How to get Microsoft core fonts on Linux

Linux is an open-source operating system. As a result, it is missing some critical components that users of proprietary operating systems enjoy. One big thing that all Linux operating systems miss out on is proprietary fonts.

The most used proprietary fonts out there today are the Microsoft Core Fonts. They’re used in many apps, development, and even graphics design projects. In this guide, we’ll go over how to set them up on Linux.

Note: not using Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux, Fedora, or OpenSUSE? Download the generic font package here and install the fonts by hand.

Ubuntu installation instructions

Ubuntu Linux users have it very easy when it comes to the Microsoft core fonts, as there is an easy-to-use installer that can be downloaded directly through the Ubuntu “Universe” software repository.

If you’re using Ubuntu Linux, it doesn’t matter what version (14.04, 16.04, 18.04, or newer) you will be able to start the setup process by using the command line. Press Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard to launch a terminal window. Then, use the Apt command below to get the “tff-mscorefonts-installer” package.

sudo apt install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Upon running the Apt command above, Ubuntu will download and install the Microsoft Core Fonts installer to your PC, and bring up a text-based EULA. Read this EULA, and select “OK” to agree with it. You must agree to access the fonts!

After selecting “OK,” you will see another text page. Select the “Yes” option to continue.

Once you’ve selected “Yes,” the Microsoft installation tool will download all Microsoft Core Fonts to Ubuntu, install them, and set them up.

Debian installation instructions

Debian Linux, much like Ubuntu Linux, has an easy to install Microsoft font installer package in their software repositories. To start the installation, ensure you are using Debian 8, 9, or 10. For information on upgrading, click here.

Note: in addition to upgrading your Debian Linux system, you must also enable the “contrib” source. For help enabling it, read this page.

After upgrading your Debian Linux release, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. From there, use the Apt-get command below to get the “ttf-mscorefonts-installer” package set up.

sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Once the Microsoft Core Fonts installer package is set up on your Debian Linux PC, the installer will automatically download several Microsoft fonts to your system and set them all up. Sit back and be patient. When the download is done, the fonts are ready to use!

Arch Linux installation instructions

On Arch Linux, there isn’t an official Microsoft installation package like on Ubuntu or Debian. However, there is an unofficial Arch Linux User repository package that downloads all of the fonts and installs them. To start the Microsoft Core Fonts installation process, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T on the keyboard. Then, use the Pacman package manager to install the Base-devel and Git packages.

sudo pacman -S git base-devel

After installing the Base-devel and Git packages, use the git clone command to download the Microsoft Core Font package.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/ttf-ms-fonts.git

From here, use the makepkg command to build the package, and install the various fonts on your Arch Linux system.

cd ttf-ms-fonts
makepkg -sri

Fedora/OpenSUSE installation instructions

On Fedora Linux or OpenSUSE Linux, there isn’t currently an official package available that makes installing the Microsoft Core Fonts easy. Instead, we must rely on the RPM packages and source files on SourceForge.net.

To start the installation process, open up a terminal window on your OpenSUSE or Fedora PC by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Once you’ve got a terminal window open, follow the RPM installation instructions down below that correspond with your operating system.

Fedora

The first step in installing the MS fonts on Fedora is to download the RPM package they’ve got available on SourceForge. To do this, use the following wget download command.

wget https://sourceforge.net/projects/mscorefonts2/files/rpms/msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm/download -O msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm

Once the RPM package file is downloaded to your Linux PC, you can run the Dnf package manager to load up and install the Microsoft Core Fonts instantly.

Note: you may see warnings during the installation. Ignore them, as they don’t matter.

sudo dnf install msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm -y

OpenSUSE

To get the fonts working in OpenSUSE Linux, you must download the RPM package file from the internet. To do this, use the following wget download command.

wget https://sourceforge.net/projects/mscorefonts2/files/rpms/msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm/download -O msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm

After downloading the RPM package file to your OpenSUSE Linux PC, it needs to be installed. To do that, use the Zypper package manager.

sudo zypper install msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm

Let the package install. Once it is complete, it will go through the process of automatically downloading and installing Microsoft Core Fonts to your OpenSUSE Linux PC.

