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Network Admins: Don't Forget About Microsoft Pathping

Network Admins: Don't Forget About Microsoft Pathping

Typically, when troubleshooting a network problem in Windows, we will reach for the trusty ping and tracert utilities. Ping lets you know a network connection actually exists and is functional. Tracert shows you the routers (or "hops") the packets traverse to get to the destination. So these two tools confirm that you do have a connection and what that connection is. What they don't tell you is the quality of the connection.

That's where pathping comes into play. Pathping was first available with Windows 2000, but I still come across many Network Admins who are totally unaware of this tool. NOTE: The syntax for pathping is the same as ping and tracert. (For example: pathping Server27 or pathping 8.8.8.8)

The Microsoft Pathping Utility Can Help You:

  1. See whether or not there is a network connection 
  2. See the path of a connection
  3. See the quality of the connection - (Lost packets at each router along the path to the destination allow you to drill down to exactly which connection)
  4. See the latency of the connection - (The time it takes packets to make a round trip from each hop along the path)
  5. See information on IPv4 and/or IPv6 connections

Pathping sends a number of packets (100 by default) to each router as well as the destination and computes results from each, showing dropped packets as well as round-trip time (latency). With this number of packets being sent, you'll need to be patient while waiting for results. My test to Google's DNS server took nearly five minutes to complete:

test to Google's DNS server

Be aware that the output of pathping is a bit odd. It will show you a percentage of packets lost, rather than successful transmissions. That means a perfect score will be 0/100% (zero out of one hundred packets were lost).

Hopefully you can get in the habit of using this excellent Windows tool to aid in network troubleshooting. And don't forget to investigate the switches for pathping.

Damon GarnAuthor: Damon Garn, Technical Instructor
MCT, MCSA, MCITP:SA, MCSE:S, ITIL, Linux+/LPIC-1, Security+, Network+, A+

Damon has nearly 16 years of experience as a classroom and online instructor, specializing in Windows Server and Linux courses. He is an experienced admin who enjoys empowering students with knowledge and ideas. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and playing guitar.


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