Coming to grips with network performance management in an extensive network requires constant vigilance.
Poor performance can emerge unexpectedly at any time. Network monitoring platforms like Log analysis tools allow you to spot performance issues before they arise.
Here is our list of the best log analysis tools:
- SolarWinds Security Event Manager EDITOR’S CHOICE Automated protection measures are built into this log monitor for Windows Server. This tool automatically generates HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, ISO, NCUA, FISMA, FERPA, GLBA, NERC CIP, GPG13, DISA STIG reports. Start a 30-day free trial.
- Datadog Log Analysis and Troubleshooting (FREE TRIAL) Online log analyzer with live alerts, great for investigating and troubleshooting issues and manage logs.
- Papertrail (FREE PLAN) Cloud-based log manager and analyzer with a free version.
- Opmantek opEvents (FREE TRIAL) This centralized log and event manager reduces the impact of network faults and failures using proactive event management.
- ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer (FREE TRIAL) Comprehensive event monitor for Windows Server and Linux.
- Loggly (FREE TRIAL) Online log consolidator with great analysis tools.
- Sematext Logs (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based log management and analysis service that provides system performance and security data.
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL) Network, server, and application monitor that includes Windows Event Log and Syslog receivers.
- Splunk Widely used log monitor with real-time alerts that is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
- XpoLog Online log monitor that exploits AI to detect errors and intruders.
- LOGalyze Free open-source log monitor.
- EventTracker Log message analyzer and manager for Windows environments.
- LogDNA Cloud-based live log message analyzer available by subscription.
Why do I need a log analyzer?
Every single device or application connected to your network creates log files. Network administrators use these log files to view performance data. These tools are useful because they provide access to the data that the user wouldn’t otherwise have. A log analyzer collects data from a device’s log files and translates it into a data format that’s easy to read.
On a log analysis tool, this ranges from a graph display performance data to smaller dials. Reading performance data in a centralized format like this is much easier than reading through log files directly as text files.
The best log analysis tools
What should you look for in log analysis tools?
We reviewed the market for log analysis software and assessed the options based on the following criteria:
- Statistics derived from the arrival rate of log messages and their sources
- A filtering and sorting tool to identify specific sources and events
- A correlation system that enables log messages generated in different formats to be analyzed together
- A system of highlighting to make patterns of activity easier to identify visually
- A charting service that can interpret raw data
- A free trial for an assessment period or a money-back guarantee
- A good list of tools in one package that provides value for money
SolarWinds Security Event Manager is a log analysis tool for Windows that provides a centralized log monitoring experience. The platform offers event-time detection to aid the user in detecting threats quickly. Data processed by SolarWinds Security Event Manager is encrypted at rest and in transit so that it can’t be read by unauthorized entities.
The responsiveness offered by SolarWinds Security Event Manager is its biggest asset. Once threats are detected the tool can automatically respond to block IPs, close applications, change access privileges, disable accounts, block USB devices, and more. Being able to respond to threats like this helps to minimize the risk of damage or downtime.
For further data analysis, log findings (normalized logs or specific log files) can be forwarded to other members of your team or turned into reports. The reporting offered by SolarWinds Security Event Manager is compliant with HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, DISA, and STIG. The range of report capabilities makes this program ideal for larger organizations that need a program with a high level of compliance requirements.
Overall, SolarWinds Security Event Manager is an excellent choice based on its threat response capabilities and regulatory compliance. The tool starts at $4,665 (£3,591). There is also a 30-day free trial version you can download here.
SolarWinds Security Event Manager has over 650 connectors of out-of-the-box correlation rules, perfect for receiving real-time alerts about suspicious behavior. Easy to set up new rules, sleek dashboard and is very customizable.
Start 30-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/security-event-manager
OS: Windows 10 and later, Windows Server 2012 and later, Cloud-based: Hypervisor, AWS and MS Azure
Datadog is another accessible log analysis tool. With Datadog you can record and search through log data from a wide variety of devices and applications. Datadog’s visualization displays log data in the form of graphs so you can see how network performance has changed over time.
All displays are top notch and can be read with a glimpse. However, you can create unique log analytics dashboards by drag-and-drop if you require further customization. Log data can be viewed in real-time and historically. Once Datadog has recorded log data you can use filters to determine what information is listed.
