≡ Menu

Finding out a bad or simply overloaded network link with Linux/UNIX oses

Traditionally the traceroute (print the route packets take to network host) and ping (send ICMP ECHO_REQUEST to network hosts) programs are used in a single network as diagnostic tool.

It takes some time to use both tools to diagnose such problem. However, you can use mtr program which is a network diagnostic tool. It is the combination of traceroute and ping programs (in terms of functionality) and works as a single network diagnostic tool.

How mtr works?

Once mtr invoked it starts investigates the network connection between the hosts mtr runs on and HOSTNAME by sending packets with purposely low TTLs (time to live). It will continue to send packets with low TTL, noting the response time of the intervening routers. This allows mtr to print the response percentage and response times of the internet route to HOSTNAME

During this run if you notice a sudden increase in packet-loss or response time is an indication of overloaded link or a bad link.


mtr works on both GUI and curses based terminal interface (good for remote Linux boxes).

To start mtr just type command (default is GUI interface):$ mtr upstream.router.isp.com
$ mtr sl-gw9-nyc-8-0.sprintlink.net
$ mtr -n router-ip
$ mtr gsrmum.vsnl.net.in

Force mtr to use the curses based terminal interface:$ mtr -t www.cyberciti.biz
An example of failed router (core-router.centramedia.net):$ mtr core-router.centramedia.net

Use mtr from shell/perl script:$ mtr -c 5 -r gsrmum.vsnl.net.in >/tmp/output.vsnl.routerWhere,

  • -c: Use this option to set the number of pings sent to determine both the machines on the network and the reliability of those machines.
  • -r: This option puts mtr into report mode.
  • -t: Force mtr to use the curses based terminal interface
  • -n: Disable DNS (i.e. not try to resolve the host names)
Tweet itFacebook itGoogle+ itPDF itFound an error/typo on this page?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous April 24, 2006, 6:06 pm

    Very nice tool. Thanks for this great tutorial.

    Edinaldo La-Roque
    Author of XFwall

  • Tiago November 8, 2006, 12:51 pm

    Well…great, but…

    What criteria is used for distint bad link of link overloaded ? How to identify the diference betwen overloaded and bad link?


  • nixCraft November 8, 2006, 1:09 pm


    if you notice a sudden increase in packetloss or response time is an indication of overloaded link or a bad link.