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Best Server Monitoring Tools & Software for Windows/Linux (FREE & PAID)

best server monitoring tools for windows and linux

Marc Wilson

Server Monitoring is, hands down, the most important task any IT professional will do in their daily routine to ensure that all production servers and applications are running at peak performance without any hiccups.

Employing the best server monitoring tools and software in your environment will not only ensure that your machines are running smoothly, but will keep your job secure as well. There's an old saying about Backups in IT departments: “Have Good Backups, Or a Good Resume” – this holds true for keeping servers up and healthy as well.

With all that said, we're going to go through a large list of software that will help you keep an eye on your infrastructure. We're hoping that our list will help you determine which software suite will work in your environment, as each is wildly different than the next.

Here is our list of the top server monitoring tools:

  1. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor – FREE TRIAL Service that watches the resources on a server as applications use them and reports on capacity problems through an alerting mechanism. Installs on Windows Server.
  2. Paessler PRTG – FREE TRIAL A bundle of monitoring tools that cover server performance issues as well as network and application performance. Installs on Windows Server.
  3. Datadog Server Monitoring – FREE TRIAL Great for monitoring processors and resources on physical servers. Cloud-based system that watches over servers and provides detailed logs.
  4. Site24x7 Server Monitoring – FREE TRIAL A cloud-based monitoring platform that covers networks, servers, and applications that includes hypervisor monitoring.
  5. SentryOne SQL Sentry – FREE TRIAL A monitoring system for SQL Server that also covers the underlying support structure including Windows and Linux servers. Available for Windows Server or as an Azure service.
  6. Progress WhatsUp Gold A network performance monitor that can be extended to monitor servers and applications as well. Installs on Windows Server.
  7. ITRS OP5 Monitor An infrastructure monitoring system that includes business tracking procedures. Installs on Linux and can run on Windows Server over a hypervisor or on cloud platforms.
  8. ManageEngine OpManager A server and network monitoring package that includes virtualization performance tracking. Installs on Windows Server and Linux.
  9. Incinga 2 A free infrastructure monitor that was developed from a fork of Nagios Core that incudes server monitoring. Installs on Linux.
  10. Zabbix A free systems monitoring package that includes server monitoring. Runs on Linux, macOS, and Unix.
  11. Nagios XI an infrastructure monitoring system that includes server monitoring functions and is based on the free Nagios Core.
  12. OpenNMS Horizon A free system monitoring package that is primarily a network monitor but also has server monitoring capabilities.

In terms of monitoring capabilities, many of these software suites provide the functionality, reports and alert systems that are needed to ensure that everything is running top notch. We've included some open-source options as well, as some engineers and administrators are using them in their environments on a daily basis – although we like to have a support team behind the product if questions or support issues arise, as our main job is to keep servers healthy and running at all times, not configuring open-source software to do what we want it to do.

Best Tools for Server Monitoring and Management of 2021:

Below you'll find a list of our top choices and a detailed description about them and some screenshots of their Interfaces and options.

1. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor – Recommended Choice!

The capabilities that SolarWinds SAM has in terms of flexibility and features gives it the clear advantage when it comes to finding a solution for your monitoring needs. We recently did an article on some alternatives to nagios and the only software package that had the ability to Import Nagios Scripts natively was SolarWinds SAM. Many of the other software packages had nice templates for creating/replicating the functionality of Nagios scripts, but only SAM was able to import them directly in and start monitoring within a matter of MINUTES!

On top of the migration functionality it offers, here are some of the top features that come with Solarwinds SAM that make it stand ahead of the competition:

  • Automatic Mapping and Discovery of Applications and Dependencies
  • Pre-packaged and Pre-Built Reports and Alerts for quick Setup
  • Out-of-the-Box support for over 200 Applications (Windows and Linux)
  • Agent or Agentless Monitoring for Public, Private or Cloud Applications/Servers
  • Monitor Virtualized Environments including products and VM's from VMware, Hyper-V and SANS devices
  • AppInsight™ feature for intricate visibility into specific Microsoft Processes including Exchange Server, IIS and SQL Server
  • 800+ Custom User Generate Monitoring Templates
  • Automatic Discovery of IT Asset for Tracking and Management
  • Monitor Server Volumes and Storage Capacity for Proper capacity Planning
  • Fix Server Problems remotely with built-in Troubleshooting Features and Tools
  • Support Operating Systems and Applications include: Windows Servers, Linux, Java, Active Directory, Citrix and many more
  • Deep Analysis and Monitoring of SQL Server, including Connections, Sessions, Disk I/O, Storage Capacity, DB Transactions, CPU Usage and much more
  • Granular monitoring of Memory (RAM), Hard Disk Usage, CPU/Processor Usage, Critical Services, and general Hardware within Servers.
  • Cloud Monitoring including Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure and Rackspace out-of-the-box
  • Easy to Use and Access Web based interface

