Fiddler(HTTP) Vs Wireshark (TCP/UDP)

Recently, I came across an issue where a CGI application is not responding. Symptom is Firefox displaying:

Transferring data from localhost...

But the thing is I cannot see any traffic from Firebug's Net panel, and the browser just stays on the same stage forever.

I am thinking about the ways to debug this application but I cannot see the source code or any of its compiled Java/C++ components, therefore I reckon a HTTP network level of diagnostics is a good start.

I have little experience in Fiddler and Wireshark, just wondering will they get better feedback/statistics in the HTTP network level? I've heard Wireshark is advanced but could possibly introduce a large volume of traffic so system admins don't like it very much. At this time I think Firebug doesn't really show me enough information.

I need to collect information so that I can then forward to client as proof.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by S.L. BarththeMayerShankar DamodarankarthikAndy Korneyev Jan 9 '15 at 7:06

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7 Answers

Wireshark, Firebug, Fiddler all do similar things - capture network traffic.

  • Wireshark captures any kind of a network packet. It can capture packet details below TCP/IP(Http is at the top). It does have filters to reduce the noise it captures.

  • Firebug tracks each request the browser page makes and captures the associated headers and the time taken for each stage of the request (DNS, receiving, sending, ...). 

  • Fiddler works as a http/https proxy. It captures each http request the computer makes and records everything associated with it. Does allow things like converting post varibles to a table form and editing/replaying requests.  It doesn't, by default, capture localhost traffic in IE, see the FAQ for the workaround.

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None of the above. Use Charles Proxy. It's the best network/request information collecter that I have ever come across. You can view and edit all outgoing requests, and see the responses from those requests in several forms, depending on the type of the response. It costs 50 dollars for a license, but you can download the trial version and see what you think.

If you're on Windows, then I would just stay with Fiddler.

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Ah, that appears to be awesome. – Macy Abbey Nov 24 '10 at 3:10
Would it be possible for you to elaborate on how Charles is different from something like Fiddler? What you have mentioned above seems very much like fiddler. I currently use fiddler but would be glad to use something better if i get something more out of it. – InSane Nov 24 '10 at 3:36
Charles and Fiddler are architecturally quite similar. Charles runs on a Mac; Fiddler won't. Charles is written in Java and costs money. Fiddler is written in C#, free, and easily extensible in .NET. – EricLaw Nov 24 '10 at 3:41 
It actually works on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux – Casebash Feb 10 '12 at 5:13
Why is it better than wireshark? – Goles Aug 12 '13 at 16:51

The benefit of WireShark is that it could possibly show you errors in levels below the HTTP protocol. Fiddler will show you errors in the HTTP protocol. 

If you think the problem is somewhere in the HTTP request issued by the browser, or you are just looking for more information in regards to what the server is responding with, or how long it is taking to respond, Fiddler should do. 

If you suspect something may be wrong in the TCP/IP protocol used by your browser and the server (or in other layers below that), go with WireShark.

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Indeed, Wireshark can uncover proxy and nat server issues, it also can be used on both the client you are connection from as on the server. – Glenner003 Jan 15 '14 at 10:50 

Fiddler is the winner every time when comparing to Charles. 

The "customize rules" feature of fiddler is unparalleled in any http debugger. The ability to write code to manipulate http requests and responses on-the-fly is invaluable to me and the work I do in web development. 

There are so many features to fiddler that charles just does not have, and likely won't ever have. Fiddler is light-years ahead.

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