To keep log data from being compromised, Datadog uses centralized data storage so that no data is left on the server. The main benefit of centralized data storage is that your data is protected in the event of an outage.
There are also smart alerts that use machine learning to detect anomalous log patterns and errors. Alerts can be sent through tools like Slack and PagerDuty so that your staff knows the moment there is an issue. You can also set your own alerts with Boolean logic to make sure that you don’t miss anything.
There are three versions of Datadog available to purchase: 7-Day Retention, 15-Day Retention, and 30-Day Retention. 7-Day Retention costs $1.27 (£0.98) per million log events per month, 15-Day Retention costs $1.70 (£1.31) per million log events per month, and 30-Day Retention costs $2.50 (£1.92) per million log events per month. You can download the 14-day free trial.
Papertrail is a log analyzer for Windows that automatically scans through your log data. When scanning log data you can select what information you want the scan results to display. For instance, you can choose whether scans contain IP addresses, email addresses, GUID/UUID, HTTP(s) URLs, domains, hosts, file names, and quoted text.
One focus of Papertrail is event resolution. To help you find the cause of network security events more quickly, you can filter log events by time, origin, or a custom field of your choice. Filtering logs in this manner allows you to eliminate irrelevant data and focus on the most significant data.
Another similar filtering option offered by Papertrail allows you to detect trends in log data. You can filter events by source, data, severity level, facility, or message contents. Once the filtered search is complete you will be able to view a graph of the results at the bottom of the screen.
Papertrail is a good choice for organizations looking for a log analyzer that’s easy to deploy. There is a free plan that allows you to monitor up to 100 MB of data per month. If you require more you can purchase another plan. Plans range from one GB per month for $7 (£5.39) to $230 (£177) for 25 GB per month. You can sign up for a free plan here.
Opmantek opEvents is an automated log and event manager that is particularly useful for event automation and remediation. opEvents offers complete management of logs from NMIS (Opmantek’s Open-Source Network Management System), applications, active directory, devices, cloud infrastructure or any custom location that is required.
The opEvents dashboard includes utilities to analyze log records both as they arrive at the log consolidator and as records loaded in from log file storage. The analyzer includes utilities to sort, search, and filter records and it also allows you to set notification rules based on operational hours, organizational hierarchy and prioritize the events you need to see.
opEvents will parse any records and present them in a friendly format, it will also filter and normalize all the events while grouping events to help weather an event storm and focus on the real issue.
You can quickly drill down into the event that displays node data, any remediation that has taken place and presents actions that can be customized to the device/alert. Operators can annotate and close down issues through the dashboard, if linked with a ticket desk it can also close tickets from the same screen. The console also provides attractive graphical data visualizations.
Opmantek opEvents runs on Linux. However, it is possible to run it over a hypervisor on Windows Server. They offer a 20 device license free for life and higher node counts can be purchased. You can evaluate opEvents on a 30-day free trial.
ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer is a log analysis tool with a streamlined user experience. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer collects logs from database platforms, web servers, routers, switches, hypervisors, vulnerability scanners, Linux systems, Unix systems, firewalls, and Endpoint Security Solutions.
To help you to navigate log data, ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer uses an alerts system. Alerts are customizable and alert you in real-time via email or SMS if the program detects something that needs your attention. Alerts are categorized as high, medium, or low priority to help you to respond appropriately to notifications.
The software is regulatory compliant for a number of policies including HIPAA, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, GLBA, SOX, FISMA, and more. Compliance reports help to ensure that you have all the documentation needed to keep your organization clear of red tape. For example, HIPAA compliance reports the handling of objects, successful user logons/logoffs, and system logs to ensure there is a clear record of user activity.
ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer is available for Windows and Linux in 32-bit and 64-bit. There are two versions of the program that you can download: the Free and Premium editions. There is also a free trial which gives you a 30-day period for evaluation.
Loggly is a cloud-based log consolidator that is available as a subscription service. You can pay for the Loggly service monthly or yearly, and there is even a plan that is free to use.
The online format of the service means that you don’t need to install or maintain software on your premises. However, you do need to set up periodic log file uploads. This task is guided by a Loggly wizard.
