Top 10 Network Troubleshooting tools:
Every network administrator requires networking tools to troubleshoot issues pertaining to various network conditions and to fix different situations varied tools are required as not every tool can be a solution to all problems.
The use of the tool can differ as per the choice of the network engineer and can be subjective to a limited purpose.
Below 10 most commonly used tools that can help in ensuring that the time that it takes to find and fix a problem is as short as possible.
Ping is a network utility program or a tool to test if a particular host is reachable. It is a diagnostic that checks if your computer is connected to a server. In a computer network, a ping test is a way of sending messages from a computer to another. Aside from checking if the computer is connected to a network, ping also gives indicators of the reliability and general speed of the connection. A ping test is run for troubleshooting to know connectivity as well as response time.
Traceroute and tracert are computer network diagnostic commands for displaying the route(path) and measuring transit delays of packets across an Internet Protocol(IP) network. Traceroute displays the route measuring transit delays of packets across the network. The command is available in Unix OS as ‘traceroute’, while it is available as ‘tracert’ in Windows NT based OS.
Ipconfig is a console application designed to run from the Windows command prompt. It allows some control over active TCP/IP connections and also allows to get the IP address information of a windows computer.
Ifconfig(interface configuration) command is used to configure the kernel-resident network interfaces. It is used at the boot time to set up the interfaces necessary. Also this command is used to assign the IP address and netmask to an interface or to enable or to disable a given interface.
The nslookup(name server lookup) finds name server information for domains by querying the Domain Name System(DNS). It is a network utility command used to obtain the information about internet servers. Most computer operating systems include a built-in command line program with the same name.
Netstat (network and statistics) is a program that’s controlled via commands issued in the command line. It delivers basic statistics on all network activities and informs users on which portsand addresses the corresponding connections(TCP, UDP) are running and which ports are open for tasks.
Subnet and IP calculator:
These can be used to ensure a correct IP address selection and with this a correct IP address configuration. While this type of tool is used by senior level network engineers, much of the information obtained from the tool becomes simpler to calculate the longer and more experience you have in the field. Two of the more commonly used free IP calculators include Wildpackets (Bitcricket) Network Calculator and Solarwinds.
The speedtest.net site provides the ability to determine the amount of bandwidth that is available to a specific host at a specific point in time; this is often a good tool to use when measuring how long it is going to take to upload or download information from a local to remote host. This measurement can also be used to determine whether the connection is offering the amount of bandwidth that was purchased from the Internet provider.
The pingtest.net website is used to determine the quality of the connection by measuring the ping response times and jitter amounts over a short period of time. This information can be used to determine a likelihood of how well the measured connection will deal with certain types of high demand traffic like Voice over IP (VoIP) or gaming.
Both of these tools take the functionality and information that can be obtained from these types of tools and provide a more detailed single picture of the path characteristics from a specific host to a specific destination.
This utility is used to display the current status of the routing table on a host. While the use of the route utility is limited in common situations where the host only has a single IP address with a single gateway, it is vital in other situations where multiple IP address and multiple gateways are available.
Top Popular software:
These softwares are the best tools to design, diagnose and solve any network related issues. Some of the reliable softwares that are used are detailed as follows:
Emulated Virtual Environment – Next Generation is a tool that can be used around virtual devices to interconnect them with other virtual or physical devices. The tool can be used for multiple purposes that include the study of technologies, testing of new technologies, recreating corporate networks and test them before implementation etc. This tool is highly useful for everyone in the IT sectors, be it for companies, training providers, designers, service providers, consultants and so on.
Cisco Packet Tracer:
It is a visual simulation tool that can be used on multiple platforms. With the help of this software, the user can imitate modern networks and also create topologies. The user can easily add or remove simulated networks as per the requirement with the easy drag and drop user interface. It can run on Windows and Linux along with the available applications for iOS and Android operating system.
Graphical Network Simulator is a network software that allows you to combine the virtual and real devices to simulate the complex networks. This tool is used by many big companies including NASA, Walmart and so on. The tool also finds its application in the preparation of Network and Software Professional preparation examination.
Client Tools for Managing Devices:
These tools are used by IT administrators to keep a track of their users and also to locate the devices in case they are lost. With the increasing use of smart devices, management is easy with these tools.
