Network Monitoring Software

The 7 Outstanding Free and Open Source Network Monitoring Software

The 7 Outstanding Free and Open Source Network Monitoring Software

Network monitoring is one of the fundamental aspects of IT operations in an organization and is pertinent within a digital-oriented organization. Network monitoring attempts to pre-emptively identify distressed network resources, alert or report requisite personnel (Network Administrators) to the issue, and continuously monitor networked asset’s performance over time to prevent failure. Doing so ensures the general availability and optimum performance of resources communicating and performing tasks via the network. Businesses need their networked resources to be working at complete efficiency to ensure profitability and business growth. To help them achieve this, a specialized set of network monitoring tools is essential.

This blog on free and open source network monitoring software highlights network monitoring systems’ key features and advantages. It also details the purposes of network monitoring solutions tools and pin-points their contributions to increasing business process efficiency, especially in the remote working era and how they impact the bottom-line of the firm. Read on below.

Purpose of Network Monitoring

Network monitoring is an operational practice that exists to determine various components and devices within an organization’s network. In many cases, Network monitoring tools look to pre-emptively decide which pieces will fail and assess the network’s strength and quality. Network monitoring systems provide important real-time updates to network administrators, who then evaluate elements of the operational efficiency of devices such as network switches, routers, firewalls, servers, workstations, printers, and other essential assets. The data also includes network performance aspects - bandwidth utilization, ping speed, maximum capacity, etc.  

Types of Network Monitoring

Network monitoring follows four specific types or formats for organizations of different categories.

  • Availability Monitoring - Determines the functioning of resources such as firewalls, routers, and switches to ensure they are online to accomplish organizational tasks. This form of monitoring ascertains the bandwidth used by resources, the storage capacity of specific resources, and other specific services. Protocols operating in this category include - SNMP, ICMP, Telnet, etc.
  • Disk Monitoring - Since logical disks are critical for the operations of a hardware network resources, disk monitoring detects threshold breaches on writing or reading of resource disks and alerts network administrators to procedural safety issues.
  • Networking Hardware - This type of monitoring involves tracking, and maintaining acceptable levels of parameterized performance for specific components of networked hardware. This includes CPU fan speed, apparatus Temperature, Power supply, etc.
  • Interface Monitoring - Implemented at the data packet level, this type of monitoring determines if networked data packets are being received and read appropriately at specific network devices. This further helps appropriate the necessary performance of the network, bandwidth utilization and other errors.


Network Monitoring Best Practices

The most essential best practices to follow while monitoring networks are:


Consequences of Poor Network Monitoring

Network management is essentially an operational activity that trained IT professionals must conduct, viz. Network Administrators. If network administrators cannot determine which device will fail and/or identify offline components, it results in a higher Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR). A higher MTTR starves businesses of necessary operational resources, which directly impacts organizational functioning, efficiency, and thereby, revenue.

Network monitoring also provides crucial insight into the overall security structure within an organization. Prevention of attacks and other threats to network system components is an activity undertaken by Network monitoring tools. Improper network monitoring will impact the organizational network’s security maintenance, resulting in increased threats to resources. Network monitoring also affects how network administrators can fix device configuration, network capability, device type, device status, etc. IT professionals will go blind to network issue resolution without accurate inside on network configuration,  resulting in more extended downtimes and inefficient problem solving and business decision-making.

What is Network Monitoring Software?

Network Monitoring Software is a suite of digital tools and applications that help assess the status of components in the network, such as desktop and workstations, servers routers, etc., alongside its strength. Most network monitoring tools create visual maps of the entire network of an organization, and use it to determine which resources or components are slow, about to fail, or already failed - besides other aspects such as hot CPU utilization.

The software essentially pings various resources on the network and awaits a reply to determine if the resource is fully functional or has a problem. It then reports back to a network administrator with alerts and notifications, periodic analytical information, and other snippets of information about the entire network. Network monitoring solutions also help companies determine several aspects of the network, such as bandwidth utilization and allocation, to improve its core network infrastructure.     