Read How to get Microsoft core fonts on Linux by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Hide One Friend From Another on Facebook

“Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are” might be a powerful saying. But in today’s digital world it’s all about privacy and keeping certain things to yourself. That’s especially relevant for social networks, as we tend to share more information there than we should. 

For instance, when you add someone to your friends list on Facebook, you can see their friends and they can see yours by default. But for a variety of reasons, you might not want to give those kind of details about your private life to everyone. 

There could be a million reasons for wanting to hide friends on Facebook. Whether you’re trying to keep your professional and personal life separate, or just want to keep peace between yourself and two of your friends that hate each other, here’s how you can improve your Facebook privacy and hide your friends on Facebook from one another. 

Hide Your Facebook Friends From Everyone

This is the route you can take if you don’t want anyone at all to see who your Facebook friends are. You can simply change your privacy settings so that you’re the only one who can see your friends list. In order to do that, take the following steps:

  • Log into your Facebook account and go to your profile page by clicking on your name in the upper-left corner.
  • Go to your friends list by clicking on the Friends tab.
  • On the Friends page, click on the pencil icon in the upper-right corner, then go to Edit privacy.
  • In the pop-up window, click on the down arrow icon in the upper-right corner. There you’ll get different options for “Who can see your friends list“. Choose Only me and that will restrict people from seeing others on your friends list. 
  • Click Done to save changes. 

As mentioned before, this will completely hide your friends list from anyone on Facebook. The only information other people will be able to see is mutual friends. 

Keep in mind though that you can only control your own profile the same way your friends control theirs. That means that if you set your friends list to Only Me, and your friend has their friends list set to Public, people will still see that you’re friends on their profile. 

Hide One Facebook Friend From Another

In case you find the first option a little hardcore and don’t want to hide friends on Facebook from absolutely everyone, there’s a different path to take.

Currently Facebook doesn’t have an option to prevent two people from seeing each other while still being able to see all of your other friends. The only way to get it done is to completely deny those two individuals access to your Facebook friends. 

If for whatever reason you want to hide one of your Facebook friends from another, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Follow the steps 1 to 3 from the process above.
  • In Edit privacy window, click the down arrow icon again. Only this time choose Custom
  • In Custom privacy window, go to Don’t share with and type the names of both of your friends who you want to hide from one another. You can also just type one name in there if it’s just one person that you want to prevent from seeing your Facebook friends. 
  • Click Save Changes

Alternatively, you can take a different route. 

  • Follow the steps 1 to 3 as described above. 
  • In Edit privacy, tap on the down arrow, and choose Friends except…
  • Here type the name of a friend(-s) who you want to prevent from seeing your Facebook friends, or choose their name from the list. 
  • Click Save Changes

In both scenarios, you will prevent those specific people from accessing your friends list. Except for them, everyone else will be able to see your friends on Facebook. 

Many people have hundreds of Facebook friends, and managing all of them can be tricky. Friends list isn’t the only thing that you might want to keep to yourself. Tweaking certain privacy settings can help you hide your updates from specific Facebook friends. Or prevent people from seeing your Facebook online status.

Go Straight to a Recipe With This Add-on for Firefox and Chrome

Skip scrolling for recipes on sites that add them to the end of the page with this add-on/extension.

If you search for recipes, you’ve probably come across sites that make you scroll through endless screens of photos, text, and other content until you get to the end, where the recipe is located. It can be tedious if all you want is a recipe.

Enter Recipe Filter, an add-on/extension available for Chrome and Firefox. It works by detecting recipes and highlighting them nicely in a window at the top of the page.

The extension works very well, though it doesn’t work on all sites.

In my testing it didn’t work on approximately a third of the sites I visited. Many of the sites where it didn’t work on had recipes close to the top of the page or they had a “Jump To Recipe” button so there was little to no scrolling needed to get to the recipe. Others required scrolling to the location of the recipe (often the bottom of the page). A very few sites displayed the recipe but the recipe was displayed as a block of text with no breaks or spacing.

Tip: If you scroll often and use a keyboard and Windows, the Space bar also scrolls down a page if you’d rather not use a mouse or the Page Down key.

