With so many different technologies cropping up on corporate networks it can be difficult to find devices on your network. The modern network has everything from computers, to servers, switches, printers, and virtualized services, which all need to be monitored to optimize performance.
This guide will primarily focus on finding network devices in organizations and enterprise environments, but we will briefly look at how to discover devices on a home network as well. Topics we will cover include:
- How to find devices on a home network
- Why you need a network discovery tool
- How to find devices with PRTG Network Monitor
- How to find devices with Spiceworks IP Scanner
- Other tools for finding devices
- Best practices: Scheduling autodiscovery
How to Find Devices on a Home Network
While you can use a network monitoring tool to discover devices on a home network, if you’re only dealing with a handful of devices then you can effectively do this through the command prompt. We’re going to show you how to do this below:
For Windows Users:
- Type CMD in the search box and click Run as Administrator from the menu
- Enter the net view command to view devices connected to your network You will then see a list of devices connected to your network in the output.
- To view the IP addresses of the devices, enter the arp -a command, which will list the Internet address physical address, and type of each device. You can then use ping these IP addresses to find the devices.
For Mac Users:
- Go to the Applications folder and open the Utilities folder
- Click on the Terminal to open it
- Now enter the arp -a command to view a list detailing the LAN IP address and Mac address of each device.
While these commands are useful for home networks, in larger enterprise networks with lots of devices it’s preferable to use a network discovery tool.
Do I need a Network Discovery Tool?
If you’re working in an environment with lots of devices then it’s going to be near impossible to manage all of those without a centralized network monitoring solution. Likewise, if you have a unified monitoring solution manually discovering devices will be too time-consuming to do effectively.
To discover devices at the scale you need a network discovery tool with autodiscovery. A solution that uses autodiscovery will automatically discover new devices upon installation and when new devices are added to your network. You don’t need to manually add new devices as the software will do it for you.
Automated network discovery provides two main benefits to administrators:
- An updated record of your network
- Less time spent on manual administration
By freeing up time, the user can focus on monitoring the health and performance of devices via the comprehensive inventory discovered by the network monitoring tool. Having an inventory of devices compiled in one place makes it easier to identify performance issues and correct them before they have an impact on your end-users.
The best network discovery tools to find devices
Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is a network monitoring platform that allows you to discover network devices and IP addresses. The software automatically adds devices to its monitoring environment so that you can monitor performance through the dashboard and benefit from a mapping feature for a top-down perspective of your network.
The program works by having the autodiscovery feature run after you’ve finished the installation process. PRTG Network Monitor scans your network for devices with a ping scan. Throughout the scan, you’ll be able to see what percentage the scan is at.
You also have the option to run autodiscovery on individual devices or groups. You can run manual scans on these by right-clicking on a group or device and selecting the Run Auto-Discovery option. This command will prompt the software to start scanning for new devices.
As devices are discovered throughout your network, the tool will create sensors for those devices from out-of-the-box templates. You’ll also receive notifications once each device has been discovered.
It is important to note that when the program is discovering devices, system performance will decrease as the resources are used to scan. PRTG Network Monitor is available for Windows. The software is free for less than 100 sensors, paid versions start at $1,750. You can download the 30-day free trial.
If you want a more basic tool for tracking network devices then Spiceworks IP Scanner is another tool worth considering on Windows and Mac. The software allows you to automatically scan for all hardware with IP addresses and adds it to the platform. You can view a table of All Devices including information such as IP address, OS, vendor, open ports, antivirus, storage, hardware information, and more.
You can use the software by following the instructions below:
- Download and install IP scanner (the application will automatically open in your browser after installation).
- Enter the IP range you want to scan and press Start Scan. The IP Scanner will automatically scan the subnet your device connects to.
- After the scan, you can see an overview of the discovered devices and their hardware information on the All Devices page.
- If you’d like to export the results to a CSV file then you can push the Export button in the top right-hand corner.
- (Optional) Rescan by clicking the refresh icon on the left-hand side of the screen.
To make it easier to navigate the program includes a filtering and search function so that you can find information on specific devices. This is particularly useful for navigation if you’re working in a network that has lots of different devices. Once you’ve finished scanning you can export the results to CSV. Spiceworks IP Scanner is available for free.
Other Tools for Discovering Network Devices
There are many options on the market you can use to discover devices on your network. If you’re not satisfied with the tools above, then there are plenty of alternatives on the market to choose from. In this section, we’re going to look at some tools with autodiscovery features that can automatically find multiple devices on your network. We’ve listed a few below:
SolarWinds Network Device Scanner comes with the Network Performance Monitor (NPM) is a network monitoring tool for Windows that can automatically map and discover network devices in your environment. The platform comes with an automated discovery wizard that allows you to scan IP address ranges, subnets, and whether the devices are SNMP or WMI to add devices to monitor the health and performance of.
You can also use the software to view automated network maps. Network maps provide you with a topological view of devices that automatically updates when new devices are added to the network. In the map view, you can see the color-coded status of devices and see if any key devices are down.
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is a paid tool that starts at $1,583. There is also a 30-day free trial.
ManageEngine OpManager is a network monitoring software that includes network discovery capabilities. With ManageEngine OpManager you can discover up to 5,000 interfaces per minute with automated network discovery that scans an IP range or entire network. The discovery process uses a range of protocols including ICMP, SNMP, WMI, and Telnet.
Once devices have been added to the tool you can view information such as the name of the device, the type of device, OS, and more. You can also monitor performance information including availability, CPU and memory, errors and discards, and traffic.
ManageEngine OpManager starts at $245 for 10 devices. The software is available on Windows and Linux. There is also a free trial.
Best Practice 1: Regularly Update Your Inventory and Scheduling Autodiscovery
If you want to make finding devices even easier, it’s a good idea to schedule autodiscovery. A tool like PRTG Network Monitor that lets you schedule autodiscovery daily or weekly allows you to periodically update your network and add new devices.
Setting a schedule enables your monitoring environment to scale alongside your infrastructure, which helps you to maintain an accurate network inventory. An outdated inventory is a security risk because you won’t have complete transparency over your systems. That means they could easily become an entry point for an unscrupulous attacker.
Scheduled autodiscovery also has the advantage of eliminating the tedious manual work of adding new devices. Less time spent adding devices to your network monitoring system means more time monitoring your network and fighting off online threats.
Best Practice 2: Why You Need Automated Mapping
If you’re working in an enterprise environment with lots of devices and you want to maximize the diagnostic capabilities of your network monitoring, you need a solution with automated mapping. Tools like PRTG Network Monitor and SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor include automated mapping that creates a topological display of your network that you can use to monitor performance. These maps are valuable for helping to visualize your network.
It can be difficult to get an accurate picture of how your network functions by looking at metrics alone. Sometimes being able to pull up a map that shows how devices connect to each other in real-time, helps you to pinpoint where performance issues originated from.
In other words, mapping provides you with another diagnostic tool that you can use during troubleshooting. Its important maps are automated which, if you’re working with lots of devices will take too much time to manually add devices.
Automate Device Discovery
Knowing how to find devices on your network can save you a lot of time when managing your network. While you can scan for devices by running manual scans it’s much more efficient to have an automated tool do this for you. Platforms like PRTG Network Monitor eliminate the hassle of adding devices yourself and can scale alongside the needs of your network.
With an abundance of affordable network monitoring tools on the market now’s a better time than ever to adopt an autodiscovery solution and maintain transparency over your network. Optimizing performance and blocking cyberattacks starts with having complete transparency over the status of your network.