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Identify and Troubleshoot Network Problems in a second with Colasoft Capsa

19 June 2009No Comment

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Colasoft Capsa is a Network sniffer protocol analyzer developed by Colasoft. It performs real-time packet capturing, 24/7 network monitoring, advanced protocol analyzing, in-depth packet decoding, and automatic expert diagnosing. It allows you to get a clear view of the complex network, conduct packet level analysis, and troubleshoot network problems.

The latest version of Colasoft Capsa is Capsa 6.9. The main new features in Capsa 6.9 are the ability to decode Cisco’s Inter-Switch Link protocol to virtual local area network information as traffic negotiates switch and router network paths, and support for the Fiber Channel over Ethernet protocol.

Enterprise Edition of Capsa 6.9 is currently certified for Windows 2000 Professional, XP Professional, Vista, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2008, as well as 64-bit versions of these operating systems. I tested it on Windows 7 and it works nicely.

It is very easy to capture and filter network traffic and use the diagnosis analyzer to check different network layers. For example we could check for application layer problems like DNS server errors, and troubleshoot simple mail transport protocol problems.

The User Interface is very simple to negotiate and a few clicks were sufficient to pull network traffic off all our NICs, and perform quite detailed analysis. The provision of easy access web resources on a sidebar was another neat touch, addressing network technicians still new to network protocol analysis.

Network support extends from 10/100Mbit/s systems to gigabit connectivity, and has microsecond timestamp capability. Firms with a simple network can deploy a straight network connection, but managed switches need port mirroring or test access ports if specific network segments need traffic captured.

One area where the competition has a clear advantage is the ability to run on dedicated hardware with certified NICs. Competitors like Network General, Network Instruments and WildPackets all have turnkey appliances able to take 10 Gigabit Ethernet network traffic straight to terabyte-sized storage arrays for detailed forensic analysis.

I conclude that Capsa is a pretty comprehensive package for network analysis, but users requiring high-end features, like the ability to analyze 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections in real time, may need to look at more expensive systems with dedicated hardware.

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