You are here: Home > Analyse > Internet Measurements > RIPE Atlas > About > FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is RIPE Atlas?

It is the next generation active Internet measurement network from the RIPE NCC. It consists of thousands of measurement probes distributed around the globe. You can read much more about all aspects of RIPE Atlas on RIPE Labs.

Why the name "RIPE Atlas"?

We believe RIPE Atlas will enable measurement data about the Internet on a new scale and produce different kinds of maps from this data, such as latency maps, reachability maps, etc. An atlas is a collection of maps.

What does the number of "Probes connected to RIPE Atlas" on the opening page mean?

This is the current number of active, connected probes (within a few minutes of caching) in the RIPE Atlas network. The number generally increases as we expand the network, but small fluctuations are always expected because probes come and go all the time. When we have "events" at our colo partners (network hiccups, servers going down for reboots, etc.), a larger number of probes can get disconnected temporarily. They reconnect eventually; depending on the actual issue, this may take anywhere from a few minutes up to an hour or two.

Is there a mailing list?

Yes! Please subscribe to the RIPE Atlas mailing list for announcements about RIPE Atlas and discussions with other members of the RIPE Atlas community: ripe-atlas [at] ripe [dot] net. You can subscribe to this list at

Where can I find more information?

If you your questions aren't answered in the FAQ or on the rest of the website, feel free to contact us at atlas [at] ripe [dot] net.

Probes, Hosts, Anchors & Sponsors

What exactly is a probe?

A probe is a small hardware device that runs measurements in the RIPE Atlas system and reports these results to the data collection components.

What's a host?

A host is someone who hosts a probe for RIPE Atlas; that is, someone who applies for a probe, connects it to their network and leaves it running. Find out more about how to get involved.

Why would I want to host a probe?

Hosting a RIPE Atlas probe benefits the entire measurement community. It's also beneficial for you, since you'll continually earn credits for the time that your probe is connected. You can use these credits to conduct your own user-defined measurements using the entire RIPE Atlas network, which can provide valuable information about the performance of your own network. Find out more about user-defined measurements.

Can I access the data that is collected by my probe?

Yes. You can find detailed information about your probe, including the measurements it runs, by clicking on your probe under the "My Probes" tab on the probes page. Note that you must be logged into the RIPE Atlas website in order to access your probe's detailed page.

What are credits and how do they work?

All RIPE Atlas hosts earn credits for each of their active probes. These credits accumulate automatically as long as the probe is connected to the network. A continuously running probe earns 21,600 credits each day.

Hosts can redeem their earned credits for their own user-defined measurements, which can employ other probes in the RIPE Atlas network. Credits are awarded daily and hosts can check their credit balance in their RIPE Atlas accounts. Learn more about the credit system.

How do I host a probe?

Everyone is welcome to apply to host a RIPE Atlas probe. We will evaluate your application to determine whether the RIPE Atlas network would benefit from having you host a probe. Learn more about what it involves.

Can I host more than one probe?

In order to create the most topologically diverse network possible, regular RIPE Atlas users are currently only allowed to apply for one probe unless they have a special reason for wanting a second one. If a current probe host tries to apply for additional probes, they need to include an explanation in the "Notes" field on the application form in order to be considered.

What's an anchor?

RIPE Atlas anchors are both enhanced RIPE Atlas probes with more measurement capacity, as well as regional measurement targets within the greater RIPE Atlas network. Anchors provide valuable information about the local and regional connectivity and reachability of the Internet, and the large amount of data they collect is made available to everyone. Learn more about RIPE Atlas anchors.

What's a sponsor?

A sponsor is an individual or organisation that financially supports RIPE Atlas. In exchange, sponsors enjoy special benefits. Learn more about becoming a RIPE Atlas sponsor or email atlas [at] ripe [dot] net.

Technical Details

What data do the probes collect?

