You need to use automated tools in order to keep a check on your network’s smooth operations. Although there are a number of command-line utilities that you could use to perform spot checks on the network’s statuses, automated tools do the job better.
An automated IP monitoring tool will watch the network so you can get on with other tasks. If any problems arise, the IP monitoring software will send you an alert. You don’t need to perform IP monitoring yourself; you just need to know when things stop being OK.
Here is our list of the eight best IP monitoring tools:
- SolarWinds ipMonitor EDITOR’S CHOICE This network monitoring tool discovers all devices, maps the network, and then performs constant status checks. It runs on Windows and Windows Server. Access a 14-day free trial.
- SolarWinds IP Address Manager (FREE TRIAL) An IPAM that coordinates with existing DHCP and DNS servers to create a DDI solution. It runs on Windows Server. Download a 30-day free trial.
- Paessler PRTG Ping Monitor (FREE TRIAL) A Ping utility integrated into a suite of infrastructure monitoring tools. It runs on Windows Server. Start a 30-day free trial.
- ManageEngine OpUtils A bundle of tools that includes an IPAM with IP scanning and IP address tracking. It runs on Windows Server and Linux.
- Angry IP Scanner A free, open-source Ping utility that runs several processes simultaneously. RuIt runs ns on Windows, Linux, and macOS.
- Spiceworks IP Scanner A free, cloud-based IP scanning tool that discovers all devices and lists their attributes.
- Pingdom A cloud-based uptime and response time monitor for websites that operates Ping tests from 70 locations around the world.
- Site24x7 Ping Test A free uptime monitor that uses Ping tests from more than 60 locations.
IP monitoring tasks
The job of IP monitoring encompasses a lot of specialist tasks.
IP monitoring is a very broad term and refers to the successful management of any TCP/IP-based network. This is because the “IP” part of TCP/IP gets its name from the Internet Protocol and also refers to the protocol family that groups around it at the Network Layer of the protocol stack.
IP monitoring tool categories
The field of IP monitoring software can be divided into three main categories:
- IP address management
- Network performance monitors
- Ping-based tools
Here are further details about each of these categories:
IP address management
An IP address manager is also called an IPAM. You need to be sure that all of your network devices have correct IP addresses assigned to them. You don’t want several devices using the same IP address. You also need to be sure that you are using your IP address pool efficiently so that you don’t run out of available addresses.
Beyond the mechanics of IP address management, you also need to be sure that your entire address space, i.e. the network, is functioning properly. A DHCP server, which allocates IP addresses and DNS servers, which cross-reference IP addresses to hostnames, needs to be kept updated with the results of an IP address scan. So, DNS servers, DHCP servers, and IPAMs are often grouped together and called DDI.
Network performance monitors
Controlling the performance of a network also comes under the category of IP monitoring. Network performance monitors check on the health of the devices that connect links together. They track down and log all connected devices and watch out for any failures that might occur.
By deploying an alerting mechanism, automated network performance monitors can free up IT staff for other tasks while performance is at an acceptable level.
The Internet Protocol has a related standard called the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) which provides one of the most fundamental services used in network monitoring: Ping. Many brands of network supervision software are truly IP monitors because they are built around the execution of the Ping command.
Ping can be used as a basic form of IP address manager, called an IP scanner, it can also be used to check on the speed of a connection.
You can use Ping yourself to get network performance data. However, to be truly effective, you would need to issue Ping over and over again to each and every point on your network simultaneously. Automated IP monitoring tools can perform that task more effectively than you can.
The best IP monitoring tools
Given the broad definition of IP monitoring tools, we have a very wide field to explore in order to find the best of them. Our recommended tools include network monitors, IPAMs, and Ping-based tools.
What should you look for in an IP monitoring tool?
