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I'm trying to troubleshoot an intermittent slow application problem without direct access to the network.

There is a server on one network providing webpages to a VLAN on a different network via a DMZ. I'm told that when the pages were loading slowly the user pinged the server and saw an extremely slow response time.

My question is, as ping is minimal in network load and a lower level protocol than the pages, would a slow ping be caused by a slow server, or would it indicate a slow network?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Either could be the cause. However I've had linux servers that were completely broken in most ways but still responded to pings in a timely fashion. All you can really deduce from a slow ping is that something is wrong. You'll almost always need to use more sophisticated tools to investiate further.

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Ping really tells you very little about the machine you're pinging, other than it's responding to ping requests. ICMP echo's are at a very low level and as William Hay points out, it's entirely possible for a very broken machine to respond to ping.

With that said, and in direct response to your question, I would be more inclined to look into networking.

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But if the machine isn't broken. Would it be possible for it to respond with a slow ping? The server is Linux based so I was considering using Etherape to get a picture of the network topology and traffic. I'm not sure how deep it will go though. – blarg Oct 21 '13 at 10:13
Well of course it's possible, but I do think it's unlikely. You need to do more diagnostics and ping is, at best, just the starting point. For example, does a machine on the same switch experience the same latency? – Dan Oct 21 '13 at 10:14
It's hard to tell as all I have is non-tech user reports. It seems like a network problem as apparently all the users on that VLAN through the DMZ experience slow page loads while another VLAN that circumvents the DMZ entirely never do. The problem is intermittent and does not generally last long, so it is extremely hard to catch. – blarg Oct 21 '13 at 10:17

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