The 6 Best Web Server Monitoring Tools of 2019

I probably won’t teach you much by telling you that monitoring web servers is important. Possibly more so than monitoring any other kind of server. With an organization’s website often being its primary window to the world, it is easy to understand how important it can be. And to ensure that web servers are up and running and responding correctly, you need to use the right tool. This is the subject of today’s post as we explore the best web server monitoring tools. Between simple cloud-based up-or-down types of tools and big, locally-installed monitoring tools, there is a multitude of tools to choose for. We’ll try to help you see clearly through that maze of products and services.

Web server monitoring - best tools

We’ll start off by discussing web server monitoring in general, doing our best to explain what various types of monitoring is available. We’ll then have a look at the consequences of not monitoring web servers as we have a look at the adverse effects of web server downtime or performance issues. And finally, we’ll have a look at what tools are available for monitoring web servers and review some of the best tools that can be found.

Monitoring Web Servers

Anyone who’s been a network administrator for any length of time knows how important monitoring is. This is why there are so many network bandwidth monitoring tools or application performance monitoring tools. Servers—including web servers—are not different and they too, need to be monitored. Perhaps even more so that other components. After all, the website is often the first contact a client has with an organization and since you never get a second chance to make a first impression, you want that first experience to be as good as can be.

There are several things one may want to monitor on a web server. First and foremost, you want the hosted site to respond. This is the most elementary type of monitoring one can think of. But that’s not enough, you also nee your web pages—and especially your homepage—to load quickly. Clients won’t wait for much more than 30 seconds before they abandon your site and move to your competitor’s. Monitoring for website performance is another important type of web server monitoring. But for the very best in monitoring, you’ll also want to monitor the actual servers, their operational metrics and the various services they are running including, but not limited to, the web server process.

No matter why you need to monitor websites or what you want to monitor, you need to use the proper tool for the job. Fortunately, there are tools out there that will perform each type of monitoring we just talked about. Some will even monitor more than that. The best advice we can give anyone looking for the best tool to monitor websites is to first make a list of what it is they want to monitor. Doing so will make the selection process much easier.

What If We Don’t Monitor Web Servers?

When your website is down, every second counts. Internet top retailer Amazon experienced several outages or performance degradation episodes over the years. In March 2016, the site went down for about 20 minutes. It’s been estimated that such a short outage did cost Amazon about $3.75 million. And while your organization may not be as big as Amazon, you may think that downtime is not that expensive. However, the truth is that there are several ways that downtime can affect you.

Lost Sales

According to research from International Data Corporation (IDC), the average total cost of unplanned application downtime per year is between $1.25 billion and $2.5 billion. Another survey, from Siemens Building Technologies, shows that 33% of organizations don’t even know the impact of one day of downtime on their business. But regardless of the exact impact of website downtime to your organization in terms of lost sales, it is clear that it can be major.

Brand Reputation

It takes a lifetime to build a reputation but only a few minutes to lose it. Whenever a website is down, what is the very first thing people do? They jump on their favourite social media platform and immediately voice their frustrations. This can be very damaging to your brand’s reputation. You wouldn’t want potential new customers to first hear of your company by reading complaints about your unresponsive website.

When that Amazon outage happened back in 2016, thousands of Twitter users started complaining about it. Some of them had large numbers of followers who, in turn, retweeted the alert. It’s almost impossible to tell exactly but it’s easy to imagine that hundreds of thousands of Twitter users learned about the site being down. As much as social media can be an effective marketing tool for companies and brands today, It is a double-edged sword that can quickly turn against you. There is nowhere to hide on the Internet.

Customer Satisfaction

You most likely don’t want to lose those hard-earned customers of yours. But if your website goes down, it can easily spell disaster. This is especially true for SaaS companies with application logins. Customers only have so much patience before they might start thinking about switching to a different vendor. And this is even worse for e-commerce sites. A customer might simply switch to your competitor and do their shopping there instead. Make no mistake. It is very important to maintain good uptime and optimal performance to keep your customers happy.

The Best Web Server Monitoring Tools

There are many types of web server monitoring tools. The most basic tools simply connect to a website and verify that they are responding correctly. Some more advanced ones will look for specific patterns. These tools can either be locally installed of they can be cloud-based with the best ones offering the capability to monitor from various locations, ensuring not only that your web server is up and running but that it is reachable from anywhere.

Another type of web server monitoring tool is, at its base, a server monitoring tool that has specific modules or extensions to monitor the actual web server process as well as several operational metrics of the web server and its underlying operating system. Our list includes tools from each type as our goal was to give you an overview of the different types of tools available.

1. SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor (FREE TRIAL)

Our first tool is from SolarWinds, one of the best-known names on the network administration tools market. Its flagship product, the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is consistently scoring among the network bandwidth monitoring tools. SolarWinds is also famous for its free tools. They are simpler tools designed to address specific tasks of network administrators.

When it comes to website monitoring, SolarWinds’ tool is called the Web Performance Monitor. This is a very complete website monitoring package aimed at monitoring not just websites but also web services and SaaS application performance. Without relying on third-party software, This product can proactively identify slow web services which could be impacting the user experience.

SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor

A powerful feature of this product is its ability to identify and resolve slow web page elements and transactions that affect overall website application performance. It can help diagnose latency issues in CSS, HTML, JavaScript and third-party plug-ins. The tool will let you record critical transactions and then run them as frequently as every 5 minutes.

To circumvent the fact that this is a locally-run tool and to give its test an Internet perspective such as the one you’d get from a cloud-based tool, you can deploy transaction players to Amazon EC2, and track user experience from multiple locations.

Reporting is also one of the SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor’s strengths. The tool will let you generate out-of-the-box or custom website performance reports which can include page load speeds, transaction health, website availability, etc.

The SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor is licensed by the number of web application usage scenarios (transactions) and the number of locations to monitor from. (transactions X locations = license size). Prices start at $1 995 for up to 5 scenarios x locations and go up from there. If you’d want to try this great tool before buying it, a free 30-day trial is available from the SolarWinds website.

2. SolarWinds Server And Application Monitor (FREE TRIAL)

Our second entry is another product from SolarWinds called the Server and Application Monitor. As you’d most likely get from its name, this tool’s primary purpose is monitoring servers of all kinds, including, of course, web servers. It was created to assist administrators with monitoring servers, their operational parameters, their processes, and the applications which are running on them. And by application, we mean various services and processes such as an IIS or Apache web server. It can easily scale from very small networks to large ones with hundreds of servers—both physical and virtual—spread over multiple sites. The tool can also monitor cloud-hosted services like those from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor Dashboard

The SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor is very easy to set up and its initial configuration is just as easily done with the help of its auto-discovery process. It is a two-pass process. The first pass will discover servers, and the second one will find applications. This can take time but can be sped up by supplying the tool with a list of specific applications to look for. Once the tool is up and running, the user-friendly GUI makes using it a breeze. You can choose to display information in either a table or a graphic format.

Prices for the SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor start at $2 995 and vary based on the number of components, nodes, and volumes monitored. A free 30-day trial version is available for download, should you want to try the product before purchasing it.

3. Pingdom From SolarWinds (FREE TRIAL)

Pingdom is probably one of the most used and best-known of all the different cloud-based website monitoring tools on the market. This SaaS offering from SolarWinds is used by several major players such as Apple, Pinterest, HP, Amazon, Google, and Dell. The service is known to be extremely reliable and it has a long history of providing uptime notifications to clients around the globe.

PIingdom Visitor Insights

  1. FREE TRIAL: Pingdom from SolarWinds
  2. Official Download Link: https://www.solarwinds.com/pingdom

The Pingdom monitoring network features more than sixty monitoring locations from where your website is checked. In order to filter out false alerts, you can opt double-check and raise alerts only on the second fail. The frequency of the website tests can be as high as every minute. Alerts can be transmitted via email or SMS. An important feature of the service which sets it apart from many competing players is its page speed monitoring. The service can not only monitor uptime, but it can also monitor if something suddenly brings your website to a crawl. The service also provides a public status page so you can show off your results.

Pingdom doesn’t offer a free plan but it is reasonably priced, starting at $14.95/month for up to ten checks at 1-minute intervals. Considering the advanced features offered by the service, it’s no surprise that a free plan is not available. And if you’d like to test the service, a free 14-day trial is available.

4. Uptrends

Uptrends, a cloud-based service that offers both website monitoring and server monitoring. The company has been around since 2007 and has worked with clients such as DHL, eBay, PBS, Schiesser, and Episerver. The main distinguishing feature of this service, the one that is bound to strike you the minute you start using it is its impressive dashboards. If you care for the look of your website monitoring tool, this may be the one.

Uptrends Screenshots

But good looks are not enough. Fortunately, Uptrends also delivers on functionality. In particular, the service uses a technology it refers to as “real browser monitoring”. This means that it uses a real web browser to perform its tests, enabling it to get a feel of a real user’s experience. It features over 200 website monitoring locations around the globe. This is more than most competitors. The service also lets you choose between 1 to 60 minutes interval checks. Additional features such as SSL certificate monitoring and real browser monitoring which include things like waterfall reports, mobile website monitoring, and transaction screenshots are available, as is third-party content monitoring.

Basic plans vary from $11.33/month to $158.61/month, depending on the number of included monitors and users. Advanced plans are also available at $27.14/month to $49.10/month which include multi-browser monitoring and transaction simulation. If you want to test-drive the service, a free 30-day trial is also available.

5. Monitis

Monitis is a cloud-based, all-in-one monitoring platform that has been around since 2006. The versatile service is used by clients like Visa, Puma, and Siemens. The monitoring one can do with this tool is not limited to websites. In addition, it can handle, network, cloud, server, application, and custom monitoring, all managed and controlled from a unified dashboard.

Monitis - RUM Screen

Monitis has over thirty monitoring locations across the planet from where it can monitor your website’s uptime. The service will let you use multiple protocols such as HTTP, HTTPS, PING, DNS, TCP, UDP, ICMP, SMTP, POP3, and IMAP. This powerful and flexible service features 1-minute interval checks and 2 years of a historical archive. Such a long archive can turn out to be pretty useful when it comes to reporting. This tool also provides instant failure alerts via email or SMS and detailed level reporting.

Monitis offers some advanced monitoring features such as monitoring for a full page load. This ensures that each element (image, script, CSS, etc.) loads correctly. The tool can also synthesize complete transactions and validate that they can be completed.

Monitis’ pricing structure is rather complex due to the many available possibilities. In a nutshell, it is based on the type and number of monitors, the frequency of the checks and the number of locations to check from. Fortunately, the service’s website has an easy to use calculator where you can pick your options and instantly see your monthly and yearly pricing. You can also take Monitis for a full-featured test drive with a 15-day free trial.

6. Uptime Robot

Last on our list is another immensely popular cloud-based monitoring service called Uptime Robot. Dating back to 2010, it might not be as old as our other top monitoring services but it can’t be called a newbie either. It is used by Expedia, Nginx, Fandango, among others. The company is recognized for providing a great service when it comes to website monitoring.

Uptime Robot Screenshot

Uptime Robot features 12 different monitoring locations in Germany, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Singapore, Ireland, and the United States. While it is less than other services, it might very well be all you need. If most of your clients are in Brazil, you wouldn’t care about monitoring from Peru anyways. The service monitors your website every 5 minutes and lets you know if your sites are down based on the response from your website’s headers. Among the other major features of Uptime Robot, the service has alerts with advanced notifications, statistics, configurable maintenance windows, and public status pages.

Uptime Robot offers a very generous free plan which includes 50 monitors on 5-minute intervals and 2 months of logs. There are also paid plans starting at $5.50/month which can allow more monitors—up to 20 000 at $649/month—and feature advanced notifications, 1-minute monitoring intervals, and SMS alerting credits. Given the available free plan, no other trial plan is offered.

Read The 6 Best Web Server Monitoring Tools of 2019 by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

10 Best Wireless Scanning and Analysis Tools (Windows, iOS, Android)

Wireless scanning and analysis let you “see” wireless networks, providing network administrators with the data they need to keep them operating at their peak. It is said that knowledge is power and this seems to be particularly true of wireless networks. Perhaps it is due to their “invisible” nature but it seems that they are often a mysterious beast that no one really knows. In today’s post, we’ll have a loot at what wireless scanning and analysis is and what tools are available to assist.

We’ll begin our discussion by explaining wireless scanning and analysis to the best of our abilities. Next, we’ll discuss the tools that can be used for that specific purpose. We’ll then pause briefly to discuss wireless heat maps which, although they are very different from wireless scanning and analysis tools provide much-needed assistance when deploying wireless networks. Finally, we’ll get to the core of the discussion and review some of the best wireless scanning and analysis tools, first for Windows, then for iOS, and finally for Android.

Wireless Scanning And Analysis Explained

Wireless scanning and analysis is a rather broad topic. Put simply, any tool that can be used to analyze Wireless traffic, data, and/or signals can be classified as a wireless scanning and analysis tool and there is a multitude of such tools with widely different feature sets. It is, therefore, somewhat complicated to explain exactly what they are as every developer of these tools seems to have its own idea of what it is or what it should be. In its most basic form, a wireless scanning and analysis tools is a piece of software that allows you to “see” wireless networks and/or their traffic.

The most basic of these tools will simply list what SSIDs are available in a given space and, most of the time, the strength of each SSID’s signal. Better tools tend to go further and they can, for instance, identify a source of interference that might be hindering your WiFi connection. They are very useful diagnostic and planning tools. Wireless scanning and analysis tools collect data about all wireless networks they can find and display that information in a useful manner. So go even further and can capture and decode wireless network traffic

While the manner in which data is presented is probably where there are the most differences between wireless scanning and analysis tools, most of them have some sort of visual display representing the different wireless networks. Others will present data in a table format.

There are basically two ways that wireless scanning and analysis tools operate. Some simply capture radio signals emitted by WiFi access points. Others connect to access points using SNMP or some other mean and read their operational data and metrics. And of course, the best ones combine both techniques and offer the greatest level of detail.

About Wireless Scanning And Analysis Tools

The reasons why one needs wireless scanning and analysis tools are pretty much the same as those which justify the need for any network scanning and analysis tool. First and foremost, they help you keep a watchful eye on what’s going on. They also are very useful in assisting with troubleshooting issues with your wireless networks.

Let’s say, for instance, that your users are complaining of frequent slowdowns or disconnects on the WiFi network. There’s usually a simple explanation to that: something—many times another WiFi network—is interfering with the operation of the network. This is exactly the type of issue that a wireless scanning and analysis tool can help you troubleshoot quickly. For instance, I’ve once used them to discover that the next-door tenant in the office building where our offices were had a much more powerful WiFi network than ours operating on the same channel. Once the tool helped me quickly identify the problem, I just had to reconfigure my WiFi access points to use another channel and the issue was solved.

Another use for wireless scanning and analysis tools is to measure the radio signal distribution throughout your location, be that a home or an office space. Wireless network signals are radio-signals which, although they can—to a certain extent—pass through walls, some building structures will block them. Perhaps not completely but enough to attenuate them beyond reliable usability. With a wireless scanning and analysis tool, you can walk through the space to find weaker spots or even dead spots with no coverage at all. If you’re planning on expanding your WiFi network, a wireless scanning and analysis tool will help you determine where to add the new access points for the best possible coverage.

WiFi Heat Maps In A Nutshell

Another very useful tool for wireless network planning is one that allows you to build WiFi heat maps. In a nutshell, a WiFi heat map is a visual representation of how your WiFi access points radiate their radio signals. It will show you where the signal is the strongest and where it is the weakest.

Heat map software tools are often stand-alone tools. They are separate from wireless scanning and analysis tools and they usually rely on polling data from your existing infrastructure to build the actual heat maps. They will often let you import a floor plan of your space where you indicate the location of the access point and the different construction materials used throughout the office. The software then interrogates the access points and builds a visual representation of the signal distribution over the floor plan.

