6 Free Ways to Track Down Site Issues


Live by the web, die by the web – or so it seems sometimes when you’re a web worker. Having all of your resources, from email to project management to recruiting, online is great: right up until the time when you can’t get through to one of the sites you depend on. Depending on which site goes missing, the results can range from annoyance to disaster.

Fortunately, the overall web really is a pretty reliable beast. But when it’s not – assuming that you can get online at all – there are ways to narrow down what’s going wrong. Here are half a dozen tools to turn to when you’re having trouble.

Screenshot1. The Internet Traffic Report – This is a good first stop to look at the overall health of the web. They track traffic and response times between a worldwide network of routers, and distill the results into simple health index numbers on a 1-100 scale. It’s easy to see whether, for example, connectivity to Australian sites is having issues right at the moment.

Screenshot2. Down for everyone or just me? – If you can’t get through to a particular site, this service will give you a quick check as to whether it’s you or the site. The interface is simplicity itself: type in an address and click. The main benefit here is that the service URL is super-easy to remember. Other sites on our list offer more detailed reports.

Screenshot3. WatchMouse – This is a paid website monitoring service, but if you go to their “Check Host” tool you can investigate the status of a web server as seen from 8 random spots around the globe. You’ll see how long it takes to resolve, connect, and download the default page on any web server you care to enter. Their commercial service, which uses 26 monitoring sites and handles other protocols, starts at $35.99 per month.

Screenshot4. Just Ping – Not every server allows the packets used by ping through, but for the ones that do, this is the fastest way to get a worldwide view of what’s going on. Using a network of 26 worldwide servers, it shows you the round trip time and packet loss from all over. Use it to tell if a server is really down, or to diagnose regional issues with your own servers.

Screenshot5. Just Traceroute – Like Just Ping, this is another free service from WatchMouse. It lets you run simultaneous traceroutes to a server from four locations (Singapore, Australia, USA, and the Netherlands). Traceroute can give you more details on outages because it will show you exactly where the network packets are getting lost.

Screenshot6. traceroute.org – There are actually many web-based traceroute servers around the world; traceroute.org tries to link to them all. If you need to check your connectivity from, say, Luxembourg or Estonia, this is the place to start. Unfortunately, such servers come and go, so you’ll likely hit non-functioning links here.

Got your own favorite checking tools? Share them in the comments!

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