What you’ll find on this page
- Network device monitoring: 6 good reasons to choose PRTG
- How the PRTG Auto Discovery feature works
- 6 PRTG sensors for getting started
- Screenshots: An introduction to PRTG
- Comparison of network discovery in Windows and in PRTG
- Network scanning vs. network monitoring
- Servers, routers, switches: Monitor all your network devices
Discover and monitor network devices automatically:
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Three reasons for taking stock of your network
How do I find all my network devices? Sooner or later, every administrator must tackle this question.
In general, there are three reasons for taking stock of your network with a network discovery tool:
Administrators perform regular inventories in their companies. These inventories are not only done to get an overview of the network, but also for security reasons: An inventory will let you see if unwanted private devices are connected to your network.
When a company grows, so does its network. Many administrators are faced with the task of gradually expanding their networks. When doing so, network devices must be routed correctly to ensure the network remains stable and efficient.
Increasingly, accounting departments are also keeping an eye on networks. It is important that all costs associated with network devices, maintenance, and licenses be recorded. To do so, administrators must have an overview of their hardware and software. Taking stock of the network can help.
Six good reasons to choose PRTG to monitor your network devices
Automatic stock taking
The PRTG Auto Discovery feature makes it easy to take stock of a network. This feature will automatically find all the network devices within an IP address range, and then integrate them into your monitoring.
Discovery of new devices
When opening PRTG for the first time, new devices will be detected and set up automatically. PRTG lets you create your own timetable: run the discovery automatically, either daily, weekly, or monthly. Each time, you’ll receive a ticket and an e-mail. And that means you’ll be able to keep a constant eye on what’s going on in your network.
Nonstop network monitoring
PRTG monitors your network 24 hours a day, 365 days per year - and not just at irregular intervals. You’ll therefore be able to discover those devices which may have been turned off during a one-time scan.
Alerts when the network malfunctions
At the slightest problem, you’ll be notified at once. Our alerts enable you to act quickly and avoid more serious disruptions. The alarm system is individually customizable.
Cross-locational network discovery
PRTG makes it easy to discover and monitor network devices that are spread out over several different locations. The centralized monitoring of distributed sites functions via remote probes, which run as a Windows service on a server in each of the respective locations.
Overview of all network devices
Each network device is set up by PRTG in a device tree. A simple and easy-to-understand dashboard illustrates the status of your network and of each individual device by way of a traffic light system. The dashboard is available on your desktop, or as an app for when you’re out of the office.
“Thanks to PRTG, we no longer need to worry about our network. We can sit back and relax knowing that powerful software is checking hundreds of network devices every 30 seconds. PRTG is so reliable that we almost always forget it is there – until we receive a message that something is wrong.”
Chadwick Wachs, Owner of Au Wireless. To the case study
How the PRTG Auto Discovery feature works, in three steps
Ping is a command-line utility, available on virtually any operating system with network connectivity, that acts as a test to see if a networked device is reachable. The ping command sends a request over the network to a specific device. A successful ping results in a response from the computer that was pinged back to the originating computer.
The Auto Discovery feature provides for the quick and convenient detection of all your network devices. PRTG automatically sets up devices in the network tree, and then equips them with sensors. Auto Discovery is described in detail in the PRTG manual. This is how it works:
Enter the IP address range within which PRTG should search for network devices. Then launch the Auto Discovery feature; PRTG will use ping to find all the devices located within this IP range.
Next run a scan to identify the types of devices which were found. Appropriate sensors will be created automatically. To do so, PRTG uses SNMP, WMI, and other protocols.
All devices found by PRTG are then set up in a device tree. PRTG uses a number of device templates for this process. Whether Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, or Juniper: Corresponding devices are available for all the big manufacturers.
PRTG sets up your network monitoring automatically and within minutes. You can fine-tune this initial monitoring over time. And while the runtime of Auto Discovery depends on the size of the designated IP range, the number of devices found, your network connection, and some other latency factors, once it is launched there is nothing else for you to do except adjust a few of its settings (such as “credentials”).
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Your network at a glance – even on the go
PRTG is set up in a matter of minutes and can be used on a wide variety of mobile devices.
PRTG makes your job easier
Our monitoring software frees you to focus on other tasks by promptly notifying you of potential issues.
PRTG gives you one central monitoring tool for your servers and entire network. Enjoy a quick overview of your whole infrastructure via our dashboard and app.
Getting started with PRTG is a breeze. Setting up or switching from another network monitoring tool is easy thanks to the auto-discovery and pre-configured device templates.
Six handy PRTG sensors
How PRTG defines sensors
In PRTG, “sensors” are the basic monitoring elements. One sensor usually monitors one measured value in your network, e.g. the traffic of a switch port, the CPU load of a server, the free space of a disk drive. On average you need about 5-10 sensors per device or one sensor per switch port.
The Ping Sensor verifies the availability of each and every device in your network. One of the most commonly used PRTG sensors, the Ping Sensor also displays ping time. The Cloud Ping v2 sensor is also used frequently. More on ping monitoring
For Microsoft devices, you can use our WMI sensors. The “System Information” feature, which is built into an extra tab, provides information on Windows systems, installed hardware and software, and much more. More on WMI monitoring
Packet Sniffer Sensor
The PRTG Packet Sniffer Sensor monitors the data traffic in your network, and can filter according to mail traffic, file transfer traffic, and infrastructure traffic, among others. More on packet sniffing
jFlow lets you monitor Juniper Networks hardware, among others. Here too you can configure devices especially for PRTG. It features a high degree of similarity to NetFlow5. Find out more about our jFlow sensor.
Network discovery in Windows and in PRTG: What’s the difference?
