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Buyer's Guide
Network Troubleshooting
June 2022
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ManuelGuerrero - PeerSpot reviewer
IT Support Specialist III at Citrus College
Real User
Top 20
All-in-one tool, rapidly diagnoses network issues, helpful automated testing features
Pros and Cons
  • "In terms of documenting ad hoc additions and other changes to wired ethernet connections, this product is very good. It keeps the information in the cloud and I have the ability to name it. This makes it very nice and easy to see."
  • "Unlike using an application like Wireshark, this device gives us no way to see network packets specifically to look at what's going on. It doesn't have the capability."

What is our primary use case?

My primary use cases are plugging into a port to determine what switch it is, the name of the switch, what VLANs are on it, and to test if there is a correct connection or even a correct termination on both sides.

How has it helped my organization?

LinkRunner's ability to simplify network validation is pretty good. I just recently started using the telnet feature and it is helpful because previously, I had to carry a laptop with all of the correct connections set up. I no longer have to. As long as I have the IP address, I can directly connect to the hardware and make the changes.

Using it means that instead of having to use several pieces of equipment, I now just need one to do all that I need at any given point.

It has definitely helped in terms of saving time and costs, as well as improving efficiency. My time savings is pretty significant. Some of my calls are pretty quick but if I didn't have the tool, they would take longer. Calls that took me between an hour and an hour and a half, now take about 15 minutes. 

From the point of testing all the way through to the switch, including DHCP and DNS, this solution is very important. It eliminates half the problems that I have when testing.

Recently, we had a problem with fiber connections and determining our slowness on campus. When it comes to easy stuff like going from a client to a switch, it's very easy to find it and it's not a problem. When it goes to DHCP and out to the internet, it is great and again, not a problem. However, when we're trying to diagnose why there's slowness on campus, that's pretty hard to figure out, even with this specific tool.

In terms of the speed at which LinkRunner provides results, it's really good. It is one of the better tools I've used in a long time. It gives me everything at a glance and I can just give it to somebody in the field, and they can do it themselves remotely. Then, I can see the data back at my end, and make the appropriate changes.

What is most valuable?

The telnet feature has come in handy because I no longer have to carry a laptop with me to test connectivity.

The integration with the cloud system is very good. If I need to give this device to a level one engineer, they can run and plug it into the port, and then an automatic email is generated. It sends me all of the information that I need to make changes. This feature is great when I'm in the field.

The fact that the test results are automatically saved into NetAlly's Link-Live Cloud Service is pretty important to me. As a network engineer, it's really useful to have and be able to look at testing in the past. I enjoy it thoroughly. This is a feature that saves me time and helps with the management of the results.

If I'm using a laptop then usually, all I can see is where I can reach Google. This device tells me the name, port number, VLANs, and other details. That's what I like to see.

The fiber connections are great, and this feature makes a huge difference.

The AutoTest feature is one that I use quite significantly. It provides me with information such as the name of the switch, the port number, and the VLANs. These are the major focuses. I also use it when I have to probe out a link and check the connections in between. Using the AutoTest features wipes out more than half of my work. Perhaps three quarters.

With most of our testing, this solution makes it pretty simplistic. It will go through the network, it will tell you how fast the traffic is moving, the return cycle, and other relevant information. 

In terms of documenting ad hoc additions and other changes to wired ethernet connections, this product is very good. It keeps the information in the cloud and I have the ability to name it. This makes it very nice and easy to see. I don't think that I can do this from the device itself when I test. That would be a nice feature to have. If I could name it inside the actual device, and then have it transmit the data to the cloud automatically, it would be one less step that we have to do. 

What needs improvement?

We were having trouble diagnosing a slowness on our network and using this tool, we weren't able to determine where the problem was. Ultimately, it was that a transceiver was going bad but we couldn't tell because it was still functional. It was slow, and the problem was intermittent, but there was no way to really identify the issue.

Unlike using an application like Wireshark, this device gives us no way to see network packets specifically to look at what's going on. It doesn't have the capability. This means there is no way to determine whether a transceiver is going bad if it's still functional.

Using some of the other tools supplied by the NetAlly support care, that run with LinkRunner, really hurts us because if we have to keep purchasing the product, we can't keep using the full potential of the tool. We can't do full performance testing.

