Network monitoring software is an indispensable tool for every system administrator. They allow you to quickly respond to abnormal activities within the local network, to be aware of all network processes and, thus, automate part of the administrator’s routine activities: primarily those related to network security. Let’s see which programs for monitoring the local network are the most relevant in 2019.
This top opens with Total Network Monitor 2 – an extremely affordable and effective software solution for network monitoring of server machines, which displays the perfect balance between convenience (there is no GUI in most free solutions) and extensive functionality. One of the main programmable components of TNM 2 are monitors, which perform checks at the frequency you need. The list of available checks is impressive. They allow you to track almost any parameter, starting from the availability of servers on the network and ending with checking the status of services.
It is noteworthy that these objects are capable of independently eliminating the primary consequences of malfunctions (that is, all this happens without the direct involvement of the system administrator) – for example, rebooting individual services or user devices, activating the antivirus, updating the event log with new entries, etc. – in general, everything that the system administrator initially performed manually. With regard to reporting, it stores all the information associated with each audit, which was carried out by the selected monitor. The cost for 1 copy of this application is only 5,000 rubles.
|Low price||No dashboards|
|Easy to install||No multithreading|
|Friendly interface||Is not updated|
The Observium application, whose operation is based on the use of the SNMP protocol, allows not only to investigate the state of a network of any scale in real-time, but also to analyze the level of its performance. This solution integrates with equipment from Cisco, Windows, Linux, HP, Juniper, Dell, FreeBSD, Brocade, Netscaler, NetApp and other vendors. Thanks to a well-designed graphical interface, this software provides system administrators with a lot of options for configuration – from ranges for auto-detection to SNMP protocol data needed to collect information about the network.
They also gain access to data on the technical characteristics of all equipment that is currently connected to the network. All reports that are generated through the analysis of the event log, the Observium can present in the form of charts and graphs, clearly demonstrating the “weak” side of the network. You can use both the demo version (which, based on our experience, has an insufficient set of features), and a paid license, the annual cost of using which is £ 200.
|Free version available||But no mobile support|
|“Threshold” Signals||Not easy to install|
|Auto Detection Features||Not for small networks|
|Available for many systems||The disadvantages of the free version|
Nagios is an advanced monitoring solution based on a web interface. It is by no means easy to learn, however, thanks to its rather large online community and well-developed documentation, it can be mastered in a few weeks.
Using Nagios, system administrators are able to remotely control the amount of load on user or higher-level equipment in the network hierarchy (switches, routers, servers), monitor the degree of load of memory reserves in databases, and monitor the physical indicators of parts of network equipment (for example, the temperature of the motherboard , the combustion of which is one of the most frequent failures in this area), etc.
Regarding the detection of network anomalies, Nagios automatically sends alarm notifications to the address set by the system administrator – whether it is an email address or a phone number of a mobile operator. Within 60 days, a free demo version will be available to you.
|High flexibility||Laborious setup|
|Useful Templates||Not for large organizations|
|Integration with other applications|
The software component PRTG, compatible with devices based on the Windows OS, is designed to monitor networks. It is not free (only a 30-day trial period is free), it is used not only to scan devices that are currently connected to the local network but can also serve as an excellent assistant in detecting network attacks.
Among the most useful PRTG network services are: packet inspection, analysis and saving of statistical data to the database, viewing the network map in real-time (the ability to get historical information about network behavior is also available), collecting technical parameters about devices connected to the network, as well as analysis level of load on network equipment. Note that it is very convenient to use – first of all, thanks to the intuitive graphical interface that opens using any browser. If necessary, the system administrator can also receive remote access to the application through a web server.
|Many features||High price|
|Custom panels||Bulky interface|
|Flexible monitoring||No separate database|
|Network map||No group sensors|
Kismet is a useful open-source application for system administrators, which allows you to comprehensively analyze network traffic, detect anomalies in it, prevent crashes and can be used with * NIX / Windows / Cygwin / macOS based systems. Kismet is often used specifically for the analysis of wireless LANs based on the 802.11 b standard (including even networks with a hidden SSID).
