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This FAQ text is copyright dslreports.com
Reproduction of all or part only with our permission..
This FAQ is edited by: Mike See Profile
It was last modified on 2014-08-21 22:20:10

Packet Loss Test (Line Quality)

From which IPs will the scan originate?

Add ny-monitor.dslreports.com - This is our New York server.
This takes care of the Security Scan, the Tweaks Test Applet and the East Coast Line Quality Test server.

Add sfo-monitor.dslreports.com - This is our San Francisco server.

Add sjc-monitor.dslreports.com - This is our San Jose server.

You should add those three domains to a "friendly" (local) zone with a lower protection rating.
Zone Alarm users click here for instructions.

Zone Alarm Pro users:
To become pingable, click Security > Customize (Internet side) > check off "Allow incoming ping (ICMP echo)." Click Apply then Ok. This will allow your machine to be totally pingable.

I paid for my test, why am I waiting?

When you use tool points to pay for a priority line quality test, your test is recorded as priority -- meaning, you're next in line when the queue processor picks a test to do. You just have to wait a few minutes for the test that's currently underway to be completed. During that time, it will look as if you've been placed at the end of the queue.
You really will be queue-jumping, but not until whatever is being processed at that moment is completed.

Why do I need to be pingable?

You need to be pingable since the test results can show accurate latency (ping time) for your connection. Your firewall or router prevents pings from being responded to, if properly set. If you're not pingable, the test will show a 100% loss at your address for both coasts.

If you're using a router, set it to allow pings. If you're using a firewall, the quickest way to become pingable is to tone down on the security level or just turn it off for the duration of the test. Some firewalls have an option to add IPs into a local or trusted zone that will give this IP more access than the general pool. These are the IP addresses that do the Monitor / Line Quality work.

Reason to be pingable:
This allows you to see if there are congestion problems, bottlenecks, bad routers and/or if something is wrong at your location. If you're not pingable, the only thing the test is useful for is a fancy traceroute.

What does a 100% loss at a hop mean?

This is often a sign of an unpingable router. Your packets are being routed correctly to and from the router, but we cannot ping it. The network engineers probably made the router itself unpingable. Some ISPs and backbones make their routers unpingable to minimize "wasted" bandwidth.

Failed due to more pings received, than sent! (X% back)

You're using a Qwest/MSN-provided Alcatel CPE. There is nothing you can do about it.


There is an issue with your current network configuration.

Go back to the Desktop, right click on "Network Neighborhood" - "Properties." The Network Configuration window should pop up. In the white box, check for any duplicate TCP/IP or any duplicate hardware adapters. Leave only one and delete any extras. Reboot. You should run another Line Quality test to see if the problem persists. It shouldn't, but it's always good to check.

Another thing for Windows users to do is to have your NIC (ethernet card) installation disk handy, load into Windows Safe Mode, delete all the hardware adapters and start from scratch.

If you do not know how to enter into safe mode and make changes, just start a new topic asking for assistance in our Microsoft Help Forum.

Can I exit the queue?

This option is not available at this time. Once you are in the queue, you can not be removed from it.

How to read the bottom portion of the test

1. Host LOSS - This indicates the percentage of packets dropped by that particular router.

2. Best - Lowest ping to the router
Avg. - Average ping to the router
Worst - Highest ping to the router

The lower the ping, the better.

3. Gateway - The second to the last hop is your gateway. The gateway is a node on a network that serves as a entrance for local users onto the ISPs network.

4. (YOUR ADDRESS) - This is your computer. A dropped packet (shows as 2% dropped) loss is very common with an ICMP stream.

Why does my line test fail at my address?

It's possible that there is something wrong with your setup. Here are a few things that you can do to possibly fix the problem:

- Make sure that your modem is at least 12 inches (roughly 30 centimeters) clear of anything that emits electromagnetic interference (such as a CRT monitor). Make sure that all cables are not physically damaged and are properly connected. Halogen lighting and light dimmers in proximity to the computer can also cause a problem.

- Ensure that your ethernet card is seated properly and that your drivers are up to date.

- Reset your modem. Unplug it for about a minute or two, then plug it back in and let it regain sync.

If none of the above correct the issue, it would be in your best interest to contact your ISP and have them do an inspection of the line itself.

