Network utility

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This article is about network utilities in general. For the OS X application, see Network Utility.

Network utilities are software utilities designed to analyze and configure various aspects of computer networks. The majority of them originated on Unix systems, but several later ports to other operating systems exist.

The most common tools (found on most operating systems) include:

  • ping, ping a host to check connectivity (reports packet loss and latency, uses ICMP).
  • traceroute shows the series of successive systems a packet goes through en route to its destination on a network. It works by sending packets with sequential TTLs which generate ICMP TTL-exceeded messages from the hosts the packet passes through.
  • nslookup, used to query a DNS server for DNS data (deprecated on Unix systems in favour of the tool called “host” and dig; still the preferred tool on Microsoft Windows systems).

Other network utilities include:

  • spray, which sprays numerous packets in the direction of a host and reports results

Some usages of network configuration tools also serve to display and diagnose networks, for example: