|April 28, 2002
Here we'll go over how to
install and setup a very useful utility called FREEping. If you've
read through our DNS or Network
section you know what FREEping can do for you. FREEping was designed
to monitor your network by pinging different IP addresses at a regular
interval so you could see if the computer was up or not. However,
people who run their webservers from home find FREEping very good for many
other uses. Here are some of the uses:
1. Keeps your DSL or
Cable line awake and prevents it from going to sleep due to inactivity.
2. If you have a dynamic
IP address, helps prevent your IP number from changing too often.
3. Allows you to monitor
the uptime of your DSL or cable connection.
4. Allows you to monitor
the state of your network (okay, so yes, this is what it was designed for)
Let's get started.
Go to http://www.tools4nt.com/products/fp/description.htm
and download FREEping. The file size is under a megabyte.
Double-click on the file
to start installation. You'll see this welcome message. Click
Now the installation program
begins. Click "Next".
Here is the License Agreement.
Read it over and click "Yes".
Here you choose the destination
directory into which FREEping will install. You can safely keep it
as the default. Click "Next".
Now you can choose the Program
Folder into which FREEping will install. Again, default is just fine.
Installation is now complete.
You can choose to either read the Readme file or/and launch FREEping at
this point. Click "Finish".
To start up FREEping, go
to "Start" -> "Programs" -> "FREEping" -> "FREEping". Do that now
to start up FREEping. You'll see this.
Now let's configure this
guy so it can do what we want. You'll notice that the first entry
in the window is labeled "localhost". What is happening is FREEping
is pinging the computer on which it is running and making sure that it's
alive. That's good.
Now let's talk about who
we shall ping. The first thing you may want to do is to ping the
local computers on your network. That way you can see the status
of your local computers. However, this does not put activity on your
DSL or cable line and keep it awake. In order to do this, we need
to ping an outside IP number so that traffic actually goes over our line
and thus keep it alive. This then leads to the question of who should
we ping? Well, this is up to you. You don't want to anger anybody
by wasting somebody else's bandwidth. I would suggest that you ping
the gateway address that your ISP gave you. They are a lot less likely
to mind than say, the FBI's website. You can also ping other people
you know as long as they agree to you doing so. Who knows, you can
even create a small ring of people who ping each other to keep each other's
line alive. Then possibilities are endless! Just kidding.
Now that you know who to
ping, the question is how often? This depends on your own line.
If your line falls asleep after 1 minute of inactivity, then you should
ping an outside address at an interval shorter than 1 minute. I personally
think that every 10-15 seconds is pretty good. This should be more than
enough to keep any line awake. Anything more often than that will
draw too much attention to yourself. Don't forget, pinging somebody
wastes your bandwidth and the person you're pinging. Ever hear of
DOS (Denial of Service) attacks? This is where tons of computers
ping a certain website to bring it down. Yup, we're playing with
the same fire here. However, we're keeping it to a minimum.
Long and short of it is that how often you need to ping depends on your
own setup and requires some experimentation on your part.
Let's setup somebody to ping
as an example.
Click on the first icon that
has a white paper with yellow star on it. You'll see this new window.
Let's go over the blanks:
Here you can enter a domain name, computuer name, or IP address that you
wish to ping.
size: Default is 32 bytes. Change it to 1 byte.
We only need to keep the line alive, not flood it. We're trying to
keep traffic down to a minimum
The next 4 blanks can be
filled with the same number, namely the interval that you wish to repeat
Once you fill out that info,
In my example, I'm going
to ping 192.168.1.1 with 1 byte every 15 seconds. This is what it
From this front window, you
can see what's going on and which connections are active or not.
A green flag means the connection is good. An orange flag means that
the IP address did not respond the last time you pinged it. A red
flag means the IP address that you are trying to respond has not replied
for a while. Simple: Green good, Red
Now a few installation issues.
The pinging only continues when FREEping is running. You can do this
by putting a shortcut to FREEping in your "startup" folder so that when
Window boots up, FREEping will automatically launch. This means you
have to keep the program running all the time and you can't close the window.
However, this is a big problem
if you use an operating system which requires you to login. If you
don't login, the program doesn't start. This is bad if your server
accidentally gets rebooted and then sits at the login window since FREEping
won't get started.
A couple of solutions.
Get a UPS and make sure you login to your server every time it reboots
so the program is running. Another solution is to run FREEping as
a service which is running all time time, regardless if you are logged
in or not.
You can do this by using
which is a small program that runs any program into a service.
I will show how to do this
in this Step-by-Step article: Installing
and Configuring FireDaemon