The necessity of Router Monitoring Software & Tools is crucial to understand the strain and capacity your networking devices are under in order to forecast and plan correctly for expansion. Using a Switch or Router monitor helps you understand security issues, network outages, connectivity issues and much more.
Over the last decade, networks have grown rapidly to connect a multitude of devices across different locations.
This trend is only going to grow and become more complex as we usher in the era of Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Wearables. Such complexity has also opened up many loopholes for criminals to steal data, enter their malicious code and tamper with the network as a whole.
In such a situation, it is important to stay on top of everything that’s happening in the network, so any breach can be identified and fixed at the earliest. Also, network admins should know the connections between various devices and nodes, including their distribution and access.
To be on top of all these aspects, you need a good network monitoring software that will monitor your routers, switches and firewalls as well. But before going into the different monitoring tools, let us briefly look at some protocols that are used to monitor router traffic, so you can make an informed choice when it comes to router monitoring tools.
Router Monitoring Protocols
Many protocols are used to monitor your routers and the communication that passes through it. Some of the important ones are listed below:
- Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) This is one of the most basic methods of collecting data, and can be used to monitor the bandwidth usage of routers and switches as well as collecting device values for different metrics such as CPU use and memory.
- Sflow A protocol that can be embedded in any device to get continuous statistics on any OSI layer.
- Netflow Cisco’s proprietary technology that gathers data from devices and sends them to a Netflow analyzer.
- Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) A TCP/IP network layer protocol that is used for sending error messages and operational information about routers.
- JFlow JFlow is a technology developed by Juniper and it samples packets in the input stream of routers.
- IP Flow Information Export (IPFIX) A standard that determines how IP flow information should be formatted and sent from the exporter to collector.
Manufacturers of Firewalls & Routers
Now that you know the different protocols, let us also look at some major manufacturers of firewalls and routers.
- Hewlett Packard
Next, lets go in depth into the different router monitoring tools and softare and look at their features, so you can decide which works best for you.
Here’s the Best Router Monitoring Tools
Here are some of the most popular router monitoring tools.
Let us take a detailed look into each of these products and see how they compare to each other and how they can monitor your networking devices for you!
Network Insights by SolarWinds is a tool from SolarWinds that comes with Network Performance Monitor, NetFlow Traffic Analyzer or Network Configuration Manager. SolarWinds is a leader in the world of network monitoring. It is a comprehensive tool that gives deep insights into the working of firewalls and routers.
Key Features: The features of Network Insights include:
- Monitors firewalls continuously to ensure that services dependent on these firewalls are not affected in any way.
- Gives the performance and health of firewalls in a single page.
- Automates the monitoring process to reduce manual intervention and the errors associated with it.
- Provides the status of VPN tunnels to ensure uninterrupted connectivity between sites.
- Automatically discovers ACLs their zones and interfaces.
- Detects shadow and redundant rules without the need for manual operations.
- Improves operational efficiency.
- Backs up and restores configuration files for each context.
- Users can easily access control lists (ACLs) and monitor firewall performance
- Offers better visibility
- Helps visualize critical functions of the device and resolve issues in real-time
- Helps track the performance of applications, networks, and databases
- Automatically detects shadow and redundant rules.
- Does not support topology mapper
- Updates can be tricky
Price: 30-day Free Trial!
Download: A free 30-day fully-functional trial software is available at https://www.solarwinds.com/npm-ncm/registration
Site24x7 Network Monitoring provides router monitoring along with its capabilities for monitoring all other network devices and appliances. The system is based in the cloud but it can access network data through a local agent.
Key Features: The important features of the Site24x7 Network Monitoring package are:
- Network discovery, inventory creation and maintenance, and topology mapping
- Continuous router monitoring with SNMP
- Traffic statistics sampling with NetFlow, J-Flow, sFlow, CFlow, IPFIX, NetStream, and AppFlow
- Processing of SNMP Traps into alerts
- Performance thresholds for automated alerting
- Sends alerts as notifications by email, SMS, or voice call
- VoIP Quality of Service monitoring
- Router component status checks
- Router interface activity monitoring
- Monitors switches, firewalls, wireless APs, load balances, WAN accelerators, VPNs, UPSs, storage devices, and printers as well as routers
- Historical traffic analysis
- Network device configuration management
- Individual user accounts for technicians
- Multi-tenanted version for MSPs
- Monitor multiple networks in one account
- The cloud-resident console can be accessed from anywhere through any standard Web browser
Pricing: Site24x7 is a cloud platform that offers many modules, including the network monitoring system. It isn’t possible to get the Network Monitoring unit by itself. Instead, you subscribe to a package of monitoring systems. The cheapest bundle is the Infrastructure Monitoring plan, which starts at $9 per month when paid annually.
3. ManageEngine OpManager
ManageEngine OpManager is a powerful and user-friendly network monitoring software that monitors a whole lot of devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, servers and virtual machines for their performance.
