Have you ever thought about the damage faulty hardware could do to your business? Just one hardware failure can have a devastating impact on your productivity and force key devices out of action. The challenge is that it’s not always easy to spot when any hardware is failing either. Using hardware monitoring software to spot problems early on is critical for staying online.
Causes of hardware failure range from malware to old age. Implementing hardware monitoring software is essential for gaining visibility over device performance. In this article, we’re going to look at the 12 best hardware monitoring software products on the market.
We get into a lot of detail on each of the tools we feature below, but if you only have time for a quick glance, here’s our list of the best hardware monitors:
- SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (FREE TRIAL) The industry leader from a provider of a suite of infrastructure monitoring tools. Runs on Windows Server.
- ManageEngine Applications Manager (FREE TRIAL) This tool doesn’t just monitor applications, it covers server statuses as well. The software installs on Windows Server and Linux.
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL) A unified network, server, and application monitoring tool that can be fine-tuned by selecting which sensors to turn on.
- Atera (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based system monitoring and management package aimed at managed service providers that can monitor hardware throughout a network.
- Zabbix A free, open-source infrastructure monitor with an attractive interface. Installs on Linux.
- HWMonitor A basic hardware monitoring system. Available in free and paid versions.
- HWiNFO A real-time network monitor that focuses on device statuses. Runs on Windows.
- Open Hardware Monitor Free, open-source hardware monitor that installs on Windows and Linux.
- AIDA64 A hardware and application monitor aimed at SMEs.
- Monitis A server monitor with some great status visualizations.
- WhatsUp Gold A network infrastructure monitor that includes live, color-coded device status on a network topology map. Installs on Windows Server.
- SysGauge Reports on the statuses of all equipment that is connected to the network. Available in free and paid versions. Runs on Windows.
The best hardware monitors
Hardware monitoring software provides you with a centralized platform to monitor the health and performance of connected devices. These tools offer visual displays that highlight faults with notifications and alarms. A hardware monitoring tool is necessary to catch problems early on and reduce the likelihood of a node or server going down. We feature 12 of the best tools below based on their features, benefits, ease of use, and overall performance.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is a hardware monitoring tool that can identify performance issues throughout a network. The tool can monitor CPU, memory, disk space, fan speed, and power supply. All of this information is shown to you in the form of a dashboard that provides you complete visibility over your network status and the usage of Windows applications, Linux applications and server resources whether they are located on-premises or in the cloud. You can monitor Azure, AWS IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services.
The installation process offered by SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is incredibly lightweight. You can start the installation and automatically discover devices connected to your network. It takes less than an hour to be up and running to monitor your local environment.
Once the installation is complete you can start to customise the monitors you deploy to manage your environment. The Component Monitor Wizard helps you to choose what service or application you want to monitor. Having this level of control makes sure that you have complete visibility throughout your hardware stack.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is a natural choice for those SME’s searching for low maintenance but highly effective hardware monitoring software. The price of SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor starts at $2,995 (£2,368). You can download the 30-day free trial version.
ManageEngine Applications Manager is an infrastructure monitoring platform designed for monitoring the status of applications and hardware. Things you can monitor with this tool include memory, CPU configuration data, disk data, temperature, CPU fan speed, and power supply rating. The health of these elements can be identified with a green or red button.
ManageEngine Applications Manager also uses alarms to alert you when a piece of hardware fails. You can configure alerts to be sent when hardware falls into the following categories; warning, critical, failed, degraded, error, and non-recoverable. These alerts are great for giving you the heads up before a device malfunctions.
The monitoring experience offered by ManageEngine Applications Manager is particularly suited to organizations with a diverse range of applications. The tool can monitor network hardware, virtual machines, web servers, and cloud applications through one platform. In terms of bandwidth, the tool can monitor up to 50,000 applications.
ManageEngine Applications Manager is free for up to 5 apps or servers. There are two main paid versions; the Professional Edition and the Enterprise Edition. The Professional Edition starts at $945 (£747) for 25 monitors and the Enterprise Edition starts at $9,595 (£7,586) for 250 monitors. There is also a 30-day free trial version.
Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is another hardware monitoring tool that strikes the balance between depth and accessibility. With PRTG Network Monitor you can monitor the CPU, RAM, and hard drives of network devices. The software supports products from vendors including IBM, Cisco, Dell, Synology, and Linksys. All performance data can be viewed instantly through the on-screen dashboard.
However, you don’t have to stay glued to the computer just to know what is going on. PRTG Network Monitor has an alerts system that sends you a notification via email or SMS if there is a problem in your environment. For example, you can configure alerts to be sent if disk space drops too low.
The setup process with this tool is also quite straightforward. You can set the program to ping IP ranges to find devices connected to your network. You can also build maps of your network with a drag-and-drop editor if you want to troubleshoot from a geographical perspective.
