Network monitoring is a crowded marketplace with hundreds of tools. We set out to find the 25 best network monitoring tools for 2018. We’ve included free, paid and open source software for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- 1 The 25 best network monitoring tools
- 1.1 1. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
- 1.2 2. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
- 1.3 3. ManageEngine OpManager
- 1.4 4. Zabbix
- 1.5 5. Nagios XI
- 1.6 6. Icinga
- 1.7 7. Spiceworks Network Monitor
- 1.8 8. Advanced IP Scanner
- 1.9 9. Logic Monitor
- 1.10 10. EventSentry
- 1.11 11. Observium
- 1.12 12. Kaseya Traverse
- 1.13 13. WhatsUp Gold
- 1.14 14. Zenoss
- 1.15 15. Datadog
- 1.16 16. ConnectWise Automate
- 1.17 17. OP5 Monitor
- 1.18 18. Axence nVision
- 1.19 19. Pulseway
- 1.20 20. RG System
- 1.21 21. ThousandEyes
- 1.22 22. GFI LanGuard
- 1.23 23. Colasoft Capsa
- 1.24 24. Splunk
- 1.25 25. Wireshark
- 2 Open source network monitoring tools
- 3 The Best Network Monitoring Software: SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
- 4 Choosing network monitoring software
Over the past few years, network monitoring tools have been in a constant state of evolution. Providers are saturating the market with high-quality Windows and Linux network monitoring tools. For administrators, this is good news as there is a consistent demand for tools with network scanning, SNMP integration, and network monitoring combined. Right now there are dozens of high-level tools that can provide a real-time breakdown of your live network.
Network monitoring tools are important for a number of reasons. A monitoring tool can provide you with a real-time view of your service status and infrastructure health. Most of the time these systems are used to identify the signs of poor performance on an enterprise-grade network. For example, system monitoring tools like SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor provide you with a dashboard with visual displays and graphs detailing your live network activity providing you with complete transparency.
In this article, we’ve broken down a list of the best network monitoring software on the market. Every tool on this list has been deemed suitable for an enterprise pace environment. We’ve paid particular attention to software that exhibits key differentiators and features such as real-time network monitoring, visualization, notifications, alerts, custom configurations, and topology mapping.
Here is our list of the best Network monitoring tools and software:
- SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
- ManageEngine OpManager
- Nagios XI
- Spiceworks Network Monitor
- Advanced IP Scanner
- Logic Monitor
- Kaseya Traverse
- WhatsUp Gold
- ConnectWise Automate
- OP5 Monitor
- Axence nVision
- RG System
- GFI LanGuard
- Colasoft Capsa
The 25 best network monitoring tools
First up on our list we have SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is a top of the range network monitoring tool that allows you to keep track of your network elements through the use of SNMP and a centralized dashboard. Whether you’re running a wireless or a wired network, you can use Network Performance Monitor to watch out for signs of poor performance.
From the outset, this SolarWinds product is extremely easy to use. Network Performance Monitor runs an auto-discovery feature which manually locates devices on your network and maps them to your system. This eliminates the need to spend time manually linking up your network devices to the central console.
As you can see in the picture above, SolarWinds provides you with a diverse range of visual elements like pie charts, maps, and warnings to enable you to read your network performance from a glimpse. For example, the Nodes with Problems window highlights all the network elements that are experiencing performance issues. Likewise, the Application Health Overview section allows you to view your overall application health across your entire network.
The minimalistic yet comprehensive design of SolarWinds is one of the biggest selling points of the platform. However, this is not all this program has to offer. You can also create customized alerts to notify you when a network fault occurs. If needed you can allocate your alerts to specific members of staff. This is useful for those situations where you need to delegate response tasks amongst a team.
Overall SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is at the top of our list because it offers the perfect mix of ease of use and all-in-one network monitoring. The auto-discovery feature and high-level visualization are two standout features. Network Performance monitor is available from $2,895 upwards. There is also a 30-day free trial which can be downloaded here.
PRTG Network Monitor from Paessler is another product that provides an excellent suite of network monitoring features. PRTG uses SNMP, packet sniffing, and WMI to monitor network devices. One of the first things you notice about PRTG is that it can be difficult to keep track of what is going on within your network. While it’s not as clear as a product like OpManager, it has enough depth to give you a clear picture if you persist beyond the initial clunkiness and become familiar with it.
PRTG is an option that’s simple to deploy. Like other top-of-the-range products, PRTG has its own auto-discovery feature. This acts as a network mapper and recognizes network elements without you having to manually configure them. Auto-discovery allows you to hit the ground running and reduces a massive chunk of manual labor. You can start monitoring your network soon after you deploy from a desktop or mobile device via the PRTG app.
