The Best Network Monitoring Software of 2021

Our network monitoring software reviews are the result of over 40 hours of research on 80+ network monitoring software companies from across the web. These reviews and our network monitoring software guide help small businesses and startups find the best network monitoring software for their business.

Disclosure: Your support helps keep the site running! We earn a referral fee for some of the services we recommend on this page. Learn more

How We Chose the Best Network Monitoring Software

The choice between the top providers of network monitoring software is generally based on the depth of functionality required by the business and the total cost of implementation. Most small business users need software with a solid system for custom alerts and an ability to report information in readily understandable presentations. Pricing can be tough to estimate and compare, with some providers charging additional fees per user, sensor, or other element. For this list, we evaluated companies based on their monitoring features, alerts/notifications, and reporting capabilities to determine the best network monitoring software.

Monitoring Features

The core of any network monitoring software is, unsurprisingly, the monitoring that it’s able to perform. As such, the best option is generally the software that has better monitoring functionality for the intended purpose and the environment it will be deployed in. We used this methodology as the basis for selecting the providers in this list. However, a software package with a long list of features is not necessarily better than an alternative with a shorter list, as the latter may be more accurate, consume fewer resources, or simply have a tighter focus on the needs of a particular business. For this list, we focused on alerts and reporting capabilities.

Alerts/Notifications

There isn’t much point in monitoring network activity and keeping detailed logs if administrators and other responsible parties never read them. Similarly, if administrators only find out about network problems after an outage or, even worse, a security breach the monitoring process is almost futile. In some cases, the employees responsible for network security could be held liable if shown to be negligent, and the boss won’t be pleased regardless of the legality.

Reporting Capabilities

Unless the business has dedicated tech employees who can interpret raw data and patiently explain the relevance to other staff as needed, it’s important to consider how user-friendly and intuitive the reporting and overall user interface is. We included software to suit a mix of administrative styles.

The 15 Best Network Monitoring Software Programs of 2021

Company Price Free Trial/Demo More
CapsaStarts at $99530-day free trialVist Capsa
ConnectWise AutomateCustom quoteFree trialVisit ConnectWise Automate
Datadog Cloud MonitoringFree: $0/month
Pro: $15/host/month
Enterprise: $23/host/month
Free trialVisit Datadog Cloud Monitoring
Domotz ProStarts at $19/month21-day free trialVisit Domotz Pro
EventSentry$85 initial purchase, $17 each additional year of maintenanceFree trialVisit EventSentry
IcingaCustom quoteFree demoVisit Icinga
LogicMonitorCustom quote14-day free trialVisit LogicMonitor
ManageEngine OpManagerCustom quoteFree demoVisit ManageEngine OpManager
Nagios XIStandard: $1,995
Enterprise: $3,495
30-day free trialVisit Nagios XI
NetCrunchCustom quote30-day free trialVisit NetCrunch
PRTGFree version available
Paid plans start at $1,750
30-day free trialVisit PRTG
SolarWinds Network Performance MonitorStarts at $1,58330-day free trialVisit SolarWinds
Spiceworks Network MonitorFree serviceFreeVisit Spiceworks
WhatsUp GoldStarts at $500Free trialVisit WhatsUp Gold
ZabbixFree
Technical support: Custom quote
FreeVisit Zabbix

Capsa

Capsa
Capsa is a professional network monitoring and management package that also provides diagnostic and analytical functions. It’s portable software, which means it can be operated from a USB drive or local folder without installation. This standalone capability generally makes it easier to deploy as a response to individual employee requests or concerns, and the design is intuitive enough to allow self-serve troubleshooting in many cases. As such, Capsa is an attractive choice in workplaces with remote IT staff and/or many non-technical employees.

The monitoring functions are compatible with modern wired networks (LAN) and wireless networks (WAN), and the tools provide both high-level visibility and real-time reporting. Capsa can help increase accountability by logging all network activity — with packet interception and monitoring across multiple protocols — and showing organized summaries and in-depth records on each employee or interface. These same functions are useful for discovering inadvertent leaks of sensitive data or communications, including via email and messaging services, as well as attempted access from external threats.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Starts at $99530-day free trial>Server monitoring
>Bandwidth monitoring
>Alerts
>More features at Capsa

Pros & Cons of Capsa Network Monitoring Software
Capsa is a good choice for many small and midsize businesses that don’t have large IT departments, and its design is more welcoming than some competitors. It’s strong on analysis and diagnostics, but it lacks predictive functions without further integrations with third-party software.