It is a commercial tool for SSH, Telnet Client, and Terminal Emulator. It can be effectively used on Windows Series and now available for Linux and Mac operating system too. It offers GUI with tab support and an extensive protocol support too. It offers various user desired support like Smart card and GSSAPI support, public key assistance and tunneling of numerous protocols. You can also make easy file transfers. Further, these tools also have advanced emulation terminal capabilities.
Bitvise is a secure remote access software for Windows. It helps you to encrypt the data during transfer, unlike other tools. It is an ideal tool for remote administration. You can easily have an access to your home machine from the workplace or vice versa. It also performs other tasks like IP tunneling and securing advanced applications.
Putty is an open source software that is available with source code. It can be used for designing or amendments without having to write a new code by making use of another programming language. It is an effective SSH and telnet client designed and developed for windows. It allows you with the easy and speedy work environment.
The main purpose of this tool is to make a secure file transfer between the remote computer and local servers. The software is an open source software for windows with SFTP, FTP, Amazon S3, and SCP clients. Above having all the amazing features, this software is available free of cost.
With this tool, you can completely look into the status, performance, and functioning of network devices or servers in a cloud. This tool monitor and describes everything with the help of a map from edge to the cloud. You can make an in-depth analysis of devices, wireless controllers, virtual machines, traffic flows and numerous applications.
SolarWinds enables network security and analysis in real time. It finds its use in cybersecurity, government infrastructures, private security services, and telecom industry. The tool helps to keep the data secure and safe to transfer within the infrastructure. It allows you to monitor the conditions precisely and find an efficient solution.
This tool is highly reliable and easy to use. It helps the network administrator to identify the root causes of the prevailing network issues and provide immediate solutions. The overall performance of the network can be improved by making use of this tool. It is an effective tool that can monitor your entire IT infrastructure within minutes. You can even try the free version of this tool by installing it on your device. It is an agentless monitoring system to analyze and classify the system conditions within the bandwidth, statistics or uptime. It can be employed to routers, servers, switches, and many other applications.
Monitoring & Logging:
Nagios is a networking monitoring software solution. In fact, it’s a suite of solutions for monitoring network availability, analyzing data flows and security, as well as collecting logs for auditing. It’s completely open source and has a vibrant community of like-minded developers and administrators.
With Nagios XI you can monitor everything from infrastructure to applications with granular detail. With Nagios Log Server, you can quickly sift through a central repository of audit logs, or setup triggers to alert you to critical events such as threats. And with Nagios Network Analyzer, dig deep into the health and integrity of your systems and network. Analyze flows, validate intent and troubleshoot with the lights on.
Named after the popular top command in Unix, ntop shows network usage similarly to how top shows system usage. Ntopng, based on libpcap, is the next generation version of the original ntop. It was written in a portable manner, which gives it the flexibility to run on numerous platforms: Linux, Mac OSX, and Windows.
Web-based, ntopng allows you to view traffic data and gather reports regarding network status. You can use numerous criterion for sorting, including IP address, ports, Layer 7 protocols, BGP AS, and so on. You can even do long-term reports to collect metrics such as throughput over time. I personally use this tool to generate detailed host-based reports showing applications latency, RTT, TCP statistics like retransmissions, out-of-orders, and zero windows.
Real-Time NetFlow Analyzer:
When I need to troubleshoot network performance at a single site, or from a particular perspective, I rely on SolarWinds Real-Time NetFlow Analyzer. It’s free and simple to use. Hours of finger-pointing can be eliminated by firing up this tool and looking at traffic going through a router or interface. Easily identify users, apps, and devices that are consuming the most bandwidth.
Kiwi Syslog Server:
With Kiwi Syslog Server Free Edition you can collect, view and archive up to 5 sources including routers, computers or other devices. Logs may also be written to disk—either in one large file or split up by day or priority.
It’s easy to use, and absolutely free for small, focused logging engagements. You can view logs in real-time, gather stats, and even setup warnings and alerts. It’s not just Syslog messages, but also SNMP traps you can collect and analyze with Kiwi.
Configuration & Transfers:
Ansible is a simple and powerful automation engine with the goal of reducing repetition by automating tasks. It’s vendor agnostic, programmable and relatively easy to learn. The folks at Ansible believe that automation shouldn’t be more complex than the tasks it’s replacing.