What does a Host Precedence Violation on my first hop mean?

If you see a "Host Precedence Violation" on your Line Quality test results page accompanied by a really high reported gateway ping, don't panic!

Here's the technical definition for a Host Precedence Violation (under RFC-1812): "Sent by the first hop router to a host to indicate that a requested precedence is not permitted for the particular combination of source/destination host or network, upper layer protocol and source/destination port."

Keep in mind, this is just a reference; there is a much-easier-to-digest explanation.

Let's go back to your Test History page. Find a Line Quality test then open it. Go down and look at the "your first hop ping" row. Check your gateway's IP. Most likely, it is between &, & or &, correct?

Those three domain ranges are in something dubbed the "Private IP Network" domains. With the way the Internet works, your ISP has set up an "exclusive LAN." Your ISP has your gateway set up so that it is dedicated to only Internet traffic coming from you and going to you. The DSLreports servers are not recognized within your ISP's network, so your gateway doesn't respond to any packets being sent directly to it. Your first hop ping is then estimated. Nearly all of the time, it shows up as way higher than it really is.

Do you want to know what your first hop ping really is?

With your Windows PC, go to "Start" - "Run" - then type "ping -t Your Gateway's IP here."

With your Mac OS X PC, open Terminal and type "ping IP here."

Open the Network Utility and fill in the text box.

With your Linux PC, go to a shell, then type "ping Your Gateway's IP here."

Since the gateway recognizes you as a part of your ISP's "happy family," it will correctly respond to a ping and return accurate results.

Can my ISP be added to the Router Watch List?

The router watch list is formed by sweeping the individual line quality tests done over the last three weeks so we can compile a list of Internet routers that were discovered to be the source of packet loss. The only way to be added is to be a bad router.

If you really want to be added, we recommend beating your main switch with a herring.*

*Please be nice to routing equipment and the herring.

Why am I seeing so much packet loss in my provider's network?

If you are also seeing packet loss from these points all the way to the final hop of your test, that points to a problem on the device first showing packet loss or on the inbound connection to that device.

However, if you are not seeing packet loss all the way to the final hop, this apparent packet loss may not be an issue.

Some providers are rate-limiting how often they respond with the TTL-exceeded ICMP packets used by traceroute and similar tools like the Packet Loss Test. This is done to prevent attacks against these routers, since responding to these packets requires much more CPU time than simply forwarding the packet does. If the router is set up to rate-limit, it will respond to a certain number of traceroute packets per second, and once that many have been received, it will stop responding to them for that second -- which will appear as packet loss. You are not losing any "real" traffic, assuming the final hop of your traceroute isn't showing any loss.

Flash Speed Test

It won't load

Please verify that you have flash browser plugin version 8 or above: Verify flash plugin.

In modern times this generally is not a problem of an out of date player.

You can reset your browser's cache and make sure (for Google Chrome users Flash is automatically silently updated) that Flash is up to date.

Download latest version of Flash here: http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

It loads, but I can't see any text -- only bars

Please verify that you have flash browser plugin version 8 or above. You probably have version 7 or below. The link to verify this is right above the flash test!

It runs, but does not record a download speed!

First, ensure that ZONE ALARM and any other PC browser security products are not blocking the operation of the test. Disable them temporarily and if the test functions correctly then you have found the culprit.

Are you using FIREFOX with a PLUGIN enabled? We are noticing a small percentage of users, all running Firefox, are not able to fully utilize the test. We believe this is because they all have the same Firefox plugin enabled. If you find out WHAT plugin breaks the flash test, please let us know.

Note: We are receiving some reports that the FasterFox addon is inhibiting the flash test. If this is true for you, please contact a site moderator to add your report. Stay tuned.

It runs, but the result is too slow -- slower than the Java tests

Possible reason #1

Our current version is, unfortunately, CPU intensive. We are working to fix this. It is probably that the flash test is utilizing ALL your CPU during the animation phase, and this is depressing the results.

We expect to release a test that will work for slower CPUs very soon.

Possible reason #2

Some fixed wireless ISPs are getting artificially low results for UPLOAD SPEED under flash. This pattern is not just our flash test -- all flash tests show the problem, and some other technology online speed tests show it as well. Our Java test, and a basic ftp test, do not show this problem. We don't yet have an idea why this may be, but we are collecting data.

