Monitor your network reliability

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colbert.jpgMy network has been unreliable. Many weeks of inconvenience didn't push me to solve it, but you can bet I did once my wife told me The Colbert Report wasn't streaming well. I turned to a script to help me. You may find it helpful too.

If you launch this script on a machine, it will ping in batches of 200 and writes the results to a log file. You can then scan the results to know how your network performs over time.

@echo off

@REM =============== CONFIG BEGIN ================

@REM == set the size of the ping batches
set loopsize=200
@REM == set the destination for ping

@REM =============== CONFIG END ================

@REM == set up the log file directory
set logdir=%~dp0\ping.logs
if not exist %logdir% mkdir %logdir%
@REM == set the current log file
for /f "tokens=1-9 delims=/:. " %%d in ("%date% %time%") do set stamp=%%g-%%e-%%f_%%h-%%i-%%j
set log=%logdir%\pinglog_%stamp%.log

echo === starting %loopsize% pings on %date% at %time%
echo === starting %loopsize% pings on %date% at %time% >> %log%
netsh wlan show interfaces | grep SSID | grep -v BSSID
netsh wlan show interfaces | grep SSID | grep -v BSSID >> %log%
ping -n %loopsize% %pingdest%  >> %log%
goto loop
@echo on

In my case, I noticed that video streaming was glitchy, and VOIP telephone calls and video conferences would sometimes lose data. The script reported that batches of pings almost always had 2% losses and frequently as high as 5% losses. My network setup looked like this:

internet provider - modem - netgear wifi router - computers

Was the problem my inexpensive Internet package? My used modem from ebay? My old router? I changed my system to be this:

internet provider - modem - dlink wifi router - netgear wifi router - computers

Then I connected one machine to the dlink radio and another to the netgear radio. I watched network performance on each. The dlink radio performed great, but the netgear radio still had high ping loss. I had identified that the netgear wifi router was the problem.

So I reverted a firmware upgrade that I had put in a couple months ago, connected again to the netgear radio, and now its ping losses are far less than one in a thousand. This script helped me diagnose and solve the problem -- so I don't have to buy a new router and reconfigure the house.

By the way, I use this ugly command to extract just the lines I need to see: the name of the radio I'm connected to and the results per ping batch. This works because I've downloaded egrep and sed (among other unix-style utilities) and added them to my path:

egrep "SSID|loss" C:\ping.logs\pinglog_2014-01-24_9-46-32.log | sed s/".*("//g | sed s/").*"//g | sed s/".*\:"//g

The result looks like this:

0% loss
 netgear radio
0% loss
 netgear radio
0% loss
 netgear radio

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