PRTG Network Monitor operates a flexible pricing scale depending on the number of sensors you want to use. The tool is free for less than 100 sensors but beyond that point, you will have to play. Paid versions of PRTG Network Monitor start at $1600 (£1,265) for 500 sensors and 1 server installation. There is also a 30-day free trial version.
Atera is a system monitoring platform created especially for managed service providers (MSPs). The service is delivered from the cloud, which removes almost all hardware requirements from the MSP’s own site. Access to the console of the system, both for MSP managers and their technicians is made through any standard web browser. Atera also produces free apps to enable customers to get to its system from mobile devices.
The service checks on the statuses of network devices, endpoints, and servers. In addition to hardware monitoring, Atera is also able to track and improve the performance of applications, such as databases and web and email servers.
As a cloud-based service that supports remote access, Atera is able to deliver connections to any customer resource, including cloud-based AWS or Azure servers – The Atera system is actually resident on Azure servers. The monitored system just needs an agent installed on it.
Atera includes a Help Desk portal, which gives technicians remote access to endpoints for investigation and problem solutions. The package also includes a remote desktop service that lets the endpoint user watch the actions of the technician.
Customers of Atera don’t need to pay for the software upfront, which is a big advantage for independent freelance support specialists and is very appealing to startup MSPs. Instead, the MSP pays a subscription per technician. This pricing model makes Atera suitable for MSPs of all sizes and it is particularly interesting for rapidly expanding service providers. When an MSP gets to full capacity and hires new staff, it just needs to add on the appropriate number of Atera subscriptions to get those new technicians fully tooled up.
The Atera subscription also includes processing power and storage on cloud servers, so it is a very cost-efficient deal. You can try out the Atera system on a 30-day free trial.
Zabbix is a network monitoring tool that can track hardware availability. Zabbix automatically discovers devices on setup and recognizes when devices have been connected or disconnected. Once tools are connected you can monitor system status, disk space, device temperature, power supply, and fan state of network hardware. There also out-of-the-box templates for monitoring popular servers from manufacturers like IBM, Lenovo, Dell, Linux, Solaris, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
To keep you updated you can look at alerts through email, SMS, jabber, custom scripts or messenger. Alert messages can be customized based on recipient. For instance, you can customize date and time, hostname, item value, trigger values, host profile, user macros and escalation history.
The visualization offered in Zabbix is also top-notch. You can view graphs of hardware that automatically refresh. For example, you can view graphs of CPU load and CPU utilization to see how devices are performing. You can also generate availability reports to show other members of your team.
One of the key selling points of Zabbix is that it is free and open-source. You can download Zabbix for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Oracle Linux, Ubuntu, Debian, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Raspbian. You can download Zabbix for free.
Cupid HWMonitor is one of the most widely-used hardware monitoring tools on this list. HWMonitor monitors the health status, voltages, temperatures and fan status of connected devices. Information is shown to you in a list format that breaks down the performance of connected devices. All data readings are shown in real-time so you can stay up to date with the performance of devices within your network.
One advantage of HWMonitor is that it is easy to use. After completing startup it will automatically start monitoring your network for performance issues. Once the program is up and running you can use features like reports to gather further information on your hardware and troubleshoot.
If you’re looking for a straightforward hardware monitoring experience without some of the more advanced features and visualization of other platforms, HWMonitor is a good choice. The program is available as a free version or a paid version (the paid version offers additional logging capabilities and remote operation). You can download HWMonitor for free.
HWiNFO is a network monitoring tool that is used for hardware and system monitoring. HWiNFO offers real-time monitoring for your computer’s CPUs, GPUs, mainboards, drives, and peripherals. The tool is geared towards identifying if your device is overheating or failing. While the user interface is a bit outdated it makes it easy to find the information you need.
The information collected by the tool is categorized into different segments; memory, CPU, motherboard, bus, drives, monitor, ports, network, audio, and video adapter. The sheer range of categories gives your monitoring activities visibility throughout your entire network.
Even though HWiNFO’s experience is a little more basic than some of the other tools on this list, it still has its own alerts system. Alerts are customizable and can be updated with extensions. You can also collect more information with XML, CSV, and HTML reports complete with customizable graphs and tables.
For smaller enterprises that require a simple hardware monitor, HWiNFO is an ideal choice. HWiNFO works on Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. Learn more and download it at this link.
Open Hardware Monitor is an open-source hardware monitoring solution that monitors CPU load, temperature, fan speed, voltage, and clock speed. You can view the performance of these elements in list format. The last update for Open Hardware Monitor was released in 2016.
As an open-source product, Open Hardware Monitor is cost-free and easy to install. You can download the program as a file or source code. The program is available for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 and Linux (x86 based operating systems). You can download Open Hardware Monitor for free.
