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Servers: Ping & Traceroute

lowry
Grafter
Posts: 478
Registered: 08-04-2007

Servers: Ping & Traceroute

Tutorial: Servers: Ping & Traceroute

Many issues can surface on the internet and often it is hard to figure out how to find out what is wrong, and how to solve them. For example, we will say that we can’t reach our favourite website www.bbc.co.uk, is it a problem at our ISP or at the BBC’s network or somewhere in between? Pings & Traceroutes are two useful tools that can help here. You often hear gamers speaking of their ping times, as pings can be important for online gaming – the faster the ping time, the closer to real-time the game will be.

A traceroute (unix) /tracert (windows) shows the route taken through the internet to a chosen destination and it also shows the response times (PINGs) in milliseconds for each hop (step of the route). Here is an example of the output of a traceroute:
Quote

Tracing route to www.bbc.net.uk [212.58.224.81]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 54 ms 32 ms 39 ms lo1.plusnet.pth-ag2.plus.net [195.166.128.6]
2 40 ms 39 ms 39 ms gi1-2.vlan3.pth-gw4.plus.net [212.159.1.3]
3 37 ms 39 ms 39 ms ge0-1-0-22.ptn-gw1.plus.net [195.166.129.214]
4 37 ms 39 ms 39 ms rt-linx-b.thdo.bbc.co.uk [195.66.226.103]
5 37 ms 39 ms 39 ms 212.58.238.153
6 38 ms 39 ms 39 ms www30.thdo.bbc.co.uk [212.58.224.81]

Trace complete.


In this tutorial, it is my aim to show you what a ping and a traceroute are, and how to perform one using both Windows' built-in tools and using a useful bit of software called WinMTR.

PING
After typing in “DefineTongueING” into Google, the following definition appeared:
Packet Internet Groper - A program used to test whether a particular network destination is online, by sending an Internet control message protocol (ICMP) echo request and waiting for a response (Also called packet internet gopher).

A simple way to think of a ping is it is like an echo-sound from a boat in the sea, it measures the time taken (in milliseconds) to get to the server/router and back.


For the sake of this tutorial, we are going to ping Jolt.co.uk, a popular UK Gaming service which is hosted on the Nildram network. Follow the steps below.


  • Open a DOS window/Command Prompt window in Windows.

  • Once this window is open, type “ping www.jolt.co.uk” in to it.


  • The following should appear


To copy & paste the output into a forum, document or something else – right click anywhere in the window and select “select all” from the menu that appears. Then when everything is highlighted, press Ctrl+C to copy it. Then, open whatever you want to paste the output into and press Ctrl+V and it should appear.

Traceroute (unix) / Tracert (windows)
After typing in “Define:Traceroute” into Google, the following definition appeared:
TraceRoute is a tool that shows you the network path between two locations. It shows you the address and how long it takes to get to each hop in the path. When there is a problem with the network, traceroute can often be used to narrow down where the problem is occurring. This form will do a traceroute from this server to another location. Enter the domain name or IP address of the other location in the text entry box.

A traceroute is known as a 'tracert' in Windows.

For the sake of this tutorial, we are going to perform a traceroute to Jolt.co.uk, a popular UK gaming service which is hosted on the Nildram network. Follow the steps below:


  • Open a DOS/Command Prompt window in Windows.

  • Once this window is open, type “tracert www.jolt.co.uk” into it


  • The following should appear:


  • To copy & paste the output into a forum, document or something else – right click anywhere in the window and select “select all” from the menu that appears. Then when everything is highlighted, press Ctrl+C to copy it. Then, open whatever you want to paste the output into and press Ctrl+V and it should appear.


WinMTR
WinMTR is a useful bit of software that can also be used for traceroutes and pings, but it can tell you alot more than windows' built-in tools. Follow the steps below to see how to use it:


  • Download WinMTR, and then simply double-click the program icon to run it. This piece of software does not require an install. The following screen should appear:



  • Now, type "www.bbc.co.uk in to the field at the top left of the screen. WinMTR will then continuously ping the chosen destination until you request that it stops.

    This constant pinging lets WinMTR work out the best, average and worst ping which can be useful to see if your pings are steady, or are very variable. To paste the results into a forum or somewhere else (such as the fault reporting form), then just click the "copy text to clipboard" button.


  • Additionally, you can set WinMTR to ping a chosen server for a certain time interval or set the size of the data packet using the "options" button.


What can they tell us?

The traceroute below will be used as an example:
Quote

Tracing route to www.bbc.net.uk [212.58.224.81]
over a maximum of 30 hops:

1 54 ms 32 ms 39 ms lo1.plusnet.pth-ag2.plus.net [195.166.128.6]
2 40 ms 39 ms 39 ms gi1-2.vlan3.pth-gw4.plus.net [212.159.1.3]
3 37 ms 39 ms 39 ms ge0-1-0-22.ptn-gw1.plus.net [195.166.129.214]
4 37 ms 39 ms 39 ms rt-linx-b.thdo.bbc.co.uk [195.66.226.103]
5 37 ms 39 ms 39 ms 212.58.238.153
6 38 ms 39 ms 39 ms www30.thdo.bbc.co.uk [212.58.224.81]

Trace complete.


The traceroute shows the route my data packets are taking to the www server at bbc.co.uk (www.bbc.co.uk). Each step is called a hop and the router/server at each hop is pinged to see if it is alive, and the faster that the router sends a response back, the lower the ping time (measured in milliseconds).


  • "Request Timed out" - A traceroute can be useful if a website is not opening for a user, as the user can perform a traceroute to see which hop is not responding. If a hop is causing problems and there is no response, then the following will appear:

    Quote
    * * * Request timed out.


    The only problem is that sometimes network managers set routers to not respond to pings (possibly for security reasons) which means that the router may be fully functional but it is purposely not responding to ping requests.

  • Ping Spikes - Pings to UK servers from a UK ISP should be between 10-40ms on a residential ADSL connection. If there are hops in the route that are giving pings that are in the hundreds or just slightly higher there may be congestion or a hardware fault at this hop. Unfortunately PlusNet can not do much to fix this as it is outside of their network, however they can try and get the network provider to look into it. Here is an example:
    Quote
    4 121 ms 94 ms 104 ms rt-linx-b.thdo.bbc.co.uk [195.66.226.103]


  • Network/Transit Providers being used - A traceroute shows which network/transit providers are being used by your ISP to reach different servers around the internet. There will be less hops, if the route is more direct (i.e. using the least amount of different networks possible to get to the destination server). If the hops belonging to one of the networks/transit providers is giving high ping times or no response then you can see which part of the route has the problem. This enables you to report this issue to PlusNet or the provider in question.


Related Links





That completes the tutorial. If you have any questions, comments or feedback then please do not hesitate to PM me or one of the other members of the tutorials team.
Written by lowry