ProsCons
>Intuitive design
>Portable software
>No trend prediction capability

What Customers Are Saying
One reviewer says Capsa is a “robust application” and notes, “It allows us to run complex filters on packets being mirrored from our core.” Another regular user of Capsa’s troubleshooting features says that “it works as expected and solves our problems quickly.”

ConnectWise Automate

ConnectWise
ConnectWise Automate is a remote monitoring and management (RMM) package that provides network analysis and data collection capabilities. As its name suggests, the software is focused on automation. This is accomplished with smarter scanning and up-to-date information that allows more accurate discovery of devices on managed networks. Time-saving features such as this, as well as its remote administration tools, make it a relatively good choice for businesses with large networks and/or many client networks.

The software can be installed on the premises or accessed from the cloud, with the latter becoming increasingly important for businesses with a growing number of remote workers. In contrast to some others on this list, ConnectWise Automate has fairly good software management features, allowing administrators to install, configure, and automatically update important security services. This helps reduce cases of incompatibility with differing software versions being used in a business.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Custom quoteFree trial>Server monitoring
>IP address monitoring
>Bandwidth monitoring
>More features at ConnectWise Automate

Pros & Cons of ConnectWise Automate Network Monitoring Software
ConnectWise Automate is well-designed for the most part, and it has a more modern look than most competing software, but it does not offer trend prediction. The remote functionality is among the best currently available in network monitoring and analysis.

ProsCons
>Designed for efficiency in large operations
>Remote access and monitoring with private or public cloud
>No trend prediction

What Customers Are Saying
A user of ConnectWise Automate says they have enjoyed their two-year experience with the software and that “the ability to remotely patch servers and endpoint devices is excellent.” Another customer comments on the updates and alerts, saying, “It helps us get organized for the day.”

Datadog Cloud Monitoring

Datadog
Datadog Cloud Monitoring is a modern, highly scalable, and in-depth set of network management tools. In particular, this package goes further than competitors when dealing with serverless infrastructure and emerging issues that traditional network-related tools have no native support for. Datadog is a browser-based subscription service (SaaS) that can be accessed from anywhere, and its functions can help other SaaS providers that need wide visibility as well as in-depth monitoring.

The diagnostic functions in Datadog software may be the most interesting and useful feature for any small business, agency, or individual in need of advanced tracing and other analysis related to app performance. It’s capable of monitoring both infrastructure (hardware) and code (software) with full visibility that can follow requests and errors throughout the life cycle. Performance measurement and tweaking can be enhanced via integrations with third-party frameworks and services.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Free: $0/month
Pro: $15/host/month
Enterprise: $23/host/month
Free trial>Serverless monitoring
>Performance management
>Trend prediction
>More features at Datadog Cloud Monitoring

Pros & Cons of Datadog Cloud Monitoring Software
Datadog Cloud Monitoring may be the right choice for those seeking performance gains across multiple business processes and particularly for those utilizing serverless and other modern infrastructure. However, it does not offer IP address monitoring.

ProsCons
>Relatively good application performance management (APM)
>Synthetic monitoring tools
>No IP address monitoring

What Customers Are Saying
Datadog customers are generally happy with their choice. One of them praises the view sharing and team functionality, as well as the real-time visibility this software provides, saying, “You can track and follow logs in real time, something really important to have if your project is live.”

Domotz Pro

Domotz
Domotz Pro is a remote monitoring and management (RMM) system that provides visibility and connectivity for administrators who work with a large number of clients or end points. The software can be installed locally on Linux and Windows — including server and client computers — or accessed via browsers and mobile apps, and it provides public API access to make it easier to customize and integrate.

