Best Network Latency Tools

by Ben Schultz - Last Updated: September 23, 2021

Best Network Latency Tools

One of the biggest challenges of network administrators is ensuring a fast and smooth connection with as few packet losses as possible.

Here is our list of the best five network latency tools:

  1. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor – FREE TRIAL An excellent tool for network monitoring where all needs of IT specialists will be fulfilled.
  2. Solarwinds Engineer’s Toolset – FREE TRIAL Highly feature-packed software with more than 60 utilities measuring a broad range of metrics.
  3. SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer – FREE TRIAL Offers users a very simplified view of concise information related to network traffic and bandwidth utilization.
  4. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor A very comprehensive networking monitor that can give you a detailed analysis of your network.
  5. ManageEngine Free Ping Tool Offers a few essential utilities to diagnose issues, unlike other software that provides comprehensive reports quickly.

Networks in organizations depend on reliable connectivity. Therefore, it is essential to maintain smooth networking operations, especially in this technological age, where connectivity is the backbone of modern infrastructures. Network administrators must optimize networks to ensure proper distribution of speeds and quality of service (QoS) between different users based on priority lists. However, it is not always easy. One of the most significant issues that hinder the operations of a network is latency. Network latency manifests in every network around the world. Latency can never be eliminated; however, latency can be minimized. This article will guide you about the various ways you can ensure that your network is free from latency as much as possible.

What is Network Latency

It is expedient to understand what network latency is. In simple terms, network latency measures the speed of a network or the traffic on a single network. It is measured in milliseconds. It is a way of measuring the time it takes for a packet of data to reach its end destination. Each network has a limited amount of circuits through which data can travel throughout the network. The circuits are analogous to highways. If too much data is present on a single circuit, it will cause congestion, and users would end with high latency.

Several factors dictate network latency. Network latency does not only vary from one network to another but also varies from application to application. Each application has a different acceptable latency. Some applications are not significantly affected by latency, while others may stop functioning altogether. Applications like video playback and VoIP calls require higher bandwidth and speeds than sending emails.

Another factor that affects latency is propagation time, the distance separating the two communicating devices. Even though data travels at the speed of light, there is always a delay due to the enormous distances packets cover. Therefore, the farther the end device is from the medium, the more latency in the network.

Transmission delay might also affect latency, but it is more related to the medium than the network. For example, if a device is sending a large packet, it would have a higher latency due to the greater upload size of the data. Conveniently, devices can send small packets of data quicker than larger ones.

The third factor that affects latency is the router’s capabilities. If you are using an outdated router, it might cause latency issues because of the congestion of its bands. Nowadays, most routers have a dual-band configuration allowing users to cut down latency issues by a large margin.

Why should you minimize network latency?

Network latency should be reduced because it hinders productivity and efficiency since organizations depend on high delivery speeds. Slow internet speeds are frustrating for everyone and would distract employees from adding value to the organization. Therefore, network administrators have to optimize networks so that high-priority users experience as little latency as possible. At the same time, those undertaking low bandwidth tasks don’t end up worse off as well.

How can you measure latency?

There are many ways to measure latency. However, there are two common ways to measure network latency: RTT and TTFB. RTT refers to “Round-Trip Time,” which measures the time for a packet of data to travel from one point of a network to another and for a response to return to the source. RTT is generally the preferred way of measuring latency since it does not require installing any software. TTFB refers to “Time to First Byte,” which measures the time it takes for a data packet to travel from one point on a network to another. TTFB does not require a response, unlike RTT. However, TTFB requires data collection software to be installed on the end device.

Apart from these two methods, a wide variety of tools automate measuring latency at home. In addition to measuring latency, some tools can extensively analyze bandwidth utilization on a network. The tools can also measure other metrics and provide you clear indications of a network’s choke points.

Measuring Latency with Ping

One of the easiest ways to measure network latency is through software called Ping. Ping is a great and free latency-testing tool built into the operating system and does not require sophisticated applications. Network administrators often use Ping for diagnosing internet connectivity issues due to its ease of use. It is based on the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) and is easy and practical. It provides a detailed report of the network to the computer that runs Ping.