We reviewed the market for IP monitoring software and analyzed tools based on the following criteria:
- A system that uses ICMP to identify all connected nodes
- Nice to have DHCP reconciliation
- A repetitive network scan
- Live reports on IP address monitoring
- The option to log all search results
- A free tool or a free trial for a no-cost assessment
- A paid tool that is worth the money or a free tool that is worth installing
With these selection criteria in mind, we produced a list of services that will run on all of the major operating systems.
ipMonitor is a performance monitor that covers networks, servers, and applications. This multi-level view of infrastructure is very useful when trying to discover the root cause of a performance issue because it offers a complete-stack drill down.
- Tracks live network performance
- Also monitors servers and applications
- Endpoint availability checks
- Creates a live asset inventory
- Alerts for anomalies
The ipMonitor system starts its service life with a scan of the network – a typical IP monitoring tool task. The monitor then compiles an asset inventory, including IP address allocation information. This inventory is constantly updated and it provides the source data for a network map which is also created automatically.
Network managers can choose to use the network topology map as the main screen of the dashboard because it shows at a glance where everything is working fine, which devices have problems, and where there are serious errors to pay attention to.
An alternative management approach is to use the data screens of the dashboard. These show panels of statistics and act as a system summary – containing easy-to-read performance graphs. Both the network map and the system summary offer drill-down capabilities on any device or system factor.
The system generates alerts for warnings and major problems, so no one has to keep watching the live monitoring screens. This is a big time saver and so are the automated remediation actions that can be activated in the system.
The screens offer several views of the monitored system, including a time horizon. The user can click on a time and see a full breakdown of system performance at that point. The ipMonitor also ships with pre-written report formats.
- Supports monitoring across the entire infrastructure, supporting multiple networks and sites
- Uses autodiscovery to add new devices and keep an accurate live list of monitored devices
- Automatically builds a network topology map based on collected devices, great for a general overview
- Supports numerous preconfigured temples, reports, and dashboards
- Would like to see a longer 30 day trial for testing
SolarWinds ipMonitor installs on Windows and Windows Server and it is available for a 14-day free trial.
SolarWinds ipMonitor is our top choice for an IP monitoring tool because it includes performance statistics about servers and applications as well. This multi-level service makes it very easy to spot the root cause of a problem.
Start 14-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/ip-monitor
OS: Windows & Windows Server
SolarWinds IP Address Manager is an IPAM. It combines Ping and facilities from the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to locate every device connected to the network and discover their IP addresses. This process will run constantly as a background process, giving a live list of all IP addresses in use.
- Constant monitoring
- Automatic device discovery
- DHCP and DNS reconciliation
- Alerts for IP address misallocation
The IPAM automatically updates the record of available IP addresses, reconciling the DHCP server’s records with the real utilization that it discovered. It also queries the DNS server to get a list of hostnames for each discovered IP address. This creates a full DDI system. The interconnectivity between IPAM, DNS, and DHCP system, prevents address problems that can impair system performance.
This system is available to be installed on Windows Server. The major SolarWinds tools, such as the IP Address Manager are all written on a common platform, called Orion. This means that this IP monitor will integrate with and interface to other SolarWinds products.
- Comprehensive DDI package, great for small and large networks
- Can track addressing issues such as IP conflicts, misconfigurations, and subnet capacity limitations
- Lightweight, runs on a simple Windows Server deployment
- Features subnet allocation tools to save tons of time on address allocation and planning
- Templated reports can easy to execute and customizable
- Not designed for home users, this is an in-depth networking tool built for IT professionals
SolarWinds offers the IP Address Manager for a 30-day free trial.
Paessler PRTG is a complete infrastructure monitoring system that covers networks, servers, and applications. The package is a bundle of monitors, each of which is called a sensor. The customer decides what functions should be included in the monitoring system by selectively activating sensors.
- Part of a wider system monitoring package
- Detects connection problems
- Automatically lists all IP addresses in use
Several of the functions in PRTG rely on Ping and there are a number of sensors that specifically perform IP monitoring with Ping. There is a SIP Ping sensor, a Jitter Ping sensor, and a straightforward Ping sensor. This tests host availability and also delivers roundtrip time data. The QoS sensor gives the roundtrip time of packets and a latency metric for one-way traffic, showing the time to the first byte. The Cisco IP SLA sensor provides IP monitoring for VoIP traffic.
