Network monitoring software provides ways to supervise the overall processes that are performed on a computing system by providing reporting services to the system or network administrator. Monitoring software is also known as computer surveillance software. All the free network monitoring software can record all incoming/outgoing network traffic, user processes and interactions, and application activities.
While I am not going to go into the nitty-gritty of what makes each network monitoring software great, I will quickly outline several popular open-source, freeware, free, or discounted network monitoring software products that I will give a recommendation of which one would be most appropriate to resolve the problem that you are currently facing.
Hopefully, I have provided you with some good starting point and some useful information as you begin to do your own investigation to determine which network monitoring software is most appropriate for your specific problem.
This includes specific rules, signatures, events and preferences, which describe normal and abnormal system states and activities. The free network monitoring software also alerts the administrator if it identifies any violation or breach that results in abnormal system
Such network monitoring software is also used for spying on employees or users’ activities within a corporate network. There is also a parental control which
Network Monitoring Software For the Small Businesses
I would personally recommend that the best option for small businesses is a service that offers a hosted version. This way, you can manage and backup your systems at a centralized location, which should be able to access and analyze data from a variety of different locations.
Some of the features that you can expect to get when using a hosted software solution are better visibility and control over network health and monitoring, easy maintenance and upgrades, ability to connect to your internal and external databases, and more.
Many people who are in the business of helping small business owners use this type of software are happy that they have been successful in building up a strong customer base in just a short amount of time. Some examples of these companies include Aion Tracker and NetworkMiner.
System Monitoring Software for Large Corporations and Businesses
While this type of system is more complex and expensive than the SMB solutions that I described above, it offers a host of benefits including more control, visibility, and security. It is also important that these solutions offer the tools to allow you to automate the process of security monitoring.
Some of the features that this type of software may come with include the ability to build, customize, and manage an entire network infrastructure, which allows you to provide customized protection and assistance to your network at a granular level.
Some of the popular software that I like to use in this case is iDefense. This software is a good example of what you should look for in-network monitoring software. Many other companies that offer network monitoring solutions are also worth considering as well.
Top Recommended Free Network Monitoring Software and Analysis Tools for Your Business
Advanced IP Scanner
This is a fast and easy to use network scanner that detects any network devices (including wireless devices such as mobile phones, printers, and WIFI routers) on your network. It allows you to connect to common services such as HTTP, FTP and shared folders if they are enabled on the remote machine. You are also able to wake up and shut down remote computers.
The software installer allows you to fully install the application on your machine or run the portable version. When you launch the Advanced IP Scanner, start by going to Settings > Options to select which resources to scan and how fast/accurate you want the results.
You can then choose which subnet to scan and proceed with pressing the “Scan” button. Once the scan is complete, expand the results to see which resources you can connect to for each discovered device or export your results to XML/HTML/CSV.
NetworkMiner Free Network Monitoring Software
This is a Network Forensic Analysis Tool (NFAT) for Windows that can detect the OS, hostname and open ports of network hosts through packet sniffing or by parsing a PCAP file. NetworkMiner can also extract transmitted files from network traffic.
This network monitoring software to capture network packets and then parses the data to extract files and images, helping you to reconstruct events that a user has taken on the network it can also do this by parsing a pre-captured PCAP file.
You can enter keywords which will be highlighted as network packets are being captured. NetworkMiner is classed as a Network Forensic Analysis Tool (NFAT) that can obtain information such as hostname, operating system and open ports from hosts.
New versions of NetworkMiner are released exclusively on www.netresec.com since version 2.0 of NetworkMiner. This page on SourceForge is only kept to provide hosting of older versions of the software.
PRTG Network Monitor Freeware
It monitors network availability and network usage using a variety of protocols including SNMP, Netflow, and WMI. It is a powerful tool that offers an easy to use web-based interface and apps for iOS and Android. Amongst others, PRTG Network Monitor’s key features include:
- Comprehensive Network Monitoring which offers more than 170 sensor types for application monitoring, virtual server monitoring, SLA monitoring, QoS monitoring
- Flexible Alerting, including nine different notification methods, status alerts, limit alerts, threshold alerts, conditional alerts, and alert scheduling
- In-Depth Reporting, including the ability to create reports in HTML/PDF format, scheduled reports, as well as pre-defined reports (e.g., Top 100 Ping Times) and report templates.
When you launch PRTG Network Monitoring software, head straight to the configuration wizard to get started. This wizard will run you through the main configuration settings required to get the application up and running, including the adding of servers to monitors and which sensors to use.
GFI LanGuard Free Network Monitoring Software
Users can use GFI LanGuard to scan both small and large networks, in search of software vulnerabilities and unpatched or unlicensed applications. Information coming from up to 60,000 devices, running on Windows, Mac OS or Linux, will be shown in a centralized web console, so you’ll be able to see the state of your whole network at any moment and from any location.