Many suppliers of enterprise-grade wireless networking equipment offer some form of heat map tool but one of the best is a vendor-agnostic product from SolarWinds aptly called the SolarWinds Heat Map. It is part of SolarWinds’ flagship product: the Network Performance Monitor–or NPM–a suite of much-useful network management tools. Starting at just below $3000 the tool might not be within reach of everyone but it gives you much more than just heat maps. You can find all the details about the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor by visiting the SolarWinds website.

SolarWinds Heat Map

A tool such as the SolarWinds Heat Map will let you create custom wireless heat maps that can help you find weak dead zones where there’s poor or no connectivity. It polls your access points to read their signal strength metrics and can indicate the quality of the connection at any location. The tool lays the heat map over a floor plan of the network’s location to give you a real physical overview of the situation.

The Top Wireless Scanning and Analysis Tools For Windows

We’ve finally managed to get to the good part of this post where we’ll be reviewing some of the very best wireless scanning and analysis tools. We’ll start off with some tools that run on the Windows platform. After all, this is still the most common OS used by network administrators. And it is also the platform for which you’ll find the best wireless scanning and analysis tools. Let’s review them.

1. SolarWinds WiFi Monitor (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds, the same vendor who brought us the Heat Map and Network Performance Monitor tools mentioned earlier is also well-known for making some of the best network management tools. One of these tools is called the SolarWinds WiFi Monitor. And just like the SolarWinds Heat Map, it is part of the Network Performance Monitor package.

SolarWinds WiFi Monitor - Summary View

The SolarWinds WiFi Monitor is one of the best you can find. It will discover and monitor your wireless access points and add automatically them to the Network Performance Monitor. The tool will also build heat maps. Well, it’s actually the Heat Map tool described above that will take care of that as both the WiFi Monitor and the Heat Map are components of the Network Performance Monitor.

But more than anything, the SolarWinds WiFi Monitor will let you monitor your wireless infrastructure. The SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor Wi-Fi monitoring features will let you set alert, it will monitor your infrastructure and it will create reports on many aspects such as IP addresses, device type, SSID, channels used, and the number of clients currently connected. Client details include client name, SSID, IP Address, MAC Address, Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI), time connected, data rate, and bytes received and bytes transmitted.

Like with most SolarWinds software, a free 30-day evaluation version of the Network Performance Monitor—including the WiFi Monitor and Heat Map tools—can be downloaded from SolarWinds’ website.

2. NetSpot

Our next entry is a great little tool called NetSpot. It was originally created for the Mac OS platform but the tool has since been ported to Windows. It can collect various information from your access points including channel width, to MAC address, signal quality, and even network encryption, providing some of the best visibility over your wireless network.

NetSpot Screenshot

NetSpot’s detailed heat map is one of the product’s best features but it has more to offer. The tool can, for instance, help you assess WLAN interference. Another strong point of this tool is its reports which combine ease of use with an unprecedented depth of information.

NetSpot is possibly the only tool that we’ve found to be as good for home users as it is for the professional administrator. And as a matter of fact, it is available in two versions: a Home version at just below 50 dollars and a Professional one at around 150 dollars.

3. Acrylic Wifi

Acrylic WiFi is another great free wireless scanning and analysis tool for windows. At its core, it is a wireless network scanner that performs detailed security and coverage analysis of wireless networks in a very short time. This software will let you scan for access points and build a table with all the relevant details. Core metrics such as MAC address, SSID, RSSI, channel, and vendor name are included in that table. The tool also has a monitor mode where it will monitor individual network packets that you can use to locate hidden networks.

Acrylic WiFi Professional Analyzer

Saying that the tool is free is a bit of a stretch, though. While the tool’s personal version is free (for personal use only), it is also available in a Professional version and a Law Enforcement version. And for added functionality, there’s also a separate Acrylic Heat Map software that you can add to your package.

4. InSSIDer

Price-wise, InSSIDer is a good deal but that’s not all. It’s also an excellent product. Don’t let its low, sub $ 20, price fool you. This is a very potent tool. It will pull all available data from your access point and allow you to view everything from encryption type to signal strength and channel.

InSSIDer Screenshot

InSSIDer is not only one of the cheapest WiFi analyzers, but it’s also one of the easiest to use. Its user interface lets you click a specific WiFi network to display a drop-down menu of all the information that can be displayed about it. You can, for instance, choose between SSID, signal, channel or network type. This simple user interface is a bounty for new users but professional administrators may find it somewhat limited. This tool is possibly better suited for home networks or smaller business networks than for large corporate networks.

The Top Wireless Scanning and Analysis Tools For iOS

For those who prefer to take their wireless scanning and analysis tools to the field and see what’s going on, they need some sort of portable analyzers. Luckily, there are plenty off tools that run on portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Let’s start by having a look at some iOS tools.

1. Network Analyzer

Despite its rather boring name, Network Analyzer is one of the best wireless scanning and analysis tools for iOS. It was clearly created with the goal of helping users identify issues and find solutions. The tool will let you view signal strength, latency, disconnections, download and upload speed. There’s also a built-in WiFi scanner that will detect nearby wireless network devices.

iOS Network Analyzer

The tool will also appeal to advanced administrators. It can not only gather information about surrounding networks but it also boasts some pretty useful network troubleshooting tools. For instance, there’s a DNS lookup function and a ping tool built right into it. This is not a free app but it will only cost you a modest $3.99. At such a low price, who can afford to be without it?.

2. WiFi Explorer

You can use the WiFi Explorer app to scan, monitor, and troubleshoot wireless networks. The tool will allow you to resolve channel conflicts or signal overlapping and identify configuration issues that could be affecting the connectivity and performance of wireless networks. It will give you some insight into the network details such as name (SSID), MAC address (BSSID), device manufacturer, signal strength (RSSI), noise, channel, band, security configuration, supported data rates, and much more.

WiFi Explorer iOS

The tool can scale from home to small office to enterprise networks. It has an easy-to-use, intuitive user interface and supports the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands as well as 20, 40, 80 and 160 MHz channels. It will work with any 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax networks.

3. Fing

The Fing app is a free WiFi analyzer app. It has several useful components such as a WiFi scanner, an internet connectivity checker, a subnet scanner and a port scanner. It even has some intrusion detection tools. This is a lot of features to carry in the palm of your hands and the tool can help you quickly identify and solve issues with your Wireless network.

Fing image

Fing is used by millions of users worldwide and there’s a very active community behind it. The app is frequently updated through the App store, ensuring you can always have the latest features and bug fixes. And due to its huge popularity and user base, there’s also a ton of online tutorials and documents on how to use the tool and get the most out of it.

The Top Wireless Scanning and Analysis Tools For Android

If you prefer Android to iOS, don’t worry, there are also some great wireless scanning and analysis tools for that platform. Let’s review the best three we could find.

1. WiFi Analyzer

When looking for a WiFi analyzer for Android, WiFi Analyzer is usually the first name that pops up. With over 10 million installations, this is one popular tool. There’s a reason to that popularity. The tool is good. Plain and simple. This is the tool I personally use every time I need to analyze wireless networks. It will scan the waves, identify nearby networks and create a visual representation of the current situation.

WiFi Analyzer Screenshot

As pretty as this visual representation is, it’s also useful and it will let you quickly identify oversaturated channels, for example. Its main screen will show you a real-time representation of the signal strength of each network it can find. It can also display a graph of signal strength over time. You can zero in on one specific network and see a live signal strength gauge. And if you’re not the graphics type, you can also see network data in a tabular form.

This is an ad-supported free application so you’ll have to cope with on-screen ads, but they are just small banners that are displayed at the bottom of the screen, Unless your mobile device has a very small screen, they won’t be a problem.

2. OpenSignal

OpenSignal is possibly the most versatile apps on this short list. Its detailed map feature is rather unique. It won’t just analyze WiFi signals, it can display a physical map of nearby WiFi hot spots and cellular towers—those from your service provider—to show where connection quality is the best.

