Step-by-Step: Installing and Running FREEping
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 on "Continue".

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.  Click "Next".

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:

Host: Here you can enter a domain name, computuer name, or IP address that you wish to ping.
Packet 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 a ping.

Once you fill out that info, click "OK".

In my example, I'm going to ping 192.168.1.1 with 1 byte every 15 seconds.  This is what it looks like. 

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 bad.

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 FireDaemon 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
 



Step by Step Menu

Additional Information
FREEping: