How To: Free network monitoring
How to use 100 sensors to keep an eye on critical points
in your IT – at no cost
The Nuremberg-based company Paessler AG's PRTG Network Monitor is a professional solution for monitoring complete IT environments. From hardware and virtualized environments to data traffic and applications, PRTG monitors availability and performance. The price of the solution is based on the number of 'sensors' used – that’s what Paessler calls the individual measuring points. Every license, even the free PRTG 100, offers the complete range of functions.
Paessler offers 100 sensors in the free version.
Implemented as a comprehensive monitoring solution, this 100-sensor version is sufficient for a small company network or large home network. However, it can also be an interesting option for monitoring critical points in a larger network.
Examples of Usage for PRTG 100:
In this first example, PRTG 100 is used as Syslog and SNMP Trap Receiver. Syslogs and SNMP traps deliver a lot of information to devices in the form of text messages, which are delivered to a corresponding receiver.
A single Syslog or Trap Receiver Sensor can theoretically be used to monitor an entire network: Under lab conditions (one single sensor without filters), PRTG could handle 10,000 messages per second (Syslog or trap) on a quad core desktop machine, so the software offers more than enough power reserves.
The messages are collected and can be filtered and sorted, then serve as a basis for alerts, notifications and reports. You’re left with 99 sensors that can be used as Syslog and SNMP trap receivers for individual, important devices or for other purposes entirely.
A website is a company's business card, showcase and retail outlet. However, if just entering a shop takes too long, most customers won’t even come in. Constant, comprehensive monitoring is necessary in order to guarantee fast response times and general availability of a website.
With 100 sensors, the free version offers enough options for comprehensive monitoring of one or more websites. For example, the HTTP sensor can be used to monitor general availability, while the HTTP Full Web Page sensor measures the time needed to load an entire page. One can monitor specific website content for changes, or use the HTTP Transaction sensor to monitor processes like logins or filling out and sending forms.
Because PRTG 100 also includes remote probes, these can be distributed worldwide to monitor the availability and reaction time of websites from other countries. Website operators can ensure that their sites are available for international customers as well. In addition, some sensors can be used to monitor the web server or backup processes, for example.
Email is still the main means of communication in most companies. Any disturbances in email traffic can have grave consequences. Consistent monitoring sends alerts before interruptions or failures occur and cause severe damage.
PRTG offers numerous predefined sensors for securing email traffic, including the Email Round Trip Sensors, which monitor the entire sending and receiving cycle of an email. In addition, dedicated Exchange, IMAP, POP or SMTP sensors can be used to monitor single key components efficiently and thoroughly.
Databases are another critical point in many companies. Whether internal systems or websites, the performance of many processes is directly dependent on the performance of the underlying database.
PRTG 100 offers predefined SQL sensors (MySQL, Microsoft SQL, ADO SQL and Oracle SQL) for in-depth SQL database monitoring. To this end, one sensor monitors various standard parameters, while still permitting custom SQL queries, so that the monitoring can easily be adjusted to fit individual requirements.
Printers are generally not as integral to a company as databases, email or websites, but broken printers, empty toner or print jams often make for annoyed users. Up to 50 printers can be monitored with the PRTG 100, if two sensors are used per printer:
- One sensor that monitors the toner levels, queue, paper, etc.
- A second sensor that monitors statistic values, like printed pages
With the PRTG Maps feature – which involves easy-to-create HTML pages – printers can be displayed on a blueprint of the office, so the administrator immediately knows where the printer needing maintenance is located. The internal ticketing system can be used to create tickets and assign them directly to the responsible colleague.
In addition, the free PRTG 100 can be used as a free and powerful alternative for some scenarios that, at first glance, seem to require expensive special solutions.
Functions that are usually available for purchase as add-ons for other standard monitoring solutions are included in PRTG.
PRTG 100 can be used in a small scope to monitor routers and switches using flow protocol. A flow sensor (PRTG supports NetFlow, sFlow, jFlow and IPFIX) processes a flow stream from a router or switch. In this way, the free PRTG version can monitor up to 100 flow-capable devices for free and analyzes the traffic that runs on these devices.
PRTG does not aim to replace highly specialized flow solutions with its flow sensors, but helps administrators to maintain a quick overview of top talkers, top protocols and top connections in day-to-day work.
Like flow monitoring, monitoring VMware environments usually requires expensive special solutions or add-ons. And, like flow sensors, VMware sensors are included in PRTG's range of functions.
PRTG 100 can be used to augment VMware's integrated monitoring with an alarm and reporting tool.
Over dedicated VMware host sensors, PRTG can read out and process comprehensive performance data. In addition, PRTG can also monitor the hardware on which the VMware host operates.
And many more...
PRTG offers more than 250 predefined sensor types, which open up a whole realm of further usage scenarios for PRTG 100.
These can be used to monitor firewalls, storage solutions, Active Directory or virus scanners and much more. The FritzBox sensor is an especially interesting option for home users or small companies.