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•  EtherScope nXG
•  AirCheck G3

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What is a packet capture?

In today’s digital world, where remote work and complex network structures have become the norm, the significance of packet capture and analysis cannot be overstated. Troubleshooting WiFi issues at remote sites poses a unique set of challenges, often due to the lack of physical access and the complexity of capturing relevant network data. This blog explores the mechanics and importance of packet captures, guiding professionals on how to perform this process effectively with tools such as the EtherScope® nXG, AirCheck™ G3 Pro, LinkRunner® 10G, CyberScope®, and the Link-Live™ Cloud Service from NetAlly.

What are Packet Captures?

Packet capture is the process of intercepting and logging traffic that passes over a digital network. By capturing packets, network engineers can obtain a detailed snapshot of the traffic at any given moment. This process allows for the examination of the contents of individual packets (unless they are encrypted), offering invaluable insights into the operation and performance of the network. Packet capture is crucial for analyzing network behavior, diagnosing issues, and improving overall network performance.

How To Read Packet Captures

The process of using packet capture and analysis solutions involves selecting the right tool and setting it up on the network to intercept and log packet information. The key steps of the packet capture and analysis process are:

  1. Determining the capture location: Choosing the right spot in your network to capture packets is essential. It should be a point where the traffic of interest flows through, such as a gateway or a server.
  2. Configuring capture settings: Adjusting settings such as capture filters can help narrow down the traffic to the relevant data, reducing the size of the capture file and simplifying analysis.
  3. Analyzing the captured data: Tools like Wireshark1 offer the functionality required to analyze packet data. Filtering, bookmarking, and examining packet contents are some of the techniques used during analysis.
  4. Implementing solutions: Based on the analysis, network engineers can pinpoint issues and implement changes to improve network performance or resolve problems.

Packet capture plays a crucial role in network management and security for several reasons:

  • Root cause analysis: It offers a reliable basis for understanding network behavior, helping to identify the root cause of issues.
  • Network performance monitoring: By analyzing traffic patterns, packet capture can reveal performance bottlenecks and help optimize bandwidth utilization.
  • Security: It enables the detection of suspicious activities by examining packet payloads and headers for anomalies or malicious content.
  • Compliance: In some cases, capturing and storing packets is necessary to meet compliance requirements for data protection and privacy.

Using Packet Capture Solutions in Our NetAlly Tester

NetAlly’s testers, including EtherScope nXG, AirCheck G3 Pro, LinkRunner 10G, CyberScope, and the Link-Live Cloud Service, integrate packet capture tools to assist network engineers in diagnosing and resolving issues at remote sites. Here are some features that make our testers stand out:

  1. Remote operation: NetAlly testers allow for remote activation and management of packet captures, ensuring that engineers can address issues no matter where they are located.
  2. Intuitive interface: Unlike traditional command-line interfaces, our testers come with user-friendly GUIs. This simplification accelerates the setup and analysis process, making it accessible to engineers at all skill levels.
  3. Integrated filters: Applying filters directly from our testers streamlines the process of capturing the relevant data, leading to quicker analysis and problem resolution.
  4. Seamless integration with Wireshark: For deeper analysis, captured data can be exported to and analyzed in Wireshark, where engineers can apply advanced filters, bookmarks, and more.

In conclusion, packet capture solutions are indispensable for modern network engineering, offering the depth of data required to manage, troubleshoot, and secure networks effectively. By leveraging NetAlly’s advanced testers, network engineers can not only simplify the process of capturing packets at remote sites but also ensure their networks are operating optimally.

Watch this short video to learn how to utilize EtherScope nXG remotely and the Link-Live Cloud Service to solve remote site problems, including tips on setting filters in Wireshark to refine your packet capture analysis. This video also applies to the AirCheck G3 Pro, LinkRunner 10G, and all models of CyberScope.

The Essentials of Packet Capture

Enjoy this free webinar and learn:

  • How to get started with Wireshark
  • How to cover the first steps to take in any packet-level analysis workflow.
  • Capturing packets from an EtherScope® nXG or LinkRunner®, then transferring the file to Link-Live where it can be quickly accessed by engineers and opened in Wireshark.

1Wireshark is a product of the “Wireshark Foundation

Author Bio –
Product Manager – Wireless

Julio Petrovitch is a product manager at NetAlly, plus a certified CWNA/CWAP/CWDP/CWSP. He’s worked with network design, testing and validation for more than 15 years. Throughout he’s career he has had the opportunity to work with multiple networking technologies, including POTS, DSL, Copper/Fiber Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and BLE.