Top 6 best network discovery tools for easier routine and faster results

If you have ever faced the task of setting up a network inventory to manage your network to perfection, you know this can be quite the task. Searching the “network inventory” results over the web often leads to an overwhelming number of options. Some solutions will be ad-based, some — high-end and very pricey. We'll try to lay the information out for you so you can find the most suitable tool for your business.

What is “network inventory”

Network inventory is a process of creating the list of devices, such as computers, servers, routers, and printers, connected to the inventoried network. The amount of information one can obtain depends on whether the person who performs the inventory has the administrator privileges.

The most basic network inventory is a list of devices. However, the deeper it gets the more data it contains: details about software installed, hotfixes applied, serial numbers, management change, and more.

How inventory software helps you manage network assets


If you’re administering a network or multiple networks, it is rather important to have an up-to-date and detailed network inventory at hand. For example, staying in the know of what software is running on your network can save time, troubleshooting costs, and spare you from expensive IT audits.

A high-quality software inventory tool helps you keep track of software licenses, so you don't have to worry about not complying. Central management of software licenses can help prevent the loss of data.
Network Inventory Advisor

Here are the best network discovery tools

Network Inventory Advisor


Network Inventory Advisor from ClearApps can be used on Mac or Windows machines and offers a quick and reliable audit results for all software and hardware on the network. Network Inventory Advisor discovers all network assets automatically, thoroughly scans them and builds comprehensive ready-to-use reports. It can even discover and build reports for standalone assets, such as printers, keyboards, sound devices, and your office furniture as manually added nodes.

PROS:
  • Ideal for small to large businesses
  • Strong fault management tools
  • Multiple reports generation
  • Highly customizable admin dashboard
  • Simultaneous support for multiple networks
  • Works on Mac and Windows OS
  • Hardware monitoring and reports
  • Network discovery
  • CMDB export
  • Works with SNMP devices
  • Integration with your remote desktop app

CONS:
  • No web-interface
Lansweeper

Lansweeper


Lansweeper is a network inventory tool for Windows networks. This network discovery and asset management tool is automatic and has a web interface.

PROS:
  • For small to large business
  • Basic free version with several paid plans
  • Fault management options
  • Text message alerts
  • Automatic network mapping
  • Device shutdown and startup according to schedule

CONS:
  • No remote administration
  • No scheduled backups
  • No accounting management
  • No security management
  • Doesn't require administrator approval for changes
Total Network Inventory

Total Network Inventory


Total Network Inventory software from Softinventive is a PC audit and network inventory software for small office use and large-scale enterprise networks. TNI software scans computers remotely and generates reports with information about operating system, service packs, hotfixes, software, hardware, processes running, etc.

PROS:
  • Good for small to large businesses
  • Network Topology
  • Network Discovery
  • Hardware monitoring
  • Schedule data collection

CONS:
  • No performance report
  • A poor set of fault management features
  • Admin dashboard is not customizable
  • Network mapping is not automated
  • Doesn't require administrator approval for changes
OpManager

ManageEngine OpManager


ManageEngine OpManager is a network management solution for large businesses, service providers and SMEs. With OpManager monitoring tool one gets clear management and monitoring of a network and configuration, firewall log, quality bandwidth analysis, management of IP address and switchport, as well as fault management.

PROS:
  • Expansive feature list
  • Web-based
  • Monitors devices using SNMP, WMI, SSH/Telnet
  • Supports mobile devices (Android/iOS)
  • Scheduled Device Startup/Shutdown
  • Scheduled Changes of Configuration

CONS:
  • High pricing
  • Unconventional and complex interface is tricky to use
  • Needs a lot of manual configuration
  • Doesn't allow to customize admin dashboard
Spiceworks Inventory

Spiceworks Inventory


Spiceworks inventory is an IT network management software created for networks with up to 1,000 devices. This solution offers automated scans, generates reports, tracks IT services. It is a help desk software, asset management solution, network inventory app, and much more.

PROS:
  • Free
  • Supports multiple devices
  • Notifies of changes in real time
  • Remote configuration
  • Mobile OS are supported

CONS:
  • Limited scalability
  • Not suitable for large businesses
  • No security management options
  • Doesn't generate performance report
  • Doesn't offer accounting management
  • Very few fault management features
  • Ad-based
  • Web interface is slow and becomes bulky as your network grows
Inventory report

Solarwinds Network topology mapper


Solarwinds offers Network Topology Mapper — a tool that will automatically map your network. It creates hardware inventory and switch port usage reports. This solution automatically generates network maps upon scanning your network. The maps can be exported to MS Visio, SolarWinds Network Atlas, and PDF format. Scans can be scheduled up to your convenience and you get detailed inventory reports.

PROS:
  • For small to large businesses
  • Network topology
  • Requires admin approval for changes
  • Notifies of changes in real time
  • Administrator dashboard
  • Automatic network mapping

CONS:
  • Few possibilities for performance management
  • No security management options
  • No accounting management options
  • Very few configuration management features
  • Doesn't offer remote administration
  • Doesn't offer network discovery

This is how a network inventory report is collected


Network inventory collectors are divided into two main groups: first group scans devices with the help of agents that they install on devices on the network, second group scans everything remotely without any agent software.

For the first group you'll need to deploy scanning agents on every computer on your network. Once installed these agents scan the computer and report to the main module.

Good thing about agents is they don't need to remotely connect to a scanned device, so there are no issues with firewalls and antivirus apps. You just need to make sure it is set at the correct administrator level and can call home to the central module. What's not so nice about having to deal with agents is the installation process on every computer on the network and then updating every module once new version is released.

Agentless inventory scanners usually don't need anything additional to be installed - all computers and devices over network are scanned directly from central location. If your network is set up properly, you'll find using agentless solutions to be way more convenient.

Free network monitoring software vs. paid solutions


Some network monitoring tools are offered for free, some are paid, however even with paid apps most of the time you have the possibility to test the trial version in full before buying a licensed version.

Keeping the whole network safe is a serious matter, so searching the web for cracks and key generators is ridiculously unprofessional and puts your network under a great danger of letting the viruses and spy software in. There is no point of such a risk when talking about protecting and keeping track of everything going on in the network. Also no reliable vendor will provide technical help to someone trying to obtain software illegally. This can even attract claims against you.

If you are interested in a tool like Network Inventory Advisor, but right now you are looking for a lower price, feel free to email at help@network-inventory-advisor.com to see what current promos you can get into.

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