Ping is an example of round-trip time (RTT), also known as round-trip delay. When you run the ping command, it would send a data packet to a specific location within the network and measure the time, in milliseconds, it took for the response signal to be received by the host. It measures the travel time for both the data packet sent and the response packet received. The results will also include the number of packets sent, number of packets received and number of packets lost, allowing you to diagnose latency fluctuations thoroughly.

It is an excellent and easy-to-use tool for diagnosing latency-related issues; however, it cannot solve the problems independently. It is also not capable of analyzing multiple network paths in a single command. For extensive troubleshooting of network problems, the use of the below tools mentioned is recommended.

How to Solve latency issues

Even though Ping is an excellent tool for diagnosing latency issues, its failure is its inability to solve detected problems. There are multiple ways to address latency issues. One particular way is by using queuing algorithms. Quality of Service (QoS) is a methodology for establishing priorities and deciding which data types will be given precedence over others. In QoS, most urgent cases are prioritized, and most of the bandwidth is allocated to them. In contrast, low bandwidth tasks are put on hold until sufficient bandwidth is available. This can cause transmission delays in specific less time-sensitive traffic. However, the tradeoff is worth it in the end.

The Best Network Latency Tools

1. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor – FREE TRIAL

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor

SolarWinds is a well-reputed company when it comes to network monitoring software. The Network Performance Monitor is one of the flagship monitoring tools of SolarWinds. It is an excellent tool for network monitoring where all needs of IT specialists will be fulfilled. It feels like it was designed with the requirements of network administrators in mind, which is why it is the recommended pick for all network administrators.

The network performance monitor is a very comprehensive monitoring tool. However, it is still easy to use thanks to its intuitive UI design and customizable dashboard. You can easily tailor the dashboard to fit your monitoring needs and only track metrics that matter to you. Also, you can drag metrics on a standard timeline in a side-by-side view for comparison among the various metrics to pinpoint the cause of your latency issues. One of the most significant advantages of NPM is its scalability. Businesses ranging from small size to enterprises can take advantage of the monitoring facilities available. It is not just a testing utility but a complete monitoring tool that will help you solve the issues as they come up.

NPM can provide detailed information regarding bandwidth usage throughout your network, allowing you to pinpoint the locations of the congestions. It also has the functionality of plotting information about bandwidth usage on a graph enabling the user to visualize its use over time. It also features a network map that allows you to examine specific paths causing latency issues between devices visually. The network map significantly reduces the troubleshooting time. In addition, the quality of experience dashboard provides information regarding various response times and network latency. Furthermore, NPM makes it very easy for users to monitor network usage, congestions in the circuits, and server CPU loads.

Pricing: Get an online quote – see https://www.solarwinds.com/network-performance-monitor

Download: You can test-drive SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor for a fully functional 30-day free trial which is enough to examine all the features NPM provides thoroughly.

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2. Solarwinds Engineer’s Toolset – FREE TRIAL

Solarwinds Engineers Toolset

Engineer’s Toolset is yet another software from Solarwinds. It is a highly feature-packed software with more than 60 utilities measuring a broad range of metrics. Engineer toolset is designed to help you keep your network in top shape with its wide range of functionalities, including real-time monitoring, automated network discovery, device health monitoring, and many more.

The response time monitor tracks devices in real-time and presents latency and bandwidth usage information in the form of a table that is easier to compare. The response time monitor and automated network discovery ensure that all new connected devices are also monitored. CPU monitor tracks the load on the CPU in real-time and allows you to set limits for each device and notifying you when the limit is exceeded. A memory monitor can detect available memory and memory utilization in real-time. Interface monitors provide real-time information about connected routers. Furthermore, the traceroute utility lets you analyze the performance and latency of hops across specific paths. ETS also helps in the verification of DNS and DHCP functionalities for various devices.

Pricing: Get an online quote – see https://www.solarwinds.com/engineers-toolset/

Download: You can try Solarwinds Engineer’s Toolset for a fully functional 14-day free trial which is enough to examine all the features NPM provides thoroughly.