Network Monitoring Software and Business Process Continuity

Business process continuity is directly dependent on the efficacy of the firm’s resources. Some of the ways by which Network monitoring software contributes to this critical principle are as follows:

  • Limiting the downtime of various components
  • Pre-emptive determination of failing network devices
  • Operational testing of updates to crucial resources and network
  • Increased network security and threat protection
  • Enabling network automation of crucial reporting standards
  • Monitoring the service-ability of different network types (Remote Network, Intranet, etc.) 
  • Integrated Dashboard to view important network metrics and take immediate action


Remote Working (WFH) and Network Monitoring Software  

The era of remote working put forward several questions regarding Network monitoring.  Crucially, Network monitoring tools are well prepared for this trend. Some reasons why Network Monitoring software is an effective solution in the remote era are as follows:

  • Decentralized Network Maps
  • Automated Alerts and Notifications To IT Administrator
  • Prompt Remote Device Configuration Information
  • Quick Problem Identification and Remote Resolution Over Multiple Networks
  • Accurate Reporting and Analytics
  • Remote Remediation
  • Accessible To Scale Across Remote Locations and Devices
  • Enhanced Remote Network Security and Monitoring of Threats
  • Remote Device Access and Performance Optimizations
  • Secure Network Data Storage   

Best Features of Network Monitoring Software

The best features of Network Monitoring Software are:


Advantages of Network Monitoring Software

Some of the most significant advantages of Network Monitoring Systems are:


Network Monitoring Software Market Options

There is no shortage of options in the Network Monitoring Software market. The best network monitoring tools come in various versions like the free and open source network monitoring software, freemium network monitoring systems, and premium-priced network monitoring solutions.  Here, let us take a look at the best free and open source network monitoring software available..  

Top Free and Open Source Network Monitoring Software


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#1 Zabbix

Zabbix is a free and open source Network Monitoring Software. The network performance monitoring tool categorizes its task into three main components: network performance, network health, and component health. Zabbix supports third-party vendor integration into networks such as Cisco, Juniper Networks, and D-Link, to name a few. The network performance monitoring tool introduces a high level of task automation while designing custom escalation matrices for specific scenarios. Users also have the facility to highlight network dependencies and event correlations.


Source - Zabbix

Some critical features of Zabbix are as follows:

  • Multiple and Flexible Data Operations - The open source network monitoring tool introduces various methods to calculate and aggregate data while offering the chance to store pre-processed data too.
  • Auto-Discovery - Zabbix uses this technique to understand changes in devices’ configuration on the web and new resources.
  • Pre-emptive Network Monitoring - Automatic scans for network inconsistencies highlight anomalies, bandwidth allocation metrics and predicts downtimes.
  • Remediation - Facilitation of remediation via remote scripts and commands.
  • Security - Zabbix encrypts all communicated data and uses LDAP authentication techniques.
  • Notification Management - Delivery of notifications over dedicated channels (SMS, jabber, email, etc.), and custom messaging properties based on escalation matrix recipients. 
  • High Availability - Zabbix creates proxies to collect data in network issues, while redundancies are available in Zabbix’s modules.
  • Performance Optimization - Implementation of performance system upgrades such as data caching, code efficiency, etc.  

#2 NetXMS

NetXMS is a free and open source network monitoring software. The latest version is 3.8, and it promises a highly scalable, cross-platform open source network monitoring software with enhanced security and customizability. The network performance monitoring tool claims to be the best option for large networks, while it also offers NAT-level message penetration. 


