Local Area Network or LAN is a network connection in which multiple workplace nodes such as routers, switches, computers, etc., are connected.
Since LAN depends on almost all the network-enabled devices in an area, LAN monitoring is instrumental in monitoring the performance of various connected devices and the network.
In this article, we have assembled a list of the ten best LAN monitoring tools to help you solve your workplace’s performance issues or any other vicinity with a LAN connection.
What Is LAN Monitoring?
Performance of anything connected to your local computer, including routers, computers, servers, printers, and other hardware, can be monitored using LAN monitoring.
Multiple LAN monitoring tools in the market also provide suggestions for IT investments and an in-depth understanding of complex LAN environments so that you can choose what is best for your business processes and needs.
You can also get increased control over the business operating environment. You can get insight into the details and metrics that inform you about your IT system’s approach and strategy.
These tools are equipped with excellent alerting mechanisms that will alert you if any network devices suddenly go offline. You can be more efficient with these tools to automate the robust monitoring and simplify the activities that otherwise had to be done manually.
LAN monitoring provides you with a proactive approach towards possible issues and failures that might occur in the network so that you stay one step ahead and not let them affect your business. These tools help your business by allowing you to maintain uptime and keeping resources online.
Why Do You Need a LAN Monitoring Tool?
LAN is an integral part of any workplace, and monitoring is crucial to ensure that the network is well-maintained, with sufficient capacity to allow smooth flow of traffic.
So, when we neglect the network, issues like downtime and congestion can adversely affect your business.
Thus, LAN monitoring tools are essential. Due to their automation and simplification, these tools help increase network administrators’ efficiency and reduce their waste of time.
LAN monitoring tools keep the network well-maintained and provide additional visibility in the complex LAN environment.
Thus, even though the top LAN monitoring tools are not free, they are an excellent investment for network administrators and businesses.
How to Choose a LAN Network Monitor?
There are a large number of LAN monitoring tools in the market with multiple features. However, all the best LAN monitoring tools use Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to check the network devices’ functioning.
Some of the LAN tools offer shiny features which aren’t as crucial as the intuitiveness, compatibility with a broad range of network devices, and reliability of the best LAN monitoring tools.
Depending on the budget and a company’s requirement, the best LAN network monitor tool might differ. It is time that you do not choose a clunky monitor software for your network administrators who already use a lot of them.
Here is a list of general attributes that you should consider when you choose a LAN monitoring tool:
- Compatibility: The LAN you choose must communicate with other network devices efficiently and not be made for a single vendor. If you choose the one with support for a single vendor, you will become dependent on that vendor even if its solution isn’t the best.
- Reports: Most LAN monitoring tools come with the ability to generate comprehensive reports containing all network devices, making it easier to explain the functionality to non-IT managers by the network administrators. Thus, the functionality to create comprehensive reports is a must for your LAN monitoring tool.
- Customization: The LAN network monitor tool you select should be customizable to meet various LAN deployment environments’ needs.
- Features: Many network monitoring tools offer shiny features, but not all of those are of use to you. Choose wisely about what features you need and never for extra features because vendors of the network monitoring tools are constantly in competition to develop new features to stay in business.
- Alerts: You need to ensure that the one you choose is a proactive LAN monitoring tool that incorporates a feedback system. This system can alert the network administrators about the network problems beforehand so that their solution can be cost-effective and straightforward.
How Does a LAN Monitor Tool Work?
Most LAN monitor tools use Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to fetch operational data such as a processor or memory utilization from the monitored devices.
These tools check network devices such as network-attached devices, servers, and workstations to identify any device that isn’t working according to required metrics. They notify the network administrators if any device stops responding.
The tools ensure that network administrators know about all the devices’ general health in a network and the network.
General Features of A LAN Monitor
The LAN monitoring tool that you choose must provide graphical insights about the tool’s environment.
