Network Connectivity Monitor?

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Posted on June 02, 2008 10:49 PM in Computers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

After over a year of very reliable, very fast cable internet connectivity from the company that shall remain nameless, I've noticed over the past few days that my connectivity has gone down hill, often seeming to stop working for moments at a time before kicking back into gear. The unnamed company made some modifications to my setup (at least they were supposed to) on Saturday, so it's possible the two are connected (pun not intended).

I'd like to have a way to monitor my connectivity and see some definitive proof that what I perceive to be happening indeed is happening, but I don't want to install any lame, buggy shareware/freeware apps that will bloat my registry more than it already is without giving me what I'm after. So does anyone reading this blog have any recommendations as to good, solid software for monitoring network availability over a given period of time? Anything that runs on Windows or Ubuntu will do.

Thanks in advance!

Comments

Ian Clifton on June 03, 2008 at 12:24 AM:

Ubuntu (Gnome): Right-click a panel, Add to panel..., System Monitor, Add, right-click the new icon, check network (I also have it show processor and memory), customize colors if you want, and close. Obviously this won't give you the level of detail that you might want, but it definitely can help give a heads-up when something is (or isn't) going on. Plus, it's already "installed" and uses virtually no resources. This with command-line utilities generally takes care of everything I need, but I'm sure there are plenty of GUIs too.

Windows: Yeah, I don't know anything about that ;)

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Bernie Zimmermann on June 03, 2008 at 9:42 AM:

Thanks for the tip, Ian, but I don't know if that's what I'm looking for exactly. I added it to my panel and looked at the preferences, and it looks like it's just showing me when the various types of network activity are active. Therefore, when they aren't active, I don't know if it's just 'cause they aren't needed or whether it's because my Internet connection is dropping out.

I also took a look at the Network Monitor panel option, but it is similar to Windows' in that it just lights up when requests are being sent out or bytes are being received. Again, when the computer is idle, I'm unable to discern whether the connection is available or not.

Preferably I'd like something that I can leave running and look at later on to see statistics on availability of the network connection. I think some people have set up a constant ping in the past and then come back to look at how many times it failed. I could do that, but I was hoping there was something little more sophisticated or user-friendly for me to make use of.

I did find a list of bandwidth-monitoring tools for Ubuntu (there are many), but I can't really tell from the descriptions if any of them does what I need. And again, I'd rather not install a bunch of them if I can get a recommendation from someone on one that did the job. However, I may have to resort to that at some point.

Thanks again for the suggestion, though. There were some interesting widgets available in that Add to Panel area that I may have to play around with.

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Ian Clifton on June 05, 2008 at 12:34 AM:

Ah, yeah, I use that panel monitor as the first sign of trouble and then just use the command line to ping if I see something is going on (or isn't going on...). The Network Tools dialog gives a graphical interface to some of the common network tools (ping, netstat, traceroute, etc.), but I tend to just run them from the command line.

Maybe tcpdump is worth a look. Hmm, actually, Linux has way too many programs that might be helpful, depending on exactly what you need (netstat, nfsstat, etc.). Running netstat -ind will give you a very quick overview of everything. With the -ns options, you'll see a bit more verbiage.

It might be helpful to start with a simple test like the one at http://netspeed.stanford.edu/ to see if there are any obvious problems. You could try to download something like VisualPulse and see if you can track down the problem during the short trial; I don't know if that software is any good, but I've at least heard of it.

If nothing else, you could use a constant ping as you were considering. I'd set the interval a bit higher than default, maybe ping -i 5 google.com. I'll keep my eyes open for a good network monitoring tool though; I'm sure one of the million that are out there has to be good. EtherApe is one of the tools I've heard of that might be worth looking into, but hopefully someone with more experience can suggest something.

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Ryan on June 05, 2008 at 6:06 AM:

I had a similar desire long ago. I decided to use ping:

http://arcanius.silverfir.net/blog/my-case-against-comcast

Maybe it is enough for your purposes.

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Bernie Zimmermann on June 05, 2008 at 7:08 AM:

Ryan, thanks for the link. Believe it or not, I remembered that post (I commented on it, after all) but couldn't find it. Hindsight is 20/20, but I should have searched for ping arcanius.

Anyway, your approach should come in useful. I've been taking a look at Nullsoft NetMon (from the same folks who brought us Winamp), and it does something similar (as far as pinging a host continuously and reporting red, yellow or green depending on the latency), but it doesn't do any reporting over time. I may write a script after all to run ping for a while and then maybe graph the output so I can show the company that shall remain nameless what's going on.

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Bernie Zimmermann on June 05, 2008 at 7:10 AM:

Oh, and Ian, thanks for following up. I kind of came to the same conclusion as you in that Linux has maybe too many options for monitoring network activity. ;)

If you do stumble across something that looks useful, definitely let me know. I may find a solution in the interim (e.g. ping), but I'm sure it will come in handy in the future.

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james on August 20, 2008 at 5:38 PM:

i think what you are looking for is something like ciscos ncm aka network connectivity monitor it is very user friendly and gives alot of good info that can be understood and used very quickly

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pqtftjol on May 15, 2017 at 5:22 AM:

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