Monitoring a Broadband Router

Just been asked this question by an ex-colleague so I thought it would be good to do a write up.

How do I monitor my broadband router?

There are a number of measurements that you can do to see the health of your router.

External Monitoring

Firstly, you can measure whether the outside world can “see” your router. This does mean that you have to allow “pings” from the Internet which does slightly reduce your router security and so this feature is often turned off by default. I use some external services to monitor the availability of both my web sites and my router:

Each of these have both free and paid services. It is that I mainly use to ping my router.

Internal Monitoring

Secondly, you may be able to turn on something called SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) in your router. This is a standard that allows monitoring of all sorts of information regarding servers, routers, etc. You will need to give the router an IP address of a PC within your network that will receive the information.

There are a number of free tools that allow you to monitor SNMP To monitor from within your home network, you can use PRTG or the free version of Kiwi Syslog Server.

SNMP will allow you not only to see that the router is alive but whether it is connected to the outside world (the WAN port), what speed communications it is using, how long since the connection came alive and many other parameters.
The key parameters to measure are:

  • When the WAN connection went up and down
  • What the download speed is
  • The Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR)
  • The Attenuation

If you are having intermittent router problems, these tools will give you the kind of ammunition you need to take to your ISP to encourage them to take you seriously and get the fault resolved.