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Help on the Traceroute Tool

Loading the Traceroute Tool

This traceroute tool allows us to do traceroutes to certain hosts with a graphical visualization of results and is opened when we call a traceroute from the main window of this software or from any other window through the menus or through the toolbar. The traceroute starts automatically when this window is opened.

Lets study the several functionalities of this tool below.

Command Panel

In this panel near the top of the window, we have several buttons, with which we give instructions to start, pause, resume or stop the traceroute, as well as to close the window. Its existing buttons and their functionalities are here explained:

  • Start Traceroute - This is the button that starts the traceroute. Once clicked, it remains deactivated and will only become available to be clicked again after we click on the "Stop" button.

  • Stop - This is the button that ends the traceroute. Once clicked, it remains deactivated and the "Start Traceroute" button becomes available again to be clicked and this way to restart the entire process and to start a new traceroute.

  • Pause/Resume - This is a button that is used to make a pause on the traceroute or resume it later. This button becomes available to be clicked only when a new traceroute starts by clicking on the "Start Traceroute" button. Once the traceroute is started, this button becomes a "Pause" and by clicking on it, we enter on the pause mode, in which the traceroute gets stopped, and the button becomes a "Resume" button. Once clicked the "Resume" button, the traceroute will start again where it has stopped, and the button returns to the "Pause" option again. This button only becomes unavailable after we stop the traceroute by clicking on the "Stop" button.

  • Exit - This is the button that closes our traceroute window and stops everything that is being done inside it, like the close button created by the operating system that exists on all windows. When it is clicked upon, the traceroute process stops if it is still running, and the window is closed after it.

Here we have described with images, how to use these buttons:

Initial State: - At the beginning, only the start traceroute and close buttons are available:

State during an active traceroute - When a traceroute is started, the start traceroute button becomes unavailable, and we get three available buttons, the stop, the pause and the one to close the window:

State with a paused traceroute - When a traceroute is paused, we continue with three available buttons, but the function of one of them changes. The stop button maintains the same function, the pause button now has the resume traceroute function to exit the pause, and the exit button continues having the same function to close the window. By clicking the resume button, this button will have the pause function again:

State after stopping a traceroute - After we send the stop traceroute order by clicking on the stop button, we get just two available buttons again. The start traceroute button which will now have something like "Restart" instead of "Start", and the exit button used for us to close the window. The pause and stop buttons will be unavailable since the traceroute has already ended:

And these are the main buttons from this window, which control the traceroute in an easy and effective way.

Parameters Panel

In this panel we have the several parameters that we can use to configure our traceroute, and some of them could be used to improve the performance of this tool, which could be improved so much that it could become several times faster than some similar traditional ones that run on a command line shell. The available parameters are:

  • Max. Hops [1,255] - This option allows us to define the maximum number of hops that the software will do to execute the traceroute. This value could be between 1 and 255 and the software comes with a default value of 40, and it will be useful in many cases, like for example when we know that the hosts we're going to test have more than 20 or 30 hops each of distance and we want to test many and want to know only the first 10 hops of each, in that case we could put this way 10 hops in this parameter, and in each host there would be shown only the first 10 hops of each, and all the others would be ignored, ending each traceroute on the 10th hop this way as if there wouldn't exist any more beyond the 10th. Of course that logically if we have defined here a value inferior to the number of hops necessary to complete the traceroute, the traceroute won't give complete results, so it is convenient to have a bigger value, as for example the value of 40 which comes by default. Putting a value of 255 would also be bad because there wouldn't be any hosts in a distance of 255 routers away and it would certainly be a waste of time, but for that we have the next option that allows us to define the maximum number of failed attempts in a row.