- Uses a combination of packet sniffing, WMI, and SNMP to report network performance data
- Fully customizable dashboard is great for both lone administrators as well as NOC teams
- Drag and drop editor makes it easy to build custom views and reports
- Supports a wide range of alert mediums such as SMS, email, and third-party integrations into platforms like Slack
- Each sensor is specifically designed to monitor each application, for example, there are prebuilt sensors whose specific purpose is to capture and monitor VoIP activity
- Supports a freeware version
- Is a very comprehensive platform with many features and moving parts that require time to learn
Paessler PRTG installs on Windows Server and it is free to use for up to 100 sensors. So, all of the IP monitoring tools that use Ping could be used without ever having to pay anything. Paessler offers a 30-day free trial with unlimited sensors.
OpUtils is a package that includes an IPAM and a switch port scanner. This is an unusual combination and ManageEngine is just about the only network tools producer that combines these two functions in one bundle.
- Includes an IP address manager
- Detects all addresses in use
- Reconciles to DHCP and DNS
The core function of OpUtils is an IP scanner. This will identify all devices that are connected to the network and have IP addresses allocated to them. The interface will also show address by subnet allocation and has other useful subnet allocation features.
The IP monitoring tool uses a system of alerts. It will run constantly, rechecking IP address usage so network staff can get on with other tasks. When a problem is detected, an alert draws staff to action. Situations that cause an alert include address pool exhaustion and duplicate IP address allocation. The IPAM is also a security tool because it will detect any unauthorized devices connected to the network.
The logs from this IP monitoring tool can feed into a SIEM system and they are also available for IP address usage analysis.
- Offers a suite of tools that provide WoL, IP address management, and physical switch port mapping
- Gathers hostname, device status, and MAC address alongside IP address scans
- Identifies new machines via autodiscovery, great for larger deployments
- Available for both Windows server as well as Linux
- ManageEngine is a large monitoring platform that offers a host of tools and features that may take time to fully explore
OpUtils installs on Windows and Linux. ManageEngine makes it available on a 30-day free trial.
Angry IP scanner is a free network discovery tool. It uses the Ping command to search through a range of addresses. If it gets a response, it has found a device and an IP address that is in use. If it doesn’t get a response, that IP address is available.
- Free tool
- Automatic network discovery
- Connectivity reports
IP scanners are a lightweight form of IPAM. They don’t have the ability to update address pools or coordinate with DHCP or DNS, but they are a good IP monitoring option for small networks.
The interface of Angry IP Scanner is very easy to use. The user enters a range of IP addresses to search through. All of the results of a Ping to each address in the range are shown in the main panel of the GUI interface. The user can specify that only active addresses should be included in the Results screen. The system will try to collect a hostname from the DNS server for each IP address that it tests. The rest of each record is taken up with Ping results. Extra fields can be added on demand.
Tests can be performed with ICMP, TCP, or UDP. The default number of transmissions per address is three but that can be altered in the system preferences. Output can be exported in CSV, XML, text, or IP-Port format.
- One of the easiest tools to use on the market
- Great for small networks and home use
- Can output in multiple formats, giving more flexibility than CLI tools
- Offers DNS and hostname metrics
- The interface doesn’t scale well on enterprise size networks
- Lacks graphing capabilities
This is not an automated IP monitoring tool. Each run is performed on demand. So, although it is free, in the long run, it isn’t much of a cost saver because someone will have to keep pushing the Start button to get continuous results. That ties up a member of the staff.
Angry IP Scanner installs on Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Spiceworks is a free infrastructure monitoring system. It has a separate IP monitoring tool that is available online as a web-based IP scanner. You have to set up an account in order to use the tool, but that process is free as well. It is also necessary to install an agent somewhere on your network.