Minimum System Requirements:

  • CPU: 2.4Ghz
  • Memory/RAM: 4GB
  • HDD: 4GB
  • OS: Windows Server 2008 R2 , 2012 and 2012 R2 – All require .Net Framework 4.5
  • Database: SQL Server Express/Standard/Enterprise
    • SQL Server 2008, 2008 SP1, 2008 SP2, 2008 SP3, or 2008 SP4
    • SQL Server 2008 R2, 2008 R2 SP1, 2008 R2 SP2, or 2008 R2 SP3
    • SQL Server 2012, 2012 SP1, 2012 SP2, or 2012 SP3
    • SQL Server 2014, or 2014 SP1
    • SQL Server 2016
  • IIS v7.5 or Higher

Screenshots

Automated Application server discovery

Custom Monitor Types

 

Main Dashboard for SAM

 

it assest tracking and inventory monitoring using SAM

 

Monitoring and Alerts

 

Monitoring AppInsight for Exchange Server

 

AppInsight IIS Server

 

monitoring hardware health
monitoring hardware health

 

Process and Service monitors
Process and Service monitors

 

Reporting Examples
Reporting Examples

 

Server monitoring Dashboard
Server monitoring Dashboard

 

Solarwinds appstack
SolarWinds appstack

 

Storage Capacity planning
Storage Capacity planning

 

vmware and hyper-v Virtualization summary and monitoring
vmware and hyper-v Virtualization summary and monitoring

 

volume and storage monitoring
volume and storage monitoring

Pros:

  • Offers “done for you” dashboards, monitors, and templates designed for your enviroment
  • Provides live monitoring through its agentless architecture
  • Supports auto-discovery that builds network topology maps and inventory lists in real-time based on devices that enter the network
  • Can map applications, networks, and infrastructure as well as highlight bottlenecks and dependencies
  • Uses drag and drop widgets to customize the look and feel of the dashboard

Cons:

  • SolarWinds SAM is a feature-rich enterprise tool that can take time to fully explore

Grab a 30 Day FREE Trial of SolarWinds SAM today and get it installed to really see its Functionality.

2. Paessler PRTG – FREE TRIAL

PRTG has been around for quite some time now and its been evolving into a great piece of software that has tons of bells and whistles. We've used this in our own environment for monitoring uptimes and critical services before we moved over to SolarWinds SAM, as we mentioned above.

PRTG offers a wide range of features and functions as well as a nice trial period that allows you to monitor up to 100 sensors at no cost and then goes up from there in pricing.

Main Features of PRTG:

System Requirements:

  • Processor: Minimum Dual Core x64
  • Memory/RAM: Minimum 3GB, Recommended 16GB for Mid to Large Environment
  • HDD: Minimum 250GB Disk Space up to 1TB of space
  • OS: Recommended Windows Server 2012 R2 w/ .Net Framework 4.0 or 4.5 (can be installed on desktop versions of Windows as Trial, but not Recommended for Production)
    • Supported OS's include:
      • Microsoft Windows 2012
      • Microsoft Windows 10
      • Microsoft Windows 8 and 8.1
      • Microsoft Windows 7
      • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 r2
      • Microsoft Windows Server 2016
      • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (Not recommended per PRTG website)
      • Microsoft Windows Vista (Not recommended per PRTG website)

Screenshots:

prtg jitter monitor

Pros:

  • Leverages customized sensors to provide a detailed look into many environments (including infrastructure)
  • The dashboard is customizable through a series of widgets and feels intuitive out of the box
  • Supports a completely free version for up to 100 sensors
  • Pricing is based on sensor utilization, making this a flexible and scalable solution for larger networks as well as budget-conscious organizations

Cons:

  • PRTG is a feature-rich platform that requires time to fully learn all of the features and options available

See there official site for more information and download links: https://www.paessler.com/prtg. Paesler also ofer a 30-day free trial of PRTG.

