Affordable network testing?

In the thread “Network Cabling worth upgrading?” There are some very useful comments raising things to be considered before contemplating cable/switch/equipment upgrading. Fing offers network scanning, ping & traceroute facilites but what about bandwidth, network speed, bottleneck identification etc.?
Wireshark is a well known network analysis tool but can be difficult for a novice to configure & use. 
Can you recommend an affordable tool (Software or Hardware). which the average user can use and understand, to help analyse their network for problems or improvements?
RobinVioletChepilCiarankltaylorRusty_WHronos

Answers

  • VioletChepilVioletChepil London, UKAdministrator Posts: 2,232 admin
    Great question. Any of the experts have anything to add?
    @kltaylor @Lee @Marc @Pooh @GlenBo84 @SamiJankiss @tcoombs

    Community Manager at Fing

  • tcoombstcoombs Member Posts: 3

    A more powerful but user friendly tool instead of Wireshark is a tool called Omnipeek. It’s from a company called Savvius (which is now part of LiveAction). If you go to the LiveAction.com website you can download a 15 day trial to test it out.

    Cheers, Tony

    kltaylorHronos
  • kltaylorkltaylor Member Posts: 558 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I was going to mention Wireshark too, but as powerful of a tool that is, not all end users would know how to use it to the best of its ability.
    Honestly, the software can not perform the duty of a solid walk-through or network map to determine where your bottlenecks are, at least in my opinion.  A network topology or diagram can help you visually see the network and determine through brand models where most of your bottlenecks are.
    Considering a scenario where an electrical engineer installs Cat6 cabling, we know the speeds that can run through those.  What about the router, what modem switches are they using, are the smart or dumb switches?  Are they using advanced routing?  Are the workstations updated enough to run a gigabit ethernet adapter?
    A lot of these questions I can answer by physical inspection.  I'd do that before I would trust a software package to know all of the information that is stored in my head.
    "There's a fine line between audacity and idiocy."
    -Warden Anastasia Luccio, Captain
    Rusty_WHronos
  • LeeLee Member Posts: 22 ✭✭
    I agree with Tony that Omnipeek is a good alternative. And it has a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL (Tony said 15 day, so perhaps it's changed recently).

    VioletChepil
  • SamiJankissSamiJankiss Member Posts: 15 ✭✭✭
    If the more important question is “contemplating a future upgrade” I’m afraid I don’t have an affordable answer, and @kltaylor raises the right questions.  And as for determining what bottlenecks exist on deployment, my answer is the same. But, I can comment on how to measure actual lan performance.

    Measuring unidirectional packet flow performance, using something over UDP,  between two endpoints on a lan can be the easiest way to generate a number that you can compare against the raw bits-per-sec specs of your cables, switches, hubs, and bridges. You just send a lot of same-sized large packets from a sender to a receiver and count the packets received to see if there are no losses. I have used Ixia boxes for this, instead of PCs/Macs/etc, because, 1) you can separate out the significant effect that the OS has, and 2) you can have both of the endpoints of a long lan trek in the same box, where it’s easier for a single person to do testing. There probably are cheaper special boxes for just one stream between two endpoints — Ixia boxes were not very affordable.

    You can approximate that level of Ixia-like testing by writing very simple command-line scripts (Python, C, etc), a sender script and a receiver script, executed on two different computers. But of course, you need to be handy with writing a little software for this method.

    There are probably commercial and open-source methods of complete apps/scripts to accomplish this type of testing, but I’m not familiar with current solutions.

    Regarding Wireshark (or even tcpdump), you run the risk of getting too far into the weeds manually observing packet counts at a receiver and subtracting duplicates, even if you are not a novice. Not time well spent for somebody the coding skills, but Wireshark is certainly an inexpensive hardware/software approach (not counting labor)….  On the other hand, perhaps Wireshark has some features that would let you do packet counts over a period of time, I don’t remember.


    VioletChepil
  • PixelpopperPixelpopper Member Posts: 49 ✭✭✭
    ….  On the other hand, perhaps Wireshark has some features that would let you do packet counts over a period of time, I don’t remember.
    Wireshark does offer that feature. 👍🏼
    SamiJankissVioletChepilHronos
  • SamiJankissSamiJankiss Member Posts: 15 ✭✭✭
    Ok @Pixelpopper , thanks.
    Do also you happen to know if it detects the dropped packet count at the receiver?

    VioletChepil
  • asadowskyasadowsky Member Posts: 2
    simple test. Transfer a large file between two pcs with ssd drives in both direction  task manager to show network performance
    https://totusoft.com   lan speed test
    iperf 
    https://iperf.fr/iperf-download.php#windows
    a managed switch
    a router with performance metrics (Mikrotik or Ubiquiti ) pfsense 
    solarwinds if your network supports snmp
    VioletChepil
  • asadowskyasadowsky Member Posts: 2
    simple test. Transfer a large file between two pcs with ssd drives in both direction  task manager to show network performance
    https://totusoft.com   lan speed test
    iperf 
    https://iperf.fr/iperf-download.php#windows
    a managed switch
    a router with performance metrics (Mikrotik or Ubiquiti ) pfsense 
    solarwinds if your network supports snmp
    VioletChepil
  • kltaylorkltaylor Member Posts: 558 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I'm going to look over Omnipeak now and put it to the test, thanks for the suggestion.
    "There's a fine line between audacity and idiocy."
    -Warden Anastasia Luccio, Captain
    VioletChepil
  • PixelpopperPixelpopper Member Posts: 49 ✭✭✭
    edited November 11
    Ok @Pixelpopper , thanks.
    Do also you happen to know if it detects the dropped packet count at the receiver?

    At the moment I’m not sure, my guess would be that it probably has the capability with TCP. But as TCP is lossless via retransmission, the receiver would ask for a missing packet to be retransmitted so my guess is that wireshark may possibly count retransmit requests rather than missing packets, otherwise a remote adapter would required. I will need to have a ”dig” when time allows ...
    VioletChepil
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