The features generally present in a LAN monitor tool are:
- Detection of suspicious activities
- Checking file activities on critical servers
- CPU utilization of Workstations, Servers, and Network appliances
- Automated warning & alerts
- Keeping an eye on user activity
Benefits of LAN Monitoring Software Tool
There are multiple benefits of deploying a LAN monitoring tool in your IT environment:
- Identifying security updates
- Staying ahead of outages
- Justification of equipment upgrades
- Faster fixing of issues
When shouldn’t you use Network Monitoring Software?
Network monitoring software performs complicated tasks in the background to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the network.
Thus, this tool requires a lot of time to analyze IT infrastructure’s performance and generate a comprehensive report.
You must make sure that you do not use this network monitoring software to diagnose simple and small networks.
What To Look for in a LAN Monitor?
From small packet sniffing tools to comprehensive network administration systems, LAN monitoring differs hugely.
To ensure that you are monitoring a network effectively, the tools should track hardware capacity and utilization levels, operational or offline status of devices in real-time, and provide alerts proactively before the network’s overall performance gets affected.
Numerous tools in the market offer unique features and approaches, and some come with a free trial. Having these many options makes it challenging to choose the best LAN monitoring service.
However, every organization has varying needs. While choosing the best network monitoring tool for you, you must look for the one that offers features best suited for your business and activities and your pocket.
The LAN monitor you choose must be flexible devices that support maximum devices from multiple vendors to ensure compatibility.
If the tools aren’t flexible, you will be forced to replace the LAN monitor with more suitable alternatives or overlook specific equipment, which will be costly.
Usually, when we talk about LAN, we leave out the wireless networks; however, while choosing the LAN monitor tool, you can consider a LAN monitor with wireless router monitoring included. This will provide an all-in-one solution without any need for additional network monitoring tools.
Here are a few key features that are a must-have in LAN monitoring tool:
- Network switch monitoring
- Monitoring of storage space on all devices
- CPU utilization monitoring in network appliances, workstations, workstations, etc.
- Visibility of user activity
- Monitoring suspicious network activity such as flood attacks, unauthorized access, etc.
- Router performance monitoring
- Monitoring hard disk space on all devices
- Critical server file activity checks
What can affect network performance?
Network issues can severely affect a business due to downtime and slow-moving traffic. These can cause dropped or missing packets and communication loss between devices.
The network’s problem is mainly due to three causes: addressing errors, excessive traffic, and damaged equipment.
Keeping a smooth traffic flow is essential. Smooth traffic can be achieved by making sure that the network devices don’t reach their capacity.
If the device exceeds the capacity, then the request packets will start getting queued. These packets will be dropped if the queue gets full. This will also affect TCP communication because the acknowledgment packets might get dropped and will need to be sent again.
Thus, as the number of traffic increases on the network, the receiving application will slow down and cause the software and related services to freeze.
Loose hardware connections can also cause network traffic problems as they will function some of the time and not function the other time, which makes it harder to detect the faulty hardware.
Top 10 Best LAN Network Monitoring Tools
There are LAN monitoring tools in the market, and so we have curated a list of the best network infrastructure monitoring software that has various useful features.
Some of these performance and service monitoring software runs on Windows only, while others are platform independent.
These software provide monitoring for all network devices such as servers, computers, switches, and routers and generate alerts and reports proactively to prevent network failure.
This versatile tool covers WAN, LAN, VoIP/UC, DNS, and Wi-Fi monitoring. It provides insight into internal apps, third-party SaaS, public cloud infrastructure, remote sites, and private cloud deployments.
By combining active and passive strategies for data collection, AppNeta provides a four-dimensional approach to create an actionable understanding of the network.
The tool combines delivery path monitoring with traffic analysis and application identification to provide LAN monitoring.
AppNeta employs application identification to perform usage monitoring to identify, categorize, and classify traffic to make you aware of the applications that are lagging or hogging bandwidth before the user traffic starts on the network.
However, the dashboard is not dynamic and user-friendly and is often tricky to interpret. Thus, it needs to be improved.
