports and what their VLAN and LAG settings are, etc.

What do you use? Excel worksheets? Visio diagrams? Neither are terribly web friendly, which means you have to be sitting at a console of a system which can run those programs to fiddle with them, or have VNC running on it. Interested in your thoughts.

(In case it's not obvious, I'm talking about a homelab/home office, but it involves multiple, frequently changing subnets connected and/or suitably isolated from multiple remote sites. So fairly complex for a home office but still well short of calling for some costly and heavily resourced enterprise-scale network management system.)
 
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CreoleLakerFan

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Oct 29, 2013
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I like to keep most of my notes in Onenote (or Google Docs) for just about everything, although sometimes I'll throw in a spreadsheet for a switch/rack elevation. That way I can edit from a laptop/workstation, and pull out my phone if I'm working in a wiring closet, or in the rack in the garage, or on an exterior drop or some other location where it's inconvenience to use something with a keyboard. I haven't gone as far as creating Visios for my home/lab network just yet.

I try to do a decent job of labeling switchports (in the config), and I use color coded cables so at least I have an idea of what I will be taking down if I yank a cable:

Red - Internet DMZ
Orange - Trunk
Yellow - Management
Green - Consumer gear (Media players, gaming console, IoT, etc)
Blue - Servers/workstation
Purple - Hypervisor
 
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PigLover

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Jan 26, 2011
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Google docs/google sheets is perfect. Sheet for switch port assignments, static ip, etc and diagrams for everything else.

Could do the same with ExcelVisio/Word if using office 365 - the android and iPod apps are decent and portable as long as you store them on Onedrive or Dropbox.
 

Rand__

Well-Known Member
Mar 6, 2014
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I still hope to find a tool to run a for self-documenting network based on lldp and smart scanning technology;)
 
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Cheddoleum

Member
Feb 19, 2014
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I run Docuwiki for permanent documentation.
Good thought. Most of the suggestions involve the cloud, which I'm just a little bit allergic to for privacy and data-mining reasons; self-hosting appeals to me more. Ran my own instance of MoinMoin for most of a decade and I can't believe I'd forgotten that until this moment.

Also the ancient, simple, and now weirdly retro-cool WebNote can be self-hosted as well, and its draggable sticky-note metaphor really might lend itself to representing network connectivity now that I think about it. Certainly at least as well as the paper and pencil I've been using at any rate. I'll give it a try.

Damn, now I'm having flashbacks to the aughties.
 
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csementuh

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Oct 7, 2019
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I keep it simple and use Excel files backed up to my cloud storage so it's accessible anywhere. For patch panel ports and switch configs, sometimes I'll make color coded graphics in Excel and print them out to stick on the wall next to the rack.
 
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