OpenSignal Dashboard

OpenSignal likely best for users who want to monitor and optimize their WiFi and mobile signal coverage but it is nonetheless a great wireless scanning and analysis tool. It will collect somewhat basic wireless network information which is OK if you are just looking for the fundamentals. The app is available for free and is not ad-supported.

3. ManageEngine WiFi Analyzer and Surveyor

The WiFi Analyzer and Surveyor from ManageEngine is a pretty useful piece of software form another leader in the field of network administration. You can use it to effectively monitor signal strength and display channel graphs on all available wireless networks. Concretely, you can use its WiFi monitor to detect slow wireless networks, identify channel interference and poor signal strength. You can also use the app’s built-in WiFi scanner to scan for all the wireless networks in your environment.

ManageEngine WiFi Analyzer and Surveyor Screenshots

Using its surveyor mode, the WiFi Analyzer and Surveyor can also survey the signal strengths of wireless networks. Other features of the product let you, for instance, export heat map reports and signal strength reports of the survey result from the app. You can then use these reports anywhere you want. This is a very good free app that is not ad-supported.

Read 10 Best Wireless Scanning and Analysis Tools (Windows, iOS, Android) by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Best Software Deployment Tools for Dev Teams in 2019

When you need to install software on multiple computers, the perspective of doing it manually can easily make the endeavour appear like a trying challenge. This is why many administrators turn to automated software deployment tools. These tools have a wide range of features that vary from basic scripted installation to complete management package that will not only handle the actual installation but pretty much all the phases of the software life cycle from the initial planning phase to maintaining the installed software up to date. And today, we’re having a look at a few of the best software deployment tools.

 Software Deployment Tools

We’ll start off by introducing software deployment, what it is and the various activities typically associated with it. We’ll then discuss the importance of using the proper tools to handle software deployment. As you’re about to discover, there are plenty of reasons why one would use a software deployment tool from the simple automation of the deployment process to the monitoring of the installed software. And finally, we’ll get to reviewing the very best software deployment tools. We’ve tried to include a variety of products to give you an idea of what can be found on the market.

About Software Deployment

Software deployment is easy to define. In its simplest form, it is the process of remotely installing software on any number of computers within a network simultaneously, from a central location. The main difference between software installation and software deployment is not, contrary to what we may be led to believe, the number of target computers but instead, the size of the network. One could, for instance, deploy software packages to a single computer in a large network and we’d still be referring to that activity as software deployment. Furthermore, software deployment is often associated with automated tools while installation typically refers to a largely manual process. Software Deployment Tools vary a lot in their feature set but most cover at least some of the following activities:

  • Creating and maintaining up-to-date and ready-to-install software packages
  • Specifying which subset of computers to target for package installation
  • Configuring target computers before the installation of the created packages
  • Installing the software packages on the target computers
  • Configuring and customizing the target computers after installation
  • Upgrading existing software

The Importance Of Software Deployment Tools

For an individual user, installing software is, most of the time, a no-brainer. You fire up the installer, answer a few prompts and repeatedly click “next” until the installation is complete. And when you need to install another piece of software, you just go through a similar process once more. It is no so easy in the corporate world. When an organization decides to install a given software on all its computers, going to each one to run the installer is not the best option.

Nowadays, software deployment entails far more than simply installing a program. Between configuring, testing, and optimizing the performance of an application, there’s a lot going on. And you’ll most likely be performing regular updates and periodically evaluating how the software is functioning over the course of its lifetime. All this combined ends up requiring lots of time and attention to ensure everything is running smoothly. Fortunately, software deployment tools were created to reduce the stress and long hours that IT staff spends deploying software. While some of these tools have more features than others, they all share some common traits.

Automating The Process

Years ago, when I started as a system administrator, software deployment was a manual process. In fact, it was pretty much identical to the individual user installation we just described but done repeatedly for days if not weeks on. Today’s deployment tools rely heavily on automation and scripting to complete several software deployment tasks in one overnight session. They basically do the job for you. And you know what? They often do it better than you. Another important thing you get from this automation is uniformity. Each and every installation will be identical, something that can be hard to achieve when doing everything manually.

Keeping Things Secure

I won’t surprise any of you when I tell you that security should always be your main concern. And this is as true when deploying software than it is when doing anything else. Installing software often entails setting permissions and assigning access rights to files and to databases. Deployment tools will ensure that all of that is done while maintaining a secure environment.

Not only that, installing software often requires administrator-level access to the systems where the process takes place. By having automated systems doing the installations, you don’t have to give administrator privileges to as many people as when doing it manually. And as you know, the fewer people with administrator rights, the lower the risk is to security.

Making Sure Things Are Kept Up-To-Date

It’s one thing to deploy software but to stay on top of things, you also need to ensure that the packages you deploy are kept up to date. Considering today’s threat scene, ill-intentioned individuals or groups are constantly on the lookout for software vulnerabilities that could be exploited to gain access to your precious data. Consequently, software publishers are regularly releasing software patches or updates that are meant to fix any discovered vulnerability.

Some software publishers—Microsoft easily comes to mind—are better than others at releasing patches and even installing them for you. However, some other vendors might no do such a great job. Furthermore, installing patches or updates often require user intervention which might be beyond the capabilities of some of your users. And even when they can do it, there is no guarantee that they will. Studies show that forty percent of users don’t update their software when prompted.

This is where the convenience of patch management tools—a specific sub-category of software deployment software tools can come in handy. Just like regular deployment tools, they will automate the process of keeping software up-to-date and ensure that you always get the most secure software there is.

Monitoring The Software

While not a part of software deployment per se, software monitoring is a common component of software deployment tools. The idea here is to analyze the users’ interaction with the software, It can be of assistance to know which user is experiencing issues and when. It can, for instance, help you optimize application performance or solve issues before they have a chance to spread to a wider group of users. Software monitoring can also help with your license compliance needs as well as potentially reduce the number of licenses you require.

The Best Tools for Software Deployment

Now that you know more about software deployment and software deployment tools, the time has come to have a look at what products are available, Rather than simply list the best software deployment tools, we’ve elected to give you an overview of the different tools that are available. For instance, our list features some patch management tools in addition to traditional deployment tools.

One type of tool that we left out of our list on purpose is those that are meant to deploy software your development team has produced in-house. That, however, does not mean that none of the tools on our list can handle it but just that there are no tools on our list that specialize in that type of deployment task. However, if the software you develop is installed through a standard installer, there should be no reason why any of the software deployment tools listed herein couldn’t do the job.

1. SolarWinds Patch Manager (FREE TRIAL)

Perhaps you are familiar with SolarWinds and its many excellent products. The company has been making some of the best network and system management tools for about 20 years. Its flagship product, the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is recognized as one of the best SNMP network monitoring tools. The company is also known for its free tools addressing specific needs of network administrators. Some of these tools include a free TFTP server or a free subnet calculator. Our first entry is not a deployment tool but rather a patch management tool called the SolarWinds Patch Manager. We felt it deserved to be on this list for a few reasons. First, patch management, as we’ve explained, is just a specific type of software deployment and second, this is really one of the best tools of its kind.

Featuring an intuitive web interface, the SolarWinds Patch Manager will let you view the latest available patches, the top 10 missing patches in your environment, and the general health overview of your environment based on which required patches have been deployed. The tool’s reporting engine is another one of its strengths. It offers easy-to-use and powerful reporting that can provide truly useful information on the status of patches. Reports can also be used to demonstrate to auditors that systems are patched and compliant and help find those that are not.

SolarWinds Patch Manager Dashboard

The SolarWinds Patch Manager allows the centralized patching of Microsoft servers and third-party applications. As such, you can use it to deploy and manage both third-party applications and Microsoft patches, thereby simplifying your patch management process while also making it more reliable. It will handle patch research, scheduling, deployment, and reporting. Using this tool can save you a lot of time, effort and grief. In fact, the more servers and computers you have, the more time you’ll save. All that while being assured that all needed patches are applied.