AppNeta allows monitoring across multiple locations for retransmission rate, network and application latency, and throughput for each host and user.
AppNeta proactively identifies transmission rate and congestion issues in the network, initiates deep network path diagnostics, and triggers an SNMP device poll to provide a clear overview of the network performance.
The tool gives a detailed and comprehensive overview of the problem to help you identify and resolve the root cause. This allows the problem not to become pervasive and continuous, thus assisting organizations to achieve a healthy network.
Dynatrace is a process-specific network monitoring solution that focuses on monitoring metrics such as requests and retransmissions. The tool offers a 15-day free trial.
It provides the administrators with a detailed and transparent view of the virtual and physical interfaces and their inbound and outbound process connections.
Dynatrace’s graphs are engaging, color-coordinated, and clear, giving it a streamlined and aesthetic appeal.
The tool employs a proactive approach and provides in-depth metrics for process-to-process communications, including those distributed across virtualized cloud environments and data centers.
The proactive approach allows the network administrators to be aware of processes and services having connection problems, thus keeping them on top of the statuses of cloud instances, VMs, and ESXi hosts.
Dynatrace comes with useful automated utilities such as the auto-discovery of network interfaces and new machines. They connect to the network infrastructure and are added without any need for manual setup.
The metrics of the Dynatrace provide intelligent and detailed visibility of processes to help in easy identification of resource-intensive processes to simplify capacity planning.
Dynatrace performs real-time monitoring and allows tool discovering and mapping connections in virtual environments the same as is done in physical network monitoring.
3. Pandora FMS
Website: Pandora FMS
Pandora FMS is a network monitoring solution that maps your system’s topology while installation and is stored as graphics in the dashboard to help you keep track of your network.
This is a Spanish product and is therefore priced in euros. However, its basic network monitoring software package is available as a free version known as community edition or open-source.
The pricing of Pandora’s full-feature network management system, including maintenance and support package for one year, starts from Euro 2,625 and then increases with the addition of new nodes and is negotiable.
The enterprise version of Pandora starts with Euro 3,750 for one year, including support and maintenance. This plan also includes additional features such as SAP monitoring and remote access systems.
Pandora NMS uses the SNMP procedure to perform network and server monitoring functions. A central manager node polls the system constantly to track devices’ statuses in the network and report critical conditions in real-time using alerts.
With Pandora, you can centralize all the organization’s network management in a single location using remote monitoring.
The tool has a fully customizable dashboard that allows you to limit the onsite manager’s access to the system’s dashboard and divide their responsibilities.
You can easily define roles for junior staff members and provide them partial access to the dashboard controls to safely participate and provide access to reports to the upline managers.
Pandora allows real-time network monitoring and can communicate to devices using v2c, v3, and SNMPv1.
Pandora comes in another version called Pandora FMS, which includes IP address management and a built-in IPAM or IP Address Manager that can operate with IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.
It also includes a configuration management system to keep track of the company’s software patch status and detect rogue software.
This cloud-based LAN network monitoring solution is a support package for managed service providers (MSPs), including professional services automation (PSA) tools and remote management and monitoring systems (RMM).
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) use Professional Services Automation (PSA) tools to run their business. MSP technicians use Remote Management and Monitoring Systems (RMM) tools to support client systems. LAN monitoring is a part of Atera RMM.
Atera is a software-as-a-service that bundles storage space and processors on the cloud with the software. Thus, there is no need to buy the software; instead, you have to pay for the subscription.
Since the tool is cloud-based, there is also no need to install it onsite. The dashboard can be used directly by technicians through any standard browser for processing from Atera servers.
Atera RMM has attractive LAN monitoring pages that include performance monitoring data and alerts in color-coded graphical format on the dashboard, customized to create limited views enabling MSPs to create separate information screens for clients.
The RMM can monitor applications and servers using customizable screens and dashboards to access process automation features.
The tool includes an automated network discovery utility that maps the network topology during its initial sweep and creates a device inventory updated with new equipment with each recursive process.