One of the most well-liked aspects of Domotz Pro is its ability to display relevant information in intuitive places, which can reduce system shock for new users and streamline work processes for experts. It’s powerful behind the scenes as well, with accurate and fast network mapping, device recognition, and logging of required events. Alerts can be set based on the client, not just the underlying event or platform, which can be useful for avoiding unnecessary notifications and false alarms.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Starts at $19/month21-day free trial>Server monitoring
>Resource management
>Integrations
>More features at Domotz Pro

Pros & Cons of Domotz Pro Network Monitoring Software
Domotz Pro has a simple subscription available, with most functionality provided by default and only a few optional add-ons such as additional user accounts. The self-hosted option is more flexible than many alternatives, although certain infrastructure changes aren’t immediately authorized by the software. It does not offer trend prediction.

ProsCons
>Straightforward pricing and add-ons
>Public API
>No trend prediction

What Customers Are Saying
One reviewer claims that Domotz Pro is lightweight and simple to use and says, “The auto-detection has to be about the fastest on the market.” Another user mentions the strong set of features in a simplified package, saying, “Great User interface that is not cluttered.”

EventSentry

EventSentry
EventSentry is a flexible system that is capable of providing analysis, monitoring, and remote administration for small businesses, and it remains relatively affordable even when scaled to 1,000 device licenses or more. The self-hosted nature of this software may appeal to many businesses, particularly those with compliance concerns.

EventSentry provides real-time network visibility, data collection, and logging. Administrators can receive instant notifications when the software detects the new connection or disconnection of endpoints on the network. Other anomalies can be brought to attention via highly customizable alerts, and administrators can see organizational overviews or in-depth reports from remote locations.

Aside from the alerts and analytics that help sysadmins keep a watchful eye on managed systems, EventSentry can also act on this information. For example, it can automatically disconnect endpoints for pre-configured reasons, silently warn of suspicious activity, and instantly block unknown sources or known threats.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$85 initial purchase, $17 each additional year of maintenanceFree trial>Server monitoring
>Environment monitoring
>Integrations
>More features at EventSentry

Pros & Cons of EventSentry Network Monitoring Software
EventSentry offers pricing that is easier to estimate and more manageable at scale when compared to many competitors. It’s also relatively unique in its native support for monitoring sensors not typically associated with network software. Self-hosting provides increased compatibility and compliance, although it’s dependent on the Windows OS and does not offer resource management.

ProsCons
>Highly scalable pricing and perpetual licenses
>Integration with EventSentry environment monitoring (temp, humidity, smoke, etc.)
>Must use Windows (Server or Workstation)
>No resource management

What Customers Are Saying
An administrator of a governmental department has used EventSentry for over a year and says, “Great tool for small/medium or super big Windows and AD networks.” Another user notes the learning curve but also the power and says, “The software itself is very granular and provides numerous customization and optimization options.”

Icinga

Icinga
Icinga is an advanced, modular system of monitoring, reporting, and data collection tools that provide enterprise-level functionality in a consolidated form. The monitors are highly customizable, which can help a business bring more processes on board and allows for easier adaptation for future needs. As a result of increased interactivity between processes, Icinga can also assist in automating many areas of a business via accurate, trusted data that is processed in real time.

Several useful modules and conversions are available, such as Icinga for Windows and the business process modeling tool. It can also provide organizational benefits such as ongoing SSL scanning with a central view of all certificates used throughout the network. The reporting module helps with scheduling and makes it easier to generate SLA reports by allowing access to Icinga data. Native modules such as this can significantly increase performance because of how well they interact, as opposed to third-party integrations that have similar functions.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Custom quoteFree demo>Server monitoring
>Alerts
>SLA reporting module
>More features at Icinga

Pros & Cons of Icinga Network Monitoring Software
Icinga is one of the better choices for network monitoring for small to midsize businesses that need the ability to customize and tweak the small things, and the software can scale up or down efficiently. However, it does not offer resource management or trend prediction.

ProsCons
>Flexible and scalable
>Useful modules limit the need for third-party integrations
>No resource management
>No trend prediction

What Customers Are Saying
An IT specialist from a large education company recommends Icinga for the scalability and says, “Icinga is our core monitoring platform for all non-Windows systems.” Others comment on the “beautiful” UI in this browser-based system and say it’s an “excellent monitoring solution.”

LogicMonitor

LogicMonitor
LogicMonitor is one of the more popular options for large organizations and service providers, and it can be particularly useful for hybrid IT environments. It’s a full-featured service that gives the administrator an unobstructed view of network activity and device response, from beginning to end. The monitoring and discovery process includes self-hosted applications — both on-premises and remote host — cloud services, and individual devices.