Key Features: Some features of OpManager are:
- Monitors network with more than 2000 performance metrics
- Comes with intuitive dashboards, instant alerts and intelligent reporting
- Sends critical information on router performance based on a wide-range of metrics such as voltage, temperature, buffer statistics and more.
- Monitors switch ports as well.
- Continuously checks for the availability, performance and latency of WAN links.
- Checks for VoIP call quality and troubleshoots poor VoIP performance.
- Automatically discovers devices and maps them.
- Points out any network degradation or outages, so the same can be fixed right away.
- Monitors servers across multiple vendors.
- Provides agentless monitoring of virtualized servers.
- Sends alerts through emails and SMS.
- Gives the option to automate first level network fault troubleshooting.
- Tracks network bandwidth usage in real-time and ensures that business critical applications get the highest priority when it comes to bandwidth usage.
- Schedules configuration backups when needed
- Monitors the performance of applications across physical, virtual and cloud environments.
- Scales easily to accommodate up to 10K devices and ensures their availability.
- Updates on router performance, temperature, and other metrics
- Tracks availability of WAN links
- Users can create configuration backups as necessary
- Performs real-time monitoring of network bandwidth usage
- Monitors quality of VoIP calls and fixes performance issues
- Reporting requires attention
- Administrators need to work on topology-based maps
Price: Contact the sales team at https://www.manageengine.com/network-monitoring/get-quote.html to get a quote.
Download: You can download a fully functional free trial version from https://www.manageengine.com/network-monitoring/download.html
4. WhatsUp Gold
WhatsUp Gold is a network monitoring tool from Ipswitch, that gives completely visibility into the status and performance of your applications, routers, firewalls, servers and other network devices. It monitors devices and applications hosted both in the cloud and on premises.
Key Features: The features of WhatsUp Gold are listed below.
- Gives a detailed interactive map of your entire networked infrastructure.
- Sends proactive alerts, so you can fix issues before they impact your network.
- Comes with easy-to-use dashboards, customizable maps and custom reports.
- Monitors Windows, Apache, Java and other custom applications.
- Ensures the performance of business critical applications
- Supports the compliance requirements of many standards such as HIPAA, SOX and PCI DSS.
- WhatsUp Gold is free to use and easy to install
- Offers full visibility into the performance of routers and servers
- Sends alerts on identifying and monitoring the cloud environment
- Monitors applications hosted both locally and in the cloud.
- Adhere to compliance standards like HIPAA, SOX, and PCI DSS.
- Configuration takes a long time
- With more components, network mapping becomes more challenging to use.
Price: Get a quote from the sales team at https://www.whatsupgold.com/quote/
Download: Download a free trial version from https://www.whatsupgold.com/trial/
Nagios is a free and open-source application to monitor systems, networks, devices like routers and switches, and the infrastructure as a whole.
Key Features: Nagios comes with the following features.
- Comes with powerful script APIs to monitor both in-house and custom applications, services and systems.
- Gives a centralized view of the entire IT infrastructure.
- Automatically restarts failed applications and services through event handlers.
- Helps with capacity planning
- Excellent alerting system ensures that alerts reach the right people.
- Gives detailed status information through a web interface.
- Extensive reporting capabilities support third-party add-ons as well.
- Supports multi-tenant capabilities
- Scales to monitor thousands of devices
- Failover capabilities ensure that critical applications are always up and running
- Hundreds of community developed add-ons extend the functionality of Nagios.
- Helps detect server problems and track IT infrastructure and its critical components
- Helps with capacity planning and generates extensive reports
- The web interface helps track network data
- Using the script APIs, user can keep an eye on both internal and customized applications
- The configuration wizards make it simple to monitor new hardware, software, and services.
- Installation is complicated.
- The open-source version offers poor assistance
Price: It is 100% FREE
Download: You can download Nagios from https://www.nagios.org/downloads/
Zenoss is a unified monitoring software created to monitor the complex network environments and the multitude of firewalls, routers and other devices that are a part of it. Also, the core engine is open-source.
Key Features: The key features of Zenoss are:
- Works well on cloud, on-premise and hybrid environments.
- Dynamic dashboards give a snapshot of all the information, and can be shared with other team members for increased collaboration.
- Proactively identifies anomalies in the performance of different devices, so they can be fixed at the earliest.
- Uses big data to display information in real-time, along with an in-depth analysis.
- Balances load well across different devices.
- A well-developed control center helps with management and administration.
- Configuration settings can be applied or rolled back quickly on any part of the platform.
- Provides high visibility into critical resources.
- Comes with built-in backup and restoration procedures
- Offers 360-degree visibility and is suitable for different environments
- Offers real-time monitoring of network and device performance, availability, as well as consumption
- Zenoss has a large community and forums for structured guidance
- Supports plugins for better functionality
- Users can arrange devices based on location, system, and groups.
