The realm of Network Monitoring Tools, Software, and Vendors is Huge, to say the least. New software, tools, and utilities are being launched almost every year to compete in an ever-changing marketplace of IT monitoring, server monitoring, and system monitoring software.
I've test-driven, played with and implemented dozens during my career and this guide rounds up the best ones in an easy-to-read format and highlighted their main strengths and why I think they are in the top class of tools to use in your IT infrastructure and business.
Some of the features I am looking for are device discovery, uptime/downtime indicators, along with robust and thorough alerting systems (via email/SMS), NetFlow and SNMP Integration as well as considerations that are important with any software purchase such as ease of use and value for money.
The features from above were all major points of interest when evaluating software suites for this article and I'll try to keep this article as updated as possible with new feature sets and improvements as they are released.
Here is our list of the top network monitoring tools:
- Auvik – EDITOR'S CHOICE This network monitoring package discovers all devices, maps the network, and then implements automated performance tracking. It also comes with dozens of customizable alert options to let you know whenever something changes. Smaller organizations without an IT team can benefit greatly. Get a 14-day free trial.
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor – FREE TRIAL A collection of monitoring tools and many of those are network monitors. Runs on Windows Server. Start a 30-day free trial.
- SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor – FREE TRIAL The leading network monitoring system that uses SNMP to check on network device statuses. This monitoring tool includes autodiscovery that compiles an asset inventory and automatically draws up a network topology map. Runs on Windows Server. Start 30-day free trial.
- Checkmk – FREE TRIAL This hybrid IT infrastructure monitoring package includes a comprehensive network monitor that provides device status tracking and traffic analysis functions via the integration with ntop. Available as a Linux install package, Docker package, appliance and cloud application available in cloud marketplaces. Get a 30-day free trial.
- Datadog Network Monitoring – FREE TRIAL Provides good visibility over each of the components of your network and the connections between them – be it cloud, on-premises or hybrid environment. Troubleshoot infrastructure, apps and DNS issues effortlessly.
- ManageEngine OpManager – FREE TRIAL An SNMP-based network monitor that has great network topology layout options, all based on an autodiscovery process. Installs on Windows Server and Linux.
- NinjaOne RMM – FREE TRIAL This cloud-based system provides remote monitoring and management for managed service providers covering the systems of their clients.
- Site24x7 Network Monitoring – FREE TRIAL A cloud-based monitoring system for networks, servers, and applications. This tool monitors both physical and virtual resources.
- Atera – FREE TRIAL A cloud-based package of remote monitoring and management tools that include automated network monitoring and a network mapping utility.
- ManageEngine RMM Central – FREE TRIAL A powerful asset and network management that includes patching, remote access, and automated remediation.
The Top Network Monitoring Tools and Software
Below you'll find an updated list of the Latest Tools & Software to ensure your network is continuously tracked and monitored at all times of the day to ensure the highest up-times possible. Most of them have free Downloads or Trials to get you started for 15 to 30 days to ensure it meets your requirements.
What should you look for in network monitoring tools?
We reviewed the market for network monitoring software and analyzed the tools based on the following criteria:
- An automated service that can perform network monitoring unattended
- A device discovery routine that automatically creates an asset inventory
- A network mapping service that shows live statuses of all devices
- Alerts for when problems arise
- The ability to communicate with network devices through SNMP
- A free trial or a demo for a no-cost assessment
- Value for money in a package that provides monitoring for all network devices at a reasonable price
With these selection criteria in mind, we have defined a shortlist of suitable network monitoring tools for all operating systems.
Auvik is a SaaS platform that offers a network discovery and mapping system that automates enrolment and then continues to operate in order to spot changes in network infrastructure. This system is able to centralize and unify the monitoring of multiple sites.
- A SaaS package that includes processing power and storage space for system logs as well as the monitoring software
- Centralizes the monitoring of networks on multiple sites
- Watches over network device statuses
- Offers two plans: Essential and Performance
- Network traffic analysis included in the higher plan
- Monitors virtual LANs as well as physical networks
- Autodiscovery service
- Network mapping
- Alerts for automated monitoring
- Integrations with third-party complimentary systems
Why do we recommend it?
Auvik is a cloud-based network monitoring system. It reaches into your network, identifies all connected devices, and then creates a map. While SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor also performs those tasks, Auvik is a much lighter tool that you don’t have to host yourself and you don’t need deep technical knowledge to watch over a network with this automated system.