PRTG Maps is the platforms unique visualization offering. Now there are many ways that maps can be used. The simplest is to create a network map that denotes each device on your network. However, you can customize it to only show the most critical sensors in your local infrastructure. What is really excellent about this feature is that you can create you can set automatic map rotation. This allows you to automatically change the maps you view at from 10, 30, 60 seconds to 10 minutes.
Though the user interface takes some getting used to, this is a product that is perfect for those who are new to the world of network monitoring. It comes with a learning curve but the auto-discovery, alerts, and visual displays make this one of the better platforms on the market. There are a number of pricing options available for PRTG from a version that works on up to 100 monitors to XL5 for $1,400 (£1,052) The best value for money is probably the XL1 package which offers you unlimited sensors for $13,436 (£10,101). There is also a 30-day free trial that you can download here. PRTG remains free for up to 100 Sensors.
3. ManageEngine OpManager
ManageEngine OpManager is one of the most renowned network monitoring tools on this list. This slickly designed network monitoring solution has been well designed for the purpose of helping network administrators target poor performance across a large network. The dashboard is updated in real time and provides the user with graphs showing the availability, utilization, and connectivity of devices throughout the network.
OpManager’s visualization is one of its greatest assets. You can view, dials, graphs, charts, and color-coded availability through the dashboard. There are few tools that provide a top-down perspective to the same degree as ManageEngine’s OpManager. If these features aren’t enough to develop a complete perspective of your network you can also generate custom reports. This is particularly useful if you need to hand on your findings to another member of staff.
Customization has been placed at the heart of OpManager’s functionality. User configurable notifications are part of this overarching design. For example, you can set a CPU utilization threshold and instruct OpManager to notify you once it reaches a certain level. You also have the ability to forward on key messages like Syslog data.
The scalability of ManageEngine’s OpManager is such that this tool is suitable for deployment in any organization from SMEs to larger enterprises. OpManager starts at a price point of $595 for 25 devices and $16,495 for 500 devices. There is also a free version available which can monitor up to 10 devices, with support for VMware, Hyper-V and Xen servers. The free version can be downloaded here.
Open source software is often hit and miss with regards to network monitoring, but Zabbix is a product that gets it right straight from deployment. From the moment you launch the GUI it’s striking how clean the design of the program is. The depth of the GUI’s analytic capabilities also has enough substance to match its style. You can access the web browser on most major web browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
Zabbix uses a combination of SNMP and IMPI to monitor your network. In practice, you can use Zabbix to monitor your network bandwidth, device utilization by CPU/memory, network health, and configuration changes. Customization is an area that Zabbix performs particularly well. There are user-configured notifications which can be sent through email or SMS. You can also run scripts remotely on devices throughout your network. This is useful for acting quickly on occasions where a service is experiencing performance issues.
In the event that Zabbix recognizes a problem on your network, a message will rise in the messages window. This will detail everything that needs to be addressed. Zabbix also has an extensive range of templates that you can use to monitor popular devices. Templates range from companies like Intel, Netgear, Dell and Cisco to Huawei and Nokia Networks devices. Each template comes with default applications, triggers, graphs and scenarios relating to the vendor device in question.
Overall Zabbix is a solid network performance monitor for mid to large organizations. Zabbix is available for free and can be accessed as a web interface or downloaded for CentOS, Debian, Oracle Linux, Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. If you’re interested in downloading Zabbix then you can access the software download link here.
5. Nagios XI
Nagios XI is a network monitoring software tool that is marketed towards a wide demographic, who are looking for a low maintenance network monitoring solution. Nagios XI uses a web-based user interface which makes it one of the more accessible platforms on this list. Configuration wizards take you through the process of setting up your monitoring environment and managing your service promptly.
Nagios XI’s visualization is extensive, including pie charts, and graphs displaying network performance. A particularly interesting addition is that of capacity planning graphs. These graphs allow you to plan for when you need to upscale your IT infrastructure in the future. Capacity planning is an essential part of ensuring long-term uptime and evolving alongside your needs.
Nagios XI also offers a unique feature in the form of multi-tenant access. This feature allows multi-user access which segments network infrastructure and allows users to see only those devices they are authorized to view. This feature is particularly useful in larger organizations where a range of staff have access and responsibility to deal with certain systems. Organizations searching for a network monitoring tool that is easy to use would be well advised to download Nagios XI.
Nagios XI only operates on CentOS or Redhat Enterprise Linux. In terms of pricing, the standard edition can be purchased for $1,995 (£1,497). However, if you want to use capacity planning, notification deployment and audit logging then you’ll need to pay for the enterprise edition for $3,495 (£2,632). There is also a free version which can be downloaded that is limited to monitoring 7 nodes. The free version can be downloaded from this link here.
