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Issue #784: Jul 31-Aug 6, 2022

Q: Thanks for answering my question (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. #778, June 19-25, 2022). The “tracert” worked and helped with some of my questions.

The time to the first server was <1 ms and 19 ms.  Then the problems start several ‘Request timed out’ then a few more location in 39 ms 37ms 67 ms 65 ms 66 ms 65 ms then 4 more ‘request timed out’. Then 67 ms to 160-153-74-69 (itsgeektome.co).

 It is the ‘request timed out’ that is taking the time and I guess that a faster internet service will not help that problem?

Long time reader mostly from The Odessa American. Odessa, Texas.

– Eugene S.
Lubbock, Texas

A: Well, hello again, Eugene.  You are correct that a faster Internet service isn’t going to help much.  Of course, it might deliver the “Request Timed Out” messages a little faster, but that doesn’t really seem to be the goal.

It’s important to know that receiving these timeout messages is actually normal.  Some of the servers that your Internet traffic passes through – which are the various “hops” listed in your tracert output – are either configured not to respond to a tracert request or may be protected by a firewall that is filtering them.  Information packets are still being passed through, but the information about the server is being shielded from you.  Their response appears to be slow because the tracert command is waiting for a reply that never comes.  It times out after a few seconds, but to make matters worse, this actually happens three times for each hop.  You can see it happen by watching asterisks appear instead of millisecond values.  

There are two directions I’d like to take this little discussion from here.  First, back to your original question of “Whose server?” and “Is there any way to know who might be at fault?”  There is a quick and easy way to learn whether a remote site is up and accepting network requests, and that is the PING command.  In case you missed an issue, I discussed PING in Issue #775.  Using it is very similar to using TRACERT.  You open a command window, and literally type “ping” along with the URL or IP that you want to check.  By default, PING will attempt to contact the remote server four times, and when it’s done, you’ll receive statistics about the attempts.

The other direction I wanted to go in was to show you how you can get more information about who is behind a given IP address or URL.  I imagine that you already know that all websites are registered with an organization called ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.  This is the sole point where all domain names are registered and associated with IP addresses.  ICANN maintains multiple databases related to this function, all of which help to keep the Internet stable and running.  Much of this information is publicly accessible – if you know how to get it.

Getting information about the owner of a given IP address is loosely referred to as a “WhoIs” command.  This is one that you will not find by using your Windows cmd prompt.  There are many websites that provide the service, however.  You can find them by using your favorite search engine and searching for “WhoIs lookup”.  I tend to ignore the results near the top that say “Ad” in them, but you do you, and choose as you see fit.  These sites prompt you for an IP address, or often, optionally a URL, and then return the corresponding ICANN database record.  Unfortunately, the information is often highly redacted.  As cybercrime has spread and become more of a problem, more and more data that are also useful for legitimate purposes are being hidden to protect from the nefarious types that might use them for other, less-legit activities.


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