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A Guide for Understanding the Networking Commands

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26th Sep, 2023
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A Guide for Understanding the Networking Commands

With technology assuming an integral part of our everyday lives, being aware of the basic networking commands can go a long way in improving productivity and efficiency. This blog is a quick guide to the commonly used computer networking commands that can substantially streamline your experience using operating systems such as Windows and Linux. The troubleshooter tools listed here can considerably improve your networking application and help you better appreciate the digital interactions that have become a part of our daily lives in recent years. 

Understanding Networking Commands

Operating systems, such as Windows, MacOS, Ubuntu, or Linux, used for running computer systems can be described as complex frameworks designed with executable programs that allow users to perform various tasks and are connected together by various networking systems. Complex as networking systems are, they can run into system errors occasionally, affecting the computer’s overall performance. 

The basic networking commands are specifically designed for resolving such networking errors. Operating systems are provided with command prompt tools that allow users to manually troubleshoot the operating system to diagnose networking errors and solve them with minimum complexity. 

Most networking command prompts in operating systems can be run in a text-based interface to perform executable tasks as the user requests. Here are some ways that can allow users to trigger network command prompts.

  • Network commands can be activated from the Command Prompt option in the Windows Start Menu’s Windows System Folder.
  • The Windows Key + R key allows users to enter the cmd function in the Run Box manually.
  • Network commands are also available under the Command Prompt and Command Prompt (Admin) options of the Quick Link Menu and can be brought up using the Windows Key + X key.
  • Windows users can also run network command prompts in Windows Powershell, present in the Windows Start Menu.
  • Advanced users can also toggle between Windows Powershell, Command Prompt, Azure Cloud Shell, and more using the Windows Terminal, preinstalled on computers with the Windows 10 OS and above.

Reasons for Using Networking Commands

Network configuration commands have grown immensely popular due to their simplicity and efficiency in resolving networking errors and can be easily operated by beginners. Networking commands are based on executable command-line interfaces, where networking command prompts can be typed in to trigger the desired responses. The command prompts serve as executable CLI programs and are used for the following reasons: 

  • As CLI text-based programs, networking command prompts are easier to understand and use. Additionally, networking commands are faster and can be efficiently used for troubleshooting and executing repetitive tasks. 
  • Networking commands are popularly used because of their immense flexibility. They are stable and consistent and can process complex operations with ease.
  • Networking commands for troubleshooting occupy substantially less memory and can process large-scale operations with minimum CPU consumption. 
  • The high precision and versatility make networking commands so popular among computer users. Networking commands can be carried out with low resources without compromising their application. 

Given the complexity of system functions, a data engineer or IT admin can use networking commands to execute troubleshooting tasks efficiently, access website records, or check the status of networking servers. 

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10 Popular Networking Commands

Here are the top 10 networking commands that are popularly used for troubleshooting networking issues and gathering system information: 

1. IPCONFIG

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ipconfig is undoubtedly one of the fundamental network commands used by data engineers and IT admins and has remained one of the most efficient ways of troubleshooting network connectivity problems in Windows. Ipconfig’s unparalleled simplicity in troubleshooting, analysing and configuring Window’s network connectivity issues makes it a popular choice among system engineers. 

Additionally, ipconfig can be seamlessly learnt by beginners, and its easy application is beneficial and can be carried out without having to look up GUI (graphical user interface)-based guidelines, which can vary depending on the version of Windows OS used. Mentioned below are some ways following which ipconfig can successfully be used at home, as well as on business computers:

  • As one of the essential ipconfig commands, ipconfig /all is a prominently used network prompt that displays all information associated with the network adapter’s configuration.
  • Using the ipconfig /displaydns prompt is helpful when bringing up the DNS resolver cache that contains information on the IP addresses of websites already visited.
  • ipconfig /flushdns is an efficient prompt that allows users to remove obsolete DNS records from the DNS resolver cache.

 2. NSLOOKUP


Source

Data engineers require frequent access to DNS (Domain Name System) troubleshooters and rely heavily on the nslookup command for support. Although the nslookup command has limited use, it is convenient and efficient in accessing domain-specific data, such as website records, web servers and IP address information. 

nslookup comes with a straightforward interface and, in addition to Windows, is available for operating systems like Ubuntu, Linux distros and MacOS. While most operating systems offer a preinstalled version of the nslookup command, users can manually install the nslookup command as long as they are authorised as a sudo user. Here are some of the frequent uses of nslookup Linux networking commands:

  • NSLOOKUP allows users to find and access domain and website-specific records with the $ nslookup -type=ns [domain-name] command.
  • Start of Authority (SOA) domain information can be brought up using the $ nslookup -type=soa [domain-name] command.
  • The $ nslookup -query=mx [domain-name] command allows users to check email servers and browse their MX records.

