Syslog is the keeper of all things events and we're bringing you the Best Free Syslog Servers for Windows (and Linux), along with some insightful reviews and screenshots.
Syslog (System Logging) standard is widely used by devices of all sorts, including computers, routers, switches, printers, and more.
Here is our list of the best free Syslog servers for Windows, Linux and Unix:
- Paessler PRTG – EDITOR’S CHOICE This full stack monitoring package includes an option for a Syslog server with monitoring and alerting features alongside viewing and filing functions. Offered as a SaaS platform or for installation on Windows Server. Download for free.
- ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer – FREE TRIAL This tool collects, consolidates, and files log messages and also provides analytical functions. Runs on Windows Server or Linux. Download a 30-day free trial.
- ManageEngine Log360 – FREE TRIAL This SIEM system includes a comprehensive log management and analysis package and is available in free and paid versions. Runs on Windows Server. Access a 30-day free trial.
- EZ5 Systems Syslog Watcher A Syslog consolidator that receives log messages and files them. The service also records message turnover metrics and can issue alerts for unusual levels. Installs on Windows.
- Splunk Enterprise This is a paid tool since the free version was deprecated. However, it offers a 60-day free trial and includes Syslog server capabilities. Installs on Linux and macOS.
- The Dude A free network monitoring system that includes a Syslog and Windows Event server. Installs on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
- Progress WhatsUp Gold Log Management A paid product with a free trial that is a log server for Syslog and Windows Events. This is an add-on to the main system monitoring package of WhatsUp Gold and it on Windows Server.
Devices send syslog messages about any number of events. These can be informational messages, such as user login events, or they can be critical messages, like a failure in the primary application.
These messages play an important part in a network administrator’s arsenal of tools; they alert the admin of errors and warnings right as they happen, allowing them to quickly respond to problems and hopefully fix them before they become major issues.
What is a Syslog Server?
Syslog servers are the most significant tool in the domain of IT infrastructure management. They play a vital role in gathering and storing log messages from different applications and devices that are on the network.
The Syslog server’s centralized logging system aids the administrator of the system in monitoring and troubleshooting their system effectively.
In the following points, we are going to cover the idea of a Syslog server, its uses, and the free options available for Linux, Unix, and Windows platforms.
A Syslog server is a centralized logging system whose basic function is to gather, process, and store log messages that are created by network components, devices, and applications. The protocol of the server started in the 1980s, and since then it has been mostly used in various routers, network devices, switches, and routers. The protocall allows these systems to share diagnostic information and event notifications with the Syslog server that is in the center.
What is a Syslog Server Used For?
The fundamental use of the Syslog server is to offer centralized log management. Syslog servers provide various benefits through the collection of log messages from different sources. The benefits are as follows:
Centralized Logging: Syslog servers offer one location for log data storage, thus allowing administrators to perceive overall events, potential issues, and system activities.
Troubleshooting and Monitoring: Then, with the help of the Syslog server, administrators can easily determine and resolve issues because all the log messages are gathered in one location. It enables fast detection of anomalies and patterns.
Security and Compliance: The teams responsible for security use Syslog servers to investigate and detect security issues. The server also stores audit records and trails that are needed for regulatory compliance, and the Syslog server is also used for compliance.
Long-term Storage: Syslog servers enable businesses to sustain log data for longer periods of time, which further helps in the analysis of past data and the identification of trends.
Syslog message, SNMP, troubleshooting, and polling
Syslog messages are also important to have for security audits. On a network with a large number of devices, accessing logs on each device requires logging in to each one. It is a tedious and time-consuming process and you run the risk of missing important event messages. This is where syslog servers, also referred to as collectors, become very useful.
After enabling each device to send syslog messages, those devices start sending their log messages which are captured by the syslog server; there they are readily available to view and analyze.
Unlike SNMP, syslog cannot be used to poll devices for information; the syslog standard is used only to send messages about events.
For troubleshooting purposes, syslog sending is potentially more effective than SNMP polling because syslog messages are sent and received immediately after an event occurs, whereas polling information is received at intervals – events can occur quickly and cause a lot of damage in the short amount of time between polling intervals.
For each device that you wish to have send its event logs to your syslog server, you need to ensure that its remote syslog service is enabled and that it is pointed at the IP address of your server.
Note: the Syslog default port is UDP 514; each sending device and the receiving Syslog collector need to be able to access this port.
The Best Free Syslog Servers
Grab one of the following Free Syslog Servers below to keep an eye on your network with further detail from a centralized location, many of these can also be installed on Windows 7, 8.1, 10, 11, and other desktop versions of Windows, as well as almost every Windows Server Version on the Market.
What should you look for in free Syslog server tools?
