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Windows comes with some useful Net utilities

• System Monitor

• Ping

• Tracert

• HyperTerminal


System Monitor is a very useful and user-friendly Windows 95/98 utility that you can use to monitor some important functions of your computer: Dial-up Adapter, File System, Kernel, Memory Manager, each of which has many subsections.

Under Dial-up Adapters you will find at least a dozen items including Buffer Overruns, Bytes Received/Sent, CRC Errors, Framing Errors, Overrun Errors, Time-out Errors - all of which you should monitor from time to time.

To see if System Monitor is installed on your computer go to:
Start • Programs • Accessories • System Tools • System Monitor
If it is not present then install it (next)


Installing the System Monitor

• Select Start • Settings • Control Panel

• Double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon, and select the Windows Setup tab

• Double-click Accessories to see a list, select System Monitor, and then click OK.
Note: Have your Windows 98/95 installation disk at hand.

Using System Monitor

• Select Start • Run and type in sysmon
or select Start • Programs • Accessories • System Tools

• In the System Monitor, select the Edit, then Add Item menu

• Click Dial-Up Adapter, and look in the right-hand pane for Buffer Overruns, Bytes Received/Sent, CRC Errors, Framing Errors, Overrun Errors, Time-out Errors
• Select each option in turn, clicking OK each time.
Note: System Monitor is not always included in the default Win installation


Time-out errors

Your modem requests something from the server. If the reply takes too long, then the request will 'time-out'. This means the same request must be made again.

Framing errors

These show the reliability of the data transfer. A frame has a specific number of data bytes. This number is checked to ensure the integrity of each frame (a little like an accountant cross-checking his figures). If a frame contains the wrong count, you will get a framing error message; that data will be re-requested.


When using your modem, sometimes have System Monitor open (minimized) and look at it from time to time.
Don't rush to judgement. Conditions vary enormously on the Net all the time. Compare like with like, off-peak hours with off-peak hours.

A large amount of time-out errors means your ISP isn't responding to your signals properly. Discuss this with him.
Lots of framing errors suggest a compatibility problem between your modem and your ISP's modem. Discuss with your ISP.

Keep notes on how many dropped connections and redial attempts you get. Tell your ISP. If the number of failures seems high, and the speed at which you connect doesn't, it may be time to change ISPs.

• Some ISPs routinely claim you are the only customer with a particular problem; that you have line noise, a faulty modem, or incorrect set-up. A visit to your local Usergroup on the Net may prove otherwise!

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You are very dependent on the correct functioning of many Servers when downloading (your own ISP, many routers, and the target). Any one of these could be the cause of slow downloading even if your own set-up is correctly optimized. This utility can identify a guilty party.

Tracert is a Net utility that comes with Windows 95/98

It times the path (hops) your signal takes on its way to the requested Server. Tracert 'pings' each router on the path and gives you the result. Now you can see which router is slow.


Running Tracert • Select Start • Run. Type in Command and hit Enter
(you can now, optionally, type in tracert /? to see a list of switches available)
• At the prompt type in tracert, followed by the requested site's name
(e.g. tracert
• Tracert will show you the response time, and the site name and/or IP address of each stop along the route
• You can press Ctrl-C to quit, and type in exit to return to Windows 95/98


Some routers do not allow pinging. If you get four Request timed out responses, you probably have found a router that refuses Tracert requests.

The response speed is the sum of the response times by each router you encounter. Ten hops totalling 300 milliseconds (ms) is vastly superior to five hops totalling 3 seconds!

Found a slow router?

• First repeat your runs with Tracert at different times to confirm his tardiness
• If it is the requested site, look for a mirror site, or just forget about him
• If it is your own ISP, you have real problems. First try talking to him ... then take your business elsewhere
• If it is a router in between, there is little you can do, though using a mirror site may avoid him. It is at least highly satisfactory being able to pinpoint the 'demon of the net' (and there are quite a few of them!)

