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SNMP Trap vs Syslog – Whats the Difference?

SNMP Trap vs Syslog – Whats the Difference?

Marc Wilson

IT admins use either Syslog or SNMP traps for monitoring purposes.

Both standards provide very similar monitoring information but through different functionalities.

Summary of Each:

Syslog works more as a troubleshooting tool and is used when logs are needed for an investigation.

Although you can use Syslog for real-time feeds, it is often only used for quick historical events.

 

SNMP Traps, on the other hand, works on device-based events. It provides real-time information and allows for better management.

In most cases and depending on the requirements using a combination of both is the best solution. For more detailed information about the differences, keep reading!

What is Syslog?

What is Syslog and port number

Syslog is a message logging protocol for exchanging logs of different severities from multiple devices.

Its layered architecture is formed by three components, the Syslog device, which generates the logs, the Syslog relay which forwards the logs to a collector, and the Syslog collector (or server), which receives and stores the logs.

The format of each log includes timestamps, host IP addresses, event message, severity, diagnostics, and more. Syslog allows selecting the type of information that is captured.

These logs can be anything from ACL events, configuration changes, authentication attempts, etc.

Syslog primary functionality:

Gather logs for troubleshooting and monitoring.

What is SNMP Traps?

SNMP Traps is one of the five (Trap, Get, Get-Next, Get-Response, Set), event message types used by SNMP.

The SNMP Traps are generated by an SNMP-enabled device (the agent) and sent to a collector (the manager).

The SNMP Trap informs the SNMP manager in real-time when an important event happened.

The SNMP trap uses thresholds configured at the agent. When a threshold is crossed at the agent, the SNMP trap is triggered and sent to the manager.

SNMP traps send data using the numeric OIDs which are translated using SNMP MIBs (Management Information Bases).

The SNMP Traps are not requested by the SNMP manager. The SNMP Get message can be used (wich additional software) to poll information from the agent.

SNMP Traps primary functionality: Collect events in real-time for management and monitoring.

Syslog vs SNMP Traps

Similarities between Syslog and SNMP traps:

  • Both are alert messages generated from a remote device and sent to a central collector.
  • Both provide similar “monitoring” information.
  • Both function on demand and are not solicited.

Differences between Syslog and SNMP traps:

ProtocolMessagesSeverityPortsSecurityFunctionality
SyslogCentralized LogsLevel 0 – 7UDP 514No authentication mechanismsTroubleshooting and Monitoring.
SNMP TrapsReal-time TrapsN/AUDP 161 and 162Better through SNMPv3Management and Monitoring.

 

  • Overall, the SNMP protocol defines methods for remote monitoring and configuration through other types of messages. Syslog is just an alerting mechanism (same as SNMP traps); it does not define any standard for remote configuration.
  • Syslog provides more granular information in the logging messages. Although it is not the standard, Syslog is often used for troubleshooting and debugging, and SNMP traps for device management and reporting.
  • Syslog Messages vs. SNMP MIB requests: SNMP Get requests messages can be used for polling from agents using the local MIB. Syslog can’t be used to poll information.