Testing your home networking equipment--switches and other devices--for packet loss is an important step in ensuring the stability and consistency of your home network. Mastery of a few simple network commands can give you all the tools necessary to see if you are getting any packet loss when running through your Ethernet switch.
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Navigate to the computer's command prompt by opening the "Start" menu, clicking "All Programs" then clicking "Accessories." Click on "Command Prompt," and you should see a black and white DOS screen with a blinking cursor.
Ping a server to check for packet loss by typing "ping google.com" and pressing the "Enter" key. This command will generate a lot of output; look for a section near the bottom that says "Ping statistics." You will see "Packets sent," "Packets received" and "Packets lost." Check the values listed next to each one of these; if there is anything other than "0" listed next to packets lost, you are having a packet loss issue.
Run a continuous ping by typing type "ping -t google.com" in the command prompt window. Your computer will now continuously ping the server until you tell it to stop by pressing "Control + C" on your keyboard. Test with as many packets as you like, and then evaluate packet loss in the same way as described in Step 1. The standard ping command only tests for packet loss using 4 packets of information. Some packet loss issues are intermittent, so you may not see immediate packet loss when pinging with only 4 packets.
Tips and warnings
- The description of the ping command assumes that you are using a Windows operating system. If you are using a Mac, simply open the Network Utility by opening the "Applications" folder and selecting "Network Utility" under the "Utilities" folder. Under the "ping" tab, specify the server to ping and the number of packets to send, and you can evaluate your packet loss in precisely the same way as on a Windows machine.