Download PRTG Now!

3. Datadog Server Monitoring – FREE TRIAL

Datadog Server Monitoring provides server monitoring and also watches over all of the applications and services that support your user-facing software. This package is able to monitor cloud resources as well as on-site servers.

Datadog Server Monitoring

Included features are:

  • Monitors processor activity and all resources on physical servers
  • Monitors cloud-based virtual servers and serverless systems
  • Tracks activities in virtualizations
  • Container monitoring and management
  • Monitors database systems
  • Watches over web servers
  • Examines event logs

System requirements:

  • This is a cloud-based system

Screenshots:

Datadog Server Monitoring

Datadog

Pros:

  • Provides quick insights into your servers through templates and prebuilt monitors
  • Great interface, easy to use, and highly customizable
  • Cloud-based SaaS product allows monitoring with no server deployments or onboarding fees
  • Supports auto-discovery that builds network topology maps on the fly

Cons:

  • Would like to see a longer 30-day trial

Download a 14-day free trial of Datadog Infrastructure:

https://www.datadoghq.com/free-datadog-trial/

Start 14-day FREE TRIAL!

4. Site24x7 Server Monitoring – FREE TRIAL

Site24x7 is a cloud-based system that is offered in a number of modules. Site24x7 Infrastructure is the group’s monitoring solution for servers and it also covers networks and applications. The use of virtualizations is also covered by this tool.

Included Features are:

  • Live reporting on server resources, such as CPU, memory, and processor capacity and utilization.
  • Monitors Linux and Windows Server.
  • Available in a version that is suitable or use by managed service providers (MSPs).
  • Monitors VMWare, Hyper-V, Docker, and Nutanix virtualizations.
  • Monitoring system for Microsoft services, such as Exchange Server, IIS, and SQL Server.
  • Raises alerts when server performance issues are spotted.

System Requirements:

  • This is a cloud-based service

Screenshots:

Site24x7 Network Performance Monitor

Site24x7 Storage Monitoring

Pros:

  • Offers out-of-the-box templates to monitor servers quickly with little setup
  • Uses real-time data to discover devices and build charts, network maps, and inventory reports
  • The platform is intuitive, little training is needed to get it fully functional
  • Supports a freeware version – a great option for smaller networks

Cons:

  • Is a very detailed platform that will require time to fully learn all of its features and options

Download a 30-day free trial of Site24x7 Infrastructure:

https://www.site24x7.com/signup.html

Site24x7 Free Trial!

5. SentryOne SQL Sentry – FREE TRIAL

SentryOne SQL Sentry is a monitoring system for SQL Server. However, it includes additional monitoring services for the underlying infrastructure that supports those databases. This stack monitoring includes virtualizations, operating systems, and physical server resources. The service is able to monitor the performance on Windows and Linux plus the Azure and Amazon cloud platforms.

Included Features are:

  • Correlation between database activity and server resource usage
  • Supervision of server resource availability
  • Operating system performance monitoring for Windows and Linux
  • Monitoring of hosts and VM in Hyper-V and VMWare virtualizations
  • Alerts for resource issues and performance problems
  • Historical analysis services

System Requirements:

  • An Azure service
  • Windows Server (on premises)

Screenshots:

SentryOne SQL Sentry

SentryOne SQL Server Hyper-V MonitoringSentryOne SQL Sentry Query Performance Monitoring

Pros:

  • Great fit for those looking to monitor Hyper-V systems and databases performance in one solution
  • 100+ alerts and templates customized around SQL server health monitoring
  • Supports root cause analysis for faster resolution times
  • Supports a wide range of integrations for logging and PSA

Cons:

  • Those who don’t need database monitoring may not use all features SentryOne has to offer

Download a 14-day free trial of SentryOne SQL Sentry:

https://www.sentryone.com/products/sentryone-platform/win-sentry/windows-performance-monitoring

Start Free Trial!

6. Progress WhatsUp Gold

WhatsUp Gold 2017 is another great tool for managing and monitoring servers with its latest offering, they have come up to par like many other software suites we have mentioned as well, with many of the same features.