Auvik’s network monitoring system is automated, thanks to its system of thresholds. The service includes out-of-the-box thresholds that are placed on most of the metrics that the network monitor tracks. It is also possible to create custom thresholds.
Once the monitoring service is operating, if any of the thresholds are crossed, the system raises an alert. This mechanism allows technicians to get on with other tasks, knowing that the thresholds give them time to avert system performance problems that would be noticeable to users.
Network management tools that are included in the Auvik package include configuration management to standardize the settings of network devices and prevent unauthorized changes.
The processing power for Auvik is provided by the service’s cloud servers. However, the system requires collectors to be installed on each monitored site. This software runs on Windows Server and Ubuntu Linux. It is also possible to run the collector on a VM. Wherever the collector is located, the system manager still accesses the service’s console, which is based on the Auvik server, through any standard Web browser.
Who is it recommended for?
Smaller businesses that don’t have a team to support IT would benefit from Auvik. It needs no software maintenance and the system provides automated alerts when issues arise, so your few IT staff can get on with supporting other resources while Auvik looks after the network.
- A specialized network monitoring tool
- Additional network management utilities
- Configuration management included
- A cloud-based service that is accessible from anywhere through any standard Web browser
- Data collectors for Windows Server and Ubuntu Linux
- The system isn’t expandable with any other Auvik modules
Auvik doesn’t publish its prices by you can access a 14-day free trial.
Auvik is our top pick for a network monitoring tool because it is a hosted SaaS package that provides all of your network monitoring needs without you needing to maintain the software. The Auvik platform installs an agent on your site and then sets itself up by scanning the network and identifying all devices. The inventory that this system generates gives you details of all of your equipment and provides a basis for network topology maps. Repeated checks on the network gather performance statistics and if any metric crosses a threshold, the tool will generate an alert. You can centralize the monitoring of multiple sites with this service.
Official Site: https://www.auvik.com/#trial
PRTG Network Monitor software is commonly known for its advanced infrastructure management capabilities. All devices, systems, traffic, and applications in your network can be easily displayed in a hierarchical view that summarizes performance and alerts. PRTG monitors the entire IT infrastructure using technology such as SNMP, WMI, SSH, Flows/Packet Sniffing, HTTP requests, REST APIs, Pings, SQL, and a lot more.
- Autodiscovery that creates and maintains a device inventory
- Live network topology maps are available in a range of formats
- Monitoring for wireless networks as well as LANs
- Multi-site monitoring capabilities
- SNMP sensors to gather device health information
- Ping to check on device availability
- Optional extra sensors to monitor servers and applications
- System-wide status overviews and drill-down paths for individual device details
- A protocol analyzer to identify high-traffic applications
- A packet sniffer to collect packet headers for analysis
- Color-coded graphs of live data in the system dashboard
- Capacity planning support
- Alerts on device problems, resource shortages, and performance issues
- Notifications generated from alerts that can be sent out by email or SMS
- Available for installation on Windows Server or as a hosted cloud service
Why do we recommend it?
Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is a very flexible package. Not only does it monitor networks, but it can also monitor endpoints and applications. The PRTG system will discover and map your network, creating a network inventory, which is the basis for automated monitoring. You put together your ideal monitoring system by choosing which sensors to turn on. You pay for an allowance of sensors.
It is one of the best choices for organizations with low experience in network monitoring software. The user interface is really powerful and very easy to use.
A very particular feature of PRTG is its ability to monitor devices in the data center with a mobile app. A QR code that corresponds to the sensor is printed out and attached to the physical hardware. The mobile app is used to scan the code and a summary of the device is displayed on the mobile screen.
In summary, Paessler PRTG is a flexible package of sensors that you can tailor to your own needs by deciding which monitors to activate. The SNMP-based network performance monitoring routines include an autodiscovery system that generates a network asset inventory and topology maps. You can also activate traffic monitoring features that can communicate with switches through NetFlow, sFlow, J-Flow, and IPFIX. QoS and NBAR features enable you to keep your time-sensitive applications working properly.
Who is it recommended for?
PRTG is available in a Free edition, which is limited to 100 sensors. This is probably enough to support a small network. Mid-sized and large organizations should be interested in paying for larger allowances of sensors. The tool can even monitor multiple sites from one location.
- 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
PRTG has a very flexible pricing plan, to get an idea visit their official pricing webpage below. It is free to use for up to 50 sensors. Beyond that you get a 30-day free trial to figure out your network requirements.