It is very common for people to run into websites that respond slowly. A lot of times these individuals will turn to technical support thinking that it is the server becoming overburdened. The representatives will normally ask for a traceroute and ping report.
Running a ping test is an ideal way to determine whether it is your connection having an issue, or the server itself, and many times if it is your connection, then a traceroute test will help you pinpoint the location of the issue’s cause.
Running a ping/traceroute test
Below are the steps for Windows and Mac to run a ping and traceroute test. Whenever you find the term, “website.com,” make sure to replace it with the actual domain name during the test.
For Windows users
- Open your Start menu and type Run
- Type CMD and press OK
- Type Ping website.com and press Enter
- Upon finishing, type tracert website.com and press Enter
For Mac users
- From Applications, open Utilities
- Access the Network utility
- In the Ping tab, type the website name and click Ping
- Upon finishing, choose the Traceroute tab and repeat
How traceroute works
Much like connecting the dots, your computer’s connection to a website consists of a number of points that act as junctions. These stops are known as “hops,” and the signal encounters several of them throughout the process of your router starting the signal, moving your ISP out to the main networks, and, finally, it can have several junctions before coming to the website and web server.
Traceroute displays the path and all the hops that the signal visited around the internet before arriving to the requested website. The report will also display the response times for each stop along the way. You will be able to pinpoint the latency or connection problem’s location while connecting to a site in this report.
Reading hop times
Issues are generally revealed by large numbers on the report. Consistent times are what you want to see. The RTT columns are what you should focus on evaluating in your report. Times will be listed here, and you to need to try and look over the whole report, searching for patterns. Though times about or over 150ms may be normal for the signal crossing an ocean, these times are considered outstanding within the continental U.S.
A sudden increase in latency at a hop that keeps increasing towards the website, if it makes it that far, is a clear indication of issues originating in the starting hop. This could cause loss of packets, and the report might even show an asterisk (*) at this junction. With latency times increasing among the first few hops, there could be possible issues with your local network. Refer to your network administrator to verify and solve these issues if that is the case.
However, if you report timeouts within the first couple of hops at the beginning of the report, and the rest of the report runs smoothly, this is a normal process for the device most likely does not respond to the request of traceroute.
Timeouts at the end
Not always indicating an issue, a timeout may occur at the end of a report for a number of reasons. There could be a firewall preventing requests, but the target can still be reachable with normal HTTP requests, which should not affect normal connections. If the signal is still going through, you might not be receiving a return signal to your system. This should not affect the connection’s normality in anyway. An effect on your connection could be the result of an issue at the target itself.
The problems that appear towards the last couple hops are most likely to be caused by the provider. In this case, you should contact your hosting company. Issues located in the first few hops are most likely within your network, or ISP. After that, you cross into the hosting provider’s domain. If the problems appear prior to the hosting provider’s domain, then the issue is simply somewhere along the route and is not able to be controlled either by you or the provider.