Most servers come with their own management and administration tools that do a perfect job. Sometimes, a little extra help from third-party tools can make for an even smoother UX (user experience) and better server performance.
Here’s our list of the best Microsoft Exchange Server monitoring tools:
- SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor EDITOR’S CHOICE This tool lets you deep-dive into Exchange Server’s metrics to help determine and monitor overall mailbox capacity management thanks to its easy-to-use dashboards for viewing critical information.
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL) this is also a tool that can be used to monitor Exchange Server as well as any supporting servers including remote ones and regardless of the network configuration.
- Nagios Exchange A tool that is flexible because it can be easily expanded and also because there is a large developer community that continues to add to its features.
- ManageEngine OpManager A well-rounded tool that also covers the network and other servers that support it; it offers advanced technology but is easy to configure and use.
- Foglight for Exchange Dedicated Microsoft Exchange monitoring tool that is outstanding in reporting and alerting issues for easier troubleshooting and resolution.
What are Microsoft Exchange Server monitoring tools?
Microsoft Exchange Server is the most widely used email, calendaring, and communication server. Its popularity arises from its ease of use, powerful applications, and clear navigation controls – mainly because of its familiar GUI – and its proven performance, robustness, and reliability.
Like all servers, Exchange also needs to be monitored and tracked to make sure it is always at optimal performance levels.
Even though its own administration and configuration dashboard can do much of the monitoring well, it can still be further enhanced – or even out-performed – by some of the best Microsoft Exchange Monitoring tools.
The best Microsoft Exchange Server Monitoring Tools
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) is an Exchange Server monitoring tool which has the ability to drill into any component for easier troubleshooting of server issues.
SolarWinds SAM was built to monitor Exchange Server for important metrics that could impact its performance: mailbox database size, mount status, replication status, information store, and much more; and when it detects an issue it triggers an alert.
It can drill right into an individual mailbox’s details and help with the decision on whether or not a large mailbox needs to be moved to another database in case there is a need to improve load distribution.
The tool also helps prevent email storms with the help of its Active Exchange Server Monitoring. With the help of SAM, admins can track critical aspects of Exchange like the Hub Transport Server, Mailbox Server, Edge Transport server, and the CAS – and a failure in any one of them will trigger alerts.
SAM has an added advantage as it allows the monitoring of servers other than Exchange Server itself – it can be used to monitor other supporting Microsoft servers, applications, and services that help keep Exchange Server up and running; examples are DNS, DHCP, IIS, and CRM servers.
It proactively alerts administrators to keep them informed while, at the same time, keeping an eye on forecasted storage metrics – using historical and real-time data – to keep Exchange operational into the future.
SAM automatically tracks and saves data about incidents, so it can be used in the future to easily troubleshoot issues; it also uses both real-time and historical Exchange Server performance data to allow admins to drill down into any older issues for more details – all thanks to SAM’s advanced reporting tools
SolarWinds offers a 30-day free trial of its SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor – it would be a good place to start to discover the full potential of this tool.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is our first choice tool for monitoring Microsoft Exchange Server. It automatically discovers the Exchange Server environment and you can immediately begin monitoring with its default presets. Easy to install and a pleasure to use.
Start 30-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/server-application-monitor
OS: Windows Server 2016 or later
Paessler PRTG can be used to monitor several types of servers including Exchange Server. Thanks to its superb remote monitoring capability it can even be deployed on a distributed network structure.
PRTG’s dashboard is detailed and easy to navigate and also shows all required Exchange Server information. PRTG monitors all email protocols: IMAP, POP3, and SMTP. It keeps track of the database information of an Exchange Server – including backups – using Remote PowerShell; it even performs tests using the SMTP & POP3 Round Trip Sensor to gauge the time it takes for an email to reach an IMAP or POP3 mailbox after being sent using SMTP protocol.
PRTG tracks usage of critical information regarding mailboxes, public folders, subfolders, and the number of items in the outgoing queue of the Exchange Server. It ensures the security of an Exchange Server by testing the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connectivity to the port of a device. It also keeps track of other peripheral servers like the number of sent/received emails in an IIS server using WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) or Windows performance counters, for example.
It’s easy to install and use – PRTG comes with a set of pre-configured sensors for Exchange that are created automatically during the setup process. Its highly customizable alert system allows for alarms to be triggered – this, in turn, allows for issues to be resolved before they build up.
Paessler offers a 30-day free trial of PRTG.
Related post: Testing Exchange Server Connectivity
Nagios is a company that is known for its multitude of administration and monitoring solutions that track the health and performances of websites, web content, networks, and servers – including Microsoft Exchange – among a myriad of digital assets.