With centralized patch management and network auditing, GFI LanGuard prevents potential compliance issues, but if you’re a sysadmin the fact that all machines are patched and secured will surely seem like a more important advantage. But, don’t take our word for it, download the free 30-day trial and try it out.
This is a powerful network monitoring tool that helps you to ensure that your critical systems, applications, and services are always up and running. It provides features such as alerting, event handling, and reporting. Nagios Core is the heart of the application that contains the core monitoring engine and a basic web UI.
On top of Nagios Core, you can implement plugins that will allow you to monitor services, applications, and metrics, a chosen frontend as well as add-ons for data visualization, graphs, load distribution, and MySQL database support, amongst others.
Once you have installed and configured Nagios, launch the Web UI and begin to configure host groups and service groups. Once Nagios has had some time to monitor the status of the specified hosts and services, it can start to paint a picture of what the health of your systems look like.
A network analyzer that allows you to monitor network traffic, troubleshoot network issues and analyze packets. Features include support for over 300 network protocols (including the ability to create and customize protocols), MSN and Yahoo Messenger filters, email monitor and auto-save, and customizable reports and dashboards.
When you launch Capsa, choose the adapter you want it to bind to and click “Start” to initiate the capture process. Use the tabs in the main window to view the dashboard, a summary of the traffic statistics, the TCP/UDP conversations, as well as packet analysis.
Microsoft Message Analyzer
This is the successor to Microsoft Network Monitor 3.4, has an intuitive and flexible UI with effective filtering options that allow you to break down and drill into captured packets (or ‘messages’ as they are called in Message Analyzer). By adding ‘Color Rules’ to different protocol traffic, you can make scanning through areas of interest easier and faster.
Some of Microsoft Message Analyzer highlighted features include automated data capture (using PowerShell cmdlets to start or stop traces based on a particular trigger), TLS/SSL decryption support and customizable filter expressions.
Microsoft Message Analyzer allows you to assess multiple log data sources from a single pane of glass. You can capture, view and analyze network protocol traffic side-by-side with other system or application events (e.g., Event Logs or SQL Tables), making it a valuable addition to your network toolkit.
Though Microsoft Message Analyzer was discontinued last year (2019), but we have updated this article with some great alternatives you can try out as well. You can visit the Comparite Tech website for the best packet analyzers.
This is a web debugging tool that captures HTTP traffic between chosen computers and the Internet. It allows you to analyze incoming and outgoing data to monitor and modify requests and responses before they hit the browser. Fiddler gives you extremely detailed information about HTTP traffic and can be used for testing the performance of your websites or security testing of your web applications (e.g., Fiddler can decrypt HTTPS traffic).
When you launch Fiddler, HTTP traffic will start to be captured automatically. To toggle traffic capturing, hit F12. You can choose which processes you wish to capture HTTP traffic for by clicking on “All Processes” in the bottom status bar, or by dragging the “Any Process” icon from the top menu bar onto an open application.
NetXMS Free Network Monitoring Software
NetXMS gives you the option to run a web-based interface or a management console. Once user login to NetXMS you need to first go to the “Server Configuration” window to change a few settings that are dependent on your network requirements (e.g., changing the number of data collection handlers or enabling network discovery).
You can then run the Network Discovery option for NetXMS to discover devices on your network automatically, or add new nodes by right-clicking on “Infrastructure Services” and selecting Tools > Create Node.
This free network monitoring software is a lightweight utility (available as a standalone executable or installation package) that monitors the activity of reachable wireless networks and displays information related to them, such as SSID, Signal Quality, MAC Address, Channel Number, Cipher Algorithm, etc.
As soon as you execute WirelessNetView, it automatically populates a list of all reachable Wi-Fi networks in the area and displays information relevant to them (all columns are enabled by default).
Wireless Network Watcher is a small utility that goes hand in hand with WirelessNetView. It scans your wireless network and displays a list of all computers and devices that are currently connected, showing information such as IP address, MAC address, computer name and NIC card manufacturer all of which can be exported to an HTML/XML/
This is the world’s foremost and widely-used network monitoring software analyzer. It lets you see what’s happening on your network at a microscopic level and is the de facto (and often de jure) standard across many commercial and non-profit enterprises, government agencies, and educational institutions. Wireshark development thrives thanks to the volunteer contributions of networking experts around the globe
An interactive network protocol analyzer and capture utility. It provides for in-depth inspection of hundreds of protocols and runs on multiple platforms. When you launch Wireshark, choose which interface you want to bind to and click the green shark fin icon to get going. Packets will immediately start to be captured.
Once you’ve collected what you need, you can export the data to a file for analysis in another application or use the inbuilt filter to drill down and analyze the captured packets at a deeper level from within Wireshark itself.
Culled from Tech Talk | The top 20 free Network Monitoring and Analysis Tools for sysadmins
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