Featured Freeware highlights some of the Liquid Web staff’s favorite free software. This week we are covering a treasured favorite, MTR (My Traceroute).
Note: This post assumes you have a working knowledge of Traceroute.
MTR (originally Matt’s Traceroute, now My Traceroute) functions like traceroute insofar as it displays the network hops from your local machine (or server, depending on where you run the command) to the target IP address or hostname.
MTR differs from traceroute by constantly observing and displaying the network hops and related statistics instead of displaying a single set of results. Put simply, if you traceroute to google.com you will get a report for a single connection from your computer to google’s servers. If you MTR to google.com you will see a continuously updated display of each hop and its performance over time until you tell it to stop.
MTR can be installed on almost any Linux machine by using a local package manager such as yum or apt. Windows and Mac OS X users can install MTR using the links in the Additional Resources section at the bottom of this post.
Basic MTR Usage
Example MTR command from a Liquid Web server to google.com:
root@host [~]# mtr google.com
Hostname %Loss Rcv Snt Last Best Avg Worst
1. 184.108.40.206 0% 19 19 0 0 0 0
2. lw-dc2-core3-po1.rtr.liquidweb.com 0% 19 19 0 0 0 1
3. lw-eqx-border5-te1-2.rtr.liquidweb.c 0% 19 19 7 7 9 33
4. TenGigabitEthernet3-1.ar5.CHI2.gblx. 0% 19 19 6 6 7 19
5. po5-20G.ar4.CHI2.gblx.net 0% 19 19 6 6 8 20
6. 220.127.116.11 0% 19 19 6 6 11 71
7. 18.104.22.168 0% 19 19 7 7 12 90
8. 22.214.171.124 0% 18 18 17 17 20 73
9. 126.96.36.199 0% 18 18 17 17 17 18
10. 188.8.131.52 0% 18 18 22 17 24 30
11. iy-in-f104.1e100.net 0% 18 18 18 17 18 18
Note: This is a single screen grab of a MTR result, but when run in this manner MTR will continuously update these stats until you cancel it with ctrl+c or q.
Breaking the results down from left to right:
- The name or IP address of the network hop.
- The percentage of packets that are being lost during the trace.
- In most cases this is the first result you want to watch.
- The number of packets received from the hop.
- The number of packets sent to the hop.
- The response time of the last packet sent to the hop.
- The best response time during the entire span of the test.
- The average response time during the entire span of the test.
- The worst response time during the entire span of the test.
Evaluating MTR Results
Almost immediately you will want to pay attention to the %Loss column in MTR’s display. As the the tests progress the percentage will get more accurate at telling you where there may be a problem. Generally speaking you will see packet loss at every hop past the point of trouble.
If the packet loss is occurring close to the first couple hops this could be an indicator of trouble within your local network (at home or the office) or connection to the public internet (in the case of a server).
Say you notice your home internet connection is performing slowly no matter what site you visit or what you try to do. You go to your computer and use MTR to check the connection from you to google.com (or just about any site). Depending on your home network set up the first hop is most likely your local router/wireless access point. If you notice packet loss on the second hop then you have a strong indicator that your internet service provider is having problems on their end.
When loss is seen starting in the middle of the results this is often an indication of a problem with a major internet route. In this case you can notify your ISP and they can potentially contact their upstream provider to get the matter resolved.
Response times can be evaluated just like traceroute or ping results: Higher numbers are bad, lower numbers are good. If a particular hop is showing much higher response times than the other hops, even without packet loss, you can see that it might be having a problem.
Liquid Web customers who use MTR when shelled into their servers should contact support with any questions regarding MTR results.
WinMTR – MTR for Windows 95/98/2000/XP Users
WinMTR 7 – MTR for Windows Vista & Windows 7 Users
Liquid Web’s Heroic Support is always available to assist customers with this or any other issue. If you need our assistance please contact us:
Toll Free 1.800.580.4985