The extension has a couple of options. It can be turned off for specific sites and you can edit the list under “Options” when you right click the Recipe Filter icon in the browser toolbar. To turn it off for a specific site, use the “disable on this site” button at the bottom of the recipe display. You can close the window by using the “close recipe” button at the bottom of the displayed recipe or click outside the display recipe window. Note that clicking outside the window doesn’t close the displayed recipe on all sites.

Depending on individual site settings, there’s usually a Print option that works in the displayed recipe window. I usually use the Ctrl + P keyboard combination to print things, but with this add-on, I would opt for browser Print preview. Some sites printed fine with or without the recipe displayed and some sites didn’t print well with either option.

The Print preview option is accessed from the Settings/Print menu in both Chrome and Firefox.

If you search for recipes on the internet often, this is a gem that saves quite a bit of time and effort. It works on Firefox and Chrome, and it works fine on other browsers based on Chrome or Firefox code. Grab it for either browser here:   Read More

The 7 Best Network Mapping Tools in 2019

Since an image is worth a thousand words, images are often one of the best ways to document complex systems. This is particularly true of networks that are best described using network maps. However, creating network maps using traditional drawing tools can be a tedious process. Even when using advanced tools such as Microsoft Office Visio or dedicated network drawing tools like LanFlow, it is still a lot of work. The maps that you create are also static and must be redone each time the network changes. This is why network mapping tools were created and today, we’re going to have a look at a few of the best ones.

Best network mapping tools reviewed

We’ll start off by discussing the concept of network mapping in general, what it is and why it is so useful. As you’ll see, it’s not only a great way to document networks, it is also an excellent troubleshooting tool. We’ll then briefly describe network mapping tools in deeper details before we get to the core of the matter: reviewing some of the best network mapping tools.

About Network Mapping

Everyone has his own reason for needing network maps of any kind. There are, however, some that are more common than others. The most important and most common reason is rooted in the fact that any system is just as good as its documentation. And when said system is a computer network, a network map is most likely one of the best possible types of documentation as they often include a ton of relevant information. They will typically tell you what each piece of equipment is, how everything is interconnected, and they will also often include extra details such as IP addresses or other configuration parameters or even the whole devices’ configurations.

A network map diagram is also an invaluable troubleshooting tool. If—or more likely, when—something goes wrong on the network, you’ll be glad you have one. For instance, let’s pretend there’s a report of poor performance between a specific workstation and a server. A network map would quickly allow one to figure out what devices are located on the path, providing an excellent starting point for troubleshooting.

Some will argue that network maps are not needed. After all, nothing beats that live, real-time mental image an administrator has of his network. But while this might hold some truth, it’s also a risky prospect. As time goes by, we can forget the smaller details. There’s a Chinese proverb that says that “the palest ink is better than the best memory.” Although you may still have a pretty good mental picture of how that five-year-old network works, you may not remember all the minute details. And to make matters worse, other administrators may have performed some changes that you are not aware of.

Documentation is really the very best way to keep track of everything and, when it comes to networks, a network map is certainly the best type of documentation you can have. But networks, like most other things in life, do evolve and additions and changes are regularly—if not constantly—done. Devices are added, circuits are upgraded, configurations are modified. All of these changes need to be documented. Like the network it depicts, the network map must be a constant work in progress and great care must be taken to keep it up to date. Nothing can be more frustrating than trying to debug network issues with outdated network maps.

Introducing Network Mapping Tools

Network mapping tools typically do much more than just help you draw network maps. Some can use SNMP and/or other protocols such as the Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) to poll your devices and discover their interconnections. They will use that information to automatically build a graphical representation of your network, a network topology map.

While these tools can save you a tremendous amount of time, they tend to be far from perfect and the maps they create will often need some degree of manual editing. For example, perhaps you want to overlay your network map on a floor plan of the office. For that purpose, many of the topology mapping tools include some editing facilities. Others will let you export the generated diagrams and edit them using a more conventional drawing tool of your choice.

The more advanced network mapping tools can be so advanced that they end up resembling management systems more than documentation systems. You can, for instance, use them to monitor devices status and performance. In some cases, they can even allow you to manage devices right from within the mapping tool.

The Best Network Mapping Tools

We’ve done our best to include a good variety of tools on our list. We have dedicated mapping tools but also network monitoring platforms with a network mapping feature. As you read about all the products we’re reviewing, you’ll see that the line between network monitoring and network mapping tools is not always very clear anyways.

1. SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper (Free Trial)

SolarWinds has acquired a solid reputation in the field of network administration tools. In the past 20 years, the company has made quite a few excellent network administration tools. The company is also famous for its free tools. They are smaller tools which typically address one specific need of network administrators. Examples of these free tools include the Advanced Subnet Calculator or the Kiwi Syslog Server.

The SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper (NTM) is an evolution of LanSurveyor, a well-known mapping tool that was acquired by SolarWinds a little while ago. This tool can automatically discover your LAN, your WAN or both and generate comprehensive, easy-to-view, and easy-to-comprehend network topology diagrams. These diagrams typically integrate Layer 2 and Layer 3 information. The NTM uses an innovative concept called topology databases. The network scanning process does populate these databases which are, in turn, used to create the topology diagrams. This is great as it does allow many different maps to be built from a single scan of the network, thereby saving time and resources.

SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper Screenshot

Another great feature of the SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper is that it can automatically keep diagrams up to date. It regularly re-scans the network looking for changes in topology and for new devices, adding the new information to existing diagrams. The product can also help with network security. It can, for instance, detect rogue devices that have been connected to the network.

Even better, this tool can assist with PCI/DSS and other regulatory compliance requirements. And it can be used as a networking equipment inventory management system. And if you want to share the tool’s topology diagrams with the rest of the world, you’ll be able to export them in Microsoft Visio format, a standard in business diagrams.

The SolarWinds Network Technology Mapper sells for $1 495, not much considering all it can do for you. And if you’d rather try the product before purchasing it, a free 14-day evaluation is available.

2. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (Free Trial)

Our next entry is another excellent product from SolarWinds called the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, or NPM. It is a very complete network monitoring solution with integrated network mapping features. It features a user-friendly graphical user interface that administrators can use to monitor devices and to configure the tool.

Adding a new device to the Network Performance Monitor is as simple as specifying its IP address or hostname and SNMP connection parameters. The system then queries the device and lists all the available metrics. All you have to do is pick those you want to monitor. And talking about adding devices, this tool’s scalability is another one of its best features. It will suit the smallest of networks and scale up to large networks with thousands of devices spread over multiple sites.

SolarWinds NPM Enterprise Dashboard

The SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor’s network mapping feature is called NetPath. It maps your network and then provides you with information on its performance, the traffic levels, and device configurations along an entire network path. The tool can display performance metrics with hop-by-hop data between your data center and remote offices. The tool also features a number of network visualization graphs and charts. Insights from the product’s network mapping features can easily be viewed alongside other performance tools to provide troubleshooting assistance of your entire network.

The SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor’s alerting system is another place where the product shines. It is highly customizable when needed but it can also be used out-of-the-box with minimal configurations. The alerting engine is smart enough not to send notifications for “unimportant” events in the middle of the night or to send hundreds of notifications for as many unresponsive servers when the main issue is a down router or network switch.

Prices for the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor start at just under $3 000 and goes up according to the number of devices to monitor and the selected optional components. The pricing structure is quite complex and you should contact the SolarWinds sales team for a detailed quote. If you prefer to try the product before purchasing it, a free 30-day trial version is available for download from the SolarWinds website.

3. Intermapper

Intermapper from Help Systems is another excellent tool which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This tool, like most good ones, will auto-discover all of your physical and virtual equipment and place it on a detailed map depicting all their interconnections. All you have left to do is simply edit the maps to better illustrate your real-life network. You can, for example, change the layout, customize the icons or change the background images.

Intermapper Screenshot

But Intermapper is not just a topology mapping tool, it is also a rather good monitoring solution. And while it might not rival with some of the better, dedicated network monitoring tools, it has some unique features. For instance, it’s got live colour-coding and animation which highlights the status of your devices. For example, the colour of device icons will go from green (all good) to yellow (warning) to orange (alert) to red (down). Likewise, animated traffic indicators will alert you of any segment where traffic exceeds a predefined threshold. This s really a clever combination of a network map ad a monitoring tool.

Intermapper is available in a free version which is limited to 10 devices. For larger installations, you can choose between annual subscriptions or permanent licenses. Prices do vary according to the number of discovered, mapped, and monitored devices and a free 30-day trial is available.