Similar to any other network monitoring software, Atera also uses SNMP to monitor devices on the network. Atera mandates the installation of agent programs on the client-side, communicating the SNMP data to the Atera server using a secure link.
This open-source system is free and can be used as an add-on by anyone by modifying the core program.
Zabbix uses SNMP to perform real-time network monitoring that allows you to benefit from the device agents that come pre-installed by its manufacturer.
This open-source network monitoring system is well suited for small and medium-sized businesses.
The tool comes with a professional-looking dashboard with features such as graphs, color coding, and live event data lists that allow you to switch out elements and have the critical information easily visible on screen in prominent areas.
You are allowed to create your custom reports as there is no pre-written reporting module. Being an open-source network monitoring system will enable users to view reports written by other users on the Zabbix website community forum.
Zabbix can monitor systems remotely from a centralized platform. It is designed for application performance monitoring and monitoring servers, hardware such as UPS and racks, and cloud services.
Unlike other LAN monitoring tools with weak protocols operating at lower levels in the protocol stack, Zabbix includes an encryption layer to lookout for snoopers and wiretappers. It allows you to monitor data securely through the network.
Zabbix’s encryption system makes it easier to encrypt the authentication procedures and create multiple permission levels for data access on the network monitor dashboard.
6. Nagios Core and Nagios XI
Nagios is an open-source free to use network monitoring software that slows remote monitoring capabilities to monitor equipment located on a remote site.
Nagios offers two models: Nagios Core and Nagios XI, where Nagios Core is open-source and free, and Nagios XI comes in both free and paid versions. This allows Nagios to be truly scalable and will enable you to easily switch between the three models as your company grows without losing any customizations.
Website: Nagios Core
This open-source software offers a primary web interface and a community page from where you can download plugins and skins that people share.
Nagios Core is the best network monitoring option if you have no budget for a LAN monitoring system and can compromise with your presentation due to a non-comprehensive interface.
It offers real-time monitoring capabilities. You can upgrade Nagios core to Nagios XI with a simple software installation.
Website: Nagios XI
Nagios XI comes in two versions: free and paid. The free version can be upgraded to paid without losing any customizations. The paid version starts at $1,995 with 100 network nodes in the standard version and the enterprise version at $3,495.
The paid version is a one-time purchase and provides email, and community forums support, but you will have to pay extra for phone support.
The tool comes with real-time monitoring, data collection, managing, presenting, and filtering in a digestible format where the problems on the network can be easily identified. The performance data can be viewed at a glance using graphs, dials, and charts.
Nagios software is easy to set up and includes auto-discovery features to identify to map the network and add new equipment.
It also includes a configuration wizard to operate the interface and create individual accounts and user groups to provide partial data access to team members.
7. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
Paessler offers a LAN network monitor suitable for all businesses, small to large, and can monitor the entire network IT infrastructure.
The tool contains cluster failover solutions to support failover tolerant monitoring. It also provides ten built-in technologies to send alerts in case of any problem. These technologies include play alarm audio files, email, triggering HTTP requests, email, etc.
Paessler provides unified monitoring for IoT, applications, servers, network devices, bandwidth, remote systems, virtual machines, their environments, etc.
It will help the network administrators monitor the entire network data using graphs, numbers, and statistics via its desktop app, iOS app, and Android app.
You can get on-demand reports and monitor your LAN network using remote probes.
The free trial version of Paessler can be availed for 30 days which allows up to 100 sensors. However, after the 30 days trial, you only get one server per installation of the paid versions except for PRTG XL5, which offers five servers.
If you wish to choose the paid version, then there are six pricing plans available; namely, PRTG 500 starting at $1600, PRTG 1000 starting at $2850, PRTG 2500 starting at $5950, PRTG 5000 starting at $10,500, PRTG XL1 starting at $14,500, and PRTG XL5 starting at $60,000.