Possible reason #3

The flash plugin is not efficient enough to test VERY HIGH SPEED connections (fiber). If you are on fiber, you are advised to stick to the Java plugin-based speed test, which can test 100mbit and beyond. Flash is unable to fully utilize a 100mbit connection, so it under reports very fast connections.

Please explain the graph at the bottom

The graph is upload and download data from other users, by default, on the same domain as you. You can change this to display results based on other selection information. The X axis is speed. The Y axis is the number of samples around that speed. Grey is for download speed. Blue is for upload speed. Your current and past results are marked by green and red chevrons. Common products for the domain should show as peaks. For instance, 3mbit and 6mbit may be two common products and may show two peaks on the download section of the graph.

What is the maximum speed this test will correctly report?

The maximum speed the flash test will correctly report varies according to your PC performance. Flash is not as efficient as Java for very high speed connections, so if your connection speed is going to be above 20mbit, then you should also try the Java-based speed tester to verify that you are fully exercising your connection during the test. We have had reports from users on 100mbit connections and moderately powerful PCs that they cannot get more than 25 mbit reported by flash (any flash-based speed test, not just ours), but they can get 80 or 90 mbit reported by the Java test.


Where is Dr. Ping?

For the time being, Dr.Ping is offline due to too many servers no longer being pingable. Hopefully a new version will be out in the future.


Dr.Ping is now available.

What is the purpose of Dr. Ping?

This downloadable Windows-based program "pings" various routers on the Internet, external to dslreports.com, to get a fairly accurate reading of your average "ping" time.
The lower the value (response time in milliseconds), the quicker your packets reach their destination.

Where is the Dr. Ping page?

A more detailed, thorough explanation of the features of Dr. Ping, as well as a link to the program, can be found here.

Another way to locate the Dr. Ping page:

From the navigation bar on the left side of the page, click on "Tools" - "DoctorPing (windows executable)" on the table.

Does Dr. Ping monitor my usage and report it back to DSLreports?

No. Dr. Ping does not store or send your private information or usage habits to DSLreports. The only thing it does store is your best result for display on a page basically for bragging rights (that is, if you make it) and to display which customers on which ISPs are getting low pings.

I ran the program -- it says there are a few dozen unpingables?!

Dr. Ping's list of routers are old and could be updated. Some ISPs / backbones could have changed the DNS or IPs, made themselves unpingable or, in some cases, done a bellyup.com and are no longer available.

The good thing is Dr. Ping's results will put you in the general ballpark of your average latency.

How do I remove Dr. Ping?

Doctorping.exe is just a program -- no installer was necessary. You can remove it by simply deleting the file. If your Windows PC tells you the "file is busy" or you get some other error message, then quit the program first, or reboot if you are unsure how to find and quit programs.

Then, just delete the file. (Use Start .. Search .. doctorping.exe on your entire C: or whatever drive, if you have lost where you placed the program.) Last, select the icon using the RIGHT button and find DELETE on the menu that pops up.

DSL Diary

How do I create a diary?

Q: How do I create/maintain a diary?

A: Creation of new diaries has been discontinued.

However, if you have an existing diary, you can continue to maintain it. If your diary is public, the diary can be accessed from the members "user profile page." Click on the link next to "Connection Diary."

If the connection diary is private, the "user profile page" will not have the link. To access the diary, you need to use this link: /dsl_diary/

This page will include info from your member profile page. If any of this info is incorrect, you can click on "use preferences to modify this" under your location. Note that the default setting for a completely private diary is "YES." If you want your diary to be public with the option of keeping certain entries private, click on "to tell people what youre up to." Otherwise, just click on "New Entry," "New Event" or "click here to create one."

If you decide to go public, the Current (Public) Attitude page will load. You must check the box next to "Has one or more public entries" to change your default private setting to public. Your membership profile will now show that you are "Keeping a Connection Diary."

After you click on "Update," you will return to the previous page, and you can start posting entries.

How do I make mine public?

Open the diary, then click on "update your plan." The diary template page will load. You must check the box next to "Has one or more public entries" to change your default private setting to public. Your membership profile will now show that you are keeping a Connection Diary.