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3. SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer – FREE TRIAL

SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer

NetFlow Traffic Analyzer is yet another utility-packed tool from SolarWinds. NTA offers users a very simplified view of concise information related to network traffic and bandwidth utilization. The information can then be correlated with the connected devices and the applications used to identify the areas across the network that may be causing latency issues. Finally, the problem can be traced back to the device causing it.

NTA can help users identify the users or applications using the most bandwidth and plot the information in time-series graphs through data transmission patterns. The graphical representation of data can aid you in identifying trends both in the short term and long term. Like Network Performance Monitor, NTA can help you compare metrics side by side. NTA also keeps a record of historical data to help you analyze the effectiveness of network policies and the implementation of new methodologies. The performance review can help you make an effective decision for the smooth operation of the network in the long term.

Pricing: Get an online quote – see https://www.solarwinds.com/netflow-traffic-analyzer

Download: You can test-drive SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer for a fully functional 30-day free trial which is enough to examine all the features NPM provides thoroughly.

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4. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor

Paessler PRTG Network Monitor

Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor is a very comprehensive networking monitor that can give you a detailed analysis of your network. It has broad coverage and will monitor networks, servers, and applications. Thereby, it is an excellent solution for medium or large businesses that rely on many servers, switches, and firewalls. The best thing about PRTG is its centralized nature, allowing you to monitor the entire network from a single platform. Having access to all your networking records from a single location can help you thoroughly assess the network.  PRTG also features an auto-discovery feature that would automatically gather monitoring data of all recently connected devices.

PRTG features a wide variety of utilities known as sensors. For example, the Ping jitter sensor can provide information about the RTT of various packets and help you locate the cause of latency. Also, PRTG can monitor disk usage, connected IoT devices, cloud services, and network bandwidth. PRTg can also monitor and report packet loss, jitter, and packet arrival sequence. PRTG offers a customizable dashboard providing detailed macro and micro analyses of various metrics. It can also record historical data allowing you to compare the metrics at different time intervals. A color-coded map on the dashboard can help you visually locate network performance issues. The various sensors on the dashboard allow you to assess multiple servers’ different bandwidth requirements and optimize the network expediently.

However, PRTG uses its proprietary database instead of the commonly employed MySQL and Microsoft SQL, which can cause compatibility issues and prevent the admin from writing their SQL queries. Also, it is a very detailed monitoring tool and requires time to explore fully.

PRTG has a variety of pricing plans allowing you to pick the one which would be most suitable for your networking needs and ensuring you get the best experience.

5. ManageEngine Free Ping Tool

ManageEngine Free Ping Tool

ManageEngine Free Ping Tool is an excellent utility for quick on-site troubleshooting. It offers a few essential utilities to diagnose issues, unlike other software that provides comprehensive reports quickly. In addition, ManageEngine provides Ping and Traceroute tools and a utility to measure website response time.

Ping and traceroute are two methods of identifying latency in networks. The ping tool monitors the time it takes for a packet data to reach its destination and records the time the response packet takes. Generally, it measures RTT of all connected IP addresses and refreshes the readings in real-time. Ping results are plotted on a time-series graph providing valuable information of any developing trends.

Traceroute utility keeps track of all round trip times of different hops along the circuit in the form of a bar. The Graphical illustration simplifies pinpointing the longest hop since the length of the bar visually represents it.

Web response app keeps track of response times to web servers and presents them in the form of a graph to quickly assess webpages that take the longest to respond. The graph also updates redirection times and web response times in real-time.

However, you will have to manually enter individual IP addresses since it does not feature an automatic network discovery feature like the previously mentioned tools. But, once an IP address is entered, it does not get removed until manually done so. Thus, it is an easy tool for quick network testing but is not recommended for long-term enterprise use.

Conclusion

Networks are a necessity in the modern world of data communications. Therefore, organizations need to ensure all networks operate on the lowest latency channels to avoid disruptions. Various measures and tools can be used to achieve optimum network performance. However, specialized network monitoring tools are crucial for network administrators since they provide an in-depth network analysis, resulting in more efficient networks.