educational

Online Tools Track Performance

Stephen Yagielowicz

They say that two heads are better than one — and when it comes to competing in today’s media markets, the power of collaborative thought cannot be overemphasized — although the logistics of working with an often geographically dispersed brain trust is something that requires automation to optimize. Likewise, even when working alone, keeping track of your thoughts and plans can become a full-time occupation.

While professional server administrators have a range of robust tools to choose from, webmasters with more modest requirements, or operators on the road, may find that the use of an online service to keep track of web server performance and other infrastructure considerations is a good bet — services such as the following five online tools:

The use of an online service to keep track of web server performance and other infrastructure considerations is a good bet.

NSLookup

The nameserver lookup service provides nameserver information that allows users to view the IP address associated with a domain name, or hosting company (or other entity) that owns a specific IP address, for example. Using this tool is a good way to monitor the propagation of domain name and IP changes.

Kloth.net (www.kloth.net/services/nslookup.php) is one online NSLookup provider.

Ping

This tool, named after the ‘ping’ of sonar systems, measures the time it takes to send and receive back a signal to a remote computer, revealing bottlenecks along the way. Online pinging tools provide the added benefit of seeing other networks’ performance, offering a means of gauging how other users experience a site.

Wormly (www.wormly .com/test_ remote_ping) makes it easy.

Port Scan

Web servers have a number of ports at which they can accept connections from the outside world. These ports allow visitors to view your web pages, for example, however, they can also provide entry points for hackers. A port scanner tests these ports to see if any are “listening” for signals — and thus accessible. These tools will generally report a status of either “closed” or “open” — and can also be used to scan your local computer.

DNSRight (www.dnsright.com) offers a free server scan along with other tools.

Traceroute

A way to visualize the route and loss along the way of packets traversing a network, traceroute shows you where a problem may be occurring. Using an online service helps to eliminate your local machine and network as problems during troubleshooting, while the information provided may be used to improve (or threaten) website security.

DNStools (en.dnstools.ch/visual-trace route.html) offers a map-based visual interface.

WHOIS

A remnant of the earliest days of the Internet, WHOIS has evolved over the years, but continues to be the go-to source for domain registration and other information, including web host, IP address and nameserver identification.

Netsol (www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp) will tell you who owns what.

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