What is this for?
One tool that was developed fairly early on to help with troubleshooting network connection issues was called Traceroute or Tracert, which performs a test to each of the major routers (or “hops”) that your traffic is going through to reach the destination - An easy way to visualize this is to think of taking a trip from Invercargill to Auckland, with each of the towns you pass through along the way, like Wellington or Christchurch, actually being instead the completion of a major “hop” in your journey. If a major road to any of these towns was closed, you’d need to be told ahead of time or you may waste a trip rather than taking another way around.
Traceroute basically shows how long it takes for your internet traffic to reach the end of each of their “hops'' between routes, and helps show where something’s happening with the road/route to the next “hop”.
Figure 1.1: A traditional tracert to www.trademe.co.nz, when run from Windows, showing three tests for the latency on each hop
Now, Traceroute is a handy tool, one that can be used to test the route to a large variety of websites or IPs,helping identify delays or even complete blockages between the hops it’s taking. However, it does have some simple limitations when used via the traditional command prompt or terminal methods. This is notably that you can only run one trace at a time, which is perfectly acceptable if you’re suffering a persistent problem that won’t disappear during the short testing period.
However, if there’s an intermittent issue you only see on the odd occasion; such as a quick internet disconnection twice a day, some website showing unreachable during 5-6pm, or maybe the connection just randomly seems to fail 10% of the time. Managing to do this kind of test in a hurry during the affected time(s) may be a little difficult if you’re busy or not at the PC when it happens.
Due to reasons like this some software has been designed for Windows systems that can do this automatically and over an extended period. Two of the common industry choices are the classic WinMTR & PingPlotter.
- WinMTR is a little more basic in terms of the prettiness of the output, but you can use this program for free.
- PingPlotter shows some additional graphs that look a bit nicer, but is only a free 14 day trial before prompting you to upgrade to a paid version.
Due to this I would recommend WinMTR for most, but if you just want it for testing for a few days then PingPlotter may also work for you. Both work in quite similar fashions, and as WinMTR is probably the most common choice due to being entirely free we’ve based this guide around that.
How to use WinMTR:
- Download WinMTR from https://sourceforge.net/projects/winmtr/
- Unzip the download file to a destination on your local computer, such as your desktop.
- Open the WinMTR_x64 folder that you've just unpacked.
- Double click on WinMTR.exe to open the program.
- Type the IP address of your server in the Host section, or the server address if known.
- Press the Start button in the application.
- The MTR report should now be running and you should now see some data populating the previously blank area.
- Let the MTR report run for at least 30 minutes.
- After at least 30 minutes of the report running, or as long as you’d like to keep it running to ensure a good amount of data is collected, click the Copy Text to Clipboard button.
- You can now paste the MTR report into your support ticket or live chat for review.
Figure 1.2: If the destination you were testing against was youtube.com it would look similar to the above image.