Icinga 2 is another relatively well-known network monitoring software product. Icinga uses SNMP and direct monitoring to gather usage data from each device active on a network. The majority of processes are conducted through the RESTful API. The REST API gives the user the power to update their configurations and view information about existing problems. The entire user interface is secured with SSL. This product is used by a number of large organizations. Names such as Audi, Adobe, and Vodafone have used the Icinga in the past.
For an open source platform, Icinga’s user interface is relatively clean. However one of the things that set Icinga apart from other products is its use of plugins. Icinga provides you with thousands of plugins to conduct a variety of monitoring tasks. There are unique plugins which operate for both Windows and Linux. If you can’t find what you’re looking for then you can also build your own plugin from scratch. Plugins are a great addition that helps to expand the basic functions of the product.
This program also has its own alerting system, which notifies the user via test or SMS when a network event occurs. The result is that you’re within reach of your network environment even when you’re not directly monitoring it from your desk. There is also the ability to segment alerts and send them straight to specific users. Segmented alerts is a feature that will prove useful to larger organizations.
Icinga embodies all the key differentiators you would expect from a top of the range product. Above all Icinga’s greatest selling point is that it is free. Don’t be fooled by the price because this platform has the credentials to compete with every other platform on this list. If you find the REST API complex, there is a large online user manual to help you through how to use Icinga. Icinga 2 can be downloaded here.
7. Spiceworks Network Monitor
Spiceworks Network Monitor has developed a name for itself as one of the top free network monitoring tools available. This network monitoring software generates real-time data through the use of SNMP. Installation is incredibly simple for new users. There is an installer that takes you through the initial process of setting up your platform. Once you’ve completed the setup, you’re provided with a shortcut which links to the web GUI. At this point, the user needs to login in order to start live monitoring.
Network Monitor maintains a very clear-cut design. There is the main dashboard where you can view your usage data. The dashboard can be customized according to your requirements. Network Monitor supports a variety of color-coded graphs so that you can display your data in a format that is easy to understand. There is enough bandwidth to monitor all your key devices from the home screen.
User configured alerts are another feature that the Spiceworks team have embedded into this product. The user can set alert parameters so that they are notified by email or SMS once certain criteria is met. There is also the option to set custom alert thresholds for individual devices. That being said you cannot create custom alerts to highlight particular error conditions.
The main limitation of Network Monitor is that it has advertisements. Beyond that, this is a solid choice for organizations of all sizes. SpiceWorks Network Monitor is compatible with any version of Windows. All you need to do to start using the software is to download it to your device. If you’re ever stuck with anything there is an active community of users on hand to help. SpiceWorks Network Monitor can be downloaded for free using this link.
8. Advanced IP Scanner
With over 30 million users worldwide, Advanced IP Scanner is one of the most widely used network monitoring tools on this list. Advanced IP Scanner has been designed to analyze LAN environments and allows you to monitor your network devices from one pane of glass. There are many things that make this tool popular, including Mac address detection and the ability to switch computers on and off remotely.
Advanced IP Scanner’s main appeal is that it is extremely fast and lightweight. It can scan all IP addresses on your network within a user-defined range. Network devices are identified automatically and you can see whether they are currently active or not. You can also save your favorite devices so that you can scan them in isolation. IP Scanner is thus suitable for organizations looking for a network scanner.
Overall Advanced IP Scanner isn’t difficult to use. You don’t need to define an IP range if you don’t want to. All you need to do to begin a scan is click Scan. The program will then start analyzing your network devices and reporting back to you. If you want to view more information about an individual device you can right click on it. The platform’s lean approach is one of the reasons it has become a go-to tool for network administrators.
Undoubtedly the user interface is one of Advanced IP Scanners main limitations. It is easy to use but it doesn’t have a modern GUI. It also doesn’t allow you to create graphs or other visual components. Fortunately, you can export your scan results into CSV format for further analysis but this doesn’t make up for the lack of visualization.
In spite of its limitations, Advanced IP Scanner has more than enough to appeal to administrators working within high-level enterprise environments. This tool is an ideal network scanning solution. The icing on the cake is that it is completely free. Advanced IP Scanner can be downloaded from this link here.
9. Logic Monitor
Logic Monitor is an excellent SaaS product from the moment you start using it. This SaaS tool automatically discovers devices on the network and starts collecting information right out of the box. Ease of use is something that the team behind Logic Monitor has embedded into the entire platform. There are over 1000 Logic Modules to assist the user and automate monitoring and alerts. This product is compatible with a wide range of technologies across cloud and hybrid infrastructure. For instance, you can monitor Azure, AWS, servers, apps and websites from one centralized user interface.
In terms of visualization, Logic Monitor has a lot to offer. You can transfer your network data and display it into color-coded graphs. You can also view multiple devices through one graph by viewing Logic in Comparison View. The main dashboard also displays your overall infrastructure health and performance.
One particularly interesting feature of Logic is its built-in forecasting which shows your future usage needs. For example, in the bottom left of the image above there is a graph showing disk usage forecasting showing the user how much disk usage they can expect in the future. This is great for implementing long term capacity planning.