Overviews and summaries are updated in real time, and these dashboards are good at providing the most important data at the time. LogicMonitor can also simplify the workload for administrators in other ways, like creating solutions for working with massive chunks and making them more manageable for live monitoring purposes and storage.

LogicMonitor can be used by businesses of any size, but it’s most useful in cases that require accountability, prioritization, and consolidation of hundreds or thousands of clients, services, and devices.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Custom quote14-day free trial>Server monitoring
>Cloud monitoring
>Automated processes
>More features at LogicMonitor

Pros & Cons of LogicMonitor Network Monitoring Software
LogicMonitor is a powerful system when placed in the right hands and deployed properly, with relatively wide-ranging capabilities in traditional and hybrid scenarios, but this power naturally comes with complexity. Real-time, visual reporting of system health and critical alerts are useful.

ProsCons
>Designed for high visibility in modern, hybrid infrastructure
>Real-time system health visualizations
>No transparent pricing

What Customers Are Saying
One customer of LogicMonitor likes what the software has done to optimize processes and solve problems and says, “The alerting customization is excellent and it’s easy to make sure the correct person or team has access to the alerts.”

ManageEngine OpManager

ManageEngine
ManageEngine OpManager is a network monitoring and optimization suite that can be used on Windows and Linux — along with cloud-based access via any modern device with a browser — and can monitor devices on the network regardless of OS and browser, or lack thereof. This includes typical components such as servers and LAN/WLAN controllers, as well as firewalls, virtual machines, load balancers, and other increasingly important services. The software keeps detailed logs of all activity and has in-depth bandwidth usage analysis, CPU and RAM consumption, and disk usage.

The alert system in ManageEngine OpManager is also relatively advanced, with many options to customize thresholds, types of alerts, escalation processes, and transparency.

OpManager is relatively easy to customize for sysadmins with less experience, and for other employees who lack the technical skills to make changes behind the scenes. For example, the software is pre-configured with over 2,000 monitors for the most important metrics and devices and over 200 dashboard widgets to select from.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Custom quoteFree demo>Server monitoring
>Bandwidth monitoring
>Alerts
>More features at ManageEngine OpManager

Pros & Cons of ManageEngine OpManager Network Monitoring Software
ManageEngine OpManager is very competitive based on the cost per feature, and it’s available for purchase as a perpetual license. The NetFlow plugin adds more troubleshooting functionality that is easy to use. On the downside, they don’t offer a free trial.

ProsCons
>Cost-effective solution in most cases
>NetFlow plugin
>No free trial

What Customers Are Saying
A business user in the food and beverage industry praises the functionality and licensing agreement for ManageEngine OpManager and says, “If some bug is detected or feature should be changed there is a Service Pack launched within days.”

Nagios XI

Nagios
Nagios XI provides high-level visibility and monitoring capabilities for businesses of any size and particularly for those requiring scalability. There is no limit on the amount of services or traffic on the network, with licensing based on nodes instead.

The software includes in-depth user management options for administrators to delegate responsibilities, such as the creation of custom accounts and views for team leaders. Self-serve functionality such as this can allow sysadmins to focus on important issues while also maintaining security via account-based restrictions.

Nagios XI can be downloaded as free software — although the free version is heavily restricted — and an enterprise version is also available. The enterprise software has advanced features that help improve efficiency in large organizations, including forecasting and scheduling tools, the ability to modify options in bulk, and generation of SLA reports. Nagios XI Enterprise Edition also allows console access to the server from any web browser.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Standard: $1,995
Enterprise: $3,495
30- day free trial>Server monitoring
>Resource management
>Trend prediction
>More features at Nagios XI

Pros & Cons of Nagios XI Network Monitoring Software
Nagios XI gives business users access to a variety of APIs, which can help make the integration process much smoother, and there are hundreds of user-made modifications available. Licensing is based on nodes, not services.

ProsCons
>API access and community mods
>Node-based licensing
>Could be costly for small businesses

What Customers Are Saying
Nagios XI receives mostly positive reviews, with many of them commenting on how customizable the software is, including one user who says, “Free add-ons to download and develop your customization.” Another user comments on the value, saying, “ROI from day one.”