8. Microsoft Network Monitor
Website: Microsoft Network Monitor
The Network Monitor 3 offered by Microsoft is a protocol analyzer that can view, analyze, and capture network data.
The tool supports both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms and provides support for network conversations and process tracking.
It runs on Windows OS and is not recommended to run on production systems that contain the extra load.
The network monitor can capture wireless monitor mode and contains features such as concurrent live capture sessions and a script-based parser model updated frequently. You can access the capture and parsing engine using API.
9. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
Website: SolarWinds NPM
The Network Performance Monitor offered by SolarWinds is the best in the market for LAN network infrastructure management.
It ensures that the network is running at its peak performance and that the core IT services and data center are available and provide details faster.
The tool is customizable, easy to use, and works with all sizes of networks and businesses from small to large.
It is a comprehensive LAN monitor with key features, including network insights for deeper visibility, advanced alerting, multi-vendor network monitoring, more innovative scalability for large environments, and intelligent maps.
The tool provides a visual representation of all the critical network gear’s performance and health and allows you to customize network alerts for network admins.
SolarWinds proactively monitors the network for the availability of all SNMP-enabled devices such as routers, switches, etc., and has the functionality of monitoring and troubleshooting the network devices.
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) starts its pricing from $2,995 and comes with a free trial of 30 days.
10. SolarWinds Flow Tool Bundle
Website: SolarWinds Flow Tool Bundle
SolarWinds offers a Flow Tool Bundle free of charge. Unlike network performance monitoring tools that focus on the network equipment’s status, this tool is a network traffic monitoring solution that monitors the traffic volume passing between the devices in the network.
Cisco creates NetFlow to enable the System Administrators to collect traffic for the router using packet headers, interface information, and port, all of which are part of Cisco’s CDP.
The tool is well suited for network capacity tests and allows you to handle network and performance issues proactively. However, the device doesn’t offer any graphical representation of data but provides you the opportunity to test the network according to your time and prevent any mishap remotely.
SolarWinds Flow Tool Bundle works well with NetFlow v5 to duplicate traffic and calculate summaries of traffic and volume types to help you exploit the NetFlow data for analysis.
There are three utilities included in the Flow Tool Bundle: NetFlow Configurator, NetFlow Replicator, and NetFlow Generator.
- NetFlow Configurator: It acts as an interface for all Cisco routers and works on IP packet headers. Instead of logging into each router and using router manager menus, this utility allows you to use the simplified front end to narrow down all the functionalities towards directing the traffic to the NetFlow collector by turning on the NetFlow capabilities. It helps in saving time and improves efficiency.
- NetFlow Replicator: The saved NetFlow data is replayed by this tool, thus enabling you to better look at the traffic on the network. This ensures that you do not miss the reasons behind the network’s slow down and failure while you were away from the system. By getting a better understanding, you can take appropriate steps towards resolving it and preventing it in the future.
- NetFlow Generator: The tool creates fake traffic to generate extra traffic on your network. This greatly helps in testing the network before its expansion. You can test the new services and add additional endpoints by analyzing the network performance, load balancers, and firewalls on the network. You can get alerts and understand the problems that might occur if you go ahead with the expansion plans, thus allowing you to make better plans.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I monitor my LAN network?
LAN monitoring tools are used to monitor the routers, computers, servers, printers, and other hardware in the LAN network.
There are multiple LAN network monitoring tools in that market that also provide suggestions for IT investments and an in-depth understanding of complex LAN environments so that you can choose what is best for your business processes and needs.
What are tools for network monitoring?
You can monitor your LAN network by the LAN monitoring software such as Nagios Core, Nagios XI, SolarWinds NPM, Dynatrace, AppNeta, SolarWinds Flow Tool Bundle, Pandora NMS, Atera, Zabbix, Paessler PRTG Network Monitor, and Microsoft Network Monitor.
How do I monitor network traffic on my router?
Network Performance Monitoring tools can help you monitor your router’s traffic, including other devices present on the network.