We reviewed the market for free Syslog servers and analyzed the tools based on the following criteria:
- A simple way to set up clients so that they can send to the server
- Security systems that provide security and authentication routines
- A file management system that can rotate log files and create a meaningful directory structure
- Nice to have a consolidator that can merge Syslog messages with Windows Events
- A data viewer tool that includes record searching, sorting, and filtering capabilities
- Software that can cope with the volume of data your system generates
- The option to try out paid Syslog servers for free as well as accessing permanently free systems
With these selection criteria in mind, we have discovered some really useful Syslog management utilities that we are happy to recommend and explain how you can get them for free.
Paessler PRTG is a bundle of many monitoring systems that cover networks, servers, services, cloud platforms, and software activities. Among the package’s features, you will find a Syslog receiver.
- Examines the severity and source of incoming messages
- Provides options to set up alerts
- Can forward or file messages
This reports on arriving Syslog messages and also displays them. The sensor identifies the severity level and produces counts of each score as messages arrive. You can set up an alert on these numbers, so for example, you could get the system to raise an alert if any top severity message arrives or if the warning count gets above a specific number.
The tool will also store messages in files or forward them, depending on how you set the sensor up. This is a really flexible tool while still being easy to use.
It would be nice if the tool could also pick up Windows Events, but it can’t. The package does include an Event Log sensor. However, this just records the number of Event messages rather than collecting and filing them. You could organize an Event log forwarder that converts those messages into the Syslog format, then the PRTG Syslog Receiver could pick them up.
- Provides a system-wide monitoring service as well as a Syslog server
- Attractive and adaptable console
- Options for on-premises installation or a SaaS subscription
- Doesn’t gather Windows Events
Paessler PRTG is a paid package. However, if you only activate 100 sensors you never have to pay for the system. So you can get the Syslog Receiver for free plus a lot of other features, such as the network discovery service and automated network monitoring system. Paessler offers the full PRTG package with all sensors activated for a 30-day free trial.
Paessler PRTG is our top pick for a free Syslog server because you not only get the Syslog server function but you can also have another 100 sensors for free. PRTG is one of the top network monitoring packages on the market and it also offers server and application monitoring. The buyer decides which features to activate, making it possible to completely tailor the package. The Syslog receiver shows you the messages as they arrive and it gives you the option to filter out low priority messages, forward some or all messages and file messages for future analysis.
Official Site: https://www.paessler.com/download/prtg-download
OS: Windows Server or cloud
ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer offers log messages collection and management services that extend to log file management and log analysis.
This software package isn’t limited to collecting logs from the computer it is installed on. It gathers data from all of the devices on the network, no matter what operating systems they are running.
- Extensive integration into other ManageEngine products
- Cross-platform support for Windows and Linux
- Advanced syslog filtering capabilities
The EventLog Analyzer gathers Windows Events from PCs and Windows Server computers and also Syslog messages from Linux systems. It also collects the log messages output by the software running on your systems.
One of the main tasks of this tool is to consolidate log messages by converting them into a common format. This means that they can be stored in the same file and are in regular columns that can easily be searched for analysis.
The EventLog Analyzer files these messages in a meaningful directory structure and rotates log files regularly.
An analytical tool in the EventLog Analyzer console is able to access log files and search through them. The tool lets you implement a range of applications, such as security or performance monitoring.
Log messages can also be forwarded by the EventLog Analyzer to third-party tools for deeper scrutiny. Examples of this type of setup include SIEM systems, including ManageEngine’s own Log360 (see next review).
- Collects operating system logs
- Gathers software log messages from 700 different packages
- Consolidates and files log messages
- No cloud version
ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer runs on Windows Server or Linux. There is a Free edition that is limited to gathering logs from five sources. You can assess the full Premium edition with a 30-day free trial.
ManageEngine Log360 is a bundle of tools that creates a SIEM system. There are six ManageEngine packages in this offering and one of those is the EventLog Analyzer featured above. This system receives, stores, and displays log messages for searching.
- Features a comprehensive SIEM system
- Supports multi-site/multi-tenant environments
- Includes a free version for testing
While you get a fully automated threat detection system with the SIEM, you also get a log manager. The service will receive log messages from more than 700 different sources, which includes those that use the Syslog format.
The tool standardizes those incoming messages into a common format so that they can be stored and searched together. This process is called “parsing” and it enables you to unify data from different origins.
Logs are collected from each endpoint on your network and also from cloud platforms, such as AWS and Azure.
The Log360 package includes a compliance reporting tool for HIPAA, PCI DSS, FISMA, SOX, GDPR, and GLBA.
The SIEM performs automated searches through collected logs and raises an alert if it detects a threat event.
Alerts can be sent as notifications through service desk systems, including ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus, Jira, and Kayoko.
- Collects log messages for more than 700 sources
- Free edition available
- Consolidates and stores log messages
- The free version is intended for use with the log files collected during the trial period of the paid edition.
ManageEngine Log360 runs on Windows Server and you can assess the tool with a 30-day free trial.
A comprehensive, feature-rich application, EZ5 Systems Syslog Watcher is a Windows-based dedicated syslog server that collects and analyzes syslogs from any number of network hosts and servers (The free version allows up to 5 sources, while the professional license lets you collect from an unlimited number of sources).
