Troubleshoot TCP/IP connectivity

You might come across connectivity errors on the application end or timeout errors. The following are the most common scenarios:

  • Application connectivity to a database server
  • SQL timeout errors
  • BizTalk application timeout errors
  • Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) failures
  • File share access failures
  • General connectivity

When you suspect that the issue is on the network, you collect a network trace. The network trace would then be filtered. During troubleshooting connectivity errors, you might come across TCP reset in a network capture that could indicate a network issue.

  • TCP is defined as connection-oriented and reliable protocol. One of the ways in which TCP ensures reliability is through the handshake process. Establishing a TCP session would begin with a three-way handshake, followed by data transfer, and then a four-way closure. The four-way closure where both sender and receiver agree on closing the session is termed as graceful closure. After the four-way closure, the server will allow 4 minutes of time (default), during which any pending packets on the network are to be processed, this period is the TIME_WAIT state. After the TIME_WAIT state completes, all the resources allocated for this connection are released.

  • TCP reset is an abrupt closure of the session; it causes the resources allocated to the connection to be immediately released and all other information about the connection is erased.

  • TCP reset is identified by the RESET flag in the TCP header set to 1.

A network trace on the source and the destination helps you to determine the flow of the traffic and see at what point the failure is observed.

The following sections describe some of the scenarios when you'll see a RESET.

Packet drops

When one TCP peer is sending out TCP packets for which there's no response received from the other end, the TCP peer would end up retransmitting the data and when there's no response received, it would end the session by sending an ACK RESET (thisACK RESET means that the application acknowledges whatever data is exchanged so far, but because of packet drop, the connection is closed).

The simultaneous network traces on source and destination will help you verify this behavior where on the source side you would see the packets being retransmitted and on the destination none of these packets are seen. This scenario denotes that the network device between the source and destination is dropping the packets.

If the initial TCP handshake is failing because of packet drops, then you would see that the TCP SYN packet is retransmitted only three times.

Source side connecting on port 445:

Screenshot of frame summary in Network Monitor.

Destination side: applying the same filter, you don't see any packets.

Screenshot of frame summary with filter in Network Monitor.

For the rest of the data, TCP will retransmit the packets five times.

Source side trace:

Screenshot showing packet side trace.

Destination side trace:

You wouldn't see any of the above packets. Engage your network team to investigate with the different hops and see if any of them are potentially causing drops in the network.

If you're seeing that the SYN packets are reaching the destination, but the destination is still not responding, then verify if the port that you're trying to connect to is in the listening state. (Netstat output will help). If the port is listening and still there's no response, then there could be a wfp drop.

Incorrect parameter in the TCP header

You see this behavior when the packets are modified in the network by middle devices and TCP on the receiving end is unable to accept the packet, such as the sequence number being modified, or packets being replayed by middle device by changing the sequence number. Again, the simultaneous network trace on the source and destination will be able to tell you if any of the TCP headers are modified. Start by comparing the source trace and destination trace, you'll be able to notice if there's a change in the packets itself or if any new packets are reaching the destination on behalf of the source.

In this case, you'll again need help from the network team to identify any device that's modifying packets or replaying packets to the destination. The most common ones are RiverBed devices or WAN accelerators.

Application side reset

When you've identified that the resets aren't due to retransmits or incorrect parameter or packets being modified with the help of network trace, then you've narrowed it down to application level reset.

The application resets are the ones where you see the Acknowledgment flag set to 1 along with the reset flag. This setting would mean that the server is acknowledging the receipt of the packet but for some reason it will not accept the connection. This stage is when the application that received the packet didn't like something it received.

In the below screenshots, you see that the packets seen on the source and the destination are the same without any modification or any drops, but you see an explicit reset sent by the destination to the source.

Source Side

Screenshot of packets on source side in Network Monitor.

On the destination-side trace

Screenshot of packets on destination side in Network Monitor.

You also see an ACK+RST flag packet in a case when the TCP establishment packet SYN is sent out. The TCP SYN packet is sent when the client wants to connect on a particular port, but if the destination/server for some reason doesn't want to accept the packet, it would send an ACK+RST packet.

Screenshot of packet flag.

The application that's causing the reset (identified by port numbers) should be investigated to understand what is causing it to reset the connection.


The above information is about resets from a TCP standpoint and not UDP. UDP is a connectionless protocol and the packets are sent unreliably. You wouldn't see retransmission or resets when using UDP as a transport protocol. However, UDP makes use of ICMP as a error reporting protocol. When you've the UDP packet sent out on a port and the destination does not have port listed, you'll see the destination sending out ICMP Destination host unreachable: Port unreachable message immediately after the UDP packet  UDP UDP:SrcPort=49875,DstPort=3343  ICMP    ICMP:Destination Unreachable Message, Port Unreachable,

During the troubleshooting connectivity issue, you might also see in the network trace that a machine receives packets but doesn't respond to. In such cases, there could be a drop at the server level. To understand whether the local firewall is dropping the packet, enable the firewall auditing on the machine.

auditpol /set /subcategory:"Filtering Platform Packet Drop" /success:enable /failure:enable

You can then review the Security event logs to see for a packet drop on a particular port-IP and a filter ID associated with it.

Screenshot of Event Properties.

Now, run the command netsh wfp show state, this execution will generate a wfpstate.xml file. After you open this file and filter for the ID that you find in the above event (2944008), you'll be able to see a firewall rule name that's associated with this ID that's blocking the connection.

Screenshot of wfpstate.xml file.