Network discovery in Windows
Network discovery is used in Windows to enable a specific network device. A network printer, for example. It’s up to the sysadmin to add individual devices to the network. If you look at the overview in Windows, you won’t find any devices that have not been enabled by the administrator. Windows offers a variety of network profiles with individual enabling options for this process.
Network discovery in PRTG
PRTG locates all the devices that are active and reachable via ping within a certain IP range. Once they are found, these devices are automatically added to your monitoring environment. A network search is therefore the beginning of the monitoring process. If you’re not interested in monitoring and would rather just perform a quick scan of your network, then a tool like Angry IP Scanner would be your best bet. To learn more, check out the section on network scanning.
Detect network loops with PRTG
A network or switching loop can have a negative impact on the performance of your network. Such a loop may even lead to an outright network crash. The PRTG Packet Sniffer and NetFlow sensors will help you identify network loops, by highlighting the frequent appearance of duplicate data packets, for example. These sensors monitor incoming data packets, and filter traffic according to IP addresses, protocols, and data types.
“Hey Dirk, what do you think about network monitoring?”
“Without network monitoring, it can easily take several hours to locate a network error, such as identifying a router which isn't working properly. Costs can quickly pile up due to unused man days. With a monitoring service, the amount of downtime can be minimized and in many cases even proactively eliminated. With our PRTG monitoring tool, we hope to simplify the job of administrators so they can go about their work efficiently and with less stress.”
Dirk Paessler, founder of Paessler AG
Network scanners vs. PRTG: Similarities and differences
Many administrators are in search of simple network scanners or tools that are 100% dedicated to network discovery. In such cases, it’s not about setting up monitoring, but discovering available devices as quickly and easily as possible. We too have used these tools in the past, such as “Angry IP Scanner,” when our company moved into its new offices.
PRTG is a comprehensive network monitoring tool. Device discovery is the first step to the setting up of monitoring. PRTG offers considerably more than a simple network scanner. With PRTG, you can monitor servers, databases, websites, and much more. PRTG comes with pre-configured sensors for a number of different manufacturers, including Cisco, HP, and Dell.
PRTG should not be seen as a rival to a simple scanner. Each is used in different circumstances. PRTG is convenient for taking over the tasks of scanner tools. On the other hand, some situations call for a simpler tool, such as for a short test when you don’t need detailed monitoring but only a quick overview.
Find devices: Searching your network via the command line
The command line – still in use today
Many sysadmins use the command line. The command line is still the quickest way to run a general test on something in your network. The alternative – finding, installing, and getting the hang of a suitable network discovery tool – takes a whole lot longer, even if you plan on using the tool more frequently in the future. The command line is also useful for home networks.
Checking availability via ping
The ping command “ping IP ADDRESS” checks whether your target device is available. You can repeat the ping command manually or use a loop to ping an entire range of devices. However, repeated commands can cause problems with your firewall. If you need to check several devices, it makes more sense to use a suitable network discovery tool.
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Paessler AG conducted trials in over 600 IT departments worldwide to tune its network monitoring software closer to the needs of sysadmins.
The result of the survey: over 95% of the participants would recommend PRTG – or already have.
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When devices malfunction, you need a tool that provides an overview of your network
Many networks contain routers from a variety of different manufacturers. Some routers are used more heavily than others, and still others are outdated. PRTG monitors all your routers from one central location. It not only checks for traffic and bandwidth, but also the state of the actual device. Fans, temperatures, power supplies…in the event of a malfunction, you’ll be notified at once. By the way, PRTG also monitors Cisco devices.
Switches are vital network interfaces. If just one switch fails, this can have a serious impact on your network connections and lead to disruptions in your entire network. As with routers, our software is compatible with all the most popular switch manufacturers, including Cisco, HP, Juniper, Dell, Huawei, and more. With PRTG, you can monitor all your switches from one central location.
Mail servers, database servers, virtual servers, web servers: When a server crashes, the IT helpline is immediately flooded with calls. Our software lets you monitor every aspect of your servers. PRTG monitors both server hardware and server traffic. As a result, it makes your network a lot more stable. PRTG protects your company from noticeable disruptions and downtime.
VoIP is extremely popular. But why does it seem to always be crashing? The reason may be poor quality of service (QoS). When using VoIP, you’ll need a tool that can check for latency, packet loss, and jitter. PRTG measures and monitors your QoS and helps you make necessary improvements. As a result, you’ll increase the quality of your VoIP.
A firewall must always be up-to-date and never be disabled. Our software is perfect for monitoring your firewalls. If a firewall malfunctions, you’ll be notified at once. PRTG also checks for available firewall updates and verifies whether such updates have been installed in your system.
PRTG: The Swiss Army knife for sysadminsAdapt PRTG individually and dynamically to your needs and rely on a strong API:
- HTTP API: Access monitoring data and manipulate monitoring objects via HTTP requests
- Custom sensors: Create your own PRTG sensors for customized monitoring
- Custom notifications: Create your own notifications and send action triggers to external systems
- REST Custom sensor: Monitor almost everything that provides data in XML or JSON format
Want to learn more? Please do!
Many companies have offices in several different locations. The remote probes of PRTG let you monitor all your network locations centrally. In our white paper, we explain the architecture behind PRTG and explore specific network topology scenarios.
Still not convinced?
More than 500,000 sysadmins love PRTG
Paessler PRTG is used by companies of all sizes. Sysadmins love PRTG because it makes their job a whole lot easier.
Still not convinced?
Monitor your entire IT infrastructure
Bandwidth, servers, virtual environments, websites, VoIP services – PRTG keeps an eye on your entire network.
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