- Some users find it difficult to troubleshoot and fix problems
- Fails to sync numerous devices
Price: It is 100% Free
Download: You can download or schedule a demo of this software at https://ownit.zenoss.com/features.html#getstarted
7. PRTG Router Monitoring – FREE TRIAL
An all-in-one router monitoring tool from Paessler PRTG helps you stay on top of the health and performance of your routers, so your company’s communication and workflow is not impacted in any way.
Key Features: Some important features of this router monitoring tool are as follows.
- Checks bandwidth consumption and network traffic on your routers.
- Monitors router through SNMP, Netflow, sflow, jflow and packet sniffer
- Detects suspicious traffic
- Sends an alert when routers are overloaded
- Supports routers from most major manufacturers like Cisco, Linksys and Netgear.
- Monitors not just the router, but also computer fans, temperatures, power supply sources and memory of routers.
- Gathers information about the bandwidth consumption of individual connections, network activities, causes of traffic and router error messages.
- Simple to configure and easy to use.
- You can setup custom alarms to get notifications of router errors and overloads.
- Works well with many mobile devices.
- Supports many languages such as English, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, German and French
- Quick and simple setup procedure.
- Users can view all the log entries, critical devices, and live usage data in real-time
- Helps track network bandwidth and traffic on your routers
- Sends alert on detecting overboard routers
- Updates on the temperature, power supply sources, and router memory
- Licensing for sensors can get pricey.
- The configuration interface is outdated and difficult to use at times.
Price: Cost depends on the number of sensors you want to use. The first 100 sensors are free. If you want more than this free limit, here is the pricing.
- 500 sensors, 1 server installation – $1600
- 1000 sensors, 1 server installation – $2850
- 2500 sensors, 1 server installation – $5950
- 5000 sensors, 1 server installation – $10500
- Unlimited sensors, 1 server installation – $14500
- Unlimited sensors, 5 server installations – $60000
Download: A free trial version can be downloaded from https://www.paessler.com/download/prtg-download?download=1
OpenNMS is another open-source monitoring platform that is developed and supported by a community of users. It comes in two versions – Horizon and Meridian. Out of the two, Horizon is the platform where innovations happen quickly and works well for monitoring new technologies or devices. Meridian, on the other hand, is ideal for businesses that are looking for long-term support and stability.
Key Features: The features of OpenNMS are:
- Detects service outage quickly.
- Provides out-of-the-box support for many applications and devices
- Gives the option to monitor applications remotely.
- Collects performance metrics through a variety of industry-standard protocols.
- Uses flexible and extensible architecture.
- Built on event-driven architecture, so you can have better control over events in your network.
- Automatically discovers layer 2 network topologies based on SNMP information.
- Helps track the availability of applications and services
- Users can quickly spot latency problems that impair their performance
- It is quite easy to monitor the services on an IP network.
- Helps identify the critical pathways that would be disrupted during an outage.
- The event-driven architecture alerts right away if a network problem or outage occurs.
- Weak MIB Management
- It has a non-intuitive interface and fewer resources for development
Price: It is 100% Free
Download: OpenNMS can be downloaded from https://www.opennms.org/install
Zabbix is a popular network monitoring tool that works well for all kinds and sizes of IT infrastructure, services, applications and resources.
Key Features: Features of Zabbix are as follows.
- Collects metrics from any device, application or system.
- Detects problem states from the incoming metric flow automatically, so there is no need to look into these metrics all the time.
- Provides an extensive root cause analysis
- Predicts trends and detects anomalies quickly.
- Native web interface gives a visual overview of the entire IT environment.
- Offers extensive drill-down reports, network maps and slideshows.
- Sends alerts to the concerned person with custom messages
- Automatically fixes first level issues
- There is a strong encryption between all Zabbix components.
- Comes with a flexible user permission schema
- Code is open for security audits.
- Automatically discover devices within a network
- Scales well without any limits
- Integrates well with many third-party applications
- Helps uses track metrics collected from different machines and devices in real-time
- Offers intelligent alerting and remediation functionalities
- There is no vendor lock-in and the open-source platform is easily accessible for free.
- Zabbix’s intuitive Graphic User Interface (GUI) makes it simple to use even for those without significant technical expertise.
- Users can plan their capacity expansion with the help of Zabbix Agent
- The automation feature requires improvement
- The documentation can be confusing
Price: Since it is open source, it is free.
Download: You can download Zabbix from https://www.zabbix.com/download
To conclude, monitoring Routers and switches is important to prevent any data breaches and down time, and at the same time, to get an exact idea of the state and performance of every device on the network. Many Router Monitoring tools and Software are available today, and they use a varying list of protocols to monitor the routers and firewalls of all leading manufacturers.
Though the exact choice depends on your requirements, network size and system configuration, all the above mentioned tools are great choices – We suggest you download a few of them, as they all have free trials, to get a better feel of how they work!