High traffic caused by a single IP can be the reason for bottlenecks and entire network traffic jams. Consistent IP monitoring can prevent problems and help optimizing the network in general.

PRTG Network Monitor is a comprehensive IP monitoring tool that offers full functionality even in the freeware edition. Besides packet sniffing and IP monitoring PRTG also offers lots of features for enhanced bandwidth, usage, and availability monitoring.

You should consider packet sniffing if your network device(s) do not support SNMP or if you need to differentiate the bandwidth usage by network protocol and/or IP addresses.

PRTG can analyze the packets passing the network card of a PC or it can be connected to the so-called monitoring port of a switch. In order to calculate bandwidth usage, PRTG inspects all network data packets either passing the PC's network card (shown on the left side of the image) or the data packets sent by a monitoring port of a switch (right side) with its built-in packet sniffer. Read more about the protocol analyzer.

Free Tool
Paessler Card Packet Counter: Shows short term statistics on the network data packets passing a local network card.
Download Paessler Card Packet Counter

For Cisco devices supporting the NetFlow protocol, IP monitoring can also be setup using the NetFlow add-on for PRTG Network Monitor. NetwFlow supporting Cisco devices keep track of the bandwidth usage of the network internally. They then merely forward pre-aggregated data to the PRTG system for accounting and IP monitoring purposes. By doing this PRTG's computing load is much lower. This option is recommended for IP monitoring in high traffic networks.

See this knowledge base article for detailed technical information on IP monitoring using packet sniffing or NetFlow…

Free Tool
Paessler NetFlow Tester: NetFlow Tester simply dumps the data of all NetFlow packets that a computer receives from a Cisco router - useful when debugging IP monitoring configurations based on NetFlow protocol.
Download Paessler NetFlow Tester

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