AIDA64 is a hardware and software monitoring solution designed specifically for SMEs. The tool has a hardware detection engine that can discover connected devices from a database including over 208,000 entries. The hardware monitoring capabilities offered by AIDA64 include CPU, disk, and temperature monitoring. Once data and information has been collected from devices it can be saved as CSV, XML or an SQL database.
The alerts system of AIDA64 can send notifications to the user once there is an issue or a piece of hardware or software is changed. For example, you can receive a notification if the system drive free space is below a certain percentage or there is a system memory size change. Notifications are sent by email so that you don’t miss anything important.
One of the interesting features included with AIDA64 is the ability to monitor devices remotely. You can launch, restart and shutdown applications and services remotely. The remote management capabilities of this tool allow you to seamlessly monitor remote PCs.
There are four different versions of AIDA64 available for purchase; Extreme, Engineer, Network Audit and Business. The Extreme version starts at $39.95 (£31.57) for home users. The Engineer version starts at $199.90 (£157.99) with command-line automation. The Network Audit version costs $100 (£79.03) and includes command-line automation, network inventory, and change management.
The Business edition costs $199.90 (£157.99) and supports remote management, command-line automation, network inventory, and change management. You can download the free trial.
Monitis is a server monitoring tool that can monitor the CPU, memory, storage and disk usage of network components. The tool comes with native agents for Windows and Linux making it ideal for cross-platform monitoring activity. You can also monitor network bandwidth to see if there is any suspicious traffic that could indicate an attack.
The tool also offers alerts to keep you in the loop if there is a problem with your hardware. You have reports so you can pass on more detailed information about hardware failures straight to your team. Reports have a production quality that is on par with any other tool on this list.
Monitis is worth consideration if you’re looking for a server monitoring solution. The user interface is simple and contains all the information you need to run troubleshooting on connected servers. However, in order to view the price you’ll need to contact the sales team directly. You can download the free trial of Monitis.
WhatsUp Gold is another hardware monitoring solution that stands out as one of the best. With this tool, you can monitor the temperature, power supply, and fan status of your hardware. After installing WhatsUp Gold you can automatically discover local devices, servers, and virtual machines. All of these are plotted on a topology map automatically. The map is color-coded so you can see whether a specific device is up or down.
The customization offered by WhatsUp Gold is very useful to organizations with larger teams monitoring a network. Dashboards can be customized by individual users with scheduled reports to check up on the status of hardware. The tool helps support communication that keeps staff on top of hardware problems.
There are also customizable alerts that you can manage through the Alert Center Dashboard. Alerts are sent by email, SMS, Slack, IFTTT posts and web alarms. No matter what platform you’re on you can find how your network is functioning. There is also an app for iOS and Android that shows you the status of connected devices.
There are three versions ofWhatsUp Gold available to purchase; the Premium Annual Subscription, Premium License, and Total Plus License. The Premium versions include auto-discovery, performance monitoring, alerts, custom dashboards, and cloud monitoring.
However, if you want to use application monitoring, virtualization monitoring and configuration monitoring you’ll need to pay for the Total Plus version. To view a quote you will have to contact the sales team directly. You can download the free trial.
Although technically a ‘system monitor’ and not a true ‘hardware monitor’, SysGauge made it to our list because it can cover the hardware monitoring needs of most network administrators. SysGauge is a network performance monitor that provides an overview of connected devices. The tool monitors CPU usage, memory usage, resource usage, disk space usage, and disk read/disk write for all logical and physical disks installed within a computer. For hardware monitoring, the System Status Monitor will be where you spend most of your time.
The System Status Monitor shows you graphs and dials displaying CPU usage and memory usage data. These are relatively basic but they do a great job of visualizing the raw data. In the CPU usage chart display, you can view usage data from the last minute, last two minutes or last five minutes.
To deliver notifications, SysGauge has system monitoring rules. These rules allow you to configure notification conditions. For example, you can add an option like’ If Memory Usage Current Value is More than 90% Show Error’ or ‘If Disk Space Usage Current Value is More Than 90% Show Warning’.
SysGauge is available on Windows as a 32-bit or 64-bit package. There is a free version of SysGauge that supports up to 10 monitors and profiles. The paid versions of the program are as follows:SysGauge Pro$50 (£39.52), SysGuage Ultimate $125 (£98.80) and SysGauge Server $125 (£98.90). These support 50, 100 and 200 monitors/profiles each. You can download SysGauge.
Choosing Hardware Monitoring Software
Hardware monitoring is the only way to safeguard against the failure of a device. Using a proactive hardware monitoring solution like SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, ManageEngine Applications Manager, and Paessler PRTG Network Monitor can help to minimize the rise of a node failing and halting productivity.
These tools each have their own dashboards to oversee hardware performance and an alerts system to compliment real-time monitoring efforts. Whether you are an SME or a large organization, both tools have the bandwidth to manage hardware performance at scale.