  • Failed Attempts in a Row [1,255] - This option allows us to define the maximum number of failed attempts that each traceroute can accept without ending, and can have a value between 1 and 255, coming with a value of 10 by default with the software. This value makes the traceroute stop when this number of failed attempts in a row happen, and don't do any more hops after these attempts. For example, if we want to make a traceroute to a host that is 30 hops away, and we put here the value of 3, and the software is currently on the 4th hop and has 3 failed attempts after it, on the 5th, 6th and 7th hop, it will end the traceroute on that 7th hop, since until the 4th it was all ok but from the 5th to the 7th all hops failed, reaching the 3 failed hops in a row defined by us. This way, even if there would be 40 hops to check, it will stay on the 7th and stop. This value shouldn't be too low or it could give us incomplete traceroute results many times, but with a value of 10 as it comes by default would be acceptable, because it will be rare to happen 10 hops failing to respond in a row, but maybe a value of 20 would be safer just in case. A value of 255 would be useless. This functionality is very useful to avoid cases like, having a maximum limit of 255 hops, and the software reaching the 30th hop, and if from the last one on none would give us a response, the software would do the other 225 failed hops until reaching the 255 limit. In this case, although the limit would be 255 hops, it would reach the 30th, then it would fail that 10 times in a row limit defined by ourselves, and after those 10 failed attempts it would assume the traceroute as finished, having us a result of 40 hops and not 255, being this way a very useful option to us.

  • Size in Bytes [1,65535] - Maybe this option isn't as useful as the ones mentioned before or the next one, but it could be useful to some users. It allows us to define the size in bytes of each packet send by the traceroute, which could be a value between 1 and 65535 bytes, having a value of 1 byte by default. This way, each packed will have a size of 1 byte by default.

  • Timeout in Ms. [100,10000] - This option allows us to define the timeout in milliseconds on each packet sent, and it is very useful specially to accelerate the traceroute process, and can have values from 100 to 10,000 and has a 500 millisecond value by default. Having 500 milliseconds by default means that, after sending one packet, the software will only wait 500 milliseconds until assuming that packet as expired if no response is received. This way, if we have a packet sent in which its response lasts more than 500ms, the request would be assumed as expired at those 500ms. So, if we put in this value a very low value, as for example 100ms, and the responses were all above that level, then all tests would be given as failed, and the traceroute wouldn't be done as well as it should be expected to. On the other side, there is a good reason to have this option and to be able to lower it down to a certain level. Usually, 500ms is considered acceptable, and better than for example 2 seconds of waiting (2,000ms), because if in a traceroute about 10 of its pings fail, we would be saving a second and a half 10 times and a total time of 15 seconds from the total traceroute time by using just 500ms instead. If we make a traceroute to a host in which we know that almost certainly we won't receive answers above 100ms, and put 100ms, and 15 pings of that traceroute would fail, we would spare 28 seconds and a half from the total traceroute time, because it would be useless to wait 2 seconds for a response everytime, when we would know that if we wouldn't receive a response on the first 100ms on each, no response would arrive for sure.

  • Reverse DNS - This is another option that allows us to save a lot of time and that many users won't even want to use on the majority of times. This option is the one that allows us to choose if we want the traceroute to make the reverse name resolution of all routers, which means that for each hop made by the traceroute in which there are responses and where we know from which router the response came and from which IP address, at the end, if this option is checked, those IPs will all be checked and a reverse name resolution will be done to them, and the software will this way try to find out and show us the name that is related to the IP of each router and resolves to those IPs, which means that a reverse DNS will be made to each IP address belonging to every router on that traceroute. By default this option is activated, but when we start the traceroute, we still have time until it gets finally to the last hop, to disable this option even if the traceroute has started already, and so when the traceroute reaches the last test, having made all 3 tests on each hop, the software will only do the reverse dns of the routers in all hops if this option is checked at that time. This resolution was left to be made only at the end of the traceroute for several reasons, such as to reduce the total duration of the traceroute itself and to allow the user to easily switch off this functionality even when the traceroute is already in progress.

The Use of Mouse Buttons on the Table

This is the table in which the traceroute results will be shown in real time, being those values also shown simultaneously with the results shown on the text box below, allowing the sorting of data, and it is divided by the following columns:

  • Hop - In this column we have the number of the hop corresponding to this line on the traceroute. As we know already, the traceroute will make several groups of pings limited to a maximum number of hops and in each hop usually 3 pings are made, and here we have the hop to which the pings shown in this line are made;

  • 1st Time - In this column we have the response time of the first ping made by the traceroute to the router answering to the number of hops shown on the first column of the table in this line. If no answer is received we'll have a "*" on this table cell;