There are a number of pricing options available for Logic Monitor, a Starter, Pro, and an Enterprise version. The Starter version includes dashboards, alerting, and reporting with 3 months data retention, 3 months alert history storage and web service checks for 10 services. The Enterprise version has all these features with 2 years data retention, web service checks for 300 services, 2 years alert history storage and 24×7 support. You’ll need to request a quote in order to view the prices for these licenses. There is also a 14-day free trial.
EventSentry is a product that has been gaining traction over the past few years and for good reason. This product offers a complete suite through which to monitor your entire network environment from nodes to devices and servers. The user interface is completely customizable and you can even create multiple dashboards to dictate your monitoring environment.
In terms of deployment, EventSentry is limited to Windows devices. However, you can be up and running in around half an hour. While you do need to complete some configuration there isn’t enough to make EventSentry inconvenient. The new version of EventSentry now also allows you to view NetFlow data and measure bandwidth utilization. This is useful for identifying how well your connection is keeping up with the demands of your technical infrastructure.
All of your network data can be converted to visual displays such as charts and graphs, and you can even map network traffic to a geographical location. Like other leading market competitors, these visual displays and graphs allow you to identify your live network activity from a snapshot rather than flicking through a navigation tree.
Larger enterprises are supported through the use of scheduled reporting. This allows you to automatically send emails to key users once a report is generated. This means that once an error has been flagged you can send a report immediately to a member of your team so that they can help to find a solution.
EventSentry has a number of pricing options in place, from full licenses to Network Device Licenses and NetFlow Licenses. However, the full license version can be purchased from $85 per year (£63), per Windows device to $4698 (£3,525) for 100 licenses and $28998 (£21,763) for 1000 devices. There is also a 30-day free trial.
Observium is a network monitoring solution that is aimed at organizations of all size to monitor network performance. The Observium site boasts an impressive range of companies who have embraced this project, with names such as Yahoo, Twitch, and Spotify just some of those using the product. As a network monitoring software provider, Observium have opted to use SNMP as the main protocol to gather information although it also uses LLDP, CDP, FDP, and EDP as well.
Any platform using the SNMP protocol can be identified via the auto-discovery feature. This automatically locates devices throughout your network and pulls information from them straight to your console. This information can then be rendered into a graph for closer inspection. The majority of your monitoring is done from the overview page. Here you can view all devices on your network alongside their status.
Observium also meets one of our key differentiators in the form of threshold alerts. Threshold alerts enable the user to monitor devices and receive alerts when certain criteria are met. For instance, if your memory drops below 70% you will receive a notification. You can also receive alerts when a particular service goes down. This minimizes the manual burden of monitoring a large network.
Observium supports operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Dell, HP and Cisco. Observium is available in two versions; Community and Professional. The Community version can be downloaded for free and includes auto-discovery, network mapping, and automatic device recognition. However, if you require features like threshold alerts and the RESTful API you need to pay $266 (£200) a year. A full list of pricing options is available here.
12. Kaseya Traverse
Kaseya Traverse is cloud-based network monitoring solution that has the ability to monitor hybrid clouds, private clouds, virtualized infrastructure, and distributed network infrastructure. Traverse uses CDP, LLDP, GVRP, EDP, ARP, and LAG to discover active devices on the network. The traverse platform also performs network flow analysis.
The user interface has been designed to enable the user to switch from a system view to a device-level view. The device-level view helps to make the process of troubleshooting much easier when responding to poor performance. Kaseya Traverse supports Netflow, sFlow, J-Flow, and cFlow protocols.
Traverse also has its own predictive analytics feature. Predictive analytics uses the historical data of physical and cloud-based infrastructure to provision future resource maintenance. This helps to address performance issues in their minority before they become a problem. Over the long term, this results in reduced usage.
Traverse also offers real-time and historical reporting. You can create customized reports based on performance and faults. These reports can be as simple or complex as you need, from basic tables right through to complex graphs showing the data of multiple devices.
Kaseya Traverse is worth considering if you’re working with a versatile network environment that uses cloud services and virtualized infrastructure. In order to see the price of Kaseya Traverse you need to fill out a form and request a quote from the sales team. However, there is a free trial available here.
13. WhatsUp Gold
Next on our list, we have Ipswitch’s WhatsUp Gold. This is a tool that was designed specifically for monitoring a diverse enterprise environment. All network monitoring is conducted through the dashboard. On the dashboard (picture above) your network devices are color coded according to their availability. You can click on the grey boxes to elaborate on various factors throughout your network, from ping availability to disk and interface utilization without leaving the dashboard.
