Monitor Your Network To Success

key review info
application features
  • Reliable network monitoring used by more than 80.000 users every day
  • (3 more, see all...)

Most computer users can usually say two things about their Internet connection: it either works or it doesn't. Others use basic bandwidth monitoring programs that help them getting to know the health of their connection, or limit their download and upload speeds.

When we talk about power users and server administrators, we step into another world. Bandwidth usage is carefully monitored, logs are generated and sent through email or displayed live using a Web interface, sometimes costs for the overall traffic are put into equation, and more. I never was a system administrator and I don't intend to become one, but I have some friends in the field and I must say that this work is extremely interesting.

Some of the power tools for monitoring usage in corporate environments are also available for individuals, and this is what we're going to explore next. Paessler Router Traffic Grapher (I'll just call it PRTG from now on) can monitor and classify bandwidth usage on Windows servers but can be used on workstations without any problem.

This program's kit that I installed comes as a free/trial version. How's that? You can choose to use the free version or get a free trial key that expires after 30 days and use the features of the commercial version in this time. My choice should be obvious by now, so download it, install it and get your key...or not: the difference between the free version and the commercial one is that the first one can only monitor up to three sensors.

Now let's enter PRTG's realm...

After a first run of the program, you have to configure sensors. In most cases, a sensor can monitor one network device or system parameter. There are three data acquisition methods that can be used by the sensors that you configure: Simple Network Management Protocol (usually known as SNMP), Packet Sniffing and NetFlow.

Best way to choose is to follow the Add Sensor Wizard step by step and pay attention to the information displayed on the screen (of course that if you're an expert you don't need to read about SNMP or Packet Sniffing, but most of us are not experts...). Once you successfully complete the setup of your first sensor you will be able to monitor its status.

With PRTG you can filter your traffic in order to check only HTTP or FTP transfers, for example. Don't be afraid to add as many new sensors as you wish, because the monitoring engine is capable of dealing with several thousands of them!

Sometimes you can't be in the same place for ages, and monitoring your workstation or server from remote locations is very useful in this cases. PRTG allows you to check in real time the statistics of your network using a Web interface. The Web server is integrated into the program, so you won't need anything else in order to make this work.

Logging monitored data is very important, and PRTG can keep logs starting with the last 5 to 60 minutes and going up to the daily averages of the last 365 days. The data can be exported to CSV files for custom reporting and the database can be zipped and sent through email and purged after deletion.

The reports can be exported to PDF and HTML files as graphs or data tables and are fully configurable. People or companies that use a bandwidth billing ISP are able to compute and display their connection costs with the help of the built in billing system.

Each sensor can have notifications set up and can send email, perform a HTTP GET request or execute a program/batch file if an error is reported.

For me this is already more than enough, and I hardly wait to get this program up & running on my home computer (for home users, the free version is an excellent tool, as I said before)! Try this program, it won't disappoint you!

The Good

PRTG is all I can ask from a network monitoring tool of its type. Its Help system is excellent and can guide every beginner through this domain.

The Bad

It would be nice to have some basic tools like WHO IS or TRACEROUTE included in this program, some people may find them really useful.

The Truth

I was thinking about reviewing X-NetStat Professional the last days, and I will do it in the future, but now I am glad that I discovered PRTG. Discovering powerful applications is always a pleasure, and I share that with you daily.

No matter if you're a regular home user, a system administrator or a hardware networking specialist, this program should be useful for you. There's only one problem: are you ready for this now?

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 4
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5

final rating 5
Editor's review