Source - NetXMS

The best features of NetXMS network monitoring software are as follows:

  • Discovery - Support of active and passive monitoring through Layer 2 and Layer 3 protocols with network visualization tools
  • Monitoring - The network monitoring solution can keep track of application and server usage for in-depth analytics
  • Automation -  Reduced human involvement in administrative tasks, such as script deployment, and notifications, alerts, etc.
  • Remote Management - This feature allows users to access computers and servers beyond firewalls and run diagnostic programs remotely.
  • Security - The network monitoring software assures users of the best level encryption in all modes of communication.
  • Data Collection - Flexible data storage ensures you have all information in the format you need at all times.

#3 Icinga

Icinga2 is a free and open source network monitoring software. The network monitoring software provides detailed insights for quick decision making while watching hosts or applications. It boasts of a 6-in-1 software stack solution to monitor various IT infrastructure. The software can monitor hybrid, private and public networks and elements, while visualizations provide users unique and custom data insights along with a complete overview of network patterns. Besides the above, the network monitoring system is entirely integrable with third-party software.


Source - Icinga2

Some of the crucial network monitoring solution features of Icinga2 are as follows:

  • Load Sharing - The network monitoring tool provides a clustering mechanism, which spreads monitoring across multiple servers.
  • Automation - Icinga2 allows proactive checks of all devices and servers periodically without human intervention.
  • Alerts and Notification - IT administrators are notified over specified channels depending on specific networking conditions or periodically.
  • High Availability - Two Icinga2 nodes reliably monitor a single region of the network, increasing redundancy. 
  • Reporting and Analytics - The Icinga2 agent installed on local devices consistently records essential data and reports on resource usage statistics.  

#4 Nagios XI

Nagios XI is trial-based free and open source network monitoring software. The network performance monitoring tool is easy-to-use and consists of a highly customisable interface with user-preference settings such as layout, design and flexibility. Dashboard views provide users with quick access to the data they desire while the entire network is visible and charted by the network monitoring software. The network monitoring solution prides itself on capacity planning, upgrades, and automated alerting systems, highlighting vulnerability. The  Nagios XI network monitoring system also comes loaded with a user authorisation feature limiting the number of resources or networks that a user can access in a particular profile.


Source - Nagios XI

The critical features that make Nagios XI one of the best network monitoring tools are as follows:

  • Infrastructure Management - This feature includes auto Discovery, custom decommissioning, acknowledgments, etc.
  • Scalability - Implementation of the powerful Nagios Core 4 engine, which sets itself up across multiple systems simultaneously. 
  • Configurations Management - Nagios enables users to quickly understand the setup and configuration of devices established across the network. Easy reversals to previous arrangements are also achievable.
  • Reporting Dashboard - A highly customizable web interface displays granular data, which quickens business decision-making and highlights the network’s essential aspects to help avert suspicious events.
  • Automation - Periodic reporting on network statuses and automatically alerts the IT administrator when suspicious activity occurs

#5 PRTG Network Monitor

PRTG Network Monitor is a trial-based free network monitoring software. The network performance monitoring solution helps users analyse a vast host of network topics ranging from ping and net flows to IoT devices and packet loss on the network. PRTG is free of up to 100 network sensors. The Network monitoring software helps you stay on top of various devices such as exchanges, mail servers, windows operating systems, and VMWare cloud solutions.


Source - PRTG

The best features of free network monitoring software PRTG are as follows:

  • Network Mapping - PRTG discovers every device attached to the network using the map designer and provides real-time updates on them - including traffic to nodes.
  • Distributed Monitoring -  Using remote probes users may centrally observe every aspect of the network and increase service quality, besides evenly spreading out monitoring load across nodes. 
  • Reporting and Analytics -This feature provides highly detailed graphs depending on monitoring specifications or scenarios.
  • Scalability and Security - PRTG is platform-independent, accessible over the Web, Android and iOS applications. All data is SSL-level encrypted.
  • Accessibility - The network monitoring software has a Single Page Access (SPA) technique which provides a responsive design according to the system.
  • Automated Alerts and Notifications - Relay of important updates(Scheduled and non-scheduled) to users through multiple communication channels without human intervention.       