All of the information you see is updated in real-time. There is also the facility to add additional elements like reports to the dashboard. This is useful because it allows the user to customize their user experience according to their needs. Like SolarWinds, WhatsUp Gold also has its own alerts system. Alerts can be configured to notify the user when significant network events happen through SMS and email. Automated alerts mean that you don’t have to be glued to the dashboard 24/7 to respond to emerging faults.
One of the things that set WhatsUp Gold apart from the competition is its support for hybrid cloud monitoring and web monitoring. For example, you can monitor the availability of Exchange, SQL, Server, Active Directory, IIS and Apache Web services. The extensive monitoring capability of WhatsUp Gold allows you to monitor enterprise environments with a substantial range of physical and virtual infrastructure. The 2018 version builds on this by also adding AWS and Azure services to the mix as well.
WhatsUp Gold is a product that should be considered by organizations who need to monitor physical and virtual infrastructure. This tool is available on a number of perpetual licenses and subscription plans. You have to request a quote in order to get a price for the perpetual licenses. However, the subscription plans range from $990 (£743) a year for 50 devices to $2990 (£2,246) for 100 devices and support. There is also a free trial which can be downloaded from here.
Zenoss is one of the lesser known network monitoring solutions on this list. However, what Zenoss lacks in notoriety it makes up for with its potent network monitoring potential. Zenoss offers comprehensive system monitoring with ICMP pings and SNMP. It has the ability to monitor everything from traffic flows right down to HTTP and FTP. This is a versatile baseline through which to view a larger network.
A free, open source edition of Zenoss is available. This is called Zenoss Core. Unfortunately, the setup process is needlessly complex — you need to use the command line in order to install it. If you’re experienced with command lines this is no issue but for users who prefer GUI’s this is a dealbreaker.
There are two paid versions of Zenoss, which are much easier to use. These are Zenoss Cloud, which is an online hosted service, and Zenoss On Premises, which is available for download.
All Zenoss Core editions include an excellent facility that allows you to create user alerts. You can receive alerts when specific events happen on your network but that is not all. You can also set Zenoss Core to message a 2nd user if the first point of contact doesn’t respond. This is ideal for large organizations where staff can be difficult to reach as it makes sure that performance issues are resolved in time.
Overall Zenoss is easy to use but let down by the complex installation procedure. This is mitigated somewhat by extensive usage documentation, but it is still more complex than the competition.
You can download Zenoss Core here. You will need to join the Zenoss Community in order to access the download link.
For smaller businesses with less intensive requirements, Datadog is a program that has plenty to offer. Datadog can conduct real-time performance monitoring across your network and log data. Datadog also has the ability to monitor cloud services such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
Visually, Datadog is quite good. While it’s a little rougher around the edges than our top picks in this list it still has a strong user interface. You can drag and drop elements such as charts and graphs onto the dashboard in order to customize your view. You can also view metrics such as latency and utilization to scrutinize your network performance.
One of our favorite features was collaborative comments. Multiple members of staff can comment on individual graphs to run troubleshooting and solve problems in real-time. This allows you to find a solution to performance issues without stepping foot off the platform. Datadog has its own alerts system as well. You can set thresholds and uptime notifications so that you know when your service is performing at its best. You can also send these alerts to individual team members through Slack.
Overall Datadog offers a compelling user experience even if it doesn’t have the pedigree of a tool like SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor. There is a free version of Datadog available that allows you to monitor up to five hosts. The Pro version is available for $15 (£11) per host per month for any number of hosts. The Enterprise version is available for $23 (£17) for each host with over 100 hosts total. There is also a free trial available.
16. ConnectWise Automate
In terms of deployment, ConnectWise Automate is simple but not necessarily easy. Before you have the full product up and running you need to configure the ConnectWise Automate server. To do this smoothly you need to make sure that you aren’t running any of the non-recommended software on the server in question. Next you setup the ConnectWise Automate Control Center, the main monitoring environment you’ll be using.
ConnectWise Automate uses SNMP to test devices throughout your network and identify areas of poor connectivity. Throughout this process, you’re supported through the use of monitoring and alerts. You can receive alerts via email or SMS when a particular network event occurs. While this doesn’t have the configurability of a solution like WhatsUp Gold, it is more than enough to allow you to function in a fast-paced environment.
Another useful feature is that of automatic system patches. You can manage system patches for external software through the central console. Once you’ve identified that a patch has been released you can push it straight to your device. This eliminates the need to sift in and out of lots of individual devices and reduces your administrative workload.
Overall ConnectWise Automate offers a solid user experience with robust SNMP integration but it doesn’t really offer anything remarkable to make it preferable to a product like ManageEngine OpManager or WhatsUp Gold. If you’d like to find out the pricing options for ConnectWise Automate you need to contact the sales team directly. You can download the free trial of ConnectWise Automate here.
17. OP5 Monitor
OP5 Monitor is an open source monitoring solution that can keep up with most other products on this list. You can manage your network environment through the perspective of customized dashboards with unique graphs, maps and notifications to elaborate on your network performance.
