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WUG's Free Visual Traceroute Tool

Alex Jablokow| May 11 2018

| monitoring


WhatsUp Gold’s free Visual Traceroute tool gives you a rapid and intuitive knowledge of your network status. 

For a network administrator, the ability to identify and isolate network connectivity problems quickly and accurately is key. And while you should have no trouble getting information from the classic tools you use at the command prompt, you know that accurate and intuitive visual display can really make your knowledge of network status more accurate.

WhatsUp Gold’s free Visual Traceroute tool gives you a rapid and intuitive knowledge of your network status. It provides you with detailed response time data from source to destination in a presentable way, hop by hop. Additionally, you can scan continuously, over a specified time period, or just once depending on your needs.

The Visual Traceroute tool is part of Ipswitch’s Network Manager’s Toolkit.

The Classic Ways of Tracking Packets

As a system administrator, you have tools such as ping and traceroute, but they don’t provide enough information to really isolate and identify specific segment failures or the locations of bandwidth bottlenecks. Command-line tools such as tracert and pathping can assist in troubleshooting network connection issues, but provide no way of visualizing the path and its details. These tools also lack the ability to track TCP (transmission control protocol) and UDP (user datagram protocol) packets. TCP and UDP packets can take different paths than ICMP (internet control message protocol) packets, and some firewalls block ICMP packets.

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A ping command sends an ICMP echo request packet to the IP address of the destination device, which responds with an echo response packet. If it returns, you know you have Layer 3 connectivity. If it does not return, all you know is that you don’t have connectivity, but not why.

A tracert command sends either UDP or ICMP packets and looks for the echo. But it also manipulates time to live (TTL), sending out packets with TTLs starting at zero, then with increasing numbers, each time seeing the echoes and seeing the number of hops and how far the packet gets.

The TTL parameter relates, not to time, but to the number of times a packet has been forwarded, and thus how far away the destination is in network terms. The TTL on a packet gets decremented every time it is forwarded by a router, eventually reaching zero, which keeps packets from being forwarded endlessly around loops.

Visual Trace Route Shows the Path Your Packets Follow

You want to find the weakest links in your network, and their IP addresses, so that you can make accurate optimization decisions about your network, improving the function of your website, application, or web service.  A visual interface makes it easier to see the various routes your IP packets actually take. The visual trace gives you an intuitive sense of how the network is behaving, minute by minute.

One graphical overview Visual Traceroute gives you is of the statistics, showing the latency, or delay, for each hop along the way. You can set sliders to establish maximum desired latencies and see which links are varying the most over time. That unpredictable timing can be a bigger problem than a known, longer latency, depending on the application. It can also provide you with topology map that combines all the traces into a single network diagram.

Understanding and reporting

It’s one thing to troubleshoot a specific instance of a problem. But reporting and tracking over time can give you a deeper understanding of your connectivity. By tracking IP round-trip time and statistics per router hop, you can establish a baseline, and quickly see when there are unexpected problems.

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Topics: monitoring

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Alex Jablokow is a freelance writer who specializes in technical and healthcare business. He blogs about the Internet of Things, software, inertial guidance systems, and other topics for business clients. Sturdy Words, his freelance content business, is at www.sturdywords.com.

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