Had the local ISP around today to sort out a long-standing issue we had with network drops and gaming. What we were finding was that the internet service was good for upload/download speeds, but sometimes proved unreliable for gaming.
As with most ISP’s, getting them to do stuff is sometimes not easy, so here’s some tools that help diagnose what is going on (in Windows, linux has a bunch of command line stuff):
Ping plotter is a paid / free trial / free utility that just provides a graphical ‘tracert’ command. This can be useful when you need to see where on the various routes to a location is the problem.
What you will finds is that the initial ‘hops’ on a trace will be through your route/modem and then to the local drops you have in your neighborhood. Just pick a reliable target like www.google.com or your local ISP home page and use that to see the route and stats.
As you can see from the image above, the top chart shows latency per hop, plus a ‘PL%’ value, which shows the packet loss. This can be really useful for seeing where the issue is. The bottom graph shows the latency and packet loss in a line graph over time (the free version still does this, but is locked to a live 10 minute rolling window). The free version is fine.
Another alternative to PingPlotter is good old ‘WinMTR’, which has been around a long time. It’s open source and can be found here:
Again it just shows the live tracert network info, with a set of counters. Essentially the same info as PingPlotter, but less graphs:
Finally, you can just use a windows CMD prompt and type ‘tracert www.google.com’ and get a bare output with no tools to download.
So with these tools it helped me get the local ISP tech support to rewire the connection outside the house, as otherwise their suggestions sort of came down to ‘turn it off and on again’ or ‘it’s probably your router, sorry’. With the proper traces saved it was easy to show where on their network things would drop packets and when (especially if not on your equipment but the ISPs). They ended up rewiring and replaced some local equipment, and so far so good.