Included Features are:

  • New UI for Added Visualization for Intuitive and Map-Focused viewing
  • Advanced Auto-Discovery that utilizes proprietary algorithm to avoid duplicate hardware and L2/L3 scanning capabilities
  • Hyper-V Support
  • IPv6 Compatible
  • Global Search functionality and much more

System Requirements:

  • Processor: Quad-Core 2.6Ghz or More
  • Memory/Ram: Minimum 8GB, Recommended 16GB or More
  • HDD: Minimum 25GB for base Install and 4 x 100GB for Database
  • OS:
  • Database:

Screenshots:

whatsup gold 2017

Pros:

  • Great interface
  • Supports a wide range of flow-enabled devices
  • Can support both virtual and physical hardware
  • Balances user experience with monitoring features quite well

Cons:

  • Only available for Windows operating systems
  • Free version can only monitor up to five resources

Download WhatsUp Gold Free and Try Today:

https://www.ipswitch.com/forms/free-trials/whatsup-gold

7. OP5

OP5 is an open-source solution that gives you the flexibility of an open-source platform with the enterprise support of any other product we've mentioned in this article. You will need to buy a license to accomodate the software after the 30 Day Free Trial regardless of it being open-source.

Some notable features include:

  • Server & Virtual Server monitoring capabilities
  • Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud monitoring
  • Scalable to monitor Data centers as well
  • Reporting and other Visual metrics
  • Integrated Log Server built into the platform
  • and much more!

System Requirements:

  • Processor: Xeon Processor (1 x Xeon E3-1220v3, 1 x Xeon E5-2620v3 or 2 x Xeon E5-2620v)
  • Memory/Ram: Minimum 8GB up to 24GB
  • HDD: Minimum 500GB Hardware Raid Recommended
  • OS: RedHat 6.x and CentOS 6.x (x64 for Both) or op5 Server OS.

Screenshots:

op5

Pros:

  • Focuses primarily on offering their services to large enterprises
  • All features and interfaces are designed to scale and handle large amounts of data well
  • Simple widget customizations can be added or removed
  • Offers geolocation mapping, and dependency mapping to help visualize complicated network services

Cons:

  • Must contact sales for accurate pricing information
  • The interface could be made more user-friendly with fewer menu options

See the Official site for Download Links and more information:

https://www.op5.com

8. ManageEngine OpManager

ManageEngine is constantly striving to put out a great product, OpManager, and is gaining a lot of traction in the IT realm. OpManager brings server monitoring to your finger tips and allows you to view everything on a nicely laid out interface.

OpManager has the following features:

System Requirements (via: http://help.opmanager.com/hardware-and-software-requirements):

  • Processor: Intel Quad 3.5Ghz
  • Memory/Ram: 16GB
  • HDD: 60GB
  • OS: Windows:2012 R2 / 2012 / 2008 R2 / 2008 / 2003 Server / Vista / v7 / 2000 Professional SP4 or Linux: RedHat 4.x and above, Debian 3.0, Suse, Fedora and Mandrake
  • Database: MSSQL 2008, 2012 and 2014

Screenshots:

OpManager Dashboard
OpManager Dashboard

Pros:

  • Designed to work right away, features over 200 customizable widgets to build unique dashboards and reports
  • Features traffic management options alongside DPI tools
  • Uses intelligent alerting to reduce false positives and eliminate alert fatigue across larger networks
  • Supports email, SMS, and webhook for numerous alerting channels
  • Can set up SLAs based on network, application, or process

Cons:

  • Is a feature-rich tool that will require a time investment to properly learn

Download & More information at

https://www.manageengine.com/network-monitoring/

9. Incinga

Incinga is another great open-source platform that has some great functionality and isn't as well known as most of these software packages. Incinga features include some of the following highlights:

  • Object-Based configuration
  • Simple Install scripts
  • Multi-threaded and Designed for Speed
  • and much more!

System Requirements:

  • Processor: Minimum Dual Core, Recommend Quad Core
  • Memory/Ram: Minimum 4GB
  • OS: Red Hat/ Cent OS, Suse Linux, Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, FreeBSD and Windows compatible.