The SolarWinds Patch Manager also integrates with your Microsoft SCCM and WSUS installations, providing extra features to these tools. For instance, its Custom Package Wizard will let you easily build custom packages for any application. All that without having to resort to the use of SCUP or any complicated scripting. These custom packages can be used to deploy any MSI, MSP or EXE file via Microsoft WSUS or SCCM. And these are only some of the tool’s best features. It has much more to offer.

Prices for the SolarWinds Patch Manager start at $3 690 and goes up according to the number of nodes you need to manage, from 250 to 60 000. If you prefer to try the tool before committing to its purchase, a free 30-day fully-functional evaluation version is available for download.

2. ManageEngine Desktop Central

ManageEngine is another familiar name in the field of network management. From monitoring to integrated management tools, when it comes to application deployment, ManageEngine’s tool is called Desktop Central. You can use the tool to distribute software packages to all the computers in your network running Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems from a central console, without user intervention. The product‘s feature-set is packed with advanced options to offer greater flexibility and control over the software deployment process.

ManageEngine Desktop Central has over 4 500 predefined application templates which can be used to create packages instantly, saving time and making the process faster and more accurate. Using the tool’s self-service portal, you can empower users to install applications on their own. All you need to do is publish whatever applications you want to make available to the self-service portal.

ManageEngine Desktop Central Screenshot

The tool also supports pre-deployment activities that let you perform condition checks and apply configurations before installation, thereby ensuring that the target computers meet all the requirements and have all the right configurations beforehand. Likewise, its post-deployment activities allow you to apply follow-up configurations, run custom scripts, change registry settings, create shortcuts, create/append path, and much more once the installation completes.

All the software packages which are created using Desktop Central are stored in the tool’s central Software Repository, allowing them to be reused multiple times. Talking about packages, another nice feature of the product is how the same packages can be used for either installing and uninstalling software.

Since downloading software packages and running the installation scripts can take up a lot of system resources, ManageEngine Desktop Central features an integrated scheduler. This lets you deploy software packages within a more suitable time frame when user impact will be minimal. Applications can be installed on the desired day/date/time, within a preset time window. The software also allows you to copy the necessary installation files to the client computers before installing or uninstalling applications, potentially speeding up the installation or uninstallation process.

ManageEngine Desktop Central is available in several editions. The free edition is limited to 25 computers and as such, it is only suitable for small businesses. For larger installations, the Professional Edition starts at $795. For multi-site installations with several deployment servers, the Enterprise Edition is the way to go. Pricing starts at $945. A detailed quote can be obtained directly from ManageEngine and, if you want to give the product a try, a free 30-day trial is available

3. PDQ Deploy

As you’d most likely guess from int name, the next product on our list is a software deployment tool called PDQ Deploy. It specifically targets Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). The tool can also be used to manage and deploy patches but software deployment is its primary purpose. Using it, system administrators can silently and efficiently install almost any application or patch to multiple Windows computers simultaneously.

PDQ Deploy Screenshot

PDQ Deploy comes with over 200 ready to deploy, pre-built packages for some of the most common applications. You can also create custom, multi-step deployments that can include running local commands or scripts using PowerShell, Visual Basic or batch language. This tool can integrate with Active Directory, Spiceworks, and PDQ Inventory, a hardware and software inventory solution from the same vendor. As for patch management, the system will automatically download, schedule, and deploy patches.

PDQ Deploy is available in two versions. There are a Free version and an Enterprise version. The two products mostly differ in their respective feature sets with many of the more advanced features only available with the Enterprise version. For instance, patch management is one of those advanced features that is part of the Enterprise version. This software differs from its competitors in that it’s not priced based on the number of managed nodes but rather on the number of administrators using it. And at $500 per admin, it is more than reasonably priced. Like many of its competitors, a free trial version is available should you want to give the product a try.

4. Ninite Pro

Our next tool is a very different beast called Ninite. This is an open-source tool that can be used to build custom installations of several free and/or open-source software packages. This specialization makes it quite a popular tool in free software circles. Ninite Pro goes a step further by allowing IT pros to remotely manage the installation and update of software packages on Windows computers.

Ninite Pro’s user interface is quite different from that of most other products. It presents the managed computers in a table format one row for each computer one column for each application. It kind of looks like a spreadsheet where each cell shows which version of the software is currently installed. From that easy to use interface, you can choose to install, uninstall or update the corresponding software on any computer.

Ninite Pro Screenshot

Ninite Pro also has an auto-update feature that can automatically update any software it finds on its managed computers to the latest version. Another feature we like about this product is that all you need to do to add a computer to the tool is to install the Ninite agent on it. It will then automatically appear on the tool’s web interface. You are free to organize computers to your liking by assigning them one or more tags. The software will also automatically tag computer with an online/offline status or with the type of Windows—server or workstation—they are running. This makes it easy to select just the machines you’re interested in.

Ninite Pro also includes Ninite Classic which offers the same basic functionality but has a different user interface, the one from the previous version. The only reason you’d want to use it is if you’re already familiar with it and don’t care for the new look. However, Ninite Classic also has a command-line interface so you can create complex tasks using your choice of scripting language.

Ninite Pro is subscription-based and its price varies according to the number of machines you manage. The first 20 machines will cost you $1.00/month, the next 400 machines will cost you $0.50/month and any additional machine beyond 500 will cost you $0.25/month. A free trial is available like it is with most products on our list.

Read Best Software Deployment Tools for Dev Teams in 2019 by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

The 6 Best PostgreSQL Monitoring Tools in 2019

PostgreSQL database is a very popular free and open-source relational database management system. It is said to be as good as most commercial database products. In fact, some even affirm that it is better in several ways. But no matter what, a database’s primary purpose is holding data. And just like data is often an organization’s most important asset, monitoring databases is often an administrator’s most important task.

Best PostgreSQL Monitoring Tools

The main point of monitoring PostgreSQL databases is to ensure that the data they hold is available whenever it is needed and that their performance—i.e. how fast they respond to queries—remains within acceptable parameters. Today, we’re having a look at a few of the best PostgreSQL monitoring tools.

We’ll start off by briefly explaining what PostgreSQL is, where it is coming from and how it came to be. After all, it can only help to know a bit more about what we’re trying to monitor. Then, we’ll specifically discuss the monitoring of PostgreSQL databases. We’ll learn how database servers should be considered in their entirety and that the best monitoring will not only include the actual database software but also the underlying operating system and hardware. We’ll then get to the core of this post as we introduce the best PostgreSQL monitoring tools we could find and give you a brief review of each one.

PostgreSQL In a Nutshell

PostgreSQL claims to be the most advanced open-source database. It’s probably more than just a marketing thing, though. It is truly at par with the most powerful commercial databases available. Also known as Postgres, the free and open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) emphasizes extensibility and technical standards compliance. It is designed to handle a range of workloads, from single machines to data warehouses or Web services with many concurrent users. Furthermore, it is the default database for macOS Server and is also available for Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Windows.

PostgreSQL evolved from the Ingres project at the University of California, Berkeley. As a matter of fact, the PostgreSQL name was originally just Postgres and it stood for post-Ingres. It was later changed to PostgreSQL to better reflect its SQL standard compliance. So, back in 1982, Michael Stonebraker, the leader of the Ingres team left Berkeley to make a proprietary version of Ingres only to return a few years later in 1985 and began a post-Ingres project to address the problems with contemporary database systems that had become increasingly clear during the early 1980s. Recognizing his accomplishments, Stonebraker was granted the Turing Award in 2014 for these and other projects and the techniques they pioneered.

INTERESTING READ: 7 Best Database Performance Analysis Tools

About Monitoring PostgreSQL Databases

Since PostgreSQL is, before all, a standard SQL database, monitoring it is no different from monitoring any other SQL database. And the primary goal of PostgreSQL database monitoring is, more than anything, ensuring that data is available when it is needed. A database and the data it contains can be somewhat of an abstract concept. It is, however, made of concrete elements. PostgreSQL monitoring tools, therefore, must always ensure that all those elements—including both hardware and software components—are working and also operating within their normal range.