Probes perform built-in measurements, including:

  • Its own network configuration information
  • Current uptime, total uptime and uptime history
  • RTT (round trip time) measurements (on IPv4) to the first and second hops (think about the first two lines in your outgoing traceroutes)
  • Ping measurements to a number of predetermined destinations
  • Traceroute measurements to a number of predetermined destinations
  • DNS queries to root DNS servers (others to come)
  • SSL queries to a number of predetermined destinations
  • a few NTP or HTTP queries
  • more measurement types may be added in the future

You can look at the results of all of the above on your probe's detailed information page. When you're logged in to the RIPE Atlas website, you can find your probe under the "My Probes" tab on the probes page.

Hosts also have access to the RIPE Atlas network to conduct their own user-defined measurements based on those above. An example might be setting up traceroute measurements in order to determine how networks in a specific country or region access your own network.

Similarly, other RIPE Atlas hosts will have access to your probe in order to conduct their own user-defined measurements. You can always check what user-defined measurements your probe participated in on your probe's detailed information page.

Find our more about user-defined measurements.

How are the probes powered?

You'll need to supply some electricity to the probe through its USB cable. Any USB port capable of supplying 500mA should be fine; it could be a free USB port on your home router, or you can use a USB power adapter. Note that devices that go into sleep mode (monitors with built-in USB hubs, laptops, etc.) are not good enough as they usually stop supplying power over USB when they go into sleep mode.

Is it possible to power the probes using Power Over Ethernet (PoE)?

The probes don't support PoE out of the box, since this would make them much more expensive to manufacture, and very few users would benefit from it. However, since this question comes up occasionally, we looked at options. We've found a potential one. Keep in mind that we haven't tested this, but it looks like a possible device that can take power from a PoE cable and give a 5V output. We'd appreciate feedback from our users about this (or any other) solution.

How does the probe connect to the Internet?

Probe versions 1 and 2 have an RJ-45 Ethernet interface. They don't have WiFi capabilities. Probe version 3 (TP-Link) technically has WiFi capabilities; however, we have not provided the necessary software to support this capability because we wanted to keep the host's traffic separate from the probe in order to ensure the host's privacy.

This means that you have to connect your probe to a physical Ethernet port. Once this is done, the probe acquires an IPv4 address and DNS resolver information using DHCP, IPv6 configuration using RA, and then tries to look up the controlling infrastructure using DNS and connects over SSH to it on outgoing TCP port 443 (HTTPS).

To make probes stand out in a list of DHCP clients, they use the string "RIPE-Atlas-Probe-<probe-id>" as their DHCP client identifier. However, if the probe doesn't know its probe identifier, which will typically happen after a firmware upgrade, then it will use its ethernet address as client identifier. This means it is required to create two entries to configure a probe statically in DHCP.

If you want to configure a DHCP server, you can use the following example dhcpd.conf snippet, kindly contributed by Alan Barrett:

ddns-update-style none;
subnet <<my subnet>> netmask <<my netmask>> {
    option subnet-mask <<my netmask>>;
    option routers <<address of default gateway>>;
    option domain-name-servers <<address of open resolver>>;
host <<hostname assigned to probe>>-hw {
    hardware ethernet <<MAC address of probe>>;
    fixed-address <<IP address assigned to probe>>;
host <<hostname assigned to probe>> {
    option dhcp-client-identifier "RIPE-Atlas-Probe-<probe-id>";
    fixed-address <<IP address assigned to probe>>;

How much bandwidth will the probe consume?

That depends on the number of measurements the probe is running at any given time. Experience shows that an IPv4-only probe uses approximately 4 Kb/s, an IPv4+IPv6 probe uses approximately 6 kb/s with some user-defined measurements assigned to it. The more UDMs your probe executes, the higher the bandwidth usage will be.

