Network troubleshooting can challenge even the most experienced IT professionals. New issues can crop up any time a device is added or the network changes, and it can be difficult to determine exactly where the problem is. Fortunately, several effective network troubleshooting solutions can make your job significantly easier.
We asked the members of Forbes Technology Council to share their favorite network troubleshooting tools that every IT pro should know about. Try one of their recommended solutions to help you solve your tech problems faster.
Nmap is an open-source tool and the Swiss Army Knife of network troubleshooting. It’s basically Ping with superpowers, broadcasting packets to identify hosts, including their open ports and OS versions. This information is integrated into a network map and inventory, allowing analysts to identify connection issues, vulnerabilities and traffic. – Jaime Manteiga, Venkon Corp.
With increasing network complexity comes a need to simplify network management to make IT administrators’ time and input more effective. Netstat (derived from the words “network” and “statistics”) is useful on Unix-like operating systems, including Windows. When dealing with network security, it’s advantageous to be informed about the inbound and outbound connections to your company’s network. – Vikas Khorana, Ntooitive Digital
tcpdump is a must-have troubleshooting tool for pros. If they can use it effectively, they can pinpoint network problems quite quickly without affecting unrelated applications. – Vipin Jain, Pensando Systems
Ping is an excellent tool for quickly troubleshooting network problems. It allows you to easily check if a server is down, and it is present in most operating systems. – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround
5. TRACERT And Traceroute
TRACERT and Traceroute are invaluable utilities for any IT team. They give detailed insight into the route your data takes and the response time of your intermediate hosts. As anyone in IT can attest to, even the smallest bit of information can help elucidate the problem at hand. For this reason, TRACERT and Traceroute are goldmines when it comes to troubleshooting. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC
6. My Traceroute (MTR)
One of the best tools for diagnosing network issues or just exploring network performance is called My Traceroute (MTR). MTR combines the best of Ping and Traceroute into a single tool. It’s a great way to observe both packet loss and latency at the same time. – Cole Crawford, Vapor IO
Mockoon is a newer tool that has quickly become invaluable to our engineers. It allows us to create mock APIs and build our front ends against them without needing a backend to work against. By combining Mockoon with Charles, we can even use live APIs in some parts of the system and mock ones in others with very little work needed to switch back and forth. – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket
Wireshark is one of the best packet capture tools available and is a must-have for network analysis. It is versatile, fast and gives a broad range of tools and filters to identify exactly what’s happening on the network. – Saryu Nayyar, Gurucul
Every IT pro should employ some kind of proactive vulnerability scanning software to detect cyber threats. You’d much rather be troubleshooting potential threats before they enter your systems than trying to fix the damage they caused. I recommend tools like Wireshark and OpenVAS as free, open-source tools that any IT team or pro can use to identify threats to critical data or systems. – John Shin, RSI Security
10. Grey Matter
Grey Matter is the universal mesh. It’s a next-generation 3,4,7 network layer that leverages a C-based proxy for zero-trust security, chain of evidence audit compliance, targeted segmentation and low-level reporting, and it’s open-source friendly. If you are trying to figure out the use cases for a “service mesh,” do your research. What’s in the wild is only scratching the surface. – Chris Holmes, Decipher Technology Studios
11. Linux’s Dig Command
The dig tool in Linux is great for helping to solve the issues of where a site is potentially located, what IPs are associated and if it’s behind a load balancer. This is a modern tool that is mostly underused. – WaiJe Coler, InfoTracer
12. DNS And NS Lookup Tools
DNS and NS lookup tools should be in every IT pro’s toolbox today. Every device we use—from our smartphones and laptops to IoT devices and network appliances—uses IP and DNS addresses. Conflicts between IPs and devices happen all the time on networks. A solid lookup tool can help isolate the offending device and narrow down the troubleshooting steps to take. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
Speed and agility are vital to productivity, especially with the increase in remote work. Speedtest-Plotter is a great network troubleshooting tool that measures your internet bandwidth using a server close to you. It allows you to track your speed over time (instead of just a single analysis) while identifying relevant changes in connectivity. – Robert Weissgraeber, AX Semantics
I highly recommend adding network configuration analysis to your troubleshooting toolkit. While Ping can tell you that something is broken, and Traceroute/MTR can tell you where it’s broken, an open-source tool like Batfish can tell you why it’s broken. Better yet, you can use Batfish, or a similar validation tool, to ensure you don’t break anything in the first place! – Chris Grundemann, Myriad360
Perhaps I think too much “SaaS” when I think network. With that said, Wireshark and Fiddler are indispensable tools for SaaS network troubleshooting. – Joe Karbowski, FM:Systems
16. New Relic And Pingdom
I would monitor every system from two sides. First, monitor from the system/server itself to the outside world. I can highly recommend New Relic for this. And second, monitor from outside of your data center to the IP of your machine. Here my tool #1 is Pingdom. This two-sided method gives you an instant view of where the trouble is to be found. – Florian Otte, KELLER Group GmbH