The most basic element of a PostgreSQL server—or any database server, for that matter—is the actual server it runs on, hardware and operating system included. Like any server, there are many operational parameters worth monitoring on a PostgreSQL server. For example, CPU load, available memory or processor core temperature are all interesting parameters. Monitoring a server running a PostgreSQL database instance is, from a hardware perspective, exactly the same as monitoring any other server.

The underlying operating systems is another element that is worth monitoring. Regardless of what operating system your PostgreSQL server is running on, there are several important parameters to be monitored such as disk space or disk usage, for example. And just like hardware monitoring, the OS-level monitoring of a PostgreSQL server is not different from that of any other server.

The last thing that needs monitoring is the actual PostgreSQL server instance. By that, I mean the Relational Database Management System software. In its simplest expression, a PostgreSQL server is just another program running on a server. The most basic monitoring, then, is to ensure that this specific program and/or its associated service(s) are running at all times. However, many monitoring and analysis tools go further than that. Some, for instance, will check the structure of databases while some will measure its response time. A PostgreSQL server has several handfuls of parameters that can be monitored to your benefit.

The Best Tools For Monitoring PostgreSQL Databases

We’ve probed the market for the very best PostgreSQL database monitoring tools and found a wide variety of products. Thanks to PostgreSQL standards adherence, any SQL-compliant monitoring tool should have no problem monitoring a PostgreSQL database. We’ve done our best, as we often do, to include different types of tools on our list. While some are simpler SQL monitoring tools, others are full-featured tools that will monitor every possible parameter and even analyze the structure of your databases, potentially identifying trouble spots.

1. SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds is one of the best-known makers of network and system administration tools. With a broad array of tools covering almost every topic, many administrators have at least heard of the company. Its flagship product, the Network Performance Monitor, consistently scores among the best network bandwidth monitoring tool. The company is also famous for its free tools, each addressing a specific need of network administrators.

The SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer (DPA) monitors and analyzes your PostgreSQL database instances or any SQL-compliant database. The system uses a Response Time Analysis method which puts the primary focus on the time between a query requests and the corresponding response from the database and analyzes wait types and events to pinpoint the bottlenecks of databases.

SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer

The tool’s easy to use interface will assist you in finding issues quickly and easily. But as good as it is a troubleshooting tool (and it is great) it’s also an excellent monitoring tool. Its main screen lets you visualize database instances, wait times, query advice, CPU (with warning and critical alerts), memory, disk and sessions. The trend dashboard of any specific database instance shows you in a graphical format the total wait times (or your choice of average or typical day wait times) for users over the course of a month, with each colour representing an individual SQL statement. This gives you a visually appealing representation of which statement takes the longest to run.

There so many features in the SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer that we could write a whole post about it. For now, let’s have a look at some of the most significant.

Single Point Of Monitoring For All Your Databases

The SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer works with PostgreSQL databases (of course) as well as most major databases including Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, DB2, and ASE. It also supports physical, on-premises servers, Virtual Machines (running under Vmware or Hyper-V) and cloud-based installations.

Highly Scalable

The tool lets you monitor as many database instances as you need. The software easily scales from one to a thousand database instances. You just need to upgrade the license.

Monitoring Of All Active Sessions

The tool’s native polling engine records everything that’s happening within your database instances with no additional load to the database themselves and without requiring a local monitoring agent. This dramatically reduces—if not eliminates—the risk that the tool could impact the databases’ performance.

Tracking, Monitoring, And Analysis Of Database Components

This tool automatically correlates queries, users, files, plans, objects, wait times, storage and date/time/hour/minute to accurately discover and diagnose problems on the fly.

Database Tuning Advice

The SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer can give you sound advice for tuning individual database instances to make sure they run at their peak performance. The tool will analyze all parameters of an instance and recommend a course of action to optimize certain queries or even whole database instances.

Prices for the SolarWinds Database Performance Analyzer start at $1 995 and vary according to the number and type of database instances to monitor. If you want to try the product before purchasing it, a fully functional 14-day trial version is available.

2. PRTG Network Monitor

The PRTG Network Monitor from Paessler A.G. is a well-known all-in-one monitoring platform that you can use to monitor systems, devices, traffic, databases, and applications. It is built on a clever sensor-based architecture where various sensors allow for different types of monitoring. This tool can monitor anything there’s a sensor for. You can think of sensors as add-ons although, in the case of this tool, they’re already built-in. Pre-configured database sensors are available out-of-the-box. Most database engines are supported with specific sensors including PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and Oracle. The tool will let you monitor the execution time of a SQL query by measuring the time taken from the moment the connection is established to the end of the connection. It will let you clearly see how your databases perform under pressure.

PRTG PostgreSQL Sensor

The PRTG Network Monitor lets you pick from several client user interfaces. There’s a Windows enterprise console, an Ajax-based web interface, and mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. The tool is known to be one of the quickest and easiest to install with Paessler claiming you could start monitoring within 2 minutes. While our experience shows that it could take longer than that, it is still a very quick and easy installation process.

One of PRTG’s best features—and one of the reasons why it is so quick and easy to install—is its auto-discovery engine which will scan your network and automatically recognize a wide range of devices and systems, creating appropriate sensors from predefined device templates. The tool also has a map feature that will let you create custom maps with your monitoring data superimposed, offering a unique way of displaying it. When it comes to alerts, PRTG’s are highly flexible and customizable. The mobile client apps allow you to get push notifications directly to your device. You can also set up notifications via email or SMS and there’s a powerful API that lets you write your own notification scripts.

The PRTG Network Monitor is available in a full-featured free version which limits your monitoring ability to 100 sensors. Monitoring a typical PostgreSQL server requires one sensor per database instance plus sensors for any other server and OS parameter you may want to monitor. For more than 100 sensors, a license is necessary. Their prices vary according to the number of sensors and start at $1 600 for 500 sensors. A free, fully-featured 30-day trial version that allows for unlimited sensors is available but it will revert to the 100 sensors free version once the trial period is over.

Read the full review for more info.

3. SQL Sentry

Next on our list is SQL Sentry from SentryOne. This is a rather popular solution for database performance monitoring. The tool collects and presents actionable performance metrics and alerts and displays essential events on a calendar-style display which allows for easy cross-referencing In addition, the tool can be used to quickly resolve issues by running detailed analysis right from its dashboard. The tool’s performance dashboard—which features an exclusive, patented view of storage performance—can display the results of the detailed analysis of high-impact queries.

SQL Sentry from SentryOne

SQL Sentry is certainly not the most modern-looking tools and its dashboard has been criticized for its antiquated look. However, it will show you all the critical SQL components and services in a neat layout and it will help you manage your SQL database instances and ensure their availability. You also have the option of viewing the server’s historical data, comparing it to current real-time data. You could use this feature for generating a baseline and then measuring the results of your database optimization efforts.

The base price for SQL Sentry is $2 495 per database instance plus an annual maintenance fee of $499. The product is also available as a subscription-based service at a cost of $125/month per database instance. You can also take the product for a test run, thanks to an available free 15-day trial.

4. Idera Diagnostic Manager For SQL Server

Don’t let the Idera Diagnostic Manager for SQL Server’s name fool you. This tool will actually let you monitor the performance of any SQL database, including PostgreSQL. It offers performance statistics, metrics and alerts from physical servers as well as virtual machines and their underlying host hardware. The tool can monitor numerous parameters such as CPU, memory, hard disk usage and space, and network usage. Proactive monitoring of SQL queries is also included along with transactional SQL monitoring. Furthermore, the tool can provide recommendations for the health of SQL databases.

Idera Diagnostic Manager - Central Dashboard

For user interaction, there’s a choice of a web-based interface and mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Blackberry phones and tablets. The tool provides both real-time and historical data about SQL server instances, letting administrators make changes on the fly within the mobile app. Other tasks that can be performed from the feature-reduced mobile apps include viewing and killing processes, starting and stopping jobs as needed and running queries. Other features of Idera Diagnostic Manager for SQL Server include easy integration with SCOM using the Management Pack add-on, a predictive alerting system built to avoid any false alerts and an excellent query performance monitoring function that can pinpoint queries that are not efficient and performing poorly.