You can also choose which diary entries are public or private. Once it's submitted, under the "Public" column you'll see a check if it's a public entry. If it's private, you'll see a dot. If you want to change it, just click on the check or the dot to switch it.

Your Network

How to create/edit Network description

The Control Panel for this tool is here: »/metashare

Click on "describe my network."

Click the "Add new" pull down menu to add all of your devices. Use the button after you have selected a device to update the screen. When you are satisfied, publish the network description by checking the "Public?" box. Click the Go button again so you can fill out the network title and the description.

To edit an existing network description:

Find your way back to the Control Panel.

Click on "My Network" (Note: if you click on the "Describe My Network" button again, you will create another network description!).

Click on edit.

Follow the same instructions above to add items or edit existing entries. After you modify the contents of the network boxes, click on the edit button in the box, which updates the info. When you are ready, click the display button at the top to verify your changes.

Speed Test

Does the test ever overestimate speed?

No. It is impossible for this Java-based speed test to overestimate speed. It can, however, underestimate due to prevailing "Internet weather" between you and the test site (which is why, if you are most interested in your last mile speed, finding a nearby test site is important), but it can never overestimate.

If you try a few different test servers, including some of the third-party ones that also use our Java test applet, then the highest speed reported is closest to your last mile speed.

Don't forget that protocol overhead will mean that you never reach the actual speed advertised by your ISP. In some cases, especially PPPoE connections, you can lose almost 15% of advertised speed in protocol overhead.

In response to this problem, certain ISPs have set the actual sync rate of consumer broadband connections higher to provide a buffer against the overhead. The idea is a 15% up in advertised speed is worth less people calling into support and complain about lack of advertised throughput.

Why are there speed tests that claim to be more reliable

Speed tests are simply how fast it is to get from Point A to Point Z. However, slow downs can occur between your computer and the host. These real world speed tests provide results that are not reproducible from inside your ISP's network.

If your ISP is prepared to locate a speed test server inside its network, then it will give you the most accurate measure for last mile speed. Having a very fast connection within your ISP's network is nice (and is what you're paying for as a customer) but that doesn't mean much in real world usage.

Either way, we have a large selection of Java and Flash based speed tests located both in ISPs and elsewhere on our speed test list. If your ISP is one of those, then you will probably be able to test last mile speed the best by using their local test server. If you are interested in real world test results, then pick another well-connected server. It is your choice.

kilobit = 1000 bits per second

For the purposes of presenting speed test results, we adopt the data communications convention of k = 1000, not k = 1024. For example, 28.8k modems ran at 28800 bits per second, and 56k modems ran at 56000 bits per second.

The transfer rate expressed as kilobytes per second is based on 1024 as per data storage conventions.

Assuming my connection is running properly, what else may impact my speed

Outside of any end to end congestion issues, there are a number of things which may negatively impact speedtest results:

1. Physical distance. You have likely noticed that downloading from a local server location is faster than a distant one. This is because the TCP window (e.g. HTTP transfers) is not optimized for the increased latency that comes from an increase in physical distance the bits have to travel. HTTP is bound by the TCP congestion window which determines how many packets can be sent at one time before an acknowledgment. The larger the window size, the higher the TCP throughput.

2. Firewalls, wireless, Local LAN, PC and modem issues. There are many localized issues which may negatively impact speedtest results. The best (but not perfect) PC test environment is to have a high end PC capable of delivering the provisioned speeds, directly attached to the modem.

3. Capacity issues with intermediate ISPs between the server and the user. There are some speedtest servers on ISPs with poor interconnect relationships or capacity issues. The path between the user and the server factors into any results. Local, on-net, speedtest servers are best to measure your provisioned speed.

4. Tuning of the Speedtest server with parallel TCP streams. This is not well known, but does have a direct impact to higher broadband speeds. Most speedtest servers open multiple TCP streams to more accurately account for single stream TCP limitations. How many simultaneous TCP streams a server opens is important as with 4 streams a server is accurate to up to 50Mbps testing on an average PC. Some speedtest servers are configured for even fewer streams and therefor are less accurate at higher speeds.

5. Asymmetric test environments - High end commercial connections with symmetric speeds often ask why they get asymmetric results from most speedtest servers. This is because most speedtest software / servers are configured for residential broadband testing. They are normally configured for 2-4 simultaneous download streams / test, but only 1-2 upload streams. This will inaccurately give results of asymmetric bandwidth even when you have symmetric speeds. Those with higher end work connections can simulate this.