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PING [1]

Ping is another small utility that come with Windows 95/98. Somewhat similar to Tracert, this utility pings the Web site's host server directly and records the response time. To run Ping
• Select Start • Run. Type in command and hit Enter.
(you can now, optionally, type in ping to see a list of commands available)
• At the prompt type in ping, followed by the target site's name (e.g. ping

Ping Update: An updated Ping utility, pingupd.exe (290K) , is available from Microsoft - not necessary if you use, or intend to use, Winsock2 which includes the update.
TJPing: An alternative to Microsoft's Ping many prefer is TJPing. This is a free utility you can use without having to use DOS - very convenient. Usage is similar. TJPing

PING [2]

Ping Results • If you are a long distance from a major Internet hub, then the ping response times will automatically be slower than average.
More than 400ms is slow.
Any time less than 300ms is acceptable; lower than 200 is satisfactory.
If the site is slow, repeat the test at off-peak times.
• A Request timed out message indicates the site is terminally slow.
• Four Request timed out messages mean you have probably found a site that does not accept Ping requests.
• If a site you really do need is very slow, ask your ISP if he has a Proxy Server and to connect you to it. Proxy Servers locally store pages from other sites, so your access to them is, or should, be fast and reliable - an excellent idea - if access is slow only your ISP (or you) can be at fault.

Try pinging your own ISP. The responses should be very fast, and regular (unless you have line noise). If he does not match up, then look for an satisfactory explanation.

PING [3]

What is your ISP's MaxMTU ? The convenient way to find it is with a utility - use Rob Vonk's FindMTU Ping tool, and thereafter set the MaxMTU to that used by your own ISP.
FindMTU [freeware, 168 KB, Win95/98]

Hopefully you will find your ISP uses 576. Some use 540, 552, 1478, 1524, or 1500, and possibly others.

If you do use FindMTU the following comments are superfluous! (next)

PING [4]

Manually finding your ISP's MaxMTU with Ping

MSS=MaxMTU minus the Header
The Header normally consist 40 bytes i.e. TCP (20) + IP (20).
When Pinging the Header is only 28 bytes i.e. ICMP (8) + IP (20)

To test if the MSS of your own ISP is 536, you type in something like this:
ping -l 536 -f -w 10000 where " " is your ISP's address. Expect a reply of something like
Reply from bytes=536 time=275ms TTL=251
which shows the MSS is at least 536.

Now increase/decrease the MSS (536), and repeat until MSS is 1 too high giving you
Packet needs to be fragmented but DF set

Subtracting 1 will now give you his MSS
Adding the Header to that MSS will give you the MaxMTU figure used by your ISP.

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Device Manager:
You can also look in Device Manager (right-click My Computer) for telltale signs that the modem has been correctly identified by Windows.

Modem Diagnostics:

Diagnostics will display more information about Port and modem command settings.
Select Start • Settings • Control Panel • Modems • Diagnostics. Highlight your modem, and click More info. Scroll down to look the AT17 command.


For real world testing you can use HyperTerminal (installed with Windows 95/98). This may be necessary after (re)installation if you can not get online. Does the modem itself actually work? Using HyperTerminal can save a lot of random trial-and-error testing.


It is vital, when troubleshooting, to distinguish between a modem problem and a software related problem. Without this information you will not know where the problem originates.Test using HyperTerminal .

If the modem itself does work, then there is a problem with your communication software. If the modem dials and you make a connection, then the modem is correctly installed, and the modem (and the line) is working. You need to check your software installation and settings.

If it does not work, then you have a problem with the modem installation, the modem itself, or possibly with the phone line/connections. If you do not connect, then check the modem installation, the modem driver you are using, a resources conflict (Port, IRQ, DMA - check in Device Manager).


To use HyperTerminal , select Start • Accessories • HyperTerminal

• Enter any name for the connection, and click OK
• Enter the correct Country code and correct Area code
• Enter the Phone number of your ISP
• In Connect using select your modem in the drop down list
• Click OK.    Click Dial

Using AT Commands with HyperTerminal

Run HyperTerminal .
• In Connection Description or New Connection, enter the AT COMMANDS
• Choose any icon offered, and click OK
• On the Connect Screen do not enter a phone number
• In Connect Using (down arrow), select Direct to ComX where X is the Port number used by your modem
Save this session

In future you can double click the AT COMMANDS icon to open a terminal screen from which you can use AT commands to communicate directly with your modem.

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Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

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