Prices for the Idera Diagnostic Manager for SQL Server start at $1 996 per database instance and a fully functional 14-day trial is available.

5. SQL Monitor (Red Gate)

SQL Monitor from Red Gate Software can be used to monitor, manage, change, manipulate and optimize SQL databases. It will help find issues before they become problems. Feature-wise, a lot can be said about the product. First, it provides administrators with an overview of their SQL server farm. The tool also features powerful alerting capabilities, letting you know about issues before they have a chance to have any noticeable impact. Reporting is another place where this product shines. It will generate tailored reports about your servers’ health. Furthermore, the tool’s performance analysis capabilities allow you to quickly see what has the biggest impact on your system. As a diagnostic tool, this feature can help you uncover obstacles and find root causes.

SQL Monitor Screenshot

SQL Monitor features an easy to use dashboard that lets you view all your database instances in one convenient place. The tool also lets you directly access them within seconds without having to remotely connect to them using a VPN or another method. There’s a dashboard with drill-down functionality which allows you to display detailed statistics about your databases such as wait times, CPU usage and disk I/O in just a couple of clicks.

The base price of SQL Monitor is $1495 per database instance. You are eligible for a 15% discount when you purchase between five and nine licenses simultaneously and a 20% discount when you purchase ten or more. All prices include the first year of support from Red Gate. A 14-day trial is available if you want to give the tool a test run and so is an online demo.

6. SQL Power Tools

SQL Power Tools from SQL Power is an agentless database performance analysis solution whose publisher claims has the lowest impact on your servers. It is said that monitoring with SQL Power Tools won’t load your databases by more than 1%. Also, the product inserts no table and no stored procedure in any of your databases. All analysis is done completely remotely. It especially won’t load your servers with millions of queries which could seriously affect their performance. And by virtue of being agentless, you don’t need to install any monitoring component on your servers.

SQL Power Tools Dashboard

This tool is packed with features. It has both dashboard and heat map views of your server farm performance which can be viewed from a browser or a mobile device. The platform computes a daily baseline analysis of SQL wait times, performance counters and job run times. It can also perform an instant comparison of SQL and I/O wait times, performance counters and job run times between servers and time periods. The tool allows you to drill down into the SQL wait times of poorly performing queries, helping you pinpoint resource contention which can be causing them not to complete on a timely basis.

SQL Power Tools’ price varies between $2 000 and $750 per database instance depending on how many you purchase simultaneously. If you prefer to try the product, a 3-week evaluation version can be obtained by contacting SQL Power.

Read The 6 Best PostgreSQL Monitoring Tools in 2019 by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Monitor Router Traffic: 7 Best Monitoring Tools and Software

Who doesn’t want to have a better view of what is happening on their networks? With most network traffic eventually going through a router, it seems obvious that monitoring router traffic is one of the best ways to keep a watchful eye on what is going on. Today, we’re having an in-depth look at monitoring router traffic. We’ll discuss the why and the how as well as review some of the best tools available for that purpose.

How to Monitor Router Traffic?

Our journey will begin by describing router traffic monitoring and, more specifically, differentiate the various types of monitoring there are. Next, we’ll explain the differences between quantitative and qualitative monitoring as well as explain the main technologies each type of monitoring uses. And with that theory behind us, we’ll explore the tools available for monitoring router traffic, starting with bandwidth monitoring tools and continuing with flow analysis tools.

About Router Traffic Monitoring

It is easy to make an analogy between network traffic and road traffic. Network paths and circuits can be thought of as highways and the data they transport are like vehicles travelling on them. Continuing the analogy, a router similar to a highway interchange. But while automobile traffic is visible and any problem or congestion is readily observable, seeing what’s going on within a network can be a bit more complex. Router traffic is hidden within the devices, copper cables or optical fibres and it travels at blinding speeds, way too fast for you and me to see it.

Monitoring router traffic requires the use of specialized monitoring tools. Some will poll devices to get their interfaces’ traffic figures and calculate how much data goes through them. Other tools, as we’re about to see, use a different approach to get details about data flows and build reports that not only show how much data goes by but also what that data is, where it’s coming from and where it’s going to.

Quantitative or Qualitative?

The first type of router monitoring is referred to as bandwidth utilization monitoring or, more simply, bandwidth monitoring. It is used to calculate how much data is transported on each router interface. He vast majority of bandwidth monitoring tools rely on the Simple Network Management Protocol or SNMP to poll routers, read their interface counters and compute the amount of traffic going through their interfaces. They can use the computed data to build graphs depicting the evolution of the monitored interfaces’ utilization over time. Some of these tools will let you zoom in into a short time span where graph resolution is high and can, for instance, display 5-minute average traffic or zoom out to a longer time span–a month or even a year–where it displays daily or weekly averages.

The other type of router traffic monitoring is called flow analysis. This technology can give you many more details about the data passing through your routers. Flow analysis tools don’t just tell you how much traffic is going by, they give you qualitative information about that traffic. They rely on software that’s built right into your router’s firmware to provide them with detailed usage data. Using these tools can give you details such as the top talkers and listeners, the network usage by source or destination address or the network usage by protocol or by application.

While a handful of flow analysis technologies exist, Cisco’s NetFlow is the most common of them. It is available, as you might have imagined, on most Cisco devices. It is also available—sometimes under a different name—on equipment from other vendors, such as J-flow on Juniper devices or NetStream on HP and Huawei equipment. There’s even an IETF standard protocol called IPFIX which is based on the latest version of NetFlow. Typical flow analysis tools support several—if not all—technologies.

SNMP Explained

The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is the most common quantitative router monitoring technology. SNMP-enabled routers (which means pretty much all routers—I’ve never seen one that didn’t support SNMP out of the box) “publish” a certain number of metrics or parameters. Some are configuration parameters that can be modified while others are read-only counters, used mainly for monitoring purposes. There are, for example, CPU and memory usage gauges as well as interface traffic counters, all remotely readable via SNMP.

Although it’s easy to understand how these tools can read router gauges, how they calculate bandwidth utilization is a bit more complex. Two counters called bytes in and bytes out (each router interface has them) are read by the monitoring tool at regular intervals. Every 5 minutes is a typical value. The monitoring tool then subtracts the previous value of the counter from the current one to get the number of bytes transferred during the interval. It multiplies that number by 8 to get the number of bits in that interval before it simply divides the last result by the interval duration in seconds to get the average bandwidth utilization in bits per second.

The main limitation of this technology is that it only gives average utilization. This means that you could be measuring the traffic on an interface that is used at full capacity during half of the interval and not used at all during the other half and it would show up as used at 50%.

About Flow Analysis

Originally invented to simplify the creation of router access control lists, Cisco’s engineers quickly realized that the NetFlow technology could be put to better use by exporting flow data to a device with the ability to further analyze that information.

Without going too technical, let’s just say that NetFlow uses a three-component architecture. The exporter component runs on the monitored device. It aggregates packets into flows, and exports flow records to a flow collector. The flow collector component handles the reception, storage and pre-processing of the flow data. Finally, the flow analyzer component is used to analyze the flow data. Today, most systems combine the collector and analyzer in one device.

INTERESTING READ: NetFlow and SNMP: Differences and Best Tools for Monitoring

The Best Quantitative Router Traffic Monitoring Tools

The following tools are a few of the very best you can find. They all use SNMP to poll routers and read their interfaces traffic counters to build graphs depicting the evolution of interface bandwidth utilization over time. But while they all offer the same core functionality, they differ in their feature set. Picking the best one is, more than anything, a matter of matching your specific needs to each product’s features.

1. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (FREE TRIAL)

The SolarWinds name is well-known to many network administrators. The company makes some of the best network and system administration tools an many of them have received rave reviews and are considered among the very best in their respective fields. SolarWinds is also famous for its free tools, smaller tools that each address a specific need of network administrators. Two good examples of those free tools are the Advanced Subnet Calculator and the Kiwi Syslog Server.