NetCrunch

NetCrunch
NetCrunch is an agentless monitoring platform that works well in large networks and across varied devices and services. One server running NetCrunch can keep track of over 1,000,000 performance metrics, and it includes many time-saving tools to help sysadmins reach that limit and deploy the next server. For example, the software can operate in auto-discovery mode, which finds newly connected nodes and probes services for compatibility. The device or service is automatically identified, and the appropriate rules are applied, which sets the expected and alert-level performance metrics, triggers, events, and reports. All automatic configuration can be customized or disabled entirely.

The software also takes its own performance seriously, using multiple storage methods and databases to suit each purpose. NetCrunch uses a custom made NoSQL database for some historical functions and a regular SQL database for alerts. Real-time status information is stored in memory to make sure it reacts quickly and provides accurate data.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Custom quote30-day free trial>Server monitoring
>Integrations
>Alerts
>More features at NetCrunch

Pros & Cons of NetCrunch Network Monitoring Software
NetCrunch is another important consideration for midsize and enterprise customers as it’s highly optimized and can automate a lot of administrative work. However, there is no pricing information available on their website.

ProsCons
>Performs well in large-scale usage
>Many automated processes
>No transparent pricing

What Customers Are Saying
The IT manager of a small business rated NetCrunch highly for its customization and visualization functions and says, “Imagination and technical knowledge set the limits for what you can do with it.” Another user likes the setup process and says, “NetCrunch is pretty lightweight in comparison to other solutions.”

PRTG

PRTG
PRTG is a centralized network monitoring and data collection tool made by Paessler — one of the most experienced developers in the business — and it has gained a long list of features over time. The cloud-based version is suited for modern, highly mobile businesses that can’t be tied down with servers and installations, whereas other businesses may benefit from the more traditional self-hosted version. The enterprise version provides enhanced functionality for large organizations, such as SLA monitoring and consolidated audit support.

All versions of PRTG share the same goal of allowing administrators to keep track of many wide-ranging services, devices, and other sensors from a single location. This can help cut costs by reducing duplicated workloads in data entry and processing and by ensuring that all parts of the organization are working from accurate information that can be relied upon for forecasting and decision-making processes.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Free version available
Paid plans start at $1,750
30-day free trial>Server monitoring
>Bandwidth monitoring
>Alerts
>More features at PRTG

Pros & Cons of PRTG Network Monitoring Software
PRTG offers flexibility via the various licensing agreements, although the sensor limit in the cloud-based service and the OS compatibility of the on-premises tool may be a concern for some businesses. The software has advanced support for custom sensors and API calls. However, it does not offer resource management or trend prediction.

ProsCons
>On-premises and cloud-based options
>APIs and custom sensors
>No resource management
>No trend prediction

What Customers Are Saying
One review from a PRTG user claims that it’s easy to install and says, “Very good structure and overview of your devices and systems load, usage, availability and traffic.” Others share similar comments, such as one long-time user who says, “Great for monitoring bandwidth usage or finding health problems.”

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor

Solarwinds
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is a smart, strong, and scalable set of tools that can monitor almost anything on connected networks. The software also monitors the network as a whole, which gives administrators a chance to catch emerging problems in areas that wouldn’t be checked frequently. High-level visibility across networks is further enhanced with automated discovery and mapping, wireless heatmaps, network paths for global connections, and other visualizations. Most dashboards have a clean, modern look

This software is one of the more expensive options available, but most business users will easily justify the cost based on the broad scope and detailed analysis that it provides. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor organizes performance and fault monitoring by creating a central source of at-a-glance updates and alerts, as well as real-time and archival data reported by devices via SNMP, WMI, and API.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Starts at $1,58330-day free trial>Server monitoring
>Resource management
>Reports
>More features at SolarWinds

Pros & Cons of SolarWinds Network Monitoring Software
The choice of purchasing it outright or as a subscription may appeal to certain businesses for tax purposes. SolarWinds’ built-in visualizations are useful. Unfortunately, it is only available for Windows OS.

ProsCons
>One-time and subscription-based licensing
>Native visualization capabilities
>Only available for Windows

What Customers Are Saying
A business user in the health care sector praises this software, saying, “It is an amazing system and I would recommend it to anyone.” Others enjoy the visualizations, including an IT specialist who says its “graphical representations and reporting is so top notch.”