- Discovers all connected devices
- Live connection feedback
- Free to use
The IP scanner will probe your network and list each device that it encounters, showing its IP address, MAC address, operating system, and brand. A detailed scan option gives results on the CPU, memory, and disk capacity and utilization of each host and it will even list all of the software installed on each.
- The agent can be installed on Windows, Linux, or Mac
- Better tool for longer term monitoring
- Great interface makes it easy to view all ports, services, and their current state
- Installation requires a local install and the use of the online browser, making installation longer than other tools
- Includes banner ads
- Does not support the Safari browser
- Won’t work offline
Pingdom is an uptime monitor for websites. It is based on Ping, which is from the realm of IP monitoring. There are many reasons that a website becomes unavailable and, in some cases, it might be available in some places and not in others. The response times of websites also vary widely when delivered to different locations around the world.
- Cloud-based service
- Uptime monitoring for websites
- Tests from multiple locations
Content delivery networks can improve response times, but if a cache server goes down, the owner of the website won’t know that availability has been impaired in one part of the world. All tests are logged but the user doesn’t need to pay attention to the results unless a test fails. Pingdom sends an alert when problems arise, so support staff knows to pay attention to downtime or slow response times. Alerts appear in the system dashboard and can also be sent as SMS messages or emails.
The Root Cause Analysis module in Pingdom enables the support team to launch investigations into why the site has become unavailable or slow to an audience in one location. The service deploys a range of tests to identify what went wrong.
Pingdom is a cloud service, so there aren’t any installation requirements and it can be accessed from any operating system through a standard browser. There is also a Pingdom API that enables test results to be channeled through to other applications.
- Can monitor externally from over 70 locations, making it a great option for monitoring applications and services that serve a global audience
- Lives in the cloud, meaning no onboarding or complicated setup
- Dashboard is accessible from anywhere an internet connection is available
- Alerts can be sent to email, SMS, and even integrate into custom solutions via API
- Uses root cause analysis to assist admins in fixing issues quickly
- Could benefit from a longer trial time
The Pingdom service is available in five plan levels: Starter, Standard, Advanced, Professional, and Enterprise. Test frequency and data retention periods increase with successively higher plans. The service is charged for by subscription and you can get a 14-day free trial of all but the Enterprise plan.
Site24x7 is a cloud-based monitoring system for IT infrastructure and websites. The company also offers a free tool that tests all the servers engaged in delivering a website.
- Cloud hosted
- Testing from 60 locations
- Measures response times
The tool is delivered in the form of a web page. The user just has to enter a domain name to get the tests running. The service includes more than 60 test locations, which the user can choose from before launching the test.
Test results show whether a web server is contactable. For those servers that do respond, the Ping Test shows the packet loss rate and the minimum, maximum, and average roundtrip time to that location (for jitter). It also shows the response time.
- Has one of the best user interfaces among other ping monitoring tools
- Features a mobile app for both Android and iOS
- Can measure can detect latency, jitter, and performance over time, making it a viable long term solution for ping monitoring
- Can runs tests from over 60 locations, great for monitoring global services
- Free version can support up to five sites, making it a great introductory option for smaller businesses
- Site24x7 is a feature dense platform that can take time to fully learn all of its features and customization options
IP monitoring FAQs
What is IP address monitoring?
IP monitoring is a test for the availability of devices connected to a network or to remote systems that are contactable across the internet. The most frequently used tool for this task is Ping.
How does IP monitoring work?
IP monitoring sends out a connection request to a specific IP address and examines the response. This service can be used for uptime monitoring of websites. The technique can also be used to test the availability of devices connected to a private network by working through a range of IP addresses and recording which addresses send back a response, which indicates that the address is in use.
How do I monitor a device by IP address?
IP monitoring is usually limited to availability tests. Once a packet sent to a specific IP address gets a response, the monitoring system can note that there is a device on the network using that address. The monitoring tool will then use other monitoring techniques, such as the Simple Network Management Protocol to examine details of that device’s activities.