- Consolidates syslog files from various applications
- Supports continuous syslog monitoring
- Various alert and automation templates
It gathers syslog messages from any device or appliance that has syslog sending enabled, as well as system log events from Windows, Unix, and Linux servers.
It also collects from any software that supports syslog sending. It boasts being able to handle 5000+ syslog messages per second.
Syslog Watcher supports both IPv4 and IPv6 networks, and collects over both UDP & TCP.
You can enable email alerts for certain events and messages, which alerts you of network and system errors before they become major problems.
The Viewer lets you sort and filter events as they come in, and lets you view the most recent syslogs in virtually real-time; messages can be customized by font and background based on filters.
All stored messages can be searched using an extensive rule set.
Important messages can be saved longer, and max keep time depends on the severity level of the message.
- Simple lightweight interface
- Supports logging in Windows, Linux, and Unix environments
- Can handle enterprise-level traffic, 5000+ messages per second
- They no longer provide a free limited version.
- The log search filter could use refinement
- Would like to see alerting options
5. Splunk Enterprise
Splunk Enterprise is designed to be a comprehensive log management solution for small IT environments. Real time analysis of syslog messages from your devices is done from its customizable dashboard.
- Generous 60-day trial period
- Support for Linux, Windows, and macOS
- Vast syslog collection integrations
It comes with powerful search functionalities and the ability to filter results and drill down to those messages that you specifically require, such as error messages only or messages only from a specific device.
Its search capabilities include Boolean, quoted string and wildcard searches; it allows you to search in real time, search time-range, or search by transaction-level.
Splunk’s capabilities can be expanded using add-ons such as the Add-on for Microsoft Windows, which allows you to collect log messages from Windows machines.
- Uses powerful query language, great for environments with high log volumes
- The tool is initially lightweight, with additional features supported through plugins
- Supports up to 500 MB of log data per day – solid option for small businesses
- The dashboard interface can take time to get used to, could be made easier to use
- The advanced search features have a steeper learning curve for new users
It can also be set up to collect syslog data from a forwarder. Splunk Enterprise is a paid system but you can get it on a 60-day free trial.
In our Top Free Netflow Analyzers and Collectors article we discussed the application The Dude, from MicroTik. The Dude is a powerful network administration application; it contains within itself a built-in Free Syslog Server.
- Easy to use, learn, and deploy
- Support for Windows, Linux, and macOS
- Completely free
This server can be turned on in the Server settings, under the “Syslog” tab.
While having The Dude poll your devices (sending out information requests at regular intervals using SNMP) is useful, capturing unsolicited messages from your devices is a more effective way to catch errors quickly.
You can create alerts for specific syslog messages as well as create filters.
The Dude is a great all-purpose application for network administrators.
- Installs on Windows, Linux, and Mac, making this one of the most flexible options for syslog servers
- Can ingest SNMP alerts, ICMP requests, and DNS queries, giving you a wide variety for log collection options
- Utilizes autodiscovery for network mapping and device identification
- Supports log forwarding to other servers or applications
- Not as lightweight as some other simple syslog servers
- Interface can we challenging to learn
Progress WhatsUp Gold is a network management system that can be expanded by add-ons. One of the add-ons available with this package is the Log Management module.
- Offers various monitoring add-ons
- Lightweight base package
- Features detailed reporting capabilities
The Log Management system can operate as a Syslog server and it will also receive Windows Events messages. It is able to consolidate these two different formats and file them together. The service collects metrics on log message throughputs and will raise an alert if the arrival rate suddenly increases or decreases out of band.
The dashboard of the Log Management tool will show each log message as it arrives. The severity of each message is easy to spot, thanks to the use of color-coded icons that follow a traffic light system.
The Log Management system is only available as an add-on to WhatsUp Gold. These tools are software packages that install on Windows Server.
- Offers message forwarding, allowing you to receive logs and alerts on multiple platforms
- Can process six million messages per hour, allowing it to be used in enterprise environments
- Acts as an event viewer, allowing you to import older logs for review
- The interface is clunky, and can be harder to read logs during heavy use
- Only available for Windows
Grab one of these great Free Syslog Servers today and fire up a Test VM or Server and get it configured to really get a good feeling of the software works, along with their respective feature sets.
We'll continue to update this list throughout the year and if we've missed any software, please feel free to send us an email and we'll happily get the software added after we've reviewed it!
Free Syslog server FAQs
How do you forward Windows event logs to a Syslog server?
The easiest way to forward Windows event logs to a Syslog server is to set up a collector. There are a number of these available and some of them are free. Your best option is to use the Kiwi Syslog Server Free Edition. You can read a step-by-step guide on Event log forwarding to Syslog using Kiwi here on the PC & Network Downloads website.
What is the default port used to connect to a Syslog server?
The default port to use when communicating with a Syslog server is UDP port 514.
How do you install Syslog server in Linux?
You can install syslog-ng on Linux with the command: $ sudo apt-get install syslog-ng -y