#6 SolarWinds

SolarWinds collectively offers a suite of free network monitoring software bundled together under the network management solution suite. The software includes a bandwidth monitor, a network device monitor, an AppFlow analyzer, a network configuration generator, a Netflow Analyzer, and an IP SLA tracker. Collectively, they provide necessary information for the network administrator to analyze, monitor and take effective action.


Source - SolarWinds

Some of the essential features of the network monitoring software are as follows:

  • Device Monitoring - Assess the health and operation status of every device on the network. 
  • Reporting and Analytics - Deep dives into data points that highlight network efficiency.
  • Autodiscovery - Determine every node in the network, either a resource or a software asset.
  • Data Gathering - The collection and storage of the network’s critical operational metrics in the preferred user format to enable extended analysis. 
  • Alerts and Notifications - Custom or periodic information sent to the IT administrator by the network monitoring tools.
  • Bandwidth Polling and Usage - Determine the network’s speed and optimal capacity utilization to ensure latency-less message delivery with the network monitoring tool.
  • Configurations Management - Understand the device settings and introduce changes to improve device reliability. Monitor Changes effectively with network monitoring systems.
  • Remote Management - Run remote scripts, reconfigure systems, optimize network monitoring solution’s feature, and optimise network operations using the network monitoring solution element. 

#7 Nmap

Nmap is a free Network Monitoring Software. The latest version is 7.90, with the update recording bug fixes and more minor operational improvements. The network monitoring tool is one of the simplest choices to use considering its operational method - it uses raw IP packets to assess a device’s configuration, map networks and resources, and glean lots of information about the devices connected within the network. The network monitoring solution supports third party integrations and is platform-independent. It is also flexible enough to handle multiple scanning techniques (TCP and UDP). To top it all, Nmap also boasts of an easy to use User Interface (UI).


Source - Nmap

Some of the best features of Nmap network monitoring software are as follows:

  • Network Inventory - The network monitoring software discovers essential functional resources and lists them alongside their configuration.   
  • Dashboard - A central dashboard to observe key network metrics and take action appropriately.
  • Reporting and Analytics - Granular data analytics on the performance of a network and its components to predict network downtimes and optimal functioning obstacles.
  • Self-updating maps - Automated discovery modules register new resources or reconfigured devices into inventories without human intervention. 
  • Map Exporting - Share map directory through different encrypted communication means.  

The market for Network monitoring software is expansive and filled with a variety of options from among the free and open source network monitoring software, freemium Network monitoring solutions and premium network monitoring systems. One of the most popular choices in the network monitoring software market is ManageEngine’s OpManager. Let us take a closer look at ManageEngine’s OpManager.

Popular -

ManageEngine OpManager

ManageEngine’s OpManager is a free Network Monitoring Software. Not only is the software easy to use, but it also observes a variety of devices - from network switches, routers and printers to virtualized devices and network interfaces - all from a single dashboard. The network monitoring system supports over 53000 network vendors and all the necessary protocols required in network monitoring. The software provides easy visualisation of all network elements and keeps a discovery rule engine, which assigns specific user-defined templates to network devices. The network monitoring tool also colour-codes the status of networks based on their situation.  Additionally, users can also troubleshoot critical network issues with in-built tools such as Ping, SNMP Ping, and Proxy Ping.


Source - ManageEngine OpManager

The critical network monitoring software features of OpManager are as follows:

  • WLC Monitoring - Display of all Access Points (APs) and Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs) associated with a Wireless LAN Controller (WLC). This feature enables users to track operational data like device status, total network inventory, and other information snippets.
  • Hybrid Network Monitoring - Deployment across the best networking models such as VMWare, XenServer, and CiscoUCS, providing a uniform view.
  • Forecasting - The feature helps plan upgrades to network device storage and bandwidth capacity with ML-based forecasting tools.
  • Automated Alerts - Alarms requisite personnel in situations or during events that involve critical devices. 