One area where OP5 Monitor is particularly strong is that of automation. There is an automated event handler which can be configured to heal automatically when hit with a network fault. This means you don’t have to be stuck to the desk in order to respond to a pertinent threat. When self-healing, OP5 Monitor can restart or change the configuration of a device depending on what is needed.
OP5 Monitor also has its own reporting function. Each report is fully customizable and can be accessed through the dashboard. Reports range from availability reports to SLA reports. This is useful from both a pragmatic and regulatory compliance standpoint. In the event that you need support for this feature, assistance is available 24/7 via telephone and email. The support is valuable for those occasions when you’re not sure what is the best course of action.
Unfortunately, you need to contact OP5 directly in order to receive a price quote. However, the company notes that the price of your quote is dependent on the number of devices you need to monitor. If you are interested in taking OP5 Monitor for a test drive you can download a 30-day free trial. Once the trial period ends you’ll be able to monitor up to 20 devices with no support.
18. Axence nVision
Few network administrators will have heard of nVision, but this platform provides infrastructure monitoring in such a way that it is hard to ignore. Network monitoring is something this tool does very well. You can monitor the utilization and status of your network elements right down to the humidity of your server environment. The depth of this product’s infrastructure monitoring means that you can take most factors into account when maintaining your platform.
nVision uses SNMP to monitor what’s happening below the surface of your connection. it also offers support for analyzing syslog messages. This provides the user with everything needed to start monitoring their network infrastructure effectively. You can even monitor your information through an android app.
The most obvious limitation of nVision is the user interface. Compared to most other products on this list, nVision appears a little outdated. This is disappointing given that the core product is strong. One aspect where nVision makes up for this is in the form of its extensive technical support features. You can create and assign service tickets to your team which can be accessed via search in the knowledge base.
As a network monitor, Nvision is very good. However, it doesn’t have the visual components needed to make it into the top bracket of products on this list. That being said this will still deploy very well within any enterprise environment. Unfortunately, you need to request a quote in order to receive a price tag for nVision. However, there is a free version that includes up to 10 nVision agents at no charge. You can download it here.
Pulseway is a name that often slips under the radar in the world of network monitoring, but this platform offers almost complete transparency over your network. With Pulseway you can monitor your network usage data in real-time. You don’t need to be stuck to your administrator device either as you can download a mobile app where you can monitor your network usage on the move.
One of the most useful things about Pulseway is that it has antivirus and endpoint protection integrated. This is massive because it allows you can keep your network secure against external threats and conduct real-time monitoring as well. This a welcome feature as most network monitoring tools can point to oncoming attacks but are unable to address them head-on.
However this isn’t all Pulseway has to offer in the way of security, it also has a disaster recovery solution integrated as well. You can monitor multiple backup solutions from the central console. The disaster recovery solution can restore critical systems locally in less than an hour. This means that even if something goes wrong you can be back up and running promptly without losing any key data.
If you need a platform with additional security measures in place, Pulseway should be If you’d like to download Wireshark your number one pick. The antivirus and disaster recovery combination is a welcome addition to this network monitoring tool. The free version of Pulseway can be downloaded from this link here and you can monitor up to 2 systems. However, if you want to use Pulseway within an enterprise you need to purchase the Team version for $1.38 (£1.04) per server per month and $3.45 (£2.59) per server per month.
20. RG System
For those looking for an excellent web-based GUI, RG System is definitely a platform you should consider. Whether you want to monitor your network on an automated basis or through a mobile device, RG system has you covered. The initial setup takes only 5 minutes, after which you’re ready to start monitoring your entire network. The dashboard and navigation tree makes it easy to find everything you need when you need it.
RG system also boasts a level of automation that is unrivaled by most competitors. You can set the platform to respond automatically once a network event is detected. The device will then carry out a response automatically to run damage control. This means that you don’t have to be on hand to deal with network issues immediately as RG system will take care of this for you.
Interestingly RG System also has its own backup and restore system. The backup module allows you to backup past data so that you won’t lose it in the event of a network disaster. The backup process is prompt and helps to decrease your overall risk of downtime. In an environment where time is money, RG system offers an additional layer of security.
RG System is a modern product that has embraced simplicity throughout its user interface. There is an online demo that shows you exactly how this software works, and what you can achieve with its diverse functionality. While this isn’t as complete a network monitoring product as SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, it has more than enough unique features to hold its own. You can download a 30-day free trial of RG System from this link here.
Next up on our list, we have ThousandEyes. This is a cloud-based network monitoring platform which allows you to monitor your overall network performance. This includes general oversight right down to identifying DDoS attacks and unauthorized users. ThousandEyes monitors your network in real-time ensuring that you stay up to date with everything that is happening.