4. NetProbe

Like the previous entry, NetProbe offers quite a bit more than just plain network mapping. In fact, its publisher calls it “a real-time device monitoring tool” and this is really what it is. This tool will monitor any network-attached device in real-time. It has a rich graphical user interface which is available as a stand-alone application or via a web interface.

NetProbe Screenshot

Since it’s included in this list, you won’t be surprised that NetProbe’s graphical layout includes much more than just the devices. Alarms and trackers are also integrated. And all drawing elements have been kept as simple as possible making for a simple, quick, and neat representation of the monitored environments. The automatic detection of devices is another excellent feature of this tool. And although it will scan your network to detect devices and add them to its maps, this is not all it will do. It will also automatically add alarms and performance graphs that are pertinent to each device.

NetProbe is available in four license tiers which range from the free Standard license which only allows for eight devices to the Enterprise license which is good for up to 400 devices.

5. Network Notepad

We hesitated before including the Network Notepad on this list. After all, it is, in essence, more of a drawing tool than a mapping tool. However, several useful add-ons are available that will give the product features that are somewhat like other tools in this list. First things first, as a drawing tool, this one has all the features you would normally expect from a drawing tool such as multi-page diagrams, custom shapes, grouping and locking—allowing you to combine existing shapes to create new ones, auto-alignment, and of course, templates.

Network Notepad Screenshot

But as we said, and this is why it ended up on this select list, Network Notepad gets the bulk of its power when you start using its add-ons. One of the most interesting ones is undoubtedly the CDP Neighbor Tool, a sort of auto-discovery utility. This add-on uses the Cisco Discovery Protocol—hence its name—to automatically identify and document devices interconnections. All you need to do is right-click any device in your diagram, select “Discover Neighbors“, and the add-on will use the SNMP protocol to fetch connections data from the device’s CDP table. It will get a list of all devices connected to the selected one and their interconnection interfaces. Subsequently, clicking the “Paste” button will add any missing connected objects to your diagram.

The Network Notepad is available in a feature-limited freeware version or in a full-featured Professional version which you can purchase for only 18 British Pounds once the 30-day trial period expires. At that price, it is a pretty good deal, considering its features.

6. PRTG Network Monitor

The PRTG Network Monitor from Paessler AG is a full-featured network monitoring system with some excellent mapping capabilities, somewhat like the SolarWinds NPM reviewed above. One of the product’s best qualities is its speed and ease of installation. Paessler claims that the PRTG Network Monitor can be set up in a couple of minutes and although our experience shows that it can take a bit more than that, it is still amazingly easy and fast, thanks in part to its auto-discovery feature that will scan your network, find devices, and automatically add them. The tool uses a combination of Ping, SNMP, WMI, NetFlow, jFlow, sFlow, but can also communicate via DICOM or the RESTful API.

When it comes to network mapping, the PRTG Network Monitor allows you to create maps that display your devices and their connections, as well as live status information for your network. This lets you detect problems at a glance and provides for efficient troubleshooting using maps as a primary source of information. Network maps can be customized using HTML, and they can also be shared with anyone you want, even external resources. The main drawback of this functionality is that although the maps are extremely useful, they must be created manually using the drag-and-drop map editor which can be time-consuming. On the other hand, this approach makes for highly customized maps.

PRTG Network Map

One of the strengths of the PRTG Network Monitor is its sensor-based architecture. You can think of sensors as add-ons to the product except that they are already included and don’t need to be purchased separately. There are add-ons for virtually anything. For example, there are HTTP, SMTP/POP3 (e-mail) application sensors. There are also hardware-specific sensors for switches, routers, and servers. In all, there are over 200 different predefined sensors that retrieve statistics such as response time, processor, memory, database information, temperature or system status from the monitored devices.

The PRTG Network Monitor offers a selection of user interfaces. The primary one is an Ajax-based web interface which allows it to be administered from any device with an Ajax-compatible browser, although the server only runs on Windows. There’s also a Windows enterprise console as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS. One nice feature of the mobile apps is that they can use push notification of any alerts triggered from PRTG. Standard SMS or email notifications are also available.

