Some tools are best fit purely for troubleshooting, but in the case of monitoring your LAN, a little bit of awareness can go a long way towards preventing problems before they happen.
There's a variety of software for monitoring your Local Area Network, both in terms of the devices attached to it as well as the traffic traversing it!
It's invaluable when trouble stirs to quickly discover the root of the cause, but there's more to it than just that – software with predictive alerts and monitoring can help you spend less time actively monitoring and more time focusing on other technical problems without sacrificing precious up-time
Here is our list of the best LAN monitors:
- SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor – FREE TRIAL Automatically discovers all of the devices connected to a network and then creates a network inventory and topology map. Live and constant device monitoring is executed with SNMP procedures. Runs on Windows Server. Start a 30-day free trial.
- Atera – FREE TRIAL This package of software on a cloud platform provides all of the systems that a managed service provider needs to monitor and manage a client’s IT infrastructure and that includes automated network monitoring. Get a 30-day free trial.
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor – FREE TRIAL A package of monitoring systems that is strong on LAN monitoring, thanks to its autodiscovery, mapping, and SNMP-based device status checks. Available for Windows Server. Access the 30-day free trial.
- Nagios A package of monitors for networks, servers, and applications that can be extended by free plug-ins. Runs on Linux.
On a broad scale, LAN Monitoring software is great for keeping track of all the physical aspects of your network – the various devices connected to it, the servers that rely on it, the routing equipment that makes it function, and the systems that utilize it all.
Knowing a machine or server suddenly dropped offline as soon as, or even having it predicted slightly before, it happens is invaluable.
The happiest users are those who almost never realize anything is wrong because you're using the right software to predict and prevent problems as much as possible.
On a smaller scale LAN monitoring also lets you keep a close eye on just what is going through your network in terms of traffic.
We all like to assume that our users are doing what they should be doing and give them the benefit of the doubt, but we still need to be able to check in on things if the situation calls for it.
Having at least a casual eye on traffic, and making sure it's coming and going to places it should, is imperative in keeping your network running smoothly and, most importantly, safely.
Access to the bandwidth usage and site URLs of your users is one of the best ways to achieve this – hijacked connections stand out like a sore thumb with proper monitoring!
Here's the Best LAN Monitor Software:
Here's a list of four of the best programs for Monitoring your LAN and Local Network Traffic inside of your Perimeter.
We've really focused on software packages that have management and monitoring capabilities dedicated to a LAN.
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is an excellent overall tool for keeping a close eye on the health of your network.
It boasts a strong variety of monitoring tools and a very robust alert system – which means you have to spend less time actively watching your network and can depend on the software to clue you in when something is amiss!
The software even lets you customize your own alerts so that you can tailor your awareness to the specific needs of your network's use.
This software is all about helping you predict and, ideally, prevent network downtime.
It also offers some ability to monitor the actual traffic on your network but focuses heavily on up-time and device management.
It also has some handy tools for deploying and monitoring wireless network, and some ability to examine packets for discerning issues which are application-based versus network-based, which can save a great deal of time.
Worthy of particular mention in this instance, though, is the visual aspect of SolarWinds.
Most software that deals with network monitoring has some form of graphical representation for traffic, usage, etc., but the Network Performance Monitor really hits it home on this front.
The graphing is plentiful and intuitive and mostly automatic!
There's not even a need to fine-tune many of the settings, the software is designed well enough to really weave the information together in a useful way right from the get go.
Even the program's main screen is covered with a great deal of data, yet represented so succinctly and cleverly that you can absorb it at a moment's glance.
The power of having a great deal of data both available, and intelligently sorted and prioritized right up front, is hard to overstate.