Hosts can also specify the maximum bandwidth their probe can use on their probe's detailed information page. We take these values into account when scheduling measurements, but we cannot promise that we'll never go beyond these limits, as we cannot always predict how much traffic a particular measurement will cause. You can always check your probe's bandwidth usage on the probe's detailed information page.

Why did you choose a hardware solution instead of software?

With a pure software solution, distribution costs are low and the number of potential hosts is very large. However, there are several significant downsides to a pure software approach:

  • Host machines may not run continuously over long periods, which affects our ability to gather round-the-clock measurements.
  • Measurements can be influenced by sharing systems and network resources with other applications on the host computer.
  • It is often not possible to install software like this in a corporate or computer centre environment.
  • It is easier to tamper with the results. This is also why we chose not to release a software version in tandem with the hardware solution.

Because of these drawbacks, we opted to develop the RIPE Atlas probe as a stand-alone piece of hardware.

What hardware and software do you use?

The hardware of the first and second generation probes is a Lantronix XPort Pro module with custom powering and housing built around it. The third generation probe is a modified TP-Link wireless router (model TL-MR 3020) with a small USB thumb drive in it; this probe does not support WiFi (see below). All three versions of the probe perform the same built-in measurements.

The probe is not a powerful device on its own, but it's small and attractive. The software on the device is developed by the RIPE NCC. The probes are connected to a hierarchical control and data collection service, which is also built by us.

So which services do I need for my probe to work?

The absolute minimum set is DHCP, DNS and outgoing TCP port 443 (HTTPS) in order to allow the probe to connect to the network. However, this in itself is not enough to do measurements, which is the entire focus of RIPE Atlas, so you should also allow ICMP, UDP (DNS + traceroute), TCP for traceroute and HTTP(S).

What do the lights on the side of the probe mean?

The first and second generation probes have blinking LEDs (next to the Ethernet connector) when they are connected.

The third generation probe has a series of LEDs on its top side. When the probe is connected and functioning normally, the first, third and fourth LEDs are lit up. For a more detailed breakdown of what the different LEDs mean, please see the table below.

Status 1 (power) 2 3 4 5 (button)
Running from built-in flash on slow blink off off undetermined
Network test failed on off fast blink off off
Network test on off slow blink off off
Device booting on off off off fast blink
Connecting on off on blink off
Connected on off on on undetermined

Does my probe support WiFi?

Probes version 1 and 2 do not have any WiFi capabilities. Probe version 3 is a modified TP-Link wireless router; however, in configuring the probe, we decided not to provide software to support WiFi for the probe because we wanted to keep the host's traffic separate from the probe in order to ensure the host's privacy.

There's a switch on the side of my probe. What does it do?

Probe version 3 (TP-Link) has a switch on the side that is related to the TP-Link's capabilities as a router; however, this link has no function in relation to the device's role as a RIPE Atlas probe and its position does not affect the probe.

Does the probe work behind a NAT? I just want to plug it in at home and not configure anything.

Yes. The probe works fine behind a NAT box. So in most cases, one can just plug it in and it should "just work".

Can you connect my probe to a gigabit-only port?

No. The probes support only 10 Mbit/s and 100 Mbit/s. Most gigabit switches support lower speeds, but some don't.

I have an IPv6-only network. Will the probe work on it?

Yes. All probes can be configured statically with an IPv6 address, default router, DNS resolvers, etc. through the web UI. In addition, version 3 probes can be fully configured through router advertisements (support for RFC 6106 was added in firmware release 4680). There is at the moment no support for DHCPv6 (RFC 3315). Version 1 and 2 probes can obtain addresses and default routers through router advertisements, but cannot obtain DNS resolvers that way. For those probes, the DNS resolvers will have to be configured statically through the web UI.

Managing Your Probe

I connected the probe. Now what?

