How to Heavily Stress Your Network

By Finn McCuhil

Stress-test your home network with a simple command.
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This may be the only article you’ll ever read containing the professional advice: Only try this trick at home. Stressing your home network is a good method for diagnosing weak links and potential network bottlenecks in your LAN. A number of commercial suites are available for this task along with a variety of hardware and software monitoring tools. The price of most of these packages put them out of reach for home use. Fortunately, one of the most effective tools for stress diagnostics is a simple utility included with every copy of the Windows operating system.

Step 1

Open a command-line window. Press and hold the “Windows” key. Press and release the “R” key. Release the “Windows” key. Type “cmd” in the text entry box, and click the “OK” button.

Step 2

Enter the ping command at the prompt using the format:

ping –t

Step 3

Press the “Enter” key. Using the “-t” switch with the ping command generates a new ping each time the computer receives a response from the target. The results of each ping will look like this:

Reply from bytes=32 time=2ms TTL=64

The first portion of the response indicates that the destination machine is connected to the network and responsive. The second portion indicates the packet size sent and received. The time entry indicates the amount of time the response took in milliseconds. The final, TTL (time to live) entry indicates the number of milliseconds the packet exists before a “Host not found” response is delivered to the originating computer.

Step 4

Repeat steps one through three on each computer attached to the network. Increasing network stress is indicated by the increasing value in the “time=Xms” column. When the numeric value in this column exceeds the value in the final “TTL” column, the command window generates a “Request timed out” response.

Step 5

Terminate the ping command on each machine by pressing the “Ctrl+C” key combination.