When I test a connection, it doesn't give me a place to name the results. It sends it to the cloud and provides an email about it. Having the ability to attach a name to the data, right from the device, would be helpful.

The learning curve for this tool is pretty steep if you don't know what you're doing. A lot of it for me was on-the-job learning. I read a lot and watched a lot of the videos that are available. However, the videos helped perhaps a quarter compared to what I had to learn myself. There are no specific videos, for example, on how to use telnet or to use it on the device when you're on the network.

I have seen other vendors provide training material in the form of a course, instead of just a set of YouTube videos. They go more in-depth and show you more detail, which would be ideal for this product. As it is now, the videos that they have are pretty general and although they show you some parts of what you can do in the real world, it doesn't show 100% of the features. This is an important thing to add because using it to its full extent can be truly life-changing.

Another complaint that we have about the product is the firmware updates, which have to be done through NetAlly Care specifically. Firmware updates and software upgrades should be included for the life of the device. Alternatively, they should be included for the first three years or even the first year, at a bare minimum. As it is now, you don't even have that. There is really no support in that regard, once you get the tool. Originally, that deterred me. However, I took a risk on the product because I saw that it was being used heavily in the industry, and I'm glad that I did. The support for inclusive firmware updates is the number-one thing that I would change.

I think that the OS could be updated a little bit. It looks like it's running Android Froyo, or perhaps one that is a little more recent.

You're supposed to be able to read the instructions right on the device but the problem is that they are too difficult to see.

It requires an internet connection and if I'm in the field, I either have to make sure that I've purchased a USB separately or have the one that comes with it. Or, I need an internet connection when I might need to be testing it from that point, which is a little bit difficult to do.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with LinkRunner for approximately two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have never had any issues with stability, and it has never crashed.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have three of us who are using it. I do the networking in our organization, and the other two people are level one engineers that might need help with networking or diagnosing problems.

How are customer service and support?

I have never been in contact with technical support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used other tools in the past and this is one of the better tools I've used in a long time. We don't buy a lot of the tools very often because they're expensive. In any of our networking, we were using a lot of older stuff.

It's good to now have tools that are all-inclusive and one set for networking. That said, I know it's harder to get more tools that can tell us directly what's wrong with the fiber, except that it's slow or the threshold is at a certain level.

Prior to working with LinkRunner, we used products from Fluke Networks. The reason that we switched had to do with researching other products, as well as asking my peers what they were happiest with. They recommended it.

Having always been a user of Fluke products, and trying this now, I'm glad that I decided to try it because I'm impressed. The features that made the biggest difference were that it's all-inclusive in a single system, its ability to handle 10G fiber, which we're just starting to implement now, and the capability of the cloud system.

Overall, I really enjoy this tool compared to everything else, because it really reduces laptop usage, having to plug into the network or the switch directly. It gives me everything at a glance.

How was the initial setup?

There are documentation and YouTube videos available to help with setting up the product.

What was our ROI?

On the topic of cost versus the ability to solve problems faster, from the perspective of a large company, it's well worth it because it leads to better time management for individuals. Instead of us spending 60 or 90 minutes trying to figure out one particular network issue, we can diagnose it within 15 minutes. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The cost of this device is very expensive, especially with the NetAlly Care on top of the costs. It is not for personal use and would be very expensive for smaller businesses. My company purchased it out of pocket and they provided it to me. It frees me up more so it is worthwhile for them. However, if I were using it personally, it would be hard to justify the cost versus the time.

If I were choosing a solution for a private business, I would suggest that the technician uses a laptop. It might cost only $1,000 with all of the connection cables and everything that they need. It would require more effort and it would take more time to resolve issues, but it would be easier to justify the cost on a higher level.

On the other hand, if troubleshooting is something that you do every day as a network engineer or a network technician, and this is a device that is going to be used consistently, then it's worth the time and the cost. Long-term productivity will improve because of it.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, the full functionality of this tool is phenomenal. This is a tool that I would buy on my own, provided I could afford it.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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Buyer's Guide
Network Troubleshooting
June 2022
Get our free report covering SolarWinds, Paessler AG, Zabbix, and other competitors of Wireshark. Updated: June 2022.
610,190 professionals have used our research since 2012.