The probe will automatically connect to the RIPE Atlas infrastructure, most likely upgrade its firmware to the newest version (which usually takes up to 30 minutes) and begin performing predefined measurements. Once we see that the probe is connected, you'll be able to see your probe listed under the "My Probes" tab on the probes page when logged into the RIPE Atlas website. Your probe will also begin earning credits that you can use to perform your own user-defined measurements, which can provide valuable information about the performance of your own network. Find out more about user-defined measurements.

How do I access information about my probe and manage its settings?

You can get detailed information about your probe, including its connection history, built-in and user-defined measurements, firmware version, MAC address and much more on your probe's detailed information page. You can also manage different settings, such as setting a bandwidth limit, on this page. When you're logged in to the RIPE Atlas website, you can find your probe under the "My Probes" tab on the probes page. Just click on your probe to access the detailed information page.

How do you measure probe uptime?

A probe is "connected" when it has a working Internet connection and it is connected to the RIPE Atlas infrastructure. This means that if the probe has a working Internet connection, but it cannot connect to the central infrastructure (because it's firewalled or such) then it shows up as "disconnected". This is also the reason why one can see more connect/disconnect events than expected; even though the local network was working fine, there may have been a connection reset on the probe's connection to its controller.

Can I transfer a probe to a new host?

If you are hosting a probe and would like to transfer it to a new host (for instance, if you are leaving a company but a co-worker will take over responsibility for your probe), you can do so using the "Transfer Ownership" function on your probe's detailed information page (click on your probe, listed under the "My Probes" tab on the probes page when you're logged in to the RIPE Atlas website.

RIPE NCC members who host a probe and want to transfer it to a colleague will now see a suggested list of contacts in their LIR when transferring a probe.

In either case, you must be sure about this, because normally you won’t be able to reclaim your probe in case you transfer it to the wrong person.

Can I deploy a probe on someone else's network, such as my company's, for instance?

That's your decision, but in our opinion you must ask permission first.

Can I assign static IP addresses to my probe?

Yes. Please check the static network configuration documentation for details. Note that we recommend using static configuration only if dynamic configuration is otherwise not possible, since in many cases the static information can become stale, making the probe useless, without the probe host noticing this.

Can I disconnect my probe?

You can, but we'd like to ask you to keep it connected at all times if possible, even while you're on vacation. If you want to shut it down for good, then please return it to us so we can redistribute it to someone else. You can return unused probes to:

RIPE Atlas


Singel 258

1016 AB Amsterdam

The Netherlands

Can I disassemble my probe to see what's inside?

No. You are not allowed to disassemble, reverse engineer, hack or otherwise harm your probe. If you still have questions about the probes after reading through the FAQ, let us know.

Managing Your Measurements

How do I use the RIPE Atlas network to perform my own measurements?

You can take advantage of the entire RIPE Atlas network to perform measurements about your own network(s). We call these user-defined measurements and you can find out more about how to set them up in the user-defined measurements documentation.

How do I stop a user-defined measurement?

You can see a list of your measurements under "My Atlas" and then "Measurements". You can stop one of your active user-defined measurements by clicking the stop button on the "general info" tab of the measurement details page. You can also select "archive", which means the measurement will be permanently removed from your measurements list.

Security and Privacy

How secure is the system? Can someone take it over?

We've built in many safeguards to prevent anyone from taking over the system. For example, the probes don't have any open ports that one can connect to (even locally) - they only support outgoing connections. We also use mutual authentication between the probes and the infrastructure components. Of course, we cannot be absolutely certain that an attack could not be carried out. We believe that the limited capabilities and the obscurity of the individual probes make the system an unattractive target, and that the current protection mechanisms are adequate. You can find more information on our security page.

Are the locations of probes made public?

Locations of all probes, whether they are marked as public or not, are irreversibly obfuscated to up to one kilometre away. When viewing your own probe's page, the real location will be displayed. Note: co-ordinates obtained via the REST API are always obfuscated, even if you are identified as a probe host.

Does the probe listen to my local, private traffic?

No, it doesn't. It only talks to our central infrastructure and executes active measurement commands towards the public Internet.

