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Free Network Monitoring Programs for Max Performance
By: Joe Eitel
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    Free Network Monitoring Programs for Max Performance

    (Page 1 of 2 )

    Networking monitoring programs basically put a system in place that constantly monitors a computer network for slow or failing components. Should any of these slow or failing components be detected, the program notifies the network administrator (via email, usually) in case of outages. You might expect to pay a lot for such a program, but this article covers four that are surprisingly affordable -- free, in fact, and far more capable than you'd expect for that price.

    Letís take a look at these four free networking programs that focus on different aspects of your network, though all are tried and true and sure to meet your network monitoring needs.


    For absolutely free, Spiceworks enables users to download their network monitoring software designed for IT pros in small-to-medium-sized businesses, though it doesnít matter if you're a one-person operation or you manage 1,000 network devices. With some companies offering free programs you have to read the fine print, which usually reveals youíre getting a free trial or a very stripped-down version of the real thing -- but thatís not the case with Spiceworks. The company provides access to their entire software suite, and it will always be free, even if you choose to upgrade the program or enlist the help of Spiceworksí live support.

    Spiceworks provides users in need of networking monitoring with a state-of-the-art management solution and free access to:

    • A full-featured help desk
    • Troubleshooting tools
    • Asset management software
    • Power management tools
    • An online community of IT pros to answer questions, share tips, and help solve IT problems

    According to Spiceworks, their program enables you to keep track of everything thatís happening on your network. Here are specifics on some of the many features you will be given free access to:

    • Spiceworks will notify you when a user installs a piece of software they shouldnít have.
    • Spiceworks will notify you when your printerís toner level gets low.
    • You will be able to monitor and receive alerts on everything that happens in your network.
    • You can set monitors for the amount of disc space a device has left or whether or not a server is online.
    • You can view charts and graphs of your overall network state.
    • You can receive a detailed alert specific to a single device.
    • You can receive an email the next time a user downloads a specific application.
    • You can receive an overview of your email health and usage.
    • You can monitor, add, and edit Rackspace-hosted email accounts right from Spiceworks.
    • You can access charts detailing the consumption of bandwidth.
    • You can view alerts for Windows events that occur across your environment, so you can use Spiceworks to detect, diagnose, and troubleshoot any issues that might disrupt network performance.

    As you can see, Spiceworks is one of the most in-depth network monitoring programs available, and thankfully, it just so happens to be free.


    SolarWinds' free Network Device Monitor makes it incredibly easy to monitor the real-time performance and health of a single device on your network. Not only that, but the company also sets users up with an extremely cool desktop dashboard that informs you when your device is in trouble. SolarWinds also enables you to monitor real-time performance and availability statistics for any device on your network, and create and share custom network device monitoring templates.

    Sadly, SolarWinds only offers a free trial of their $2,475 Orion NPM, which quickly detects, diagnoses, and resolves performance issues within your network while also delivering real-time views and dashboards that enable you to visually track network performance. The good news, however, is that along with the companyís Network Device Monitor, SolarWinds also offers a number of free networking monitoring tools that will help you perform everyday tasks. Hereís an overview of each freebie:

    VM Console: Enables you to bounce virtual machines (even if youíre not a VMware administrator) and track VM health from your desktop.

    Real-Time NetFlow Analyzer: Enables you to capture and analyze up to one hour of NetFlow data to see what types of traffic are on your network, where itís coming from, and where itís going.

    Network Config Generator: Enables you to quickly and easily configure VLANs and other advanced network device features.

    SAN Monitor: Enables you to keep an eye on the performance and capacity of your storage arrays.

    TFTP Tool: Enables you to upload and download executable images and configurations to network devices.

    WMI Monitor: Enables you to monitor your Windows apps and servers in real time, using built-in, community-sourced, and customizable application templates.

    IP Address Tracker: Enables you to scan, track, and consolidate your IP address information in one easy place.

    VM Monitor: Enables you to continuously monitor a VMware ESX Server and its virtual machines with at-a-glance virtualization health statistics.

    IP SLA Monitor: Enables you to quickly troubleshoot network slowdowns between sites and easily understand device-to-device performance using sophisticated Cisco IP SLA operations.

    Kiwi Syslog Server: Enables you to receive, log, display, and forward syslog messages from network devices with an easy-to-use Syslog Server.

    Cat Tools: Enables you to manage and back up network configurations.

    Exchange Monitor: Enables you to continuously monitor Exchange and get real-time insight into services, mail queue sizes, and host server health.

    NetFlow Configurator: Enables you to configure NetFlow v5 via SNMP on supported Cisco devices.

    Advanced Subnet Calculator: Enables you to compute addresses for IP subnets.

    Wake-On-Lan: Enables you to remotely power up your network PCs

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