The PRTG Network Monitor is offered in two versions. There’s a free version which is full-featured but will limit your monitoring ability to 100 sensors. Note that each monitored parameter counts as one sensor and, for example, monitor 24 interfaces on a network switch will use up 24 sensors. If you need more than 100 sensors, you must purchase a license. Their prices start at $1 600 for 500 sensors. You can also get a free, sensor-unlimited and full-featured 30-day trial version.

7. Spiceworks Network Mapper

Spiceworks was originally started back in 2006 in Austin, Texas to build IT management software. It has evolved into a vibrant online community allowing users to collaborate with one another and also participate in a marketplace to purchase IT services and products. The Spiceworks community is estimated to be used by more than six million IT professionals and three thousand technology vendors.

As a software developer and publisher, Spiceworks offers three main products. First, there’s a help desk management platform aptly called Spiceworks Help Desk. There’s also an IT asset inventory management tool called Spiceworks Inventory. And finally, there’s a network monitoring platform called Spiceworks Network Monitor. While these tools are not open-source, they are available for free to anyone.

Of course, Spiceworks also proposes a network mapping tool that goes by the name of Spiceworks Network Mapper. This is a manual network mapping tool which lets you view an interactive diagram of your network. It visually displays how your devices interconnect, work together and relate to each other. The tool lets you modify maps by adding, editing, moving and resizing devices and customize them to the exact way you want to show how your network is structured. You can also use filters and views to display a subset of only the most important or relevant data. Device interconnections are depicted as lines on the maps whose width indicates how much

Spiceworks Network Mapper

One of the main drawbacks of the tool is that it is manual. This means that you not only have to create each map, you also have to keep them up to date. You’ll need to redo your network maps every time your network changes. On the other hand, the Spiceworks Network Mapper is available for free. That makes it an ideal choice for an organization that would rather invest time in creating and maintaining maps than investing money on a fully automated tool. This could be the case, for instance, with smaller businesses that have less complex networks.

Read The 7 Best Network Mapping Tools in 2019 by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

6 Best Network Analysis Tools (Review 2019)

Network analysis, or the process of “looking” at network traffic and trying to understand it, is a complex endeavour. It is, however, a very useful process as it can provide precious assistance when troubleshooting various networking issues. It is also one of the best tools for capacity planning. But let’s face it, it is something that is best left to computers to handle. This is why we’re about to review some of the best network analysis tools. Our hope is that our reviews of the top product can help you compare what is available and select the product—or products—that best matches your specific needs.

Best network analysis tools - reviews

We’ll begin our journey by having a deeper look at network analysis, exploring what it is and how it’s done. Then, we’ll explain the differences between the two main types of analysis, quantitative (i.e. bandwidth analysis) and qualitative (i.e. flow analysis). Our next order of business will be a short explanation of the Simple Network Management Protocol as it is the most-used technology for bandwidth analysis followed by a similar exploration of the NetFlow technology, the most common flow analysis method. We’ll finish with the best, our brief reviews of the best bandwidth analysis and the best flow analysis tools.

About Network Analysis

Network traffic is often compared to road traffic where network circuits can be thought of as highways and the data packets they transport are compared to the vehicles travelling along them. 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. Network traffic is hidden within networking devices, copper cables or glass fibres and it travels at the speed of light; way too fast for anyone to see it.

To effectively analyze network traffic, specialized tools must be used. Some can poll devices to get their interfaces’ traffic figures and to show you how much data travels through them. Other tools, as we’re about to find out, use a different approach to get details about individual 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 vs Qualitative Analysis

Network bandwidth analysis is the most basic type of network analysis. Specialized analysis tools can measure how much data is transported on each router interface. They typically 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 parameters over time. They will often let you zoom in into a shorter 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.

Another type of network analysis is called flow analysis. It can give you much more details about the data passing through your network. 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 networking devices to send them detailed usage data. Using these tools will provide details such as the top talkers and listeners, the network usage by source or destination address, the network usage by protocol or by application and several other useful information about what is going on.

A few flow analysis technologies exist but Cisco’s NetFlow is the most common of them. It is, of course, present on most Cisco devices and it is also present—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—flow analysis technologies.

