Introduction to Network Monitoring Tools

The Internet has revolutionized how businesses and organizations operate, and it has increased our demands for availability. A business that’s unable to stay online and operate at peak efficiency is destined to be avoided both by its customers and business partners. Constant network monitoring is a way how to ensure maximum availability and increase the performance and efficiency of businesses and organizations.

Why Use Network Monitoring Software

Network monitoring software is necessary because even the most robust network isn’t fault-proof. Hardware fails, software bugs appear without notice, and employees make errors no matter how much experience they have. Knowing that it’s only a matter of time before a network outage happens, IT administrators and management should focus on problem-solving as much as on problem-avoidance.

A capable network monitoring software solution reduces downtime by providing IT administrator with timely alerts and giving them detailed information about the nature of the problem. In this day and age, the difference between a network outage lasting a few minutes and a network outage lasting several hours is often counted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue and productivity.

That’s why it’s important not to see network monitoring software as an additional expense that may or may not pay off. Instead, network monitoring software is one of the most effective methods how to minimize the cost of hardware failures, human error, and software problems. Network monitoring software is just as important for small business as it is for large enterprises. Everyone who wants to compete in the global market must use the same tools at the most successful competitors.

Given how large the selection of modern network monitoring software solutions is, finding the right tool for your business has never been easier. Once you decide on a network monitoring solution and implement it into your workflow, you’ll understand just how much competitive advantage it can give you.

Beyond Microsoft Network Monitor

Microsoft Network Monitor is a free network monitoring software for the Windows operating system. Also known as Windows Network Monitor, Microsoft Network Monitor enables capturing, viewing, and analyzing network data and deciphering network protocols. It supports over 300 public and Microsoft proprietary protocols, and the latest version, Network Monitor 3.4, includes process tracking, grouping by network conversation, simultaneous capture sessions, wireless monitor mode with supported wireless NICs, real-time capture and display of frames, reassembly of fragmented data, sniffing of promiscuous mode traffic, the ability to read libpcap capture files, and more.

Unfortunately, Microsoft Network Monitor is now deprecated, with the last version being released in 2010. Even though many IT administrators still rely on Microsoft Network Monitor as their only network monitoring solution, most would be better served by a higher-level network monitoring tool with automatic asset discovery capabilities and a sophisticated reporting feature.

Best Network Monitoring Tools

Network monitoring attracts a lot of open source development as well as developers of professional network monitoring solutions. When selecting our favorite network monitoring tools, we’ve tried to include a healthy mix of open source tools, free utilities, enterprise-grade solutions, and well-rounded network monitoring software.

Our Pick: Network Inventory Advisor

Our favorite network monitoring solution is Network Inventory Advisor. It has earned the top spot on this list thanks to its sophisticated asset inventorying capabilities combined with state-of-the-art network monitoring features. With a few clicks, Network Inventory Advisor can gather information about all devices on your network and automatically keep it up to date based on your requirements. It can alert you when it detects a problem and gives you all the tools you need to solve the detected problem as quickly as possible. Unlike other network monitoring tools in this list, Network Inventory Advisor is suitable for businesses of all sizes. It can be downloaded for free from the official website and tested for up to 15 days.

Capsa Free

Capsa Free is a proven, free packet sniffer for the Windows operating system. What sets it apart from other packet sniffers for Windows is its customizable dashboard, which can be configured to exposes all critical information at a glance. Besides the dashboard, Capsa Free also features a powerful alarm system, can identify and analyze more than 300 network protocols, create and customize protocols, analyze unique protocol traffic, visualize the entire network in an ellipse, and various reports regarding concerned items.


OpenNMS is a Java-based network management platform developed under the open-source. It was created in 1999 by Steve Giles, Brian Weaver, and Luke Rindfuss and published as project 4141 on Sourceforge in March 2000. Since then, OpenNMS has moved to GitHub, where it’s actively developed by a strong group of core developers and contributors from around the world. As a carrier-grade solution, OpenNMS can take care of all facets of network monitoring, but small and medium-sized businesses are better served by a simpler network monitoring solution, such as Network Inventory Advisor.

Advanced IP Scanner

Advanced IP Scanner is an excellent freeware software tool that can discover all LAN devices and provide access to shared folders and remote control of connected computers. It can run as a portable software and export scan results to CSV. Advanced IP Scanner is the type of network scanning tool that every IT administrator should have in his or her toolbox.

Zenoss Core

Zenoss Core is an open-source network monitoring solution for up to 1,000 devices. It’s part of the wider Zenoss ecosystem, which focuses on everything from converged infrastructure to database and applications to networking to server and operating systems to storage systems to virtualization and cloud. When used with other Zenoss products, it takes care of all facets of network monitoring.

Network Inventory Advisor is the best Monitoring Tool

A perfect solution to monitor network availability, activity and usage.
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