Screenshots:

incinga screenshot

Pros:

  • Transparent open-source tool
  • Can be configured via GUI or DSL, making it a good choice for admins who enjoy CLI tools
  • Supports built-in visual reporting
  • Modules allow for different functionality, keeping the base installation sleek and lightweight
  • Can run on Linux as well as Windows operating systems

Cons:

  • Reliant upon the open-source community for support and updates
  • Designed for more technical users, other options have better out-of-box features

For more information, check out their official site:

https://www.icinga.org/

10. Zabbix

Zabbix is a real-time monitoring solution that is very scalable and can collect data from millions of different types of services, hardware, software and more. Its Enterprise grade and has scalability built into it.

Zabbix pricing model is based on upgrades and support, as the software is open source and free to download and use. We prefer software packages that have support built into the pricing model from the get go, but this is another way that open source solutions are being maintained and supported in recent times.

Features Include:

  • Capacity Planning
  • Performance, Availability, Web App, Database and Network Hardware monitoring
  • and much more

System Requirements:

  • Processor: Minimum 2 Core CPU and up to 8 Cores if necessary
  • Memory/Ram: Minimum 2GB and 16GB Recommended for Large Deployements
  • HDD: Minimum 15GB
  • Database: MySql, Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQLite or IBM DB2
  • OS Supported:
    • Linux
    • IBM AIX
    • FreeBSD
    • NetBSD
    • OpenBSD
    • HP-UX
    • Mac OS X
    • Solaris
    • Windows: all desktop and server versions since 2000 (Zabbix agent only)

Screenshots:

zabbix screenshot

Pros:

  • Open-source transparent tool
  • Uses both SNMP and ICMP for broader monitoring ranges
  • Offers useful templates for quick insights

Cons:

  • No paid support option – not ideal for large enterprise environments

For more information, check out their official site:

https://www.zabbix.com/download

11. Nagios

Nagios is one of the more popular open-source solutions although it lacks in some areas in terms of ease of use and built-in functionality. Many IT admins prefer using Nagios due to the cost savings, which are nice when your on a budget, but many folks have also moved away from it and found alternative Nagios solutions.

Nonetheless, its still a very popular choice amongst Network Administrators and engineers for utilizing as a monitoring system and has a lot of add-on's that give it the same capabilities and functionality that you get from Enterprise level software solutions.

Notable Features include:

  • Comprehensive application, services, operating system, Network and overall infrastructure monitoring capabilities.
  • Customizable Code and Add-on's for more flexibility
  • Reporting and Event functionality
  • Active Forum and Community for Development and troubleshooting

System Requirements:

  • Processor: Minimum Dual Core, Recommended Quad Core or more.
  • Memory/Ram: Recommended 1-4GB minimum and more than 8GB's if possible
  • HDD: Minimum 40GB
  • Database: MySQL

Screenshots:

nagiox xi

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Would like to see additional integrations into more ticketing systems

For more information, check out https://www.nagios.org for official download links and more!

12. OpenNMS

OpenNMS is the last tool we'd recommend and it has a great list of features that make it stand out among the rest. Features include many of the following:

  • Service Outage Detection
  • Topology Discovery and Mapping
  • Event-Driven Architecture
  • Performance Metric Management
  • and much more!

System Requirements:

  • Processor: 64-bit Processor
  • Memory/Ram: At Least 4Gb of Ram
  • OS: Centos or Red Hat Linux, Debian or Ubuntu, Windows Server, Vagrant
  • Database: PostgreSQL

Screenshots:

opennms screenshot

Pros:

  • Open source projects, lots of room for customization, and personalized add-ons
  • Has a large amount of documentation available
  • Features two versions, a stable version and a beta test version for new features
  • Offers a wide range of monitoring options and flexible alert notifications

Cons:

  • Is more complicated to set up than paid tools that focus on streamlining the onboarding process

For more information, check out their official site:

https://www.opennms.org/en

Conclusion

We hope this overview of the best server monitoring tools and software was helpful in making your decision on which software package you should try out. Almost every single one of these offers a Trial for at least 30 days and they are all very well suited for almost any network.

We are currently using SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor in our network and love it. We suggest it to all our clients and anyone we consult for as it really gives a great overview of your network, the alerts are very easy to setup along with proper reporting.

We have even Migrated users away from Nagios to SolarWinds because they have a built-in Import tool to pull the scripts directly into the software allowing you to be monitoring within a few minutes time.

Grab a Free Trial Download here and give a whirl!
Download Free Trial Now!

Related Post: Best Hardware Monitoring Software and Tools

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