The main attraction of this service is its analysis utilities. To unify all log file records from disparate sources, the Loggly system standardizes the information in uploaded records and stores them in a standardized format. Loggly can handle records from many different sources, not just the standard operating system event logs from your servers. It can also take in logs from Amazon Web Services and applications such as Docker.
The Loggly service is available in three plan levels: Lite, Standard, and Enterprise. Loggly Lite is the free service. This has most of the features of the standard Loggly system except that it has volume limits. You are only allowed to upload 200 MB of log data per day with this service. Another limit on the free service is that it will only retain records for seven days. These restrictions may encourage you to opt for the paid version. The higher of the two charged plans, Loggly Enterprise is a bespoke package, which allows you to specify a data volume for your subscription – and it is priced accordingly.
The Standard Loggly package is probably your best option as a starter package because it is available on a 14-day free trial. You don’t get trapped into continuing on to the paid service at the end of the trial period. Instead, it automatically switches over to the Loggly Lite service and you get the option to upgrade to the paid version.
Loggly allows you to analyze all of the events occurring on your system including remote sites and cloud services. This is a great package that includes storage space and log aggregation functions.
Sematext provide a log management and analysis service that is based in the cloud. The system explores logfile data for performance and security breach data. This is a type of system protection service known as security information management (SIM).
The Sematext system is an online implementation of ELK, which also known as the Elastic Stack. The Sematext service deploys Logstash, which is a log server, and Elasticstack, which is a logfile search engine. Sematext includes pre-written search strings that explore logfiles for errors and warnings and interpret those into alerts that appear on the system console. Although the service is based in the cloud, it does require agents to be installed on the protected system to collect log messages.
The services of Sematext are charged per month on a subscription. The lowest of the three plans is Basic, which is free. This processes 500 MB of data per day and has a retention period of seven days. The two higher plans include options on daily data throughput and retention period. The Standard plan processes 1, 5, or 10 GB per day and has a retention period options of seven or 15 days. The Pro plan includes many processing volume options from 1 GB to 150 GB per day and offers a retention period of between 7 and 365 days. Sematext offers the Standard plan on a 30-day free trial.
Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is a network traffic monitoring platform that includes a Windows Event Log Sensor and a Syslog Receiver Sensor. The Windows Event Log Sensor monitors Windows system and application log files and displays the rate of log messages. The Syslog Receiver Sensor records the number of syslog files per second sent by devices in the network and filters them. Filters are customizable so you can determine what activity will trigger an alarm.
The notifications system offered by PRTG Network Monitor is highly customizable. You can determine whether you want to receive notifications via email, SMS, or push notifications. The range of alerts options means that you can receive updates on network performance from PRTG Network Monitor on almost any device.
PRTG Network Monitor is available as a free or paid product. The free version supports up to 100 sensors, after which you will have to transfer to a paid plan. The paid versions start at $1600 (£1,231) for 500 sensors up to $60,000 (£46,187) for unlimited sensors with five server installations. There is also a 30-day free trial.
Splunk is one of the most widely-used log management platforms on this list. Splunk monitors log and machine data in real-time. Splunk’s versatility allows it to take log data from practically any device or application in your network. When using the program you can use the search bar to look through real-time and historical data. There are also search suggestions to help you find the information you need more easily.
To make sure that you don’t miss anything important, Splunk has real-time alerts. Alerts can be sent by email or RSS. Alerts have configurable thresholds and trigger conditions so you can determine what activity will generate a notification. The supporting information included with alerts helps you to reduce your event resolution time.
Splunk is available on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. There are three versions of Splunk available: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Cloud, and Splunk Free. Splunk Enterprise supports unlimited users and an unlimited amount of data per day on premises. Splunk Cloud is a cloud service that supports unlimited users and unlimited data as well.
To view the price of these two versions you will have to contact the sales team directly. Splunk Free is available free of charge and supports one user with up to 500 MB of data per day. You can download the free trial version of Splunk
XpoLog a fully automated, open log management tool that can also be used end to end, a log monitoring platform that can collect and analyze logs from devices across a network. XpoLog monitors logs in real-time to discover performance issues and create alerts. Users can define rules for alerting and implement their own filtering rules.