State of the art graphics is one of the key characteristics of this tool. Everything from the dashboard design down to individual graphs and displays looks very polished. This makes for a very satisfying monitoring environment when overseeing a live network. There is also a map view which allows you to see the physical location of network elements.
In line with other top-of-the-range products, ThousandEyes has its own alert system. These are fully customizable and the user can choose parameters in line with their needs. Once their predefined criteria have been met they can then be sent a message to notify them that a network event has happened. In addition, the user can also use their live network data to generate reports. These can be created on-demand or scheduled for the future.
This platform is well worth considering if you’re looking for a product with a web-based GUI that’s modern and easy to use. ThousandEyes made this list on account of its user interface as much as its capabilities. Price wise, ThousandEyes is available on an annual subscription basis but you need to contact the sales team in order to find out more information. If you want to tryout ThousandEyes there is also a 15-day free trial.
22. GFI LanGuard
GFI LanGuard is a neatly packaged network monitoring tool for Windows which has all the core components needed to monitor your network infrastructure. Whether you’re looking to monitor devices, servers or mobile devices this platform can do it all. GFI LanGuard is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. While the GUI isn’t particularly impressive it’s clear-cut enough that you can monitor a large network once you’ve deployed it.
You can view your network activity through a range of different visual displays from pie charts to dials and graphs. For example, on a dial display, you can view the vulnerability level of your network marked on a colored spectrum from green (low) to red (high). Likewise, you can generate pie charts on device status and vulnerability. This gives you the basics needed for full transparency over your network.
One of GFI LanGuard’s most notable features is its patch management ability. With patch management LanGuard allows the user to identify and download patches released for devices on the network. Applications such as Adobe Acrobat and Mozilla Firefox are supported by patch management. Managing patches in such a way remove the need to manually keep pace with patches on individual devices.
GFI LanGuard is available with a number of pricing options. For 25-49 nodes you pay $22 (£17) per year per node. If you need more, the 50-249 node package is available for $12 (£9.33) per node. Finally, you have the 250-2999 subscription for $8 (£6.67) per year, per node. You can also download a free trial of GFI LanGuard.
23. Colasoft Capsa
When it comes to low maintenance network analyzers for Windows, Capsa is one of the best products on the market. Colasoft takes a back to basics approach with Capsa that allows the user to capture live network packets and respond to threats within an enterprise environment. This software supports over 300 protocols designed to conduct network protocol analysis. It also has the ability to run TCP flow analysis and troubleshoot issues such as a slow website response.
In terms of responding to malicious security threats, Capsa delivers well. It recognizes unrecognized users conducting TCP port scanning and other suspicious activity that is indicative that something isn’t right. It also has the ability to detect DDOS attacks and other malicious attacks. This is useful in an enterprise environment because it helps to provide a safety barrier against malicious attackers.
Capsa’s user interface is easily its biggest asset. It is easy to flick through the navigation tree and view visual displays of your network usage. You can create bar charts and graphs to display your network usage data. The great thing about this is that you don’t need to read into anything as its all there directly in front of you.
Overall this is a platform suitable for businesses looking for a basic network analysis platform. Though it doesn’t have the slick design of a SolarWinds or ManageEngine product, it has all of the fundamentals needed to monitor your network traffic. The only drawback is that the price is a little steep compared to its other competitors. Colasoft Capsa Enterprise is available at a price of $995 (£747) for a single seat perpetual license. If you require more seats there is also a 5 seat perpetual license available for $4,475 (£3,359). There is also a free trial available.
Another excellent addition on our list is a network monitoring tool called Splunk. This quirkily named product has developed a reputation as one of the best network and infrastructure monitoring products on the market. From the beginning, Splunk provides an excellent user experience. One of the main ways this is achieved is through the native search processing language (SPL). The SPL allows the user to search for information on all network devices on a real-time basis.
SPL allows the user to keep up to speed with the space of an active network environment. All of the visual elements, graphs, charts, and displays are extremely easy to read. Even if you’re dealing with more complex graphs no detail gets obscured thanks to the quality of the graphic design.
Splunk also has its own machine learning analytics system on board. This feature uses inbuilt algorithms to predict the future direction of your network. Over the long term, this will be a useful feature because it enables you not just to troubleshoot your current network environment, but improve your future one as well. Its features like this make Splunk stand out from the crowd.
The extensive features combined with the low price point make this an excellent network monitoring solution for any size enterprise. There are a number of different pricing options available for Splunk. The first is Splunk Free which is available at no cost which supports one user and up to 500mb of data per day. Organizations that require something more substantial would be well advised to go for Splunk Light which supports up to 5 users and 20Gb of data per day. However, if you want a scalable solution then you should go for Splunk Enterprise, which offers unlimited users, real-time search and alerts. There is also a free trial for Splunk that can be downloaded here.