  • 2nd Time - In this column we have the response time of the second ping made by the traceroute to the router answering to the number of hops shown on the first column of the table in this line. If no answer is received we'll have a "*" on this table cell;

  • 3rd Time - In this column we have the response time of the third ping made by the traceroute to the router answering to the number of hops shown on the first column of the table in this line. If no answer is received we'll have a "*" on this table cell;

  • Router IP - Here in this column we have the IP address which has returned a response to the pings made with the maximum number of hops defined on the first column of the table in this line. If no answer is received on all the three pings made to the host with that maximum number of hops defined on the first column, then we'll see a "???" in this table cell, as we didn't receive a response from a router when tested with this maximum number of hops;

  • Hostname - Here we have the name obtained through the Reverse DNS made to the IP address shown on the previous column from the router which gave a response with the maximum number of hops defined in this line. If the Reverse DNS option is selected, the software will check all the IPs of all routers in the table and try to find out which name resolves to those particular IP addresses, making a reverse DNS to each, so that we get their names in this column, after the traceroute is done;

Mouse Clicks

There is one functionality to be mentioned about the mouse. Whenever the user makes a double click on one of these table lines, the software will search on the text box the line corresponding to the router and hop of that clicked table line, and will choose the entire line on the text box, highlighting it, preparing it for the user to be able to copy it, or execute other actions. But it is specially useful when we want to search a line in a quick and easy way on the text box, as we just have to do a simple double click on the table and the software will do the rest.

The Use of Mouse Buttons on the Text Box

When the Network Pinger software was being developed, it was intended to maintain a close relationship with the former command line tools and for that reason it was decided to maintain a text console on all the windows possible, only for the user to be more familiar with the tools and to be easier to read the results as well as to introduce new users to the world of the command line shells and their text mode commands. At the same time, they are used also to show what would be seen when an user decides to save a report of that command's results on a file or when a user decides to print a report.

This text box is used not only to give us an easy visualization of results, as well as to make a certain interaction between the user and this tool's results possible, and that is made through the toolbars, the menus, as well as the use of the mouse as we'll see below.

In this box the result of our traceroute is shown, which is basically, the same data that is given to us on the table but with a different presentation in text mode, with statistics, timestamp, and the possibility of printing, save on a file or even interaction with the user.

During the traceroute, the data on the text box will be updated in real time, and because of that, the result is never final until the sentence "Traceroute finished" appears at the end of the report on that text box. During the process, we'll see before the current statistics, something as "Traceroute in progress", followed by an animated slash simulating a wheel, on the positions "- \ | / - \ | / -":

We can see above the traceroute in progress, with the animation before the statistics, and at the end we'll have the final result and a message of traceroute finished:

Like in any other text box in this software, when we click on a word with the mouse's left button, and then with the right button over the highlighted text, we'll have access to several options to do with the selected host or text:

It's important to know that in this text box we can do lots of things with just a simple left click of our mouse over any word. If we click on any word with our mouse's left button, the software will select that entire word automatically, and then if we click with the right button over that selection, we we'll get a menu with several options on tools that we can apply to the host that we've just selected, or our own customizable commands that we could apply to any word that we select on certain conditions. If we select a group of words, and then click on that selection with the right mouse button, the software will automatically search for the first host inside that selected text, or the first word in it, and it will be that the one to be used on the menu commands and options when we click with our mouse's right button on the selection. For more information it will be best to check the help page on Software Buttons and Menus.

Charts Panel

Lets now study the side panel dedicated to the graphical visualization of results.

There are two types of charts inside this side panel, one is the Line Chart and below we have the Pie Chart, each one with its own characteristics and functionalities. The line chart was created to allow an easy and quick visualization of the response times' history of the pings made by the traceroute in a linear way, to identify very easily loss of quality, bad connectivity, etc. The Pie Chart is useful in another way, to give us a percentage visualization of the pings responses, which separate them on those who have good response times, and the ones which are in the levels of yellow or red alerts, which are levels that the user defines freely. Both are configurable in real time. Lets analyze both of them separately:

Video Demo

Download now (free download):
Network Pinger v1.0.1.0
1.50 MB, version in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Russian
Published on 13th March 2012