Network problems happen all the time and your task as a network engineer is to solve them no matter what. To react quickly and proactively, you need a tool to assist you in gathering data, visualize its state and performance, and alert you to network issues.
PingPlotter is a network monitoring, troubleshooting and diagnostic tool that will help you identify the source of problems faster and easier. With the combination of traceroute, ping, and whois, PingPlotter enables you to collect data over time and graphically present it, thereby providing you with the information necessary to identify a problem in your network environment. Ever needed to collect information for colleagues or a vendor’s technical support team? With PingPlotter you can share the data within a click.
How it works
PingPlotter uses ping and traceroute, crucial tools when it comes to network troubleshooting – as you already might have known – to discover the route between you and a target. More precisely, in order to discover whether a remote device is available, and the amount of time (Round Trip Time, RTT) it takes to reach it, PingPlotter sends out data packets that go all the way to this target device, and back, allowing you to see the route packets follow. It also measures the latency and packet loss, which identifies network performance bottlenecks and helps identify problems faster. Based on the output of these tools, PingPlotter triggers events, alerts, and displays the data in easy to understand, detailed graphs.
Beside enabling you to continuously monitor your network, it can notify you when a problem occurs or ends by sending you an alert to your email, it can play a sound, log to a text file, change the tray icon, or launch an executable (document, link, .mp3, batch file).
For example, an alert can be triggered when some of these things happen:
- Packet loss or latency over a specified threshold
- Bandwidth saturation
- Network node (be it router, switch, server) you are monitoring stops responding
- Response time to a site is over a specified latency threshold
PingPlotter helps you to troubleshoot a number of network-related problems, like slow performance, disconnects, packet loss, and enables you to visualize each situation. Namely, graphs are the most specific feature about it. Two kinds of graphs are available, the Trace Data Graph, which displays the route packets take from your computer to the target, and the Timeline Graph, which visually represents the captured data in a trace. The Timeline Graph also enables you to move back in history and examine data collected over time, which is great for long-term monitoring.
These two graphs can be seen on the picture bellow. The Trace Data Graph is the upper one, and the Timeline Graph is the lower one.
Also, PingPlotter requires Microsoft Windows, which certainly represents a drawback for Linux users. You can access it via web interface, using the built-in web server, or Microsoft’s IIS, assuming you are using the Pro edition of the product.
PingPlotter is available in three editions: Free, Standard and Professional. Each edition includes a free 30 day trial.
Free Edition enables you a real-time glance at network performance, to measure latency and packet loss, and see the route packets follow. You can download it here.
Standard Edition provides you with many features such as time based graphs and calculation, customizable alerts, 48 hour history graph, timeline graph navigation. You can download it here.
Professional Edition includes a Scripting engine, which enables you to add custom functionality and automate repetitive tasks. Its functionality includes 7 day history graph, multi-target tracing, VoIP metrics, and many other.
While Standard edition can trace up to 2 targets simultaneously in the same instance, Professional edition can trace to multiple different targets within the same instance. Also, Professional edition enables you to manage each target’s configuration independently.
Free and Standard editions are not intended for monitoring huge environments, with hundreds or thousands network nodes, while Professional edition has no limitation when it comes to the amount of targets you can add in.
Find out more about each edition at the following link.
Even though it does not come with any *printing* functionality, PingPlotter has several options available to help output data. Apart from the aforementioned graphs, it has the option of exporting raw data to text / csv file, or using Pro COM API, which enables you automated access to pre-collected data.
PingPlotter enables you to initiate trace requests from a remote agent, being either Unix or Windows based machine, assuming you have installed the Agent on a remote device. Precisely, upon receiving a request from your local PingPlotter instance, a remote device becomes a source of the trace, does a single traceroute to the desired destination, and sends the results back to you. The PingPlotter then displays this data locally like any other collected data. You can read more about the real experience in RouterFreak’s verdict part of this review.
PingPlotter is a network monitoring tool that offers an easy to use interface, assists you in diagnosing and troubleshooting various problems, and alerts you when there is a problem in your network environment.
We have tested the Professional edition of the product and must admit we were surprised by its intuitiveness and features, based on such simple tools, ping and traceroute.
It only takes few minutes to set up a remote server as the source of the trace. Upon installing the Windows Agent on a remote device, ensure the TCP port 7465 is allowed through the firewall. When you launch the Agent, you should see the following:
To check whether you have an access from your local machine to this Agent, launch the web browser and enter http://(your agent machine name):7465 (http://dummy.kaniski.eu:7465/ in this case). You should get something like this:
After you have configured PingPlotter to use a remote agent (do not forget to turn on the remote trace capability), you should be able to initiate traceroute from a remote agent.
On the following pictures, you can see a traceroute to blog.kaniski.eu issued from local PingPlotter instance, and then a traceroute issued from a remote device.
Read more about setting up this scenario at the following link.
We believe we gave you enough reasons to why you should give it a try. To assure yourself of all the features and capabilities of this monitoring software, download the trial version. Also, watch this short video to find out PingPlotter basic capabilities:
Till next time!