Spiceworks Network Monitor

spiceworks
Spiceworks Network Monitor is a free tool that provides uptime monitoring and alerts to keep track of websites, apps, email servers, printers, and other services that can be accessed via the internet. The software is genuinely free, with no time limits to worry about, but there are quite a few other limitations that make it an ineffective choice for most businesses. Although it does a decent job of organizing and presenting the results, Spiceworks provides little more than the up/down status and ping of monitored services.

As such, the simplicity of the Spiceworks Network Monitor tool is both a blessing and a curse. Some users will find that it accomplishes what they need from the software, and they’ll appreciate the fact that it’s free. However, the majority of business users will quickly move on to alternatives that provide more in-depth functionality at a slight increase in cost.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
FreeFree>Uptime monitoring
>Server monitoring
>Alerts
>More features at Spiceworks

Pros & Cons of Spiceworks Network Monitoring Software
Spiceworks is a free option with no time limit, and it’s the easiest to set up and use when compared to others on the list, but it’s also the option with the least functionality. The simplicity and lack of cost may appeal to beginners and/or for personal use.

ProsCons
>It's free to use forever
>Very simple setup and operation
>Limited functionality

What Customers Are Saying
Spiceworks Network Monitor has received hundreds of positive reviews, with most of them focusing on it being free software, and one in particular says it’s “quite good for a small team that doesn’t need bells and whistles.” Other users claim it works well with various Spiceworks products such as the help desk.

WhatsUp Gold

WhatsUp-Gold
WhatsUp Gold is an advanced, modern network monitoring and management system that can interact with physical devices and servers, wireless networks, cloud services, and more. It can also handle the IP space more effectively than most competitors, including discovery and DHCP/DNS management.

Another useful feature of WhatsUp Gold is the network configuration manager. Following the discovery of a newly connected network device, it can be automatically identified and then configured precisely as instructed by the sysadmin. The software regularly scans for config changes and sends alerts as necessary.

In addition to the modules, other licensing options for WhatsUp Gold include the Distributed Edition — intended for use across multiple remote locations — and a version of the software tailored to managed service providers (MSP). These options are both designed with scalability in mind and, as such, consumption of bandwidth and other resources is relatively low.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Starts at $500Free trial>Server monitoring
>Cloud monitoring
>Bandwidth monitoring
>More features at WhatsUp Gold

Pros & Cons of WhatsUp Gold Network Monitoring Software
WhatsUp Gold comes packaged with REST API access that makes it much easier to integrate with current systems on the network, and this also creates opportunities to automate. However, the software lacks the predictive abilities that many competing products include at a similar cost.

ProsCons
>Ready-to-go REST API calls
>Automatic config is highly customizable
>No trend prediction

What Customers Are Saying
A network administrator who has used WhatsUp Gold for over two years is most appreciative of the alert system: “They are all fully customizable and once they’re set up to your specifications they work like a dream.” Others comment on its core functionality and proactive methods.

Zabbix

Zabbix
Zabbix is an open-source network monitoring system, which means it’s completely free to use, and it’s much more powerful than the non-existent price tag would suggest. However, as is expected with free software, it can be difficult to find help with specific problems, and there is no access to official tech support without paying large sums of money. Consulting, professional training, and development services are also offered — with added costs for each — which makes Zabbix a more viable option for some businesses.

Some of the main benefits of Zabbix, besides the lack of initial cost, are the range of integrations found on the website and its ability to fit in with existing infrastructure when handled properly. The modules include data collection solutions, such as a custom script for the NGINX web server that can send additional responses to Zabbix. Solutions for hosting, monitoring, and integration with DNS servers are also popular among users.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Free
Technical support: Custom quote
Free>Server monitoring
>Website monitoring
>Cloud monitoring
>More features at Zabbix

Pros & Cons of Zabbix Network Monitoring Software
Zabbix is one of the few free network monitoring solutions that earned a place in the top 15, and it’s certainly the most powerful no-cost system. The ready-made profiles for common connections can speed up the initial process. However, Zabbix often uses more CPU and RAM than expected, and the cost of tech support can easily negate the benefit of free software.