With it, you can easily find incorrectly configured and even illegally working access points (which cybercriminals use to intercept traffic) and other hidden devices that can be potentially “harmful” to your network. For these purposes, the application has a very well developed the ability to detect various types of network attacks – both at the network level and at the level of communication channels. As soon as one or more attacks are detected, the system administrator will receive an alarm and will be able to take measures to eliminate the threat.
|Free||Not easy to use|
|Packet sniffer||Slow scanner|
The free open-source WireShark traffic analyzer provides its users with incredibly advanced functionality and is rightfully recognized as an exemplary solution in the field of network diagnostics. It integrates perfectly with * NIX / Windows / macOS based systems.
Instead of web interfaces and CLIs that are not well understood for beginners, in which you need to enter requests in a special programming language, this solution uses a GUI (although if you need to upgrade a set of standard Wireshark features, you can easily program them on Lua).
By deploying and configuring it once on your server, you will receive a centralized element for monitoring the smallest changes in the network and network protocols. This way, you will be able to detect and identify problems that arise on the network in the early stages.
|Easy to install||No mobile support|
|Packet analyzer||Not for large companies|
NeDi is completely free software that scans the network for MAC addresses (also IP addresses and DNS are among the acceptable search criteria) and makes up their own database from them. For work, this software product uses a web interface.
Thus, you can online monitor all physical devices and their location within your local network (in fact, you will gain the ability to retrieve data about any network node – from its firmware to its configuration).
Some professionals use NeDi to search for devices that are used illegally (for example, stolen). To connect to switches or routers, this software uses the CDP / LLDP protocols. This is a very useful, albeit difficult to learn, solution.
|Free||OS X only|
|Many opportunities||Not easy to install|
|Great network map||Hard to learn|
Zabbix monitoring system is a universal open-source network monitoring solution that can be configured for individual network models. Basically, it is intended for systems that have a multi-server architecture (in particular, Zabbix integrates with Linux / FreeBSD / Windows servers).
This application allows you to simultaneously manage hundreds of network nodes, which makes it an extremely effective tool in organizing the work of system administrators working in large-scale enterprises. To deploy Zabbix on your local network, you will need to either run software agents (daemons) or use the SNMP protocol (or another protocol for secure remote access); and for management you will have to master the web interface in PHP.
In addition, this software provides a complete set of tools for monitoring the status of the network hardware. Note that in order to fully experience all the advantages of this solution, your system administrator will have to have at least basic knowledge of Perl or Python (or any other languages that can be shared with Zabbix).
|Free||Not for windows|
|Easy to install||Not very comfortable|
|Many plugins||Computer is loading|
|Powerful alert settings||No dashboards|
Network Monitoring is a web-based Russian-language software solution that fully automates all aspects of network security. With its help, system administrators can prevent the spread of virus software on a local network, as well as determine the cause of all kinds of technical malfunctions related to cable breaks or failure of individual network infrastructure units.
In addition, this software online monitors temperature, voltage, disk space and other parameters via SNMP and WMI. Among its shortcomings are a rather strong CPU load (which the developer honestly warns about) and a high price .
Closes the list of Network Olympus. The program works as a service and has a web interface, which gives much greater flexibility and ease of use. The main feature is the script designer, which allows you to move away from performing primitive checks that do not allow you to take into account certain circumstances of the operation of the devices. With it, you can organize monitoring schemes of any complexity in order to accurately identify problems and malfunctions, as well as automate the process of eliminating them.
The script is based on a sensor, from which you can build logical chains that, depending on the success of the test, will generate different alerts and actions aimed at solving your problems. Each element of the chain can be edited at any time and immediately applied to all devices to which the script is assigned. All network activity will be monitored using the activity log and special reports.
If you have a small network, you won’t need to buy a license – the program will work in free mode.
|Free up to 100 devices||Web interface only|
|Easy setup||Windows only installation|
|Easy to master||No multi-user access|
|Script constructor||Pretty young product|
How to choose a program for network monitoring: results
It is difficult to choose the winner and name the best monitoring program for the local network. But we are of the opinion that Network Olympus has many advantages and a very low entry threshold, because it does not require special training in order to start working with it. In addition, it does not have the disadvantages of open-source solutions, such as the lack of updates and poor compatibility (both with the OS and with TX devices). Thus, thanks to this solution, you can control all the events occurring within your local network and respond to them in a timely manner.