How do you measure networking issues at different segments of your network?

Yashy
Yashy used Ask the Experts™
on
Hi guys

There are moments when people in a particular area of the office have connectivity issues from their local PC's to the actual servers. They will say that connecting from their local machines to the server is taking a while.

I know it may not be necessary, but I would like to know if tomorrow I wanted to show people how you can measure network traffic or even connectivity problems at different points on the network, I wanted to be able to showcase it.

I was wondering whether there are ways of testing each segment of our network to see whether there are any red flags that come up. For example, how would I measure if there is a physical connectivity issue between the floor port their PC's are plugged into and the port on the switch? How about from the switch they are plugged in to, to the server? If so, then can you explain, literally, how would you go about doing this?

Thank you for helping
Yash
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Emmanuel AdebayoGlobal Windows Infrastructure Engineer - Consultant
Top Expert 2013
Commented:
You can Wireshark.  It lets you see what’s happening on your network at any segment.
Visit Wireshark to download and for the documentation

Author

Commented:
Thank you Emmanuel. I'm aware of Wireshark, but to monitor a specific port, would you mirror it? And then connect your wireshark to it and monitor?
Top Expert 2013
Commented:
Firstly have you had your network wiring certified?  Cat5/6 is very sensitive, though you may have a working connection, poor terminations, kinked cables, proximity to EMI can all bring a network connection to it's knees.  The only way to find out is a certification by a network installer with a Fluke or HP meter worth about $9,000.  Big companies like ADP will not even install their software until you provide a certification report.

Generally the software tools are fairly expensive but a couple of free options that can be of some help.
If you think the connection is actually dropping, you can run NetGong.  Netgong is basically a ping tool that logs.  You would set it up to ping various IPs in the network or even out side the network, every minute. If a connection drops at any point it will log it and can even alert.  They have a 30 day free trial:  http://netgong.tsarfin.com/

NetIQ does not give you absolute values but rather simultaneously compares different legs of a Network which can help to isolate problems: http://www.practicallynetworked.com/reviews/qcheck.htm

SolarWinds have some much more sophisticated network performance analyzers but they are very expensive for a small shop.  However they do have short free trial periods: https://www.solarwinds.com/network-performance-monitor
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Author

Commented:
Rob, that is an outstanding answer mate. Thank you.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
Thanks Yashy.  Best of luck.
So you are looking at performance monitoring and baselining your network.  Cable certifications and ping monitoring are great but they will only provide part of the picture.  What I would recommend is an NMS.  Solarwinds Orion, ManageEngine OpManager,  and PRTG are all solid products.

These solutions will go beyond just looking at some static values, but trend performance and collect statistics from the hardware as well.  I am not sure what switches and routers you are using, but they can provide a wealth of information.  Let's just assume a ping test is fine and the cabling passes certification.  Now what, we can't tell the end user is all fine if they are still having problems can we?

Maybe the problem is elsewhere, slow or poor routing, congested links, overworked servers, slow SAN performance, etc.  You get the point, this goes beyond possibly a single link, and the entire network should be monitored even at a very basic level.

So my suggestion, pickup PRTG, if you have Cisco, HP or Juniper switches it will work out of the box.  Monitoring Windows boxes is easy too. As a bonus it is free for life with only 100 sensors or less.  Each monitoring point is a sensor so they can go quick.  But at least you can start.  It is a fairly inexpensive solution too.

Might I ask what networking hardware you have as well, maybe you can check a few things from there.

Author

Commented:
Bryan, I appreciate the level of detail here. That is very helpful, thank you.

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