3. HOSTNAME

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For Linux users, hostname is a commonly used networking command in cmd that helps set and view the hostname registered to a system. The hostname of a system is set permanently while installing the OS to a computer, connected over a network, and can uniquely identify the system from others. While only users with root authority can set a hostname to a system, it can still be accessed without using specific IP addresses. The hostname command prompt network command offers the following prompts to its users:

  • The -a or –alias prompt allows users to display the host’s name as defined in the system. 
  • -b or –boot prompts allow users with root authority to set a permanent hostname. The hostname is set to localhost by default unless changed.
  • -d or –domain prompts can bring up the DNS domain name.
  • -F and –filename are used to list the hostname present in a file.
  • -I and -all-ip-addresses prompts can list all configured network addresses available on all host interfaces, and the -v or –version command prompt displays information about the installed version. 

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4. PING

Source

The ping command is a frequently used basic network command that allows users to test the network connectivity of a system. The ping command is widely used to send a data packet to a specified IP address or a URL and calculate the time taken for a response. Considering the streamlined yet effective application of the ping network command, it has remained a popular troubleshooting tool used to measure network connectivity between the host system and specified IP addresses. Ping network configuration commands are versatile and can detect connectivity in Windows, Linux and MacOS systems.

5. TRACERT

The tracert network command has grown popular among Windows OS users owing to its simple yet effective application. One of the easiest networking commands in Windows, it can easily check a computer’s hostname and IP route. The tracert command sends a data packet with the source and destination addresses, evaluating the network status accordingly. Currently, the tracert command serves as a diagnostic software that comes pre-installed in computers and is predominantly used by network administrators. The prompt $ tracert domain.com launches the tracert network command in Windows.


Source

6. NETSTAT

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As one of the most commonly used network commands, the netstat command evaluates and displays the network status. It is most commonly used as a basic network command and is majorly used for determining network issues rather than just checking the network status. Additionally, as netstat command prompt network commands can count data packets that have been transmitted, it is an efficient way of supervising network traffic and can determine if there is any network congestion that can lead to slower performance. 

7. ARP

Source

ARP, or the Address Resolution Protocol, is one of the most commonly used networking commands in cmd used in a local area network for mapping a computer’s IP address to another computer’s physical MAC address. Using the arp -a command, a user can display or modify the local ARP cache. The arp prompt also allows users to track ARP cache entries for specific IP addresses. 

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8. SYSTEMINFO

Source

The systeminfo network command is an easy-to-use networking command in Windows that can efficiently display system information and other Windows configurations. Systeminfo comes built-in with the Windows OS and, when launched, can bring up a list of information with operating system details, hardware and software configuration, version information, and other details, such as RAM and processor consumption, IP and MAC addresses. 

9. PATHPING

Source

The pathping command prompt comes pre-installed in Windows OS and is an alternative to the tracert Windows network command. Although less widely known, the pathping command is an effective utility tool for evaluating network performance and latency issues. Like the ping command, pathping also uses data packets to evaluate the network performance and can trace the hops between the source and destination addresses. The pathping network command can be implemented with a simple pathping -n [domain.com] prompt.

10. GETMAC

Source

The Windows OS comes with the getmac network command pre-installed that allows Windows users to gather all necessary information about the Media Access Control (MAC) address of their computer. The getmac command can also display a list of all network protocols with the addresses for cards in the system, whether available through wired, optical or remote mediums. The getmac command also allows users to monitor any transmission within a network segment.

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Conclusion

Whether you’re a data engineer or a network administrator, having a grasp of the frequently used networking commands can go a long way in helping you gather detailed information about how your computer functions. Furthermore, network troubleshooting commands can also help you manage your network devices efficiently, enhancing your productivity in no time. Enroll in relevant programs and online courses to master networking commands and bolster your resume.

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Pavan Vadapalli

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Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Which common troubleshooting command is used to trace internet addresses?

Tracert is a simple yet efficient network troubleshooting command frequently used by data engineers to trace internet addresses. Tracert is commonly used in computers with a Microsoft Windows OS and can be executed directly from the command prompt window, available with the Windows key + R shortcut. Traceroute, the Tracert equivalent for MacOS and Unix-based operating systems, can be executed from Network Utility.

2What command is used for network configuration?

Ipconfig is a popularly used network configuration command for troubleshooting and network configuration. Ipconfig can display the IP address and any subnet masks for network systems on Windows.

3Why is Linux used for networking?

The versatility of the Linux operating system makes it a comfortable choice for networking among data scientists and programmers. Linux networking commands can effectively run several servers ranging from smaller home office servers to larger data centre variants without any compromise in its output. Also, Linux is cost-effective, making it easier without relying on expensive Windows servers.

4What is a better command than Ping?

Ping is one of the frequently used network commands to detect the accessibility of a particular IP address. While Ping is a competent and efficient network command, Tracert has emerged as a better computer networking command for detecting network accessibility in recent years. Additionally, Tracert can troubleshoot complex network issues such as hop delays, network misconfigurations and congestion.

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