Drive Change Networking Basic Network Troubleshooting Tools Everyone Must Know

Basic Network Troubleshooting Tools Everyone Must Know



Network troubleshooting tools are a necessity for every network administrator. When getting started in the networking field, it is important to amass a number of tools that can be used to troubleshoot a variety of different network conditions.

While it is true that the the use of specific tools can be subjective and at the discretion of the engineer, the selection of tools in this article has been made based on their generality and common use. This article reviews the top basic tools that can help you troubleshoot most networking issues.

Ping

The most commonly used network tool is the ping utility. This utility is used to provide a basic connectivity test between the requesting host and a destination host. This is done by using the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) which has the ability to send an echo packet to a destination host and a mechanism to listen for a response from this host. Simply stated, if the requesting host receives a response from the destination host, this host is reachable. This utility is commonly used to provide a basic picture of where a specific networking problem may exist. For example, if an Internet connection is down at an office, the ping utility can be used to figure out whether the problem exists within the office or within the network of the Internet provider. Figure 1 below shows an example of the ping utility being used to obtain the reachability status of the locally connected router.

Tracert/traceroute

Typically, once the ping utility has been used to determine basic connectivity, the tracert/traceroute utility can used to determine more specific information about the path to the destination host including the route the packet takes and the response time of these intermediate hosts. Figure 2 below shows an example of the tracert utility being used to find the path from a host inside an office to www.google.com. The tracert utility and traceroute utilities perform the same function but operate on different operating systems, Tracert for Windows machines and traceroute for Linux/*nix based machines.

Ipconfig/ifconfig

One of the most important things that must be completed when troubleshooting a networking issue is to find out the specific IP configuration of the variously affected hosts. Sometimes this information is already known when addressing is configured statically, but when a dynamic addressing method is used, the IP address of each host can potentially change often. The utilities that can be used to find out this IP configuration information include the ipconfig utility on Windows machines and the ifconfig utility on Linux/*nix based machines. Figure 3 below shows an example of the ifconfig utility showing the IP configuration information of a queries host.

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