Windows

Get quick access to troubleshooting info with the Netstat Gadget

The Netstat utility can help solve vexing connectivity issues - but its command-line interface isn't for everyone. This free Vista / Windows 7 gadget makes the tool much easier to use.

The difficulty in troubleshooting TCP/IP connectivity problems on a Windows network stems from the sheer number of connections and services on a particular system. Identifying the status of the connections and determining which services are running can help you narrow down the search, but doing so takes time. However, an underused Windows command-line utility, Netstat, can shorten the time it takes to hunt down rogue connections by quickly providing information about client services and TCP/IP communications.

Unfortunately, because Netstat is a command-line tool, admins often avoid it. So to make the Netstat tool a bit easier to use, I created the Netstat Gadget, which automates the Netstat command. Let's take a closer look.

Using the Netstat Gadget

The Netstat Gadget runs from the Windows Sidebar in Vista and the Desktop in Windows 7 and presents each of the Netstat command-line tool's options on a flyout menu, as shown in Figure A. All you need to do is select the options you want to use and click the OK button. When you do, the Netstat Gadget opens a Command Prompt window and runs the Netstat command along with the selected options. If you need more information about an option, you can hover your mouse pointer over it to display a tooltip. You can also select the netstat /? check box.

Figure A

The Netstat Gadget displays each of the Netstat command-line tool's options on a flyout menu.

Only one of the Netstat command's parameters (-b) requires elevated privileges. (This parameter allows the Netstat command to display the executable involved in creating each connection or listening port.) As a result, you'll encounter a UAC only when you select that option and click OK. Once you work through the UAC, the command runs.

When the Netstat Gadget sends the selected command to the Command Prompt window, the command line doesn't appear in the window. If you want to see the command line, be sure that you select the Show Command Line check box before you click OK.

Installation

After you download the netstat_gadget_package.zip, you'll find that it contains two files:

  • Netstat.zip
  • Netstat Gadget Readme.pdf

Simply extract both files to a folder of your choice and rename the Netstat.zip file to Netstat.gadget. Make sure that you have Windows Explorer configured to display file extensions. (On the View tab of the Folder Options dialog box, the Hide Extensions for Known File Types check box should not be selected.) Otherwise, the system might still have the file type set as .Zip even though it appears that you have renamed the extension to .gadget.

To continue, follow the appropriate steps for your version of Windows:

Windows Vista

  1. Right-click on the Netstat.gadget file and select Windows Sidebar from the Open With submenu.
  2. In the Windows Sidebar -- Security Warning dialog box, click the Install button.

These steps are illustrated in Figure B.

Figure B

Click the Install button in the Windows Sidebar -- Security Warning dialog box.

As soon as you do, the Netstat Gadget will be installed in the Windows Sidebar and will be ready to use.

Windows 7

  1. Right-click on the Netstat.gadget file and select the Open With command.
  2. In the Open With dialog box, select Windows Desktop Gadgets and click OK.
  3. In the Desktop Gadgets -- Security Warning dialog box, click the Install button.

These steps are illustrated in Figure C.

Figure C

Click the Install button in the Desktop Gadgets -- Security Warning dialog box.

As soon as you do, the Netstat Gadget will be installed in the Desktop and will be ready to use.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

3 comments
Nsaf
Nsaf

I am using both your ipconfig and netstat gadgets...thanks.

Rye5
Rye5

I'm interested in using this application, just can get it to work. Using windows7 64 bit and can't seem to find the "Windows desktop gadget" option when following the open with instructions provided.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...Windows Desktop Gadgets option on Open With, chances are that the file hasn't been properly renamed. You need to make sure that you have Windows Explorer configured to display file extensions as explained in the article.

Editor's Picks