What does Dr. TCP do?

This program was created to make life easier for everyone who desires to "tweak" various TCP/IP network settings that affect downstream performance. Dr. TCP is a short-cut into the registries of Windows-based PCs. It makes the task of tweaking various keys take only a moment instead of a few minutes.

Please read the DRTCP FAQ here.

I downloaded this and nothing changed. What's wrong?

Dr. TCP is a program, not the "one stop" patch that is found on other sites. You have complete control of what values are changed. The program does not change any settings on its own.

If you need assistance, please post in our Tweaks Forum.

Is there a screen shot of Dr. TCP?

Yes there is.

DrTCP, version .19

I have questions about the tweaking process. Where should I go?

For any question you have about the tweaking process, check out the Tweaks FAQ.

If your answer is not the Tweaks FAQ, before you post for help in the Tweaks Forum, read everything in the Tweaks Forum header (the text above the posts) to make the process easier for everyone.

Port Scan

What does a Port Scan do?

The Port Scan hosted on our website is temporarily offline. 

In the mean time, Steve Gibson's "ShieldsUp" tool is a worthy program until we redesign and reconfigure our scanner.


The objective of the Port Scan is to see how secure your PC is from people who want to break into your machine. DSLreport's port scan originates from "monitor.dslreports.com" as stated on the port scan page. What it does is send various packets that look for open TCP and UDP ports. It will let you know if you have open, closed or filtered port(s).

Stop by the Security Forum if you fail on information on a firewall. (A firewall is a must have for broadband connected machines.)

Line Monitor

Where can I find information on the line monitor?

You can view the Line Monitoring FAQ, which should cover most of the questions you may have.

Tool Points

Where can I find information on Tool Points?

We receive so many questions about Tool Points that we created its own FAQ.

Click here for the Tool Points FAQ.


Why does the Speed Test crash my system?

Some people have been reporting (mainly people who use Norton Internet Security) that when they run the Speed Test applet (no matter where it's located) the computer crashes and gives them a fatal error deemed a "Blue Screen of Death" (BSOD error). For some reason, the program reads Java applets as security risks and agrees with it as much as you would a 9-day-old piece of pizza found under the couch.

The way around it is to just disable NIS when running a speed test. Then it runs perfectly.

The applets don't load

Is the place where the applet is supposed to be blank?

IE users: If there is a grey box, do you have the latest Java Virtual Machine or your latest web browser? Check for any product updates from Microsoft here.

However, we do recommend using Sun's more up-to-date version of Java, which can be located here: http://www.java.com/en/download/manual.jsp

Netscape users: If there is a white box with a 3-colored icon of a cone, a square and a circle, you will need to clear your browser cache then reload your web browser.

If the applet loads, but won't run, check to see if there is an error in the applet by placing your mouse over the applet box. If there is a message in the status bar like "Class: xxxxx not found," clear your browser cache, then reload your web browser.

Can I use your applets on my site?

Yes. You must purchase a license in order to use the test applets. For more information, see this page.

Tweak Test - Speed Test Problems

If you've been trying to run either the site Tweak Test or the Speed Test and you're having problems, here are some tips that might help:

Almost every thread we've had recently about problems with these apps points to a third party application like Norton Internet Security and\or Zone Alarm (Pro), or any other application that may be blocking a port or the redirect (even the Windows firewall itself). The Tweak Test uses ports 8085 and 8086 (so you should not be blocking outbound access to those ports). The Speed Test doesn't use anything other than standard web requests.

Here are links to some of those threads:

»tweaktest (opening ports 8085 and 8086)

  • If you're running Windows XP/SP2, try the technique below. It will reset the registry to default TCP/IP values.
    Open a Command Prompt and type:
    netsh int ip reset c:\resetlog.txt
  • Make sure that you have Java installed on your machine. You can download it here: »www.java.com/en/download/windows ··· atic.jsp
    Another of our users discovered this: After installing SP2, I uninstalled Sun Java, visited their site and did a manual download and install. Tweak Tester II worked fine after that.

