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  • Performance testing and monitoring using free tool NTttcp from Microsoft

    In my classes, whether it is a Cisco class or a CompTIA Network + class, one of the topics always considered is monitoring the network. It turns out that there is a cool tool that is available from Microsoft that allows a network admin to stress test a network connection and monitor the results. Simply access your preferred search engine and look for NTttcp download. There is a help document that accompanies the download which explains in detail your options. There is even a lab in the Network+ class that performs this test, albeit in a virtual environment. In this blog I will perform similar steps to those in the lab, but on two real machines. I will not be exploring all the choices which can be executed with the tool, but enough to introduce the tool if you are unfamiliar with it.

    I have two machines that are directly connected with a crossover cable and have been configured with IP addresses in the same network: PC1 is 10.100.0.1/24 and PC2 is 10.100.0.254/24. A view of the topology is shown in figure1:

     001-Network-Topology-NTttcp-from-Microsoft

    Figure 1

    What I like to do when I execute these steps is to title my command prompt windows to keep track of where I am. I have connected my two machines, I have launched two command prompt windows (as Administrator, of course) and I have my text files ready to paste into those windows. Here are the contents of the text files on PC1 and PC2 respectively:

    PC1

    paste this into the window for sending

     

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    paste this into the window for receiving

     

    See Microsoft’s full documentation for a complete discussion of command line options. In the steps above, the –m switch allows the tester to specify single- or multi- thread operations and which processor to use. The –p switch specifies the beginning port number to uses to start transferring data. The –a switch specifies asynchronous data transfer with 4 outstanding I/O buffers. Execute the commands so that everything above is pasted into the window, but don’t hit Enter on anything yet. Once all windows are preloaded, make the receiver window on each machine the active window. Hit Enter in each window, then make the sender window the active window on each PC. Hit Enter simultaneously (or as close as possible) in each sender window.  Let’s take a look at the command prompt windows on PC1 after executing the commands above:

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    002-Command-Prompt-NTttcp-from-Microsoft

    Figure 2

    Figure 2 shows the receiver window on PC1. Now let’s see the sender window on PC1:

    003-Command-Prompt-Network-Activity-NTttcp-from-Microsoft

    Figure 2

    Let’s do the same for PC2. Here is the receiver window:

    004-Command-Prompt-receiver-Network-Activity-NTttcp-from-Microsoft

    Figure 3

    Here is the sender window:

    005-Command-Prompt-sender-Network-Activity-NTttcp-from-Microsoft

    Figure 4

    Note the very close correlation between the sending window of one machine and the receiving window of the other machine. For instance, in the sending window of PC1, it shows Bytes: 695.750000 and the receiving window of PC2 shows 695.750122. The sending window shows Packets Received : 455535 while the receiving window shows 455356 Packets Sent. This gives the admin very good numbers on throughput success.

    Another fun activity is to run Task Manager or Performance Monitor (or even Wireshark) during the test and viewing the results. Here is a screencap of PC1 which was running Performance Monitor:

    006-Performance-Monitor-sender-Network-Activity-NTttcp-from-Microsoft

    Figure 5

    Notice that the test pegged the meter briefly. PC2 was running Task Manager:

    007-Task-Manager-Network-Activity-NTttcp-from-Microsoft

    Figure 6

    Of course you can manipulate the counters in Performance Monitor to suit your fancy. As mentioned, there are numerous other options available, multi-threading and multi-proc, for example. I just wanted to introduce this formerly internal-only tool that Microsoft has made available in case you hadn’t seen it before. Have fun exploring the options, and if you find anything cool you wish to share, please leave your comments here.

    Until next time.

    Mark Jacob
    Cisco and CompTIA Network + Instructor – Interface Technical Training
    Phoenix, AZ

    See what people are saying...

    1. Anand Parekh

      I am a beginner, can you please explain me int detail the throughput, -a option, what is outstanding buffer? and how can i use -l and -n option to have full load. I have 25G network, I can get 10-11 Gbps load.

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