Network Throughput Testing Tools
Throughput testing is useful during network deployments, changes, and troubleshooting. You can benchmark performance and find bottlenecks in the network to ensure you're getting the speeds and bandwidth you require or should be getting. There are many network testing tools out there and here I take a look at a couple.
IxChariot is commercial enterprise-level network assessment tool that can simulate real-world network environments and applications at the transport layer (Layer 4), supporting testing via TCP, UDP, RTP, IPX, SPX, IPv4, IPv6, IP Multicast, and VoIP. You can measure throughput, jitter, packet loss, end-to-end delay, MOS and MDI. It's offered as a Windows-based console but also provides endpoint software for many platforms, including Windows CE, Linux, Sun Solaris, Novell Netware, and others.
IxChariot is highly customizable and uses application scripts to simulate varying types of enterprise, triple-play and Internet traffic, and includes over 150 preconfigured scripts. You can embed custom payloads to test specific data content across the network. It can also simulate a variety of applications/protocols: Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange, POP3, HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SMTP, and more.
TamoSoft Throughput Test
TamoSoft Throughput Test is a free Windows-based utility; one of many network tools TamoSoft offers. It can test TCP and UDP simultaneously in both directions, or TCP by itself, supporting either IPv4 or IPv6. Once started, it continuously sends data streams and reports the upstream and downstream throughput values in Mbps, UDP packet loss percentage, and round-trip time. It gives a numeric readout and offers live chart views as well. You can also test with varying Quality of Service (QoS) settings too.
Once you install TamoSoft Throughput Test you'll find a server application, which you want to run on one of the endpoints. If you don't want to test via a custom port or via IPv6 you simply open the server and there's nothing else to do.
Then on the other endpoint you run the client application to configure and initialize the test. You simply enter the IP address of where the server is installed and click Connect. You can optionally specify a custom port to test through, change the QoS settings to test with, or choose to test TCP only. Once the test is started, it continues until you click Disconnect. For the throughput values it will show current measurements and also an average value over the test period.
NetStress is a free Windows-based throughput testing utility from Nuts About Nets, which offers many other network tools too. It can test TCP and UDP simultaneously or independently with multiple data streams and variable segment size, packets per second, and MTU. However, it only can test via IPv4 and data is sent unidirectionaly; uplink or downlink must be tested individually.
NetStress is offered via a single application; it can serve as the server, client, or both. Once you open it you can click the Remote Receiver IP to select a node that's been auto-discovered, or manually type in the IP address. After testing starts you'll see the timecourse graphs showing the total throughput for both the transmitter and receiver. You can optionally view graphs for TCP and UDP. Plus you can always see the running averages and standard deviations for both the transmitter and receiver. The results can be displayed via different units: KBps, Kbps, MBps, Mbps.
LAN Speed Test
LAN Speed Test from Totusoft is offered for Windows and Mac OS X. They provide a free lite version, a full version for $6, and an add-on for $6 to measure more accurately. In addition to testing LAN throughput, it can test file transfer, hard drive, and USB Drive performance. The program is a small portable executable and doesn't require installation. It can test without running on the endpoint as it can use a network share. And if you purchase the add-on (LST Server) you can also test against their own server for more realistic network results.
The lite version offers basic testing functions with an adjustable test packet size up to 9 GB. The full version supports up to 25 multiple simultaneous streams with the ability to send up to 1,000 successive packets. It can show results in the different measurement units. It also adds many usability, logging, and exporting features. Plus it offers a scheduling feature and ability to email results and/or alerts.
Iperf is an open source, cross-platform, command-line throughput testing tool. It runs on various platforms including Linux, Unix and Windows. It's also accessible via a GUI with jperf. It can test using TCP and UDP data streams unidirectionally or bi-directionally and reports throughput, delay jitter, and datagram loss. Its customizable various testing parameters
We took a look at a few network throughput testing tools. IxChariot is one of the most feature-rich advanced tools that will likely give you the most accurate results. However, if you're working with a smaller network, one of the free or cheap solutions may be enough. Just remember that network testing can be highly sensitive and results from different tools can vary dramatically.