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Checking the status of the information superhighway using ping and traceroute gateways

Having trouble reaching your destination on the Internet? Maybe your path on the information superhighway is experiencing a traffic congestion, or maybe it's the Internet weather.
Much like individual cars on a regular motor vehicle highway, information (often called data packets) on the Internet has to travel from point A to point B, sometimes passing through high traffic areas, small tunnels and unstable paths. If you're having trouble reaching a particular site, you may have to first find out if the data packets are able to travel freely in-between your computer and the destination site.
One of the ways to get an idea of what maybe preventing you from reaching your destination is to check with a service that keeps track of the major Internet traffic carriers or backbones.
So how do these services work? Mostly with the help of two commands called ping and traceroute.
Using PING
This method involves comparing how long it takes to get back multiple packets of data sent to major Internet backbones using a method called pinging. If it takes a relatively longer time for the data packets to reach the destination and come back to the source, or if a high percentage (more than 10% for example) of the packets doesn't come back at all, the link between the two points is considered poor. An Internet weather reporting service would keep repeating this process every so often to produce a report that you can view and compare 24 hours a day. If your Internet service provider, your final destination site or one of the routes in-between is using a backbone with poor conditions, you may experience slowdowns and/or timeouts.
    NOTE: Due to the decentralized and dynamic nature of the Internet, Internet weather reporting service may not be able to pin point your problem every time. Also note that the condition of Internet backbones may change within minutes. If you continue to see a particular backbone in your path perform poorly, talk to your Internet service provider or your web host, whichever the case maybe.
Your Internet service provider (ISP) may have an Internet weather reporting system that's closer and specific to your Internet connection. If you have a web site hosted outside of your local ISP's network, they may also provide a more relevant report closer to their network center. If available, be sure to use such services that are closer to you and your web server instead of generic services. This is because Internet weather reporting services closer to your connection may be able to pickup on local problems that other services may not be able to see.
You maybe able to run a basic ping test directly from your computer without using an Internet weather reporting service. To give this a try, go to your operating system's command prompt (DOS box in Windows 95) and type ping followed by the host/domain name of your destination site. For example, if your destination site is www.chami.com, type:
ping www.chami.com
and press ENTER
The other frequently used method of checking Internet weather and connectivity is by using the traceroute command. It can reveal the number and the names of the hops (servers / hosts / routers) data packets would travel through before reaching the final destination. In other words, you can find out the exact router location a breakdown maybe occurring using traceroute.
If you're running your own Internet site, you can use traceroute gateways hosted on distant servers to find out how many hops your visitors are traveling through to reach your site. Generally speaking, more hops = slower response.
Most likely you can run traceroute from your computer without using a web gateway.
Listing #1 : Internet weather reports / traceroute gateways
Applicable Keywords : Internet, Networking, Web Resource, World Wide Web
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