The free ping tool that saved my day

Free Tools | August 15, 2016 | 3 min read

It’s business as usual at the corporate headquarters of Zylker, the fictional company in Anytown, USA. It’s seven in the morning and people are bustling in and out of the pantry with steaming cups of tea and coffee. Martina, the network administrator, grabs her cup of coffee and walks to her desk to start the day. Settling into her high-back chair, Martina has no idea that she will soon discover a mobile way to accomplish her tasks. But let’s let her tell the story…

After logging into my desktop, I’m setting up everything I need when  an unusual blue screen appears out of nowhere. Then, my computer shuts down! I try switching off and on the main power supply. But no matter what I do, my computer  just won’t restart. I see that my day has taken a turn for the worse before it even started! I pull out my mobile phone and log a ticket in the ServiceDesk Plus app, and now all I can do is wait, right?

At this time every day, I do my usual monitoring. But  with my desktop gone,  I feel helpless. But as I finish logging my repair ticket, it occurs to me that I’m not so helpless after all.

The first thing I have to do as the network administrator is scan the IPs in our Wi-Fi environment to get a feel for our network usage, which I can do right now with the Android Ping tool on my phone.Then, I compare the results with previous days’ and look for any unwanted devices, which, thankfully, I don’t find. Thanks to the Android Ping tool, I then scan our handheld and premium Wi-Fi networks my firm uses for mobile devices and top management, respectively. Everything looks great, so far.

Next, using the same tool, I ping our servers and evaluate the packet trip times. These indicate that the network connections are reliable except for a server connection that has been giving us problems for a few days now. Using the server’s traceroute information, I analyze the root cause of the problem. Not only has the number of hops increased, but the time between two specific hops has also increased drastically. Looks like one of the routers has failed. Note to self: Add it to the host list, so I remember to follow up on it later. The host list is a feature in the Android ping tool that lets me save the host IPs that need to be monitored at regular intervals.

I feel immensely satisfied with my accomplishments so far, especially considering I don’t have a desktop. But just as I start smiling, Dorothy, a colleague, taps my shoulder.

Hey, can you give me a list of all the open ports in our server X? I freed up a few ports on that server for the new MDM application.”

“Sure,” I reply and  scan a range of ports on the server to make sure no other services are listening on the ports that Dorothy has earmarked.

Next thing I know, my phone beeps, alerting me to an  email from Joe:

“The mail server has been giving us problems. It is not showing the changes that we’ve made. Can you run some checks and let me know what’s up?”

I immediately run a DNS lookup, go through the SOA records, and see that the serial number hasn’t changed. In all probability it’s the cache. So, I clear it and run the DNS lookup again. Now, there shouldn’t be any more problems for Joe and his team. I quickly ping  Joe and inform him that I have resolved the mail server problem. If the team had reduced the TTL value,  there wouldn’t have been any of these  problems.

Anyway, my desktop was just whisked away for further poking and prodding because my ticket was prioritized! Now that’s one of the perks of being a network admin!

So, until next time, why don’t you check out this cool new app that has helped me through today?