System administrators prefer Nagios because it does everything – and whatever it doesn’t have, can be built and integrated into it – thanks to the active community that continues to enhance it by inventing new plugins. But, most importantly, it offers complete monitoring of Microsoft Exchange mail servers – including the server’s availability, protocol availability, memory usage, network status, and other server statistics that can help an administrator’s effectiveness. What’s more, healthy figures and information cells are highlighted in green which means those in any other color can be easily spotted and looked into.
There many additional plugins that further enhance the capabilities of this tool as well as other wizards that help with features like email delivery monitoring. Meanwhile, the new easy-to-customize dashboard provides a high-level overview of hosts, services, and network devices – and yet, users can add third-party plugins to allow the tool to drill down and monitor business applications running on the devices.
Nagios comes with a customizable GUI which lets users tweak it until they feel comfortable with the layout and design. It can be installed on Windows or Linux operating systems; there is also a version for VMWare.
If there is a drawback to this monitoring tool it may be that it is a little bit daunting for first-time users – and may even require an IT professional to run it. But, then again, users can get help from the Nagios community or opt for a commercial support package from Nagios Enterprise.
Nagios Core is open-source and free, and Nagios XI is a commercial tool based on the Nagios Core but with additional features.
ManageEngine OpManager for Exchange Monitoring comes with added support for PowerShell which makes it an easy-to-use tool for direct hands-on management of an email server.
It offers deep insights into details about critical information regarding database size, space occupied; it detects the number of dormant or inactive mailboxes to delete to free up resources. Admins can check to see if a database is shared by too many users and, if needed, move a few of them to another database for optimal performance.
It can troubleshoot Outlook connectivity issues by measuring the number of requests per second or average response times, for example, using Web Access Counters. It tracks failures by identifying mailbox access failures, directory access failures, number of rejected inbound calls, and other details.
Admins can use various tools to ensure Exchange Server security – against spam and viruses, for example – by monitoring details like scan time, the number of rejected or timed-out scan requests, and blocked recipients; they can also keep an eye on the server burden using load assessment counters and queue length counters.
ManageEngine OpManager can track communication issues in integrated dial-in access performance and even monitor emails, voicemails, faxes, calendar information, and contacts to make sure that all voice and email messages reach their destinations.
It measures memory and disk utilization while also keeping an eye on the status of various services that are critical for the performance of an Exchange Server. It monitors mailbox database sizes, queues, mounted status, mailbox quotas (both used and remaining), the total number of mailboxes, and the average mailbox size.
ManageEngine offers a free trial.
Quest Foglight for Exchange is perhaps one of the lesser-known Microsoft Exchange Server monitoring tools out there, but it is one that should certainly not be underestimated.
Unlike other tools in this list, Foglight for Exchange is a dedicated tool created to monitor Exchange Servers. It is quick to detect, diagnose, and resolve performance and availability issues that could impact the performance of Microsoft Exchange Servers in the physical, virtual, and cloud environments.
It has a dashboard that is sparsely populated – but, it has all the information any admin might need to be displayed clearly – and it is easy to navigate. Glancing at the dashboard, an admin would be able to see: critical load areas, any abnormal flows of data, as well as the top consumers of resources across Microsoft Exchange – it even provides them with insights into mailboxes that are running in the cloud.
It offers Office 365 monitoring which means it can monitor authentication of cloud as well as on-premises mailboxes. Foglight’s advanced permission controls make it easy to set specific, role-based user access; meanwhile, advanced permissions controls make it easy to work with user-based permissions.
It is easy to schedule and run diagnostic reports – in fact, a drag-and-drop tool allows users to produce ad hoc, scheduled, and fully automated reports for SLAs, diagnostics, and server availability.
These reports help with more detailed and effective troubleshooting capabilities and have built-in customizable alerts that can be configured to be triggered in case of issues with, or deviations from, performance and operational standards.
You can download a free trial.
Choosing a Microsoft Exchange Server monitoring tool?
The email server is perhaps one of the most important servers on a corporate network. It is the communication server that everyone relies on to deliver messages, share ideas, and collaborate on. It, therefore, makes sense to have a dedicated Microsoft Exchange monitoring tool to keep an eye on this important asset.
Among the advantages of such tools we have:
- Ensuring the health of Exchange Servers to guarantee uninterrupted communication.
- Making sure an Exchange Server is up and running, relaying messages to destinations, and that it is in communication with other servers in the domain.
- Keeping on top of issues before they occur and troubleshooting them for quicker resolution.
- Keeping and updating audits to help with reporting, troubleshooting, and tracking.
- Informing administrators and users about stuff like policies or discrepancies in bandwidth or storage utilization to prevent bottlenecks or even total server crashes.
- Sending – and if necessary or unanswered, escalating of – smart alerts to administrators to improve tech-support response times.
- Checking configurations and monitoring packets and traffic to making sure an Exchange Server hasn’t been taken over by malicious code or entities for spamming and spoofing purposes, for example.