ProsCons
>Free and open source software
>Server/service templates to configure many popular setups
>Savings quickly evaporate if tech support required

What Customers Are Saying
A system engineer comments on how much easier Zabbix has made life and says, “It allows me to monitor VMware ESXi hosts and also the enterprise network devices such as Routers, Switches and Access Points as well.”

What Is Network Monitoring Software?

Network monitoring software can be compared to antivirus software, although this only partially describes what the solutions listed here are capable of when implemented correctly.

This type of software can be basic and so lightweight that the network barely even notices the regular pings and handshakes, such as an uptime monitor with simple yes or no reporting. Uptime is important, obviously, and even the simplest of tools can help save time and money. However, checking whether a network and its individual systems are online is just a fraction of a sysadmin’s responsibilities.

Thankfully, the best solutions for network monitoring can take more of a hands-on approach to provide broad functionality. Each data packet flowing through a network can be isolated, captured, and inspected — whether it’s incoming, outgoing, or passing through a set midpoint — and the monitoring software is responsible for allowing each packet to continue or rejecting it.

This process of approving or denying network traffic is highly automated and the decision-making process is measured in milliseconds. As a result, network monitoring software relies heavily on its database of known threats, as well as heuristic detection, and the degree of coverage in these two areas is a top concern.

Benefits of Network Monitoring Software

Automated security and alerts are the main reasons for a small business to install network monitoring software. Each application focuses on different aspects of monitoring and security to varying degrees, so there’s no clear winner for all types of business. Benefits of network monitoring software include:

  • Simplified solutions that create self-service opportunities: Network monitoring software can help small businesses stay organized and streamline processes. For example, non-technical employees may be able to contribute more quickly and accurately in troubleshooting connectivity and other issues via properly implemented software.
  • Segmentation and security: Managed service providers in particular may benefit from some of the software on this list that can safely handle thousands of clients while maintaining security. The segmented functionality is also a natural benefit in cases that require fair and accurate resource management, such as website hosting and email deliverability services.
  • Observation from the cloud: Monitoring software can provide full visibility of business processes from localhost to the cloud, and it can track data through every stage, which is infinitely important in troubleshooting, optimizing, and administering a network. However, in contrast to these detailed logs, network monitoring software should also provide a high-level overview of network health and processes.
  • Increased workplace accountability: Administrators, managers, analysts, and other employees can coordinate upcoming network-related tasks and create a central point for information sharing, training materials, and solutions to common problems.

Must-Have Features of Network Monitoring Software

Network monitoring is much less effective if it lacks current intel. Regular updates on emerging threats and zero-day vulnerabilities may justify higher costs.

  • Frequent updates: Even the best network monitoring software is restricted by how much it knows about its surroundings and the outside internet. The software must be provided with regular updates — added manually by sysadmins and/or as part of a pre-packaged ruleset — to effectively guard against current exploits and other threats.
  • Logs and analytics: Experienced sysadmins have more specific needs in network monitoring software and generally focus more on the raw data. As such, a small business with appropriate tech employees can monitor network activity with little more than traditional logs and alerts. In contrast, many businesses may need to look for software that takes a more modern and visual approach.
  • Low-resource usage: Network monitoring software can, in some cases, consume a lot of resources on the server and network. This is generally not an issue for all but the smallest of network hardware capacities, as some software is rough on the CPU regardless of network activity. However, most mainstream monitoring software is fairly well-optimized considering the functionality. Some options on this list are lightweight and quick to deploy, although limited in scope.

The Cost of Network Monitoring Software

Network monitoring software typically ranges in cost from $0 to $5,000. The wide gap between the various options on this list and elsewhere is a good indication of the amount of features, customer support, and ongoing updates associated with each product. For example, most people know what it’s like to use free software and then get stuck asking for help in community forums, and that’s not ideal in a professional situation.

In contrast with most modern business software, network monitoring can often be purchased outright — a perpetual license for a one-time fee — rather than paid for monthly or annually (SaaS). Additional costs can still be expected for the deployment of network monitoring across multiple nodes, and fees per user or interface are fairly common.

Most of the network monitoring software providers on this list offer some kind of free trial or demo installation that can help business users assess the usefulness of its features in a specific scenario. Some of these developers also provide a completely free version that can be used forever. However, as with most free software, these options are typically unsuitable for larger businesses and come with restrictions and other strings attached that can negate the few benefits received.