Building a compelling case

If you find a network problem, you'll most likely want to try and solve that problem. In some cases you might be able to solve this network problem yourself - possibly by upgrading the BIOS on a hardware device, replacing a network cable or changing network service providers. In most cases though, the network problem will need to be fixed by someone else. If this happens, you'll want to build a compelling case that clearly demonstrates the problem, and then also convey (or present) that information. PingPlotter can help you do both of these tasks. It does this by collecting data over time, and then giving you the capability to present it in a way that can be compelling to someone else.

In this section, we'll show you how to use some of the tools in PingPlotter to collect data, save and reload that data, and then cover areas to focus on to make a really convincing story.

A convincing story (when using PingPlotter to document a network problem) is one that has some, or most, of the following attributes:

  • Is clear about the actual problem being experienced. Bad PingPlotter data is meaningless unless there is some impact to other applications. Make sure you describe the affect this problem is having on your network experience.
  • Includes solid supporting data, covering at least a few minutes and possibly several days
  • Correlates the problem description (i.e.: bad VoIP quality or slow game performance) with the supporting data (i.e.: packet loss in PingPlotter).
  • Does not exaggerate the problem or the data. You can certainly zoom PingPlotter in to only the very worst 10 samples you collected, but that doesn't give a realistic picture of the problem
  • Is concise and not argumentative.

Most of the time your first contact with your provider (the one who can help you solve the problem) is going to be with a first-level, front-line support technician. In many cases, their goal is to "close the case". You need to be polite but persistent, and have a strong story to get them to bring the problem to the next level.

Because many ISPs and providers don't give copies of PingPlotter to their front-line support technicians, you probably won't be able to just send a PingPlotter save file for them to analyze. You'll need to create an image they can easily see in their email, or attach to their support case.

Creating a graphical image of the problem

The main graphs in PingPlotter can be a compelling picture of the problem. In a lot of cases, you'll want to include a snapshot of this screen in an email. You can do this several ways.

  • Copy and paste an image, or images, into the email.
    Depending on your email software, you might find it easiest to just paste an image into an email or document. To do this, use the Copy as Image option under the Edit menu. This will put the image into the clipboard, and you can then paste it into your email or other document.
  • Save the image as a file
    You might, instead, prefer to create an image file and then attach it to an email. To do this, use the Save Image... option under the File menu. This will allow you to save as a Windows bitmap, GIF or PNG file. Out of the box, the default file type is PNG, which creates the smallest possible file (with the highest quality as well!). We don't support creation of .JPG files because PingPlotter graphs don't look very good as lossy .JPG files, and the result is usually bigger than a .PNG.

PingPlotter also supports automatic saving of image files. See our documentation on this topic for more details.