When you're troubleshooting TCP/IP problems on your network, chances are the first tool you head for is the Ping utility. By default, the Ping utility sends four ICMP (Internet control message protocol) echo packets to a remote computer and listens for the replies. You can then use the information generated by the utility to move on to the next troubleshooting step. In some cases, you may find that this second step involves using the Tracert utility, which traces a packet to a remote computer, showing how many hops the packet requires to reach the host and how long each hop takes. As it does so, it displays the FQDN (fully qualified domain name) and IP address of each gateway along the route to the remote computer.
While the results generated by these two utilities provide a good view of the problem, you can get all this information, and more, by using the PathPing command. As you can surmise from its name, PathPing is basically a hybrid of the Tracert and Ping utilities bundled into one utility. However, PathPing is a more powerful troubleshooting tool than either of its predecessors. It generates a detailed statistical report that can more precisely indicate the cause of the network problem.
As a follow-up to the popular IPConfig Gadget, I decided to create a gadget to automate the PathPing command. Let's take a closer look at the PathPing Gadget.
Using the PathPing GadgetThe PathPing Gadget runs from the Windows Sidebar in Vista and the Desktop in Windows 7 and presents each of the PathPing command-line tool's options on a flyout menu, as shown in Figure A. All you need to do is select the appropriate options you want to use and click the OK button. The PathPing Gadget will open a Command Prompt window and then run the PathPing command along with the selected options. You can hover your mouse pointer over any one of the options to display a tooltip if you need additional information. You can also select the pathping /? check box.
The gadget displays each of the PathPing command-line tool's options.
Since the PathPing command requires elevated privileges, you'll encounter a UAC when you click OK. Once you work through the UAC, the command will run.
When the PathPing 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.
Once you download pathping_gadget_package.zip, you'll find that it contains two files:
- PathPing Info.PDF
Simply extract both files to a folder of your choice and rename the PathPing.zip file to PathPing.gadget. Then, follow the appropriate steps for your version of Windows.
- Right-click on the PathPing.gadget file and select Windows Sidebar from the Open With submenu.
- When you see the Windows Sidebar - Security Warning dialog box, click Install.
Install the gadget in Vista.
The PathPing Gadget will be installed in the Windows Sidebar and will be ready to use.
- Right-click on the PathPing.gadget file and select the Open With command.
- In the Open With dialog box, select Windows Desktop Gadgets and click OK.
- When you see the Desktop Gadgets - Security Warning dialog box, click Install.
Install the gadget in Windows 7.
The PathPing Gadget will be installed in the Desktop and will be ready to use.
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.