Finally, we have Wireshark, perhaps the most famous packet sniffer in the world. Most network administrators either have direct experience of using Wireshark or indirect knowledge of it. This open source network monitoring tool can monitor almost 1,000 different protocols and supports a range of operating systems like Windows, Mac OS, Solaris, UNIX and Linux to name a few.
Deep packet inspection not only provides you with more information about your network but can also help to identify the signs of malicious attacks as well. Whenever Wireshark identifies packet behavior that resembles a malicious attack it will send a notification to the user to take action. This makes it easy to respond to threats while they occur. While this doesn’t offer complete protection it allows for prompt responce to security events.
Wireshark isn’t limited to simply live packet analysis either. You can use Wireshark to generate reports and export in CSV, XML, or PostScript. This allows you to cut to the route of a problem on your network and come up with a targeted response. While the reporting isn’t as extensive as many other platforms on this list, it is of a professional standard.
It is also worth mentioning that Wireshark has an active user community, and there is plenty of online resources dedicated to explaining how to use the product. This alleviates much of the learning curve that occurs when using a new product. Wireshark is suitable for both home users and larger organizations. Without a doubt, the best part about Wireshark is that it can be downloaded for free. If you’d like to download Wireshark for free then click on this link here.
Open source network monitoring tools
Open source projects allow anyone to download the source code of the software. This enables you to check through the code to make sure that there aren’t any security weaknesses in them. Because the workings of these systems are visible, open source software has become very popular for security-sensitive applications, such as network management software.
Seven of the network monitoring tools in our list of recommendations are open source projects. These are:
- Nagios XI
- OP5 Monitor
The offer to allow anyone to download the source code makes it difficult for developers to charge for their products. In some cases, the distributors of open source software ask for donations, in other cases, the developers offer part of the total package as open source, and then reserve higher functions for paying customers.
Nagios, Icinga, Observium, and Zenoss all operate a two-level sales strategy, which is often termed “freemium.” The free version of each of these tools is offered as the basic open source processing functions of the software with a front end that includes analytical functions marketed as the paid version of the tool. Nagios Core is a free open source package and its paid counterpart is Nagios XI. Icinga is a fork of Nagios Core. Icinga has is completely free and was developed by the Nagios user community. It can be extended by plugins, some of which are free and some of which are developed commercially. The Cloud-based version of the package is run by a commercial operation and is charged for.
Zenoss was developed as a commercial operation with the processing engine of the software released as the open source Zenoss. This free version is now very difficult to find on the Zenoss website, but it can be reached on the Community tab of the Zenoss website. Zenoss is limited to monitoring 500 devices. Observium offers an open source version, called Observium Community for free and a paid version with more features, which is called Observium Professional.
Both Nagios and Icinga have very active user communities that contribute tips and support as well as software customization. The Observium and Zenoss user communities are not as extensive.
The open source element of OP5 is a fork of Nagios Core. The company that created the monitoring software charges for it, although it does offer a 30-day free trial. The trial version will keep working after 30 days for coverage of up to 20 devices.
Zabbix is completely free to use, but the producers of the software generate an income by charging for support plans. The tool is also supported by a community forum, which enables you to get support for free by communicating with other users.
Wireshark is a very well-known product with a user base that communicates through many channels on the internet, not just on the forum pages of the Wireshark website. There isn’t a paid version of Wireshark. The project is funded by sponsorship from a partner, called Riverbed.
The Best Network Monitoring Software: SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
Network monitoring platforms are an essential part of managing an enterprise-grade network infrastructure. Without them, you can’t see what is actually happening on your network. Too often this means relying on guesswork to rely on maintain your current service, and going by your gut-feeling when accommodating for capacity planning. This simply isn’t viable over the long term.
A network monitoring package like SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor has all the features required to allow you to monitor your network clearly. By keeping track of your real and historic network usage data you make sure that you don’t miss the signs of poor performance. It is also our number one pick on account of its ease of deployment because of its auto-discovery feature.
Features like real-time monitoring, visualization, and user-defined alerts are some of the key things to bear in mind when looking for a network monitoring product. These provide you with 360-degree visibility so that you can easily see what is going on and rely on alerts and notifications to flag up things that your eyes have missed.
Choosing network monitoring software
All of the tools we’ve featured on this list can hold their own within the toolkit of most network administrators. Above all, look for a product with a dashboard that you can understand. After all, it is no good opting for a complex suite with hundreds of graphs if you fall victim to paralysis by analysis. Keep it simple and opt for a platform which allows you to view your network without obscuring your vision.
If you’re not certain where to begin we recommend starting out with a free trial or product. In fact, there is nothing to stop you from downloading free trials for multiple products if you want to get a feel for what the market has to offer. Ultimately by taking the steps to deploy a network monitoring tool, you will greatly increase your ability to maintain your network and deliver a quality service in the future.