Tech leaders know that when the network goes down, the primary concern for both IT and users is how quickly it can be brought back up. Diagnosing the root of a network issue is often more than half the battle. It’s essential for IT teams to be aware of the best tools (and tricks) for quickly diagnosing a network slowdown or shutdown so that they can quickly progress to implementing a solution.
Experienced tech leaders have often tried multiple network diagnostic tools—both software native tools and third-party applications—and they know what works best in different situations. Here, 10 members of Forbes Technology Council share their selections for effective network troubleshooting tools every IT pro should know about.
1. Change Management Logs
The best tool is the change management logs. Before you start down the tool path, understand what is going on, and then look at what has changed—90% of the time, a problem is due to the unintended consequences of change somewhere in the environment. At the end of the day, tools are great, but logs and the tools to understand the data will unlock the solution. - Jim Parkinson, North American Bancard
Datadog network performance monitoring is a top-notch package for IT leaders looking to troubleshoot their networks. I was impressed by how quickly it resolved some of our issues at the office. I think this software is a good pick because it’s solid on its own, but Datadog’s tool also comes with over 500 integrations, so you’re bound to find something that works for you. - Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
Dig seems to be the tool I go to first. The probability of a network problem’s being a DNS issue (client or server) seems to be higher than its being a true connectivity issue. When working with junior admins, this command is one that is typically not included in their toolbox. That needs to change. - Michael Loggins, SMC Corporation of America
Iftop is a useful utility, alongside the indispensable duo of ping and netstat. It comes in handy both when diagnosing peer traffic from a node in a distributed mesh and also when monitoring a specific subset of network interfaces. Its filters, passed via -f, can be useful when isolating traffic (ICMP, Ethernet broadcast). Based on leads from iftop, tcpdump may help with further diagnosis. - Pramod Konandur Prabhakar, Pelatro PLC
For Macs, Apple provides an App Transport Security diagnostic utility via the nscurl command. Not only is it useful if you have issues with iOS apps establishing a secure connection to your server, but you can also use it to audit your servers to make sure they’re up to date with industry best practices, such as the latest TLS versions and forward secrecy. - Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket
When DNS stops working, users lose a lot of functionality because they can no longer resolve this information. It is possible to use NsLookup software to find out the IP address(es) associated with a given domain name. The NsLookup program can query specific DNS servers in addition to the default DNS servers for a host to discover if there is a problem with the DNS configuration. - Chintan Shah, Brainvire InfoTech Inc.
As simple as it sounds, ping is an irreplaceable tool when it comes to diagnosing network connectivity issues. Using this utility should be the first step in network troubleshooting. Not only easy to use, ping is also an effective way to confirm the connection between the requesting host and the destination host. - Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor
When working with an IT team, Postman is an excellent tool for RESTful APIs. But it also offers overlooked collaboration tools, which allows for smoother communication through basic functionalities such as comments. I find that, often, team solutions end up constituting tech solutions. - Jacob Mathison, Mathison Projects Inc.
Similar to ping, the traceroute command tells you about the path a network packet takes. Essentially, the command monitors a packet as it navigates to a destination and requests replies from each router it passes along the way. At the end of the process, you will know the exact path your packet takes, helping you troubleshoot an issue. - Nicholas Domnisch, EES Health
Every IT pro should know about Wireshark. It’s a network-tracking tool that lets you see what’s happening on your network at a granular level. You can see all the data being sent and received, and if something looks suspicious, you can investigate further. It’s an essential tool for keeping your network safe and running smoothly. - Dragos Rus, WeSupply Labs