For monitoring routers, SolarWinds proposes the Network Performance Monitor (NPM). It is primarily an SNMP bandwidth monitoring tool but it also offers comprehensive fault monitoring and performance management and it is compatible with most routers. It also comes with many advanced features such as its NetPath feature which lets you view the critical network path between any two monitored points on your network or the ability to automatically generate intelligent network maps.

SolarWinds NPM Enterprise Dashboard

The tool’s Network Insights functionality allows for complex device monitoring. It can monitor Software Defined Networks (SDN) and also has built-in Cisco ACI support as well the ability to monitor wireless networks and to generate network performance baselines. Other interesting features of the NPM include advanced alerting and its PerfStack performance analysis dashboard. The SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor is a highly scalable tool that can be used on any network from the smallest to the largest.

The SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor’s pricing structure is quite simple. Licensing is based on the number of monitored elements. Five licensing tiers are available for 100, 250, 500, 2000, and unlimited elements at prices ranging from $2 955 to $32 525, including the first year of maintenance. If you’d rather give the tool a trial run before committing to a purchase, a free 30-day trial version can be obtained.

2. PRTG Network Monitor

The PRTG Network Monitor from Paessler AG is another great product. It is, at its base, an SNMP monitoring tool. However, thanks to a concept called sensors—a type of functionality plug-ins that are already built into the product—additional metrics can be monitored. There are about two hundred sensors available with the product. Installation speed is another strength of the product. According to Paessler, you can set it up in a couple of minutes. While it may not be that fast, it is indeed faster than most competitor’s thanks in part to the tool’s auto-discovery engine.

PRTG Dashboard - Datacenter Monitoring

The PRTG Network Monitor is a feature-rich product that lets you choose between a native Windows enterprise console, an Ajax-based web interface and mobile apps for Android and iOS. Alerting and reporting are excellent and the product boasts a wide range of reports that can be viewed as HTML or PDF or exported to CSV or XML to be processed externally.

The PRTG Network Monitor is available in a free version which is limited to monitoring no more than 100 sensors. Each parameter you want to monitor counts as one sensor. For example, monitoring bandwidth on each interface of a 4-port router will use up 4 sensors and monitoring the CPU and memory on that same router will use up 2 more. Each additional sensor you install also counts. For more than 100 sensors—which you will most likely need—you’ll need a license. Their prices start at $1 600 for up to 500 sensors, including the first year of maintenance. A free 30-day trial version is also available.

3. ManageEngine OpManager

The ManageEngine OpManager is a complete management solution that addresses most—if not all—monitoring needs. The tool, which can run on either Windows or Linux, is loaded with great features. For instance, its auto-discovery feature doesn’t just add devices to the tool. It can graphically map your network, giving you a uniquely customized dashboard.

The tool’s dashboard is one of its best assets. It is super easy to use and navigate and has drill-down functionality. And If you’re into mobile apps, they are available for tablets and smartphones and will give you access from anywhere.

ManageEngine OpManager Dashboard

Alerting in the ManageEngine OpManager is another of the product’s strengths. It’s got a full complement of threshold-based alerts that can help detect, identify, and troubleshoot networking issues. Furthermore, multiple thresholds each with their own notifications can be set for every performance metric.

If you want to try the ManageEngine OpManager, get the free version. It is not a time-limited trial version. It is, instead, feature-limited. It won’t, for instance, let you monitor more than ten devices. While this might be sufficient for testing purposes, it will only suit the smallest networks. For more devices, you can choose between the Essential or the Enterprise plans. The first will let you monitor up to 1 000 nodes while the other goes up to 10 000. Pricing information is available by contacting ManageEngine’s sales.

4. Cacti

Our list wouldn’t have been complete without at least one free and open-source router monitoring tool. This is why we’re introducing Cacti, a proven solution that has been around for many years and is still in widespread use and actively developed. It is a very polished product with a great web-based user interface that makes configuring it very simple and intuitive. It is a complete network graphing package which uses RRDTool, a data logging and graphing tool from Tobi Oetiker who also brought us MRTG, the granddaddy of network bandwidth monitoring tools. Cacti’s main components are a fast poller, advanced graph templates, several acquisition methods, and user management features. It is just as good for smaller LAN installations as ts is for complex networks with thousands of devices over multiple sites.

Cacti Promo Screenshots

To better describe Cacti, let’s talk about RRDtool for a moment. According to its developer “RRDtool is the OpenSource industry standard, high-performance data logging and graphing system for time series data. RRDtool can be easily integrated into shell scripts, Perl, Python, Ruby, Lua or Tcl applications.RRDtool is a direct descendant of MRTG.

In a nutshell, Cacti is a GUI frontend to RRDTool. It stores the necessary data to create graphs and populate them with data in a MySQL database. The tool lets you maintain Graphs, Data Sources, and Round Robin Archives in a database and also handles the data gathering.

The Best Qualitative Network Traffic Monitoring Tools

For a qualitative view of your network traffic—if you care more about the what than the how much, you need flow analysis tools. They provide much more details on the router traffic and will typically include views such as top talkers, top protocols or top users.

1. SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (FREE TRIAL)

The SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer can monitor network usage by application, protocol, and IP address group. It will monitor NetFlow devices and also J-Flow, sFlow, NetStream, and IPFIX. The tool collects flow data, arranges it into a usable and meaningful format and presents it to users in a web-based interface. It can be used to identify which applications and categories consume the most bandwidth.

SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer Dashboard

Among the product’s best features, the SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer can monitor router usage by application, protocol, or IP address group. It can also handle Cisco NetFlow, Juniper J-Flow, sFlow, Huawei NetStream, and IETF-standard IPFIX flow data to identify which applications, protocols, or users are the top bandwidth consumers. The tool will collect traffic data, correlating it into a usable format, and presenting it to the user in a web-based interface for monitoring network traffic. It also identifies which applications and categories consume the most bandwidth for better network traffic visibility.

The SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer is an add-on to the Network Performance Monitor, SolarWinds’ flagship product described earlier. You can save by acquiring both at the same time as the SolarWinds Network Bandwidth Analyzer Pack. Prices for the bundle start at $4 910 for monitoring up to 100 elements and vary according to the number of monitored devices. While this may seem a bit expensive, keep in mind that you’re getting not one but two of the best monitoring tools available. If you’d prefer to try the product before purchasing it, a free 30-day trial can be downloaded from SolarWinds.

2. Scrutinizer

Scrutinizer from Plixer is not just a flow analysis system. It has the ability to monitor different flow types such as NetFlow, J-flow, NetStream, and IPFIX so you’re not limited in what routers you’ll be able to monitor. The tool offers efficient data collection and can easily scale up to many million flows per second. It can work in physical and in virtual environments and includes some advanced reporting features.

Scrutinizer NetFlow Analyzer Screenshot

Scrutinizer is available in several versions from the basic free version to the full-fledged “SCR” level which can scale up to over 10 million flows per second while the free one is limited to 10 thousand flows per second and will only keep raw flow data for 5 hours. It could, however, be enough to troubleshoot network issues. A free 30-day trial of all paid versions is available. After the trial period is over, the product reverts back to the free version.

3. ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer

Last on our list is another tool from ManageEngine simply called the NetFlow Analyzer. It’s got a web-based interface that offers a great many different views on your network. You’ll be able to view traffic by application, by conversation, by protocol, and several more options. The tool will also let you set alerts. One could, for instance, set a traffic threshold on a specific router interface and be alerted whenever traffic exceeds it.

ManageEngine Netflow Analyzer

The ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer’s dashboard includes several pie charts displaying top applications, top protocols or top conversations. It can also display a map with the status of the monitored interfaces. Dashboards and reports can be customized at will to include all the information that you need. The tool’s dashboard is also where alerts are displayed in the form of pop-ups. A smartphone client app will let you access the dashboard and reports from anywhere.

The ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer supports most flow technologies including NetFlow, IPFIX, J-flow, NetStream and a few others. It is available in two versions. The free version is identical to the paid one for the first 30 days but it then reverts to monitoring only two interfaces or flows. For the paid version, licenses are available in several sizes from 100 to 2 500 interfaces or flows.

Read Monitor Router Traffic: 7 Best Monitoring Tools and Software by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter