With so many different technologies cropping up on corporate networks it can be difficult to find devices on your network. The modern network has everything from computers, to servers, switches, printers, and virtualized services, which all need to be monitored to optimize performance.
This guide will primarily focus on finding network devices in organizations and enterprise environments, but we will briefly look at how to discover devices on a home network as well. Topics we will cover include:
- How to find devices on a home network
- Why you need a network discovery tool
- How to find devices with PRTG Network Monitor
- How to find devices with Spiceworks IP Scanner
- Other tools for finding devices
- Best practices: Scheduling autodiscovery
How to Find Devices on a Home Network
While you can use a network monitoring tool to discover devices on a home network, if you’re only dealing with a handful of devices then you can effectively do this through the command prompt. We’re going to show you how to do this below:
For Windows Users:
- Type CMD in the search box and click Run as Administrator from the menu
- Enter the net view command to view devices connected to your network You will then see a list of devices connected to your network in the output.
- To view the IP addresses of the devices, enter the arp -a command, which will list the Internet address physical address and type of each device. You can then use ping these IP addresses to find the devices.
For Mac Users:
- Go to the Applications folder and open the Utilities folder
- Click on the Terminal to open it
- Now enter the arp -a command to view a list detailing the LAN IP address and Mac address of each device.
While these commands are useful for home networks, in larger enterprise networks with lots of devices it’s preferable to use a network discovery tool.
Best Practice 1: Regularly Update Your Inventory and Scheduling Autodiscovery
If you want to make finding devices even easier, it’s a good idea to schedule autodiscovery. A tool like PRTG Network Monitor that lets you schedule autodiscovery daily or weekly allows you to periodically update your network and add new devices.
Setting a schedule enables your monitoring environment to scale alongside your infrastructure, which helps you to maintain an accurate network inventory. An outdated inventory is a security risk because you won’t have complete transparency over your systems. That means they could easily become an entry point for an unscrupulous attacker.
Scheduled autodiscovery also has the advantage of eliminating the tedious manual work of adding new devices. Less time spent adding devices to your network monitoring system means more time monitoring your network and fighting off online threats.
Best Practice 2: Why You Need Automated Mapping
If you’re working in an enterprise environment with lots of devices and you want to maximize the diagnostic capabilities of your network monitoring, you need a solution with automated mapping. Tools like PRTG Network Monitor and SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor include automated mapping that creates a topological display of your network that you can use to monitor performance. These maps are valuable for helping to visualize your network.
It can be difficult to get an accurate picture of how your network functions by looking at metrics alone. Sometimes being able to pull up a map that shows how devices connect to each other in real-time, helps you to pinpoint where performance issues originated from.
In other words, mapping provides you with another diagnostic tool that you can use during troubleshooting. Its important maps are automated which, if you’re working with lots of devices will take too much time to manually add devices.
Automate Device Discovery
Knowing how to find devices on your network can save you a lot of time when managing your network. While you can scan for devices by running manual scans it’s much more efficient to have an automated tool do this for you. Platforms like PRTG Network Monitor eliminate the hassle of adding devices yourself and can scale alongside the needs of your network.
With an abundance of affordable network monitoring tools on the market now’s a better time than ever to adopt an autodiscovery solution and maintain transparency over your network. Optimizing performance and blocking cyberattacks starts with having complete transparency over the status of your network.
Device Discovery FAQs
How can I see all devices connected to my network?
You can use a command line utility to quickly see all of the devices on your network:
- Open a Command Prompt window
- Enter arp -a
Which is a network device tool?
The term “network device” refers to the equipment that runs a network rather than the computers that store programs and files. These are systems such as switches, routers, and hardware firewalls. A new network administrator won’t necessarily know what devices are on a network or how they fit together, so a network device discovery tool can help identify all devices, log them in an inventory, and create a topology map.
What is a network discovery scan?
There are two types of network discovery tools. The simplest of these is an IP scanner, which intends to list all of the IP addresses that are in use on the network. A network device discovery tool will give detailed information on the device associated with each IP address that it finds is in use.
Do I need a Network Discovery Tool?
If you’re working in an environment with lots of devices then it’s going to be near impossible to manage all of those without a centralized network monitoring solution. Likewise, if you have a unified monitoring solution manually discovering devices will be too time-consuming to do effectively.
To discover devices at the scale you need a network discovery tool with autodiscovery. A solution that uses autodiscovery will automatically discover new devices upon installation and when new devices are added to your network. You don’t need to manually add new devices as the software will do it for you.
Automated network discovery provides two main benefits to administrators:
- An updated record of your network
- Less time spent on manual administration
By freeing up time, the user can focus on monitoring the health and performance of devices via the comprehensive inventory discovered by the network monitoring tool. Having an inventory of devices compiled in one place makes it easier to identify performance issues and correct them before they have an impact on your end-users.
The leading network discovery tools for finding network devices
What should you look for in a network discovery tool?
We reviewed the market for network device discovery systems and analyzed tools based on the following criteria:
- A system that will scan a network from one location
- Local and remote options
- Database resource and server resource monitoring
- Alerts for resource shortages and performance deterioration
- An easy-to-use interface
- A free trial, demo, or money-back period for no-risk assessment
- A reasonable price that reflects the quality of the product and offers value for money
With these criteria in mind, we looked for a range of network discovery tools, some of which are integrated into full network monitoring systems, while others are on-demand IP scanners.
Here is our list of the leading tools to find devices on your network:
- SolarWinds Network Device Scanner with NPM EDITOR’S CHOICE A network discovery and mapping system that is part of a larger network monitoring package. Runs on Windows Server.
- Syxsense Manage (FREE TRIAL) A SaaS package for managed service providers that discovers network devices, creates an inventory, and a map for monitoring and management.
- Spiceworks IP Scanner A free, online scanner for networks that can display device details.
- ManageEngine OpManager A monitoring package for networks and servers that provinces network device discovery, an asset inventory creator, and a network topology mapper.
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor A collection of monitors for networks, servers, and applications that automatically creates a device inventory through automatic discovery and then generates network maps.
You can read more about each of these options in the following sections.
The SolarWinds Network Device Scanner is a utility within the Network Performance Monitor package. The full system provides constant monitoring for all network devices and that process begins with an initial sweep of the network.
You don’t have to enter any device details in order to get the system to create a network inventory. Instead, the Network Device Scanner automatically scans the network and logs each of the devices that it encounters. This discovery service reoccurs constantly, so if you add a device, or move or remove one, this change is instantly reflected in the network inventory.
- Creates a network asset inventory
- Generates a network topology map
- Implements constant live network monitoring
The network inventory forms the basis of a monitoring service. This package is based on the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). The monitor periodically broadcasts a request for reports and SNMP agents installed on all network devices send back a response with all details of the device, including its make, model, and age, firmware version, and resource capacities. The response also includes details of traffic throughput. The Network Performance Monitor assembles these reports into live activity data in the system console.
SNMP includes a system called Traps. This enables a device agent to send out a report, called a Trap, without waiting for a request if it encounters a problem on the device. The Network Performance Monitor interprets these Traps into alerts. You can get the NPM to forward alerts to your technicians by SMS or email.
- The monitoring system sets itself up
- Network inventory and topology maps are constantly up to date
- Details on each device
- Provides alerts if devices experience problems
- Customized alerts for performance metrics
- No SaaS version
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is an on-premises package that installs on Windows Server. The starting price for the system is $1,638 and you can try it out before you buy with a 30-day free trial.
SolarWinds Network Device Scanner is our top pick for a tool to find devices on your network because it sets itself up and it will constantly update its network device inventory. The system generates a topology map on demand, based on information in the inventory. As the inventory is constantly updated, the map is also always live. This scanner is part of a full system monitoring service, called the Network Performance Monitor.
OS: Windows Server
Syxsense Manage is an endpoint management system that covers desktops, servers, and IoT devices. It is able to discover hardware connected to a network and compile a network inventory from its discoveries. The Syxsense Manage system is cloud-based. This means it isn’t limited to monitoring one network. It can combine the discovery of devices on several networks.
- Tool for MSPs
- Remote monitoring
- Software management
The console for the Syxsense service is resident on the cloud server and can be accessed from anywhere through any standard Web browser.
The service also scans each discovered endpoint and compiles a software inventory. This log of operating systems and software includes the version of each package and begins a patch management service. This system is able to scan endpoints that run Windows, macOS, and Linux.
- An endpoint management system
- Concerned with managing software on a site
- Vulnerability manager
- Patch manager
- Doesn’t include a network topology map
The network scanning service is constant, so the asset inventory is kept up to date. The service is charged for by subscription and costs $600 per year to cover 10 devices. This includes the processing power and 50GB of storage space on the Syxsense server. You can try out Syxsense Manage on a 14-day free trial
If you want a more basic tool for tracking network devices then Spiceworks IP Scanner is another tool worth considering on Windows and Mac.
- Free to use
- On-demand scanning
The software allows you to automatically scan for all hardware with IP addresses and adds it to the platform. You can view a table of All Devices including information such as IP address, OS, vendor, open ports, antivirus, storage, hardware information, and more.
You can use the software by following the instructions below:
- Download and install IP scanner (the application will automatically open in your browser after installation).
- Enter the IP range you want to scan and press Start Scan. The IP Scanner will automatically scan the subnet your device connects to.
- After the scan, you can see an overview of the discovered devices and their hardware information on the All Devices page.
- If you’d like to export the results to a CSV file then you can push the Export button in the top right-hand corner.
- (Optional) Rescan by clicking the refresh icon on the left-hand side of the screen.
To make it easier to navigate the program includes a filtering and search function so that you can find information on specific devices. This is particularly useful for navigation if you’re working in a network that has lots of different devices. Once you’ve finished scanning you can export the results to CSV.
- Accessed from a website
- Scan any network anywhere
- Offers address information and device details
- Supported by ads in the console
Spiceworks IP Scanner is available for free.
ManageEngine OpManager is a network monitoring software that includes network discovery capabilities. With ManageEngine OpManager you can discover up to 5,000 interfaces per minute with automated network discovery that scans an IP range or entire network. The discovery process uses a range of protocols including ICMP, SNMP, WMI, and Telnet.
- Monitor for networks and servers
- Asset inventory and topology maps
Once devices have been added to the tool you can view information such as the name of the device, the type of device, OS, and more. You can also monitor performance information including availability, CPU and memory, errors and discards, and traffic.
- This is a full monitoring system
- Inventory and maps are automatically updated
- Uses SNMP for network monitoring
- Not a SaaS package
ManageEngine OpManager starts at $245 for 10 devices. The software is available on Windows and Linux. There is also a free trial.
Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is a network monitoring platform that allows you to discover network devices and IP addresses. The software automatically adds devices to its monitoring environment so that you can monitor performance through the dashboard and benefit from a mapping feature for a top-down perspective of your network.
- Flexible monitoring system
- SNMP scans
- Asset inventory and maps
The program works by having the autodiscovery feature run after you’ve finished the installation process. PRTG Network Monitor scans your network for devices with a ping scan. Throughout the scan, you’ll be able to see what percentage the scan is at.
You also have the option to run autodiscovery on individual devices or groups. You can run manual scans on these by right-clicking on a group or device and selecting the Run Auto-Discovery option. This command will prompt the software to start scanning for new devices.
As devices are discovered throughout your network, the tool will create sensors for those devices from out-of-the-box templates. You’ll also receive notifications once each device has been discovered.
- Tailor your own monitoring package by selecting sensors
- Constantly updated network inventory and topology maps
- Free option
- You need to only activate the sensors you need to control costs
It is important to note that when the program is discovering devices, system performance will decrease as the resources are used to scan. PRTG Network Monitor is available for Windows. The software is free for less than 100 sensors, paid versions start at $1,750. You can download a free trial.