From a network perspective, I like this tool for generating configuration files based on my custom templates. I can quickly build “playbooks” for a large number of scenarios, ensuring that my configuration files are properly built based upon my standards and that my network devices are configured accordingly.
Created by Kirk Byers, Netmiko is a multi-vendor Python library that simplifies Paramiko, gearing it toward network devices. This is a more advanced tool, and only beneficial if you’re using Python for scripting or automation. It simplifies SSH connections, command execution and data retrieval like no-one’s business.
Each vendor has their own quirks regarding shell interaction. Whether is privileged modes, expert modes or commit functions, Netmiko is designed to simplify this lower-level SSH management across a wide set of networking vendors.
Netmiko current supports the following platforms:
- Cisco IOS, IOS-XE, IOS-XR, ASA, NX-OS, and WLC (with limited testing)
- Arista EOS
- HP ProCurve
- HP Comware (limited testing)
- Juniper Junos
- Brocade VDX (limited testing)
- F5 LTM (experimental)
- Huawei (limited testing)
SolarWinds TFTP Server
At some point in your day-to-day as a network administrator, you’ll have to transfer a configuration file or image file to a router. TFTP has been the easy go-to for this task for many years, and although alternative protocols are out there, good chances are you’ll still run into the case where TFTP is just easier.
This is the reason why I always have a TFTP server app loaded on my laptop. My personal choice for this software is SolarWinds TFTP Server. We’ve written about it in the past and it still holds its rank. It’s a multi-threaded, reliable and works like a champ. Best of all, it’s free.
As a bonus little feature, you can actually authorize specific IPs or ranges to limit sending and receiving directly to the server for advanced security. And if you’re doing this regularly or from a central server, run it as a service for 24×7 availability.
SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server
Those alternative protocols I mentioned before? SFTP and SCP are two of them.
If you have the capability to use the secure protocols instead of TFTP, do it, just make sure you have trusted software like SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server.
Like the TFTP Server software, SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server is multi-threaded and commonly used to upload and download executable images and back-up configurations for routers and switches. You can authorize specific IPs or ranges to limit sending and receiving directly to the server for advanced security, and run it as a service on a centralized server.
Assuming you need one of these tools, it’s likely you’re transferring config or images files to/from network devices. If you’ve never checked it out, I highly recommend giving SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager a whirl. It’s free to try but does have a cost associated past the trial period. I am intimately familiar with several very large networks that use SolarWinds NCM for configuration, compliance and image transfers. In my opinion, it’s absolutely worth every penny.
Terminals & Text Editors:
Notepad++ / UltraEdit / Sublime Text
If you’re still using regular old Notepad, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. Step up your text game with one of these text editors. I guarantee you will not regret it!
Another no-brainer for most — PuTTY is an SSH and telnet client the Windows platform. It’s simple, portable and effective! For many people I know, it’s the only tool they use for SSH access.
PuTTY is open source software that is available with source code and is developed and supported by a group of volunteers.
If you’ve ever used Linux, you’ve become familiar with useful commands such as ‘grep’, ‘ls’, ‘top’, ‘df’, ‘pwd’ and so on. In the Windows world, we are missing some of these commands, and we have them, it’s written in some other non-intuitive syntax. Wouldn’t it be great to have Linux commands and applets in Windows? Enter Cygwin.
Cygwin is a large collection of GNU and Open Source tools, which provide functionality similar to a Linux distribution on Windows. Not only can you run familiar commands, but also you can load (similar to apt-get or yum) various Linux tools. Some favorites of mine are wget and curl.
It’s undoubtedly the best tool for designing network diagrams. However, it can be expensive, and it only runs on Windows. Whether you’re building an engineering diagram or a network diagram, Draw.io has tons of templates to get you started. It connects to online storage environments like Dropbox and Google Drive for real-time saving. No more losing data. Again, it’s absolutely free, and something you can rely on for cloud-based diagrams that are shareable and exportable.
SolarWinds Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM):
For enterprise networks, you need robust monitoring, advanced troubleshooting, historical analytics, system analysis, fault alerting, capacity forecasting, detailed reporting, and a constant finger on the pulse of your infrastructure. This is where SolarWinds Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) steps in.