I sometimes use nmap to check my hosts. For example: nmap -sS -p- example.com
But this command never finish.

So I divide the scan into small parts: nmap -sS -p 0-999 example.com (12 seconds to finish)
And then nmap -sS -p 1000-1999 example.com (14 seconds to finish) etc. This is tedious.

If a use wider parts: nmap -sS -p 0-3999 example.com
it takes more than 3 minutes to finish.

And with nmap -sS -p 0-7999 example.com it is not finished after 30 minutes.

1000 ports -> 12 seconds
4000 ports -> 3 minutes
9000 ports -> 30 minutes

What's the problem?
How can I find open TCP ports for one host with nmap?

  • Maybe you could check the actual network communication with a tcpdump.
    – peterh
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 2:02

3 Answers 3


Nmap does its best to find the speed at which it can accurately find the state (open, closed, or filtered) for every port. The timing system is complex, and it has some worst-case scenarios that can lead to very slow scans. One of these cases is when the target is rate-limiting TCP connection resets (RST), which are the responses Nmap receives when a port is closed. The majority of ports on a system are usually closed, and in order to save resources or perhaps to stymie scanning attempts, the target's OS may choose only to issue a RST once per second.

When Nmap detects RST rate-limiting, it must slow its probes down to match that rate, otherwise a port that is closed may be marked "filtered" because no response was received, consistent with a firewall dropping traffic to that port. This slowdown behavior happens gradually, so the first few ports are not as much affected as later ones. Also, it only affects closed ports, so the commonly-used ports between 1 and 1000 are less likely to contribute to slowness.

There's a workaround for this problem, but it comes with a loss in accuracy. If you don't care about knowing the difference between filtered and closed ports, you can use the --defeat-rst-ratelimit option to not let rate-limited RSTs affect Nmap's timing. Nmap will continue sending at an appropriate rate for the network, detecting dropped packets and slowing down when necessary, but being perfectly happy marking closed ports as filtered. The set of open ports should be exactly the same, which is all that most people want. In fact, you can even add --open to avoid printing info about closed and filtered ports altogether.


You can add the -T5 option to increase the speed of scanning. According to nmap Timing and perfermance it is recommended to use -T4 option :

I would recommend always using -T4. Some people love -T5 though it is too aggressive for my taste. People sometimes specify -T2 because they think it is less likely to crash hosts or because they consider themselves to be polite in general. They often don't realize just how slow -T polite really is. Their scan may take ten times longer than a default scan. Machine crashes and bandwidth problems are rare with the default timing options (-T3) and so I normally recommend that for cautious scanners. Omitting version detection is far more effective than playing with timing values at reducing these problems.

  • 1
    Remember: -T5 sets the host timeout to 15 minutes, so if your scan takes longer than that, Nmap will give up. Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 13:14

Try running nmap with -v (verbose) to help you figure out why there's a slowdown.

Running nmap -sS -Pn -v -p 1-9999 myserver.com on one of my own servers yields the following somewhere after 3000 ports in:

Increasing send delay for (ip address) from 0 to 5 due to max_successful_tryno increase to 4
Increasing send delay for (ip address) from 5 to 10 due to 17 out of 55 dropped probes since last increase.
Increasing send delay for (ip address) from 160 to 320 due to 11 out of 31 dropped probes since last increase.
SYN Stealth Scan Timing: About 17.08% done; ETC: 13:17 (0:02:30 remaining)

These messages don't seem to appear for me below port 1024.

  • 5
    And the command doesn't even need to be rerun to add the flag. Press v while it is running to increase verbosity. Press ? for a list of interactive keyboard commands.
    – J.Money
    Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 12:18

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