IN-DEPTH READ: 6 Best Open-Source NetFlow Software

SNMP In A Nutshell

The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is the most widely used network bandwidth analysis technology. SNMP-enabled network devices “publish” a certain number of parameters. Some are configuration parameters that can be modified while others are read-only counters and gauges, used primarily for analysis purposes. There are, for example, CPU and memory usage gauges as well as interface traffic and error counters available via SNMP.

For bandwidth analysis, the process is a tad more complex than remotely reading gauges. Two counters called bytes in and bytes out (each interface has them) are read by the monitoring tool at precisely timed intervals. Every 5 minutes is a typical interval. The monitoring tool then subtracts the previous value of the counter from the current one to get the number of bytes transferred in five minutes. It multiplies that number by 8 to get the number of bits in five minutes. Finally, it just divides the last result by 300 (the number of seconds in five minutes) to get the average 5-minute bandwidth in bits per second.

RELATED READING: Top 5 Open-Source SNMP Monitoring Tools

Explaining NetFlow

Originally created solely to simplify the creation of router access control lists, Cisco’s engineers quickly realized that NetFlow data could be put to better use by exporting it to a device with the ability analyze that information. NetFlow analysis was born.

NetFlow uses a three-component architecture. The exporter runs on the monitored device, aggregates packets into flows, and exports flow records to a flow collector. The flow collector handles the reception, storage and pre-processing of the flow data. Finally, the flow analyzer is used to analyze the flow data. Today, most systems combine the collector and analyzer in one device.

The Best Network Bandwidth Analysis Tools

Let’s first have a look at some of the very best network bandwidth analysis tool. There are many more tools available than the three we’ve listed here but we felt that those are the best you can find in terms of their feature set and overall quality. They are all from top-notch makers of network administrations tools.

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. The company is also famous for its free tools, smaller tools which 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 network bandwidth analysis, SolarWinds offers its Network Performance Monitor (NPM). This tool is mainly an SNMP bandwidth monitoring tool. It also offers comprehensive fault monitoring and performance management and it is compatible with most SNMP-enabled device. It also comes with many advanced features such as its NetPath feature lets you view the critical network path between any two monitored points on your network or its 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 test 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 network analysis 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 to monitor virtually any network parameter. Installation speed is another strength of the product. According to Paessler, it can be set 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 it even offers a choice of user interfaces. You can 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—network analysis 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.

And talking about the dashboard, it is one of the tool’s 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 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, you can get a 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.

The Best Flow Analysis Tools

Just like with bandwidth analysis tools, there are countless flow analysis tools available. But again, we’ve limited ourselves to reviewing what we consider to be the best three. Like the preceding list, we’ve included the tools that offered the most in terms of features, reliability, and ease of use.

1. SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (Free Trial)

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

Among its best features, the SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer can monitor bandwidth usage by application, protocol, and IP address group. It can also monitor Cisco NetFlow, Juniper J-Flow, sFlow, Huawei NetStream, and IPFIX flow data to identify which applications and protocols are the top bandwidth consumers. The tool will collect traffic data, correlate it into a usable format, and present 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.

SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer Dashboard

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 another great NetFlow analyzer. In fact, it’s even more than that and it can easily be considered a full-fledged incident response system. With its ability to monitor different flow types such as NetFlow, J-flow, NetStream, and IPFIX, you’re not limited to monitoring only Cisco devices.

The hierarchical design of Scrutinizer offers streamlined and efficient data collection and allows anyone to start small and easily scale way up to many million flows per second. The network is often first blamed whenever something goes wrong. Using The product’s advanced analysis, you can quickly find the real cause of many network issues. For even greater flexibility, the product works in both physical and virtual environments and it comes with advanced reporting features.

Scrutinizer NetFlow Analyzer Screenshot

Scrutinizer is available in four license tiers that go from the basic free version to the full-fledged SCR level which can scale up to over 10 million flows per second. The free version is limited to 10 thousand flows per second and it will only keep raw flow data for 5 hours but it should be more than enough to troubleshoot network issues. You can also try any license tier for 30 days after which it will revert to the free version.

3. ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer

Next on our list is another tool from ManageEngine simply called the ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer. It’s got a web-based user interface that offers several different views of your network. You’ll be able to view traffic by application, by conversation, by protocol, and many more options. The tool will also let you set alerts. You could, for example, 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 6 Best Network Analysis Tools (Review 2019) by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter