- Monitoring your network devices can be a stressful experience. Luckily, there are some solutions available for Windows.
- We take a look at some of the choices available and compare them in this article.
- If all you are looking for is to monitor data packets, then see our top packet sniffers for Windows.
- Interested in other network tools? See our guides from the Network Solutions section.
In information technology and telecommunications, Local Area Network (LAN) is a term describing a computer network connecting multiple computers, including peripheral devices.
There are numerous software tools you can use to secure your local network as well as extended networks. Many of them are available for free.
How to monitor LAN networks
There are many systems for monitoring your LAN network.
What could I check in a LAN software? The vital parameters are, for example, the disk space, the percentage of processor usage, memory and disk usage, network connectivity, etc.
You can also set alerts for all these settings in advance. In this manner, you’ll avoid space saturation and server blockages.
What to check when buying a LAN monitoring tool?
- Alerts — you should receive information about failures and stress from the monitor
- Analysis tools – to explore the network.
- Customizations – in case you want to write your own scripts to automate reporting, the system should allow you to do that.
- Visualization — you need to be able to see the status of the overall network
- Multi-vendor compatibility — the monitoring system and all your existing equipment should communicate.
In this post, we’ll list 4 useful LAN software that you can use for your Windows computer network.
What are the best LAN software to use in 2020?
You can easily keep track of your entire LAN and WAN with PRTG.
It offers a very easy way to monitor all your workstations, routers, switches, and servers. Bandwidth can also be monitored if that is something you are looking for.
The monitoring is done using various protocols including the popular SNMP. Packet Sniffing can be used to analyze individual data packets.
If your network has Cisco devices, then NetFlow is available in PRTG to monitor those.
Other great features:
- works with distributed networks using Remote Probes
- mobile apps available for on the go monitoring
- modular and extendable providing REST API sensor and Custom Notifications
PRTG Network MonitoringThis all-in-one networking tool for sysadmins from Paessler is the best LAN monitoring software available.
Nagios is a monitoring system that allows you to identify and resolve any IT infrastructure issues before they have any negative consequences.
Nagios is considered as the “de facto standard” in network monitoring. And it’s true, because it’s one of the first tools that did it right. Before Nagios there were others, but they were good only for specific tasks.
The first version of Nagios is from the last century: 1999. Since the official launch, the technology has evolved: Nagios has done it through an ecosystem of “add-ons” or third-party add-ons that try to complement the features that are missing.
Nagios is able to monitor network devices, systems, and services. Furthermore, the plugin system makes it versatile and adaptable to any monitoring requirement. It is also possible to write custom plugins.
There are 2 versions of Nagios:
- Enterprise version called Nagios XI that offers a complete and already built monitoring system
- Nagios Core version forms the basis on which to base its monitoring system. The ‘Core’ version in the nagios3 package is available in Debian ‘squeeze’.
Zabbix landed on the market in 2001. It is a fully developed tool, not a fork of Nagios.
Its main characteristic is that it has a more holistic vision of monitoring, covering performance, not only states.
In addition, it has a WEB management system that allows to manage it in a centralized way, without cumbersome configuration files, as it happened to Nagios.
Pandora FMS was released in 2004. This is a monitoring framework that supports infrastructure monitoring (networks and servers), performance monitoring and applications (APM) to transactional business monitoring (BAM).
It has a centralized management system and is based on a SQL relational database.
Like Nagios, it has an “Enterprise” version, but its OpenSource version is more than enough to implement any monitoring need. Neither Nagios nor Pandora FMS are “limited” versions like those of other manufacturers, but they lack some features oriented to large environments.
Comparing Zabbix, Nagios and Pandora FMS
- User Configuration and Management
Zabbix has a web management interface that it is centralized through the database, just like Pandora FMS does.
Nagios, however, is still managed in thousands of sites through complex text files, scripts and manual processes, which also make it necessary to use third-party tools for deployment.
This has the advantage that Nagios needs fewer resources by not using a database to store information. The difficulty in management means that you have a team of people who manage Nagios.
- Plugins and monitoring “out of the box”
Both Zabbix and Nagios need plugins in order to offer a set of complete functionalities.
Zabbix lacks an “official” plugin library for the community, but it does have a list of OIDs for SNMP queries.
Nagios has a huge library, but it’s not that well maintained.
Pandora FMS has a smaller library than Nagios (it does not reach 500 plugins), but it is better maintained. The tool comes with a collection of plugins and modules “ready to use”.
Zabbix has a powerful system for defining templates and triggers based on regular expressions.
If you want to learn more about the differences between this three software, you can read this analysis published on the official Pandora FMS blog.
Pick the best
If the PRTG Network Monitor solution is not to your liking, we compared the other 3 software solutions to help you make an informed decision. Let us know if you have any comments in the section below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been since revamped and updated in August 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.