One of the features that makes XpoLog stand out is its AI-powered error detection. The AI can discover errors, security risks, and distinguish log patterns that indicate poor performance. Error detection serves to automate log management and ensures you don’t miss any problematic activity. However, if you want to take a closer look, you can use the automated log search feature to view machine intelligence when you run a manual search.
The price of XpoLog depends on the number of users, retention, and volume of data you require. The Basic version is free and supports 1GB a day with unlimited data and five days of data retention. The XpoLog 7 Pro Version is available for $39 (£30.03), $334 (£257) and $534 (£411) per month for 1GB, 5GB, and 8GB per day with unlimited users and unlimited retention. You can download the free trial version of XpoLog.
LOGalyze is an open source log analyzer and network monitor for enterprise users. The product supports devices, windows hosts, and Linux/Unix servers with real-time event detection. Once log data has been collected you can then use the program’s search feature to find the information you need.
Users can also define their own alerts. Once an alert has been raised then tickets can be created to document the issue until it has been resolved. There is also further documentation available in the form of scheduled reports which you can use to view regular updates on the status of your network. Reports are compliant with PCI-DSS, SOX, and more.
As a low-cost alternative, LOGalyze offers a log monitoring experience that stands up to any of the proprietary tools on this list. The tool is particularly ideal for smaller enterprises looking for an affordable log management solution. You can download LOGalyze for free.
LogDNA is a log management software platform that can monitor log data in real-time. This tool is cloud-based and is configured in less than two minutes to collect logs from AWS, Heroku, Elastic, Docker, and other vendors. The tool instantly aggregates logs from applications and servers across your network with the bandwidth to handle one million log events per second.
One of the interesting things about LogDNA is that the LogDNA agent and the CLI interface are open source. In effect this allows you to customize your log management experience. However, if you don’t want to do that, the standard user interface has more than enough features to help you monitor system logs effectively.
LogDNA is a must have for organizations that need a cloud-based and scalable log management solution. LogDNA is available as a cloud-based solution or an on-premises/self-hosted package. There are four pricing options available: Free, Birch, Maple, and Oak. The Free version supports a single user.
The first paid version is called Birch and starts at $1.50 (£1.15) per GB for seven days retention and five users. Maple starts at $2 (1.54) for 14 days retention and 10 users. Finally, the Oak version starts at $3 (£2.31) for 30 days retention and with support for up to 25 users. You can download the free trial.
Choosing a Log Analysis Tool
Though there are many exceptional log analysis tools on this list, SolarWinds Security Event Manager, Opmantek opEvents,Splunk, and Datadog stand out as the most complete log management solutions. Each tool is easy to use with enough depth of features to aid with incident discovery and response in any environment.
SolarWinds Security Event Manager’s event-time detection capabilities, automatic threat response, and regulatory compliance make it a good all-round log management tool for enterprise users. Likewise, the ease with which you can sift through real-time and historical data on Splunk makes it great for fast-paced environments.
Datadog not only supports monitoring for real-time and historic log data but adds AI to the mix to detect anomalous log patterns. When coupled with smart alerts and decentralized alerts it is easy to see why this tool is so popular.
Of the top three log analysis tools, SolarWinds Security Event Manager is best suited to those who want a straightforward log management experience. Datadog is more geared towards those who want to supplement manual monitoring with AI-based detection. Finally, Splunk is best suited to those who want a first-rate but cost-effective log management solution.
Log Analysis FAQs
What is event log correlation?
Event log correlation examines logs from many sources on the IT system and looks for similarities. This leads to the compilation of a report on a possible security breach as indicated by a series of events, which might seem harmless individually.
What is server log analysis?
Server log analysis involves collecting and consolidating log records from all reporting tools resident on a specific server. This process identifies issues, problems, or performance metrics. This is particularly practiced for web servers to gain performance insights.
Which tool can be used to collect logs from a client network?
Look for any log management tool that is designed for managed service providers when you want a system to connect logs from a client network.
What is the most secure log analyzer tool?
SolarWinds Security Event Manager is probably the most secure log management and analysis tool available, as evidenced by its recommendation for use in systems that need compliance with data security standards, such as HIPAA and PCI DSS.