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What is a Network Tester?

Efficient and reliable network systems have become more important than ever before. Connectivity forms the backbone of our interactions and exchanges, making it necessary to have tools that ensure our systems are functioning at their best. One of these important tools is a network tester. In this blog, we’ll discuss the key features of network testers, how they work, and the difference between wired and wireless network testers.

Definition of a Network Tester

A network tester is a tool that assesses the performance and the integrity of network connectivity. It’s crucial to understand that a network tester is different from a network cable tester. While the latter examines the physical condition of cables (identifying defects like damaged copper, disconnections, and incorrect wiring), a network tester, on the other hand, examines network connectivity. It tests the ability of data and information to flow from one point (e.g., a server) to another point (e.g., switch, router, or port ) across a network.

Network testers come equipped with a variety of features, primarily centered around verifying network performance and connectivity. They confirm whether an IP address can be acquired, indicating that a connection to the network exists. In addition, network testers check Power over Ethernet (PoE) to ensure connectivity to different servers, including Internet, Gateway, and DNS servers.

Key Features of Network Testers

More advanced network testers also validate network speeds, providing crucial data on how swiftly information travels across your network. This feature is available on network devices like LinkRunner 10G, LinkRunner G2, EtherScope nXG, and AirCheck G3 Pro.

How Do Network Testers Work

Most network testers follow a systematic step-by-step process.

  1. The first step is validating the link to the network.
  2. For most testers, the next step is to check for PoE.
  3. The tester will then attempt to acquire an IP address and set up a dialogue with the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server.
  4. What happens after these steps depends on the specific network tester being used, but may involve validating communication with the DNS system, the Gateway, and the Internet.


NetAlly network testers are designed with user experience in mind and come equipped with many additional features, including AutoTest. This feature provides predefined profiles with best practice pass/fail thresholds for quick assessment of your wired or wireless network. The results of the test are automatically uploaded to the cloud-based service, Link-Live that offers unified reporting, analysis, and data management. Link-Live also streamlines workflows and enables effortless team collaboration.

Advantages of Network Testers

Network testers are useful devices for any organization or service that depend on digital technology. They work like watchmen, warning you if there’s a problem with how your network is performing. These tools are great at finding issues and helping to sort out IT problems faster, making your operations run smoothly. Plus, some have capabilities and can save test results to the cloud, like Link-Live, to ease collaboration with remote co-workers or identify network changes over time to name a few examples.

On top of that, network testers give you important details about how your network performs. This allows you to make forward-thinking decisions to keep your network working at its best. Network testers can also make your network more secure. They spot possible weak spots and security risks, working like an added layer of protection. Some top-level network testers even map out your network structure, giving you a complete view of your network. We call this feature ‘network topology mapping’.

The Difference Between Wired and Wireless Network Testers

There are various types of network testers available today, each meets different testing requirements. At a basic level, they can be categorized into wired, wireless, or in some cases combined wired and wireless testers. Wired and wireless network testers both function to diagnose and troubleshoot network connections, but they do so in different ways due to the nature of the connections they test.

Types of Networks

Wired network testers are used to test ethernet or other types of wired networks. These can include testing for different kinds of faults in the physical cables or connectors like splits, shorts, or improper terminations.

Wireless network testers, on the other hand, are used to test Wi-Fi and other wireless networks. They can evaluate signal strength, channel interference, and security of the network.

Parameters

Wired network testers measure parameters like cable length, cable integrity, signal-to-noise ratio, and data transmission rate to identify any potential issues in a network. In contrast, wireless network testers measure parameters like signal strength, signal quality, wireless network coverage area, speed, and performance of the network.

While both serve the same general purpose, they are used in different contexts and provide distinct measurements and analyses. Wired options include devices like the LinkSprinter, LinkRunner AT, LinkRunner G2, and LinkRunner 10G. The Aircheck G3 Pro serves as a wireless option. Other devices, like the EtherScope nXG, integrate the functionalities of both wired and wireless variants.

Choosing the Right Network Tester

Deciding on the right network tester depends entirely on the user’s needs and operational context. If your needs primarily lie in troubleshooting basic connectivity issues, you might want to consider a wired network tester like the LinkSprinter or LinkRunner AT. If you are an experienced network technician or engineer who needs to test higher speeds, or if you’re keen to take advantage of more advanced tools, LinkRunner 10G, EtherScope nXG, LinkRunner G2, or the wireless Aircheck G3 Pro might be worth considering.

Conclusions

In conclusion, network testers are an essential tool for ensuring optimal performance and security in any digital-dependent organization or service. They provide valuable insights into network connectivity and speed, helping to identify and address issues quickly. The choice between wired, wireless, or combined wired and wireless network testers depends on the specific needs and operational context of the user. Despite their differences, both types of network testers provide invaluable assistance in maintaining a robust and efficient network system. Remember, to minimize potential issues a proactive approach to network maintenance could potentially save substantial time and resources in the long run. And should a problem that requires troubleshooting arise the right network tester can speed resolution. Equip yourself with the right network tester and make a smart investment for the smooth and secure operation of your network.

Author Bio –
Product Manager – Wired

As a Product Manager at NetAlly, Brad Reinboldt is responsible for wired and cybersecurity solutions. He has more than 30 years’ of experience in the computing, networking, and storage sectors in various development and technical management roles. He holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering as well as an MBA in management.