Many of us are already using fast broadband connections these days and it’s important to know whether the information you are sending or receiving is correct and error free. When there is an error in sending or receiving data you might have problems downloading or uploading files and they could fail MD5 checksums or appear corrupt and the downloaded Zip or Rar archive won’t open etc. For example, if you keep getting errors sending packets but not receiving, then that could actually point to a faulty network adapter.
Error information can be an important first step in troubleshooting a connection. It’s very easy to view the basic network connection information, and you can see a network connection’s current status, connection duration, speed and packets or bytes sent and received for the connection. This is usually found by double-clicking the status icon in the system tray or going through Network and Sharing Center > Change adapter settings in Vista and above. The Status dialog box by default shows nearly everything but weirdly chooses not to display errors for the connection.
Before using sophisticated or tough to use packet sniffing software to detect packet loss and errors, you can just enable a hidden setting in Windows to show you any possible errors with your connection. Here’s how to do it with a quick registry change and the information will be added to the status dialog window.
Alternatively, please follow the instructions carefully as editing your registry incorrectly could cause problems.
1. Press Win key+R to bring up the Run box and type regedit to launch the Windows registry editor.
2. Navigate to the following registry location:
If the StatMon key is not there, right click on Connections, select New -> Key and enter the value as StatMon.
3. Inside the StatMon key, set the ShowLanErrors DWORD value as 1 if it’s already there. If ShowLanErrors is not there, right click on StatMon and select New -> DWORD value. Set the DWORD value name as ShowLanErrors. Double click on ShowLanErrors and set the value data as 1.
To turn error count off again, just set the ShowLanErrors DWORD value to 0. Microsoft claims that because most users do not need this information and might find it confusing or misleading, error counts do not appear by default. It certainly can be useful in diagnosing the network reliability though and should be enabled by default, or at least have a tick box somewhere so you can turn it on easily.
You will now see an additional Errors information in your connection status below the Sent and Received Bytes. If you still can’t see anything, restart your computer although the effect should be instant when you right click and select Status.
Unfortunately there is a drawback with the packet error display which is not every version of Windows will show the errors. It is known to display on Business, Professional or Ultimate versions of Windows XP, Vista or 7. Windows XP Home and any Vista or 7 Home editions we believe don’t work. Also, this registry edit seems to have no effect in Windows 8, we tried on Windows 8 Pro x86 without success.
When connected via VPN, the connection status window also shows the error. It appears that as long as you have a connection that goes through your network interface card (NIC), it will show the error information. In addition, the connections that can display the errors also include USB ADSL modems and WiFi adapters etc.