If you're still concerned about the probe being able to snoop, you can install it on a switch port (the home router often has this already), where it cannot hear any other traffic. Even better, you can put it behind a firewall, as long as that firewall does not prevent the probe from talking to the outside world.

Will my IP address show up in measurements done by my probe?

Yes, it will, although personal information such as MAC addresses and email addresses will never be shown (although IPv6 addresses can also expose the MAC address). You can find out more about exactly what information is accessible for both probes marked public and those not marked public, in this detailed RIPE Labs article.

Do you accept any liability for incorrect operation, disputed actions or damages caused by the probe?

Sorry, we can't do that.

What information is visible to different users?

Different information is available for different RIPE Atlas users, including hosts, sponsors and the general public:

  • Hosts can see all available information about their own probes, including their probe ID, their network and other configuration settings, and their uptime information.
  • Sponsors cannot see the email addresses of the hosts whose probes they sponsor, or the network configuration settings, but can see all other information about the probes they sponsor.
  • The public can see some information about the public probes in the RIPE Atlas network, including probe IDs, connection history and user-defined measurements; however, the public cannot see configuration settings, MAC addresses, DNS entries or email addresses.

Is the measurement data made public?

RIPE Atlas probes collect data from two types of measurements: built-in measurements and user-defined measurements. Data from the built-in measurements is made publicly available. When RIPE Atlas users create their own user-defined measurements using the API, it is possible to create non-public measurements; however, all user-defined measurements created using the web interface are public measurements. It is also possible to switch existing measurements from “non-public” to “public” using the web interface, but not vice versa.

We want to encourage our users to make their measurements public because openly available data adds the greatest value to everyone taking part in RIPE Atlas, and sharing information is at the heart of such collaborative efforts. You can learn more about this issue in this RIPE Labs article.

User Interface

I only host a probe or two, but I can see a lot of probes in the list. Why?

Anyone can look at the state and measurement results of public probes in the RIPE Atlas network. You can see these probes listed on the probes page. When you're logged into the RIPE Atlas website, this list will also include a tab called "My Probes" that lists the probes you personally host.

How can I embed the graphs from my probe's page in my own webpage?

You need to embed a RIPEstat widget. See a practical example.


The probe doesn't have any lights on. Is it dead?

Once you connect the probe on both connections (Ethernet and USB), it should come alive quickly. The green "link" LED should come on when the Ethernet link is established. The orange "data" LED will blink as the probe sends and receives packets. If this is not the case then please make sure that both connections are fine (for example, the USB really gives power, the Ethernet port is active, etc.). If the probe still looks dead, please contact us.

I just connected my probe and the lights are up, but it is still listed as "disconnected" on the list of public probes. What is happening?

When you plug in the probe, it will take some time before enough data is collected and the probe is listed as connected. If this is the first time you plug in your probe (or it was disconnected for a long time), it's possible that it will immediately upgrade its firmware, which can take longer. Please check back in several hours.

The lights are on but I still cannot register my probe, or the system says my probe is not connected ("never seen"). What can I do?

Please double check that your probe received an IP address and DNS information through DHCP, and that there's no firewall rule or MAC address filtering blocking its access to the Internet.

I want to share my Internet connection of my Mac (Mini, iMac, MacBook, etc.) and run the probe on that, but it doesn't seem to work. What can I do?

Some RIPE Atlas users who use "Internet Sharing" of OS X (10.4 and 10.5) have reported these issues. A workaround, that seems to work in all cases that we know of, is to change reply_threshold_seconds to 0. See these links for more details:

I see 100% packet loss on all my probes to Is this expected?

Since early 2012, ICMP rate limiting has been enforced near RIPE Labs, leading to these ping results. Soon after this we discontinued this measurement.

We develop RIPE Atlas in cooperation with the Internet community, and we want to know what you think. Find out how to get in touch.