Windows Server 2008 R2 networking : Network Monitoring and Troubleshooting Utilities

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To properly manage and monitor your Windows network, you need to become familiar with the tools required to manage, monitor, and troubleshoot problems. Let us take a look at some of the basic network utilities.
  • Ping —This is one of the most basic, yet most useful tool you will use when troubleshooting server problems. The ping utility does just that it pings a given server name or IP address to see if the host is responding on the network. If a server fails to respond to a ping, it may be off-line.

  • PathPing —PathPing provides a more in-depth ping test that not only tests to see if the host is alive, but also displays the IP paths that the ping has gone through, such as network routers. PathPing also gathers statistics related to the ping test.

  • NSLookup —NSLookup is a key DNS name resolution testing utility. The NSLookup command allows you to send queries to DNS Servers to ensure that they respond and provide the correct result to the query.

  • Network Monitor (netmon) —Network Monitor allows you to capture network traffic and packets on your network and analyze them. Network Monitor is a great utility to understand which servers talk to each other and what protocols and ports they use to do so.

Using ping, PathPing, and NSLookup

Ping, PathPing, and NSLookup are great tools to assist with testing and troubleshooting Windows networks. Brief examples of using each are provided below.

As mentioned, Ping can be used to see if an IP address is “alive” on the network. The ping utility will also return the time it took the ICMP ping packet to reach the target IP and receive a reply. To perform a simple ping, open a command prompt and issue the command Ping IP Address or Hostname. For example, Ping or Ping server1 PathPing commands are issued in the same format but provide more in-depth analysis of the path being taken by the ping.

The NSLookup utility can help you test name resolution using DNS. To perform a simple DNS query test using NSLookup, simply open a command prompt and enter the command NSLookup FQDN of host, for example, NSLookup You can additionally move to a NSLookup console by simply entering NSLookup at a command prompt. From there you can perform a query by entering a hostname. You can also change DNS Servers for queries by entering the command server DNS Server FQDN, for example, server

Overview of Network Monitor

Microsoft originally included a slimmed-down version of the Network Monitor as part of the operating system. As an administrator, you could add the component and use the lightweight Network Monitor version. The fully featured version of Network Monitor was included as part of System Management Server (SMS). Recently Microsoft released a fully functional Network Monitor that was made available free from the Microsoft Download Center Web site. Network Monitor 3.3 can be downloaded via this link:

After installing Network Monitor, it can be launched from a desktop shortcut or via the Start menu. Upon launching, the main Network Monitor window will open as seen in Figure 1. This is where you can start a new packet capture process and select the network adapters to include in the capture.

Figure 1. Microsoft Network Monitor.

To begin a new network capture, click the Capture button opening a new capture tab. Then click the Start button. You will immediately see packet information displayed in real-time as traffic flows to and from the selected network interfaces. After you have finished capturing traffic, click the Stop button. When troubleshooting, typically, you will start the capture just prior to a specific error appearing, and then stopping the capture after the error occurs.

After you have captured network data, you can view frame details of captured packets by selecting a frame in the frame summary pane. The details will be displayed in frame details (see Figure 2). Here you can dissect exactly what information was inside the frame. You can optionally limit information displayed in the frame summary pane by selecting the specific application you want to view from the left pane.

Figure 2. Frame Details from Captured Packets.

If you want to further limit the types of traffic displayed in the frame summary pane, you can create filters. A filter is a way to view only specific traffic based upon criteria defined in the filter. For example, if you want to view only URL traffic for, you could apply the http URL filter as seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Using a Network Monitor Display Filter.

The Network Monitor can be a very valuable tool when troubleshooting issues that are related to network connectivity. Using Network Monitor, you can view in-depth details about where servers are attempting to communicate and what type of traffic is being sent over particular network interfaces.

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