SNMP monitoring software:
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What is SNMP?
SNMP stands for Simple Network Management Protocol and consists of three key components: managed devices, agents, and network-management systems (NMSs). The protocol is a set of standards for communication with devices in a TCP/IP network. SNMP monitoring is useful for anyone who is responsible for servers and network devices such as hosts, routers, hubs and switches. It lets you keep an eye on network and bandwidth usage, and track important issues such as uptime and traffic levels.
Watch how PRTG uses SNMP
Watch this short PRTG introduction and learn all about the basics of SNMP. What is it used for and what are the advantages? What can be monitored with SNMP?
The advantages of SNMP Monitoring with PRTG
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.
PRTG comes with several preconfigured SNMP sensors. Among these is a series of sensors developed especially for device manufacturers such as Cisco, HP, Dell, and Synology. The SNMP Custom Sensor also lets you monitor a number of other devices from a variety of different manufacturers via SNMP.
Below you will find a selection of our "best-of" sensors. Whether servers, routers, or switches: with PRTG, you get a professional SNMP network monitoring software and a comprehensive view of your network.
Built-in alarm features
Our SNMP server monitoring software is equipped with a built-in alarm feature. You're free to set the threshold values and alert method (email, SMS, or a free push notification to your smartphone) any way you please. PRTG includes a customizable notification system which you can define according to your own personal needs.
The PRTG Auto Discovery facilitates your search. With this feature, all of the available devices in your network which are switched on for SNMP monitoring are checked, and suitable sensors are created, automatically. Your initial monitoring will thus be set up in the blink of an eye! You can then get down to its fine-tuning.
Reports are also included in the free SNMP server monitoring software. Among other things, they feature clear and comprehensible charts. One of the times these reports can come in handy is when your hardware is under heavy strain and you need to convince your higher-ups to provide you with the funds for an upgrade.
SNMP versions (SNMP V1, V2c, or V3) can vary from device to device. Should you encounter issues while setting up your SNMP tools for Windows, the Paessler Support Team will be happy to offer you their expert advice and assistance. In general, our support team answers inquiries within 24 hours. With SNMP tools like the SNMP Tester, you can detect and debug problems. Simply send your log files to our support team for analysis.
Use PRTG as an SNMP Trap Receiver
All in one, no extra cost: that is our philosophy. With PRTG, the full range of features is included. There are no hidden fees or additional upgrades to pay for. This is also true if you wish to use your monitoring for SNMP traps. Using PRTG as a trap receiver is simple! For we've created an appropriate sensor - which is also available in the free version - to help you get started.
SNMP traps: With SNMP monitoring, monitoring software usually sends small data packets to target devices in order to request various information from them. This in turn triggers response packets from the monitored devices for SNMP manager. The upside of SNMP traps is that devices automatically send messages to the SNMP server monitoring software in the event of crucial incidents, without first being requested to do so.
Your SNMP monitor 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.
5 advantages of SNMP monitoring
In general, network monitoring with SNMP is extremely reliable. PRTG offers many sensors adapted to the various versions (SNMP V1, SNMP V2c, and SNMP V3) and different manufacturers.
Minimal bandwidth usage
SNMP monitoring requires a minimum amount of bandwidth. As an administrator, you therefore get the overview you need and the control that goes with it, without putting too much strain on your network.
Low CPU load
Like the bandwidth, the processor is barely affected. The CPU load of SNMP V1 and V2c is nearly imperceptible, even with broader monitoring including several thousand sensors.
Almost all of the major device manufacturers (including Cisco, Dell, and HP) offer the Simple Network Management Protocol. For many devices, it is the only protocol used to read values.
SNMP is a platform-independent standard. Activate the SNMP service in your Windows computer or configure the SNMP daemon in Linux. SNMP is also available for macOS. You can therefore incorporate all your computers into the holistic SNMP management software PRTG.
Our recommendations: The Top-5 PRTG sensors for your SNMP monitoring
Use the following five SNMP sensors to monitor the most important features on each of your devices.
More sensors can be found in our PRTG sensor list. There are dozens of SNMP sensors, and over 200 in all!
- SNMP CPU Load Sensor: This sensor shows you the extent to which your processors are being utilized. The load is displayed as a percentage in a typical PRTG tachometer, in PRTG called "gauges".
- SNMP Disk Free Sensor: This sensor shows you how much hard disk space is available. This value is displayed as a percentage and in bytes.
- SNMP Memory Sensor: This sensor shows you how much memory is left. This sensor allows you to make plans to upgrade your hardware, if necessary.
- SNMP Traffic Sensor: With this sensor, you get a constant overview of the amount of data traffic flowing through a device's ports. Should the load begin to increase at a critical rate, you'll be notified quickly.
- SNMP Hardware Status Sensor: This sensor allows you to keep a constant eye on your hardware, whether devices from Cisco, Dell or IBM. You will see if your devices are running and be notified in the event of a crash.
3 steps to SNMP monitoring: This is how easy you configure PRTG!
Check to make sure your devices support SNMP. This should be the case at your company, for SNMP has been a standard for several years for manufacturers such as Cisco, Juniper, HP, and Dell. In this step, PRTG also verifies which SNMP version is supported and discovers automatically all available devices in your network.
Turn on SNMP in the device. There is often a management program or configuration page for this purpose. For many devices, the default SNMP setting is “off.” If there is a firewall between the devices and the PRTG probe, then configure the firewall accordingly. Activate SNMP port 161 and open all outgoing ports greater than 1023 for SNMP on the PRTG side of the firewall.
Create appropriate sensors for the devices in PRTG. The sensor settings must be compatible with the device’s version of SNMP so the data can be read.
SNMP V1 vs. SNMP V2 vs. SNMP V3
- SNMP V1: The first SNMP version was defined in 1988. It is still in widespread use today, mainly because it is much easier to use than the other versions. However, this version does not come with encryption. It is therefore recommended that SNMP V1 only be used in private LANs which are not connected to the Internet.
- SNMP V2c: When people speak of version 2, they usually mean SNMP V2c. This version, however, also lacks encryption. One feature of SNMP V2c is that it supports 64-bit counters, whereas SNMP V1 uses only 32-bit.
- SNMP V3: The third and most current version of SNMP also supports encryption and significantly increases the security of SNMP monitoring. Nevertheless, setting up SNMP V3 is complex and elaborate in comparison to its predecessors. To date, it is still not very widespread.
Due to the large number of devices (routers, switches, servers, etc.), several manufacturers were forced to define a common standard for monitoring the functionality of devices and networks.
SNMP Client: 3 possibilities
SNMP client communication
Generally speaking, every network device in a professional setting uses the SNMP network protocol. These devices are also referred to as SNMP client devices. As an administrator, you'll need software that can collect and read SNMP. During traditional communication, the client actively requests information from the server. With SNMP, the client and the server can also communicate via “traps.” Traps are data packets that are sent from the SNMP server to the client without any explicit request by the client.
SNMP monitoring software
PRTG is professional SNMP monitoring software that works for all systems (Windows, Linux, macOS). Larger networks are more complex and therefore present challenges when it comes to monitoring. With more than 250 preconfigured sensors for all the major hardware manufacturers and for all SNMP clients, PRTG has a solution for every problem.
Other SNMP tools
There’s no shortage of free tools and open-source software on the market, including Net-SNMP for Linux. Some tools let you query SNMP-related information from the command line (e.g. with snmpwalk or snmpget). With PRTG, you'll monitor your network continuously and automatically receive an alert in the event of a disruption.
Support: Problems with SNMP Monitoring? Put the PRTG Tester to work!
Having an issue with your SNMP monitoring? A sensor reports an error - but you can't see why? Use our SNMP Tester to get to the root of the problem. With this tool, you can make SNMP inquiries and obtain detailed log files. If you cannot find the bug, simply send the log files to our support team. In this way, we can help to solve your problem.
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.
We asked: would you recommend PRTG?
Over 95% of our customers say yes!
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.
“Hey Luciano, what would you tell administrators looking to set up SNMP monitoring with PRTG?“
“With PRTG, you not only get the many standard sensors which exist for SNMP monitoring, but also the ability to monitor devices even without having a native sensor for them. You can thus monitor practically any SNMP-compatible device! First of all, obtain the relevant MIB file containing a definition of all available OIDs from the manufacturer of your hardware. Then use the MIB importer to make the MIBs available to PRTG, and create an SNMP Library sensor. Finally, select the properties of the target device you’d like to monitor, and within no time at all you’ll have the data you need!“
Luciano Lingnau, technical support at Paessler AG
WMI, Netflow, Packet Sniffing
NetFlow is a protocol for collecting, aggregating and recording traffic flow data in a network. NetFlow data provide a more granular view of how bandwidth and network traffic are being used than other monitoring solutions, such as SNMP. NetFlow was developed by Cisco and is embedded in Cisco’s IOS software on the company’s routers and switches and has been supported on almost all Cisco devices since the 11.1 train of Cisco IOS Software.
Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) is a standard developed by Microsoft. Depending on the size of your network, WMI can lead to load problems. Here too, PRTG comes to the rescue with its specific sensors. Find out more on the page on WMI Monitoring.
Netflow and IPFIX are protocols which are used mainly in Cisco devices. But other protocols, such as sFlow and jFlow, are also suitable for bandwidth monitoring. Find out more on our Netflow Monitoring topic page.
Monitoring via packet sniffing provides you with detailed insight into your data packets. This is convenient, namely, when you'd like to take a closer look at why data traffic problems sometimes occur in your network. Find out more on the page on Packet Sniffing Monitoring.
SNMP authentication: 3 common error messages
Establishing a connection
You may encounter problems when trying to establish a connection between our software and a specific network device. One reason for such problems is that the wrong version of SNMP has been selected. PRTG and SNMP Client support all three SNMP versions (v1, v2c, and v3). However, the right version must be selected.
3 error messages
During SNMP authentication, you may receive error messages such as “Could not Connect,” “Error 10060,” or “Error 2003.” Open the settings of your network device and choose the right version of SNMP. For more detailed information, please see our knowledge base.
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Expand your know-how: our SNMP email course
You're interested in learning more about SNMP – but little by little instead of having to digest an entire white paper at once? Then sign up here for our free, four-part email course. This course is a great way to develop your expertise on network monitoring via SNMP.
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