- Supports auto-discovery that builds network topology maps and inventory lists in real-time based on devices that enter the network
- Has some of the best alerting features that balance effectiveness with ease of use
- Supports both SNMP monitoring as well as packet analysis, giving you more control over monitoring than similar tools
- Uses drag and drop widgets to customize the look and feel of the dashboard
- Tons of preconfigured templates, reports, and dashboard views
- This is a feature-rich enterprise tool designed for sysadmin, non-technical users may some features overwhelming
Compatibility: Windows environments, most any from XP and up
Cost: 30-day Free Trial
Information & Download link: http://www.solarwinds.com/topics/lan-monitor.aspx
Atera is a SaaS package that provides managed service providers (MSPs) with all of the tools they need to run their own business, manage clients, and support remote systems.
One of the key elements in the remote monitoring functions in the Atera package is its LAN monitoring service.
The Atera network monitor will automatically log all of the devices connected to a client’s network if you choose to add on the Network Discovery package to your plan.
This compiles a network inventory for you and that list of devices forms the basis for ongoing network performance monitoring.
Atera is priced per technician and it includes all of the company management and client contract systems needed by an MSP.
The complete plan is also suitable for freelance technicians because the service is charged for per seat.
- Lightweight cloud-based tool
- Built with MSPs in mind, and includes RMM and PSA tools built-in
- The framework is highly customizable, making Atera extremely flexible
- Can scale and support multiple databases in a multi-tenant environment
- Packaged pricing makes Atera accessible to any size business
- Atera is MSP focused, smaller organizations may not use all multi-tenant features
Compatibility: This is a cloud-based service that can be accessed through any standard Web browser.
Cost: Prices start at $99/month when paid annually. Start with a 30-day free trial.
Information & download link: https://www.atera.com/lp/rvw/remote-it-management-v2/
Paessler PRTG is an option geared more at larger networks that span several locations, or even countries.
Similar to SolarWinds' software above, PRTG tries to be much more preventative than palliative.
Alerts and monitoring attempt to predict and prevent the occurrence of problems by using metrics and history to find trends and alert you before it reaches a catastrophic point.
Coupled with PRTG's ability to examine bandwidth on a smaller scale gives you an overall balanced tool for network monitoring on a large scale.
- Uses a combination of packet sniffing, WMI, and SNMP to report network performance as well as discover new devices
- Autodiscovery reflects the latest inventory changes almost instantaneously
- 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 integration
- Supports a freeware version
- Is a very comprehensive platform with many features and moving parts that require time to learn
- Custom sensors can sometimes be challenging to manually configure
Compatibility: Primarily windows, site recommends Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2
Cost: 30-day Free trial
Information & Download link: https://www.paessler.com/prtg
Nagios is a beast when it comes to open-source software. One of the biggest downsides may also be one of its strengths – it has a staggering amount of flexibility and power.
The downside is that it can be a bit difficult to setup and configure just right to begin with, but ultimately it is an incredibly powerful piece of software – we've also put together an article about alternatives to nagios here.
You begin by using the Nagios Core, which is the basic monitoring engine, to get it running on the network, and from there you can add a variety of plugins for specific uses or needs, fully customize the visual front-end of the software to better show what is important for your network, and even expand the functionality of the core software.
Being open-source means there's a huge already a huge amount of community-driven add-ons and functionality that's been added and there will be more to come!
There's really almost nothing Nagios can't do when configured right when it comes to Network Monitoring, but be prepared for a little bit of a learning curve.
- Open-source transparent tool
- Simple, yet informative interface
- Flexible alerting options support SMS and email
- Robust API backend makes it a great option for developers who want to integrate their own custom applications
- Very generous two-month trial period
- Open-source version lacks quality support found in paid products
- Installation can be technical and complex
Compatibility: Numerous, almost universal, even has numerous web-based interfaces
Cost: Free, Open-source
Information & Download link: https://www.nagios.org/downloads/
One of the most useful aspects of LAN monitoring is that it scales beautifully.
Whether a junior admin or an expert, whether a small network or multinational, monitoring is invaluable.
Few tools will give you the same power to predict and prevent outages and problems as quickly and easily as solid monitoring.
And when a problem does happen, these same tools will give you the information you need to hone right in on it and troubleshoot it as quickly as possible!
Whether the issue ends up being traffic, protocol, access point, server, application, or client you can depend on LAN Monitoring to point you where you need to look.