  • Keep in mind that the new DSLR Speed Test applets will NOT work with the MS JVM. Since Speakeasy and Optimum OnLine license their speed test from DSLR, the Speakeasy test may be upgraded to the new one shortly as well.

  • DSLR member jsaun offers this additional help:
    To enable speed test redirecting in Norton Internet Security 2004, do this:
    Choose Ad Blocking::Configure.
    Click "Advanced."
    Scroll down to www.broadbandreports.com - add it if it is not there.
    Select www.broadbandreports.com and click the "Global Settings" tab.
    Uncheck "Use Default settings" and check "Permit" for each of the 5 sections.
    All done.

Q: I have winxp home and ZA pro...when I use your Speed Test all seems to go well until the test finishes and then the test status says "redirecting" and I can't view my results...I've changed my privacy settings without success. Any suggestions?

A: Disable Zone Alarm pop-up stopper. It interacts badly with WinXP/SP2 for some reason. The same goes for Norton's NIS2004 Ad Blocking. Apparently, the NIS Ad Blocker doesn't play nice with the SP2 Pop-up Blocker.


About SmokePing

Some basic information for the SmokePing tool:


The status at August 2014 is that there are three smoke ping servers running. The one in California had a couple of different issues recently and these have been corrected.

What does SmokePing do?

SmokePing generates graphs that can reveal the quality (packet loss and latency variability) & reachability of your IP address from several geographically distributed locations.

What hosts will ping me?

The smoke ping servers, and their IPs, are listed at the bottom of the results page.

Why is low jitter and zero packet loss important?

Communications over the internet are built with layers of increasing complexity, and one of the lowest layers is how quickly and reliably IP data packets are transmitted and received. If this layer performs poorly then everything else is affected: Speed drops, web pages mysteriously hang, programs disconnect, audio video and voice quality suffers and so on.

Ok I'm sold, what do I do?

If you want to do a quick check of the quality of an IP address, then simply elect to have smokeping monitor it closely for 24 hours, (or more, if you are a registered user of the site).

The main result page for an IP you are monitoring shows an overview graph for each monitoring station. At the moment, there are three stations. The red line on the graph represents the average ping time over the time period. The graphs scroll to the left, with new data appearing on the right.

If you click any individual monitoring station (click the graph or the navigation links to the left), you are able to see the ping plot in more detail. In particular, the color of the line segments (color key at the bottom of the graph) indicates overall packet loss. "Smoke" indicates variability of latency (ping time) at that instant. The more variability, the more "smoke" that appears around the colored line segment.

Because our implementation of SmokePing uses large ping packet sizes, and each data point on the graph is not just a single measurement, but many pings, the graph is more sensitive than normal ping plotting programs and will uncover latency variability or loss that may only show up when the line is under fairly heavy use.

The three monitoring stations are independent from each other so they will also confirm a problem as yours if they all show the same suspicious data (excessive smoke, a rise in average ping time or actual packet loss) at the same time. If just ONE out of three monitoring stations shows a problem, then you can discount it.

What should I hope to see?

Here is an example of a nice stable connection NEAR to a monitoring station. Although there is "smoke," there is no packet loss, and the smoke is only +/- a few milliseconds. (Click thumbnail for full size.)

Click for full size

Here is an example of the same connection from the other side of the country. Notice that since the ping time is much higher, the variability (smoke) is almost invisible. (Click thumbnail for full size.)
Click for full size

(Screenshots of different kinds of bad connections will be posted here soon.)

When viewing the results, please keep in mind that your IP may be very near to one of the stations and much further away from the other two. The graphs auto-scale, so "smoke" shown on an X scale composed of just a few ms top to bottom is far less interesting than smoke shown on a scale of 100ms! Packet loss, (line segments that are not green) on any scale, is always interesting!

You can also visit the SmokePing home page where there is another description of how to interpret SmokePing data: reading smokeping graphs.

Not pingable from dslreports?

I have pinging enabled, or I have pinging enabled only for dslreports. Line quality tests ping OK but the Smokeping test fails. What is the IP address of the smokeping server?

    • ny-monitor.dslreports.com -
    • dslreports-west2.speakeasy.net - and
    • dslreports2-west.megapath.net -

Recommend putting these into your rules by IP address.

Smokeping may do an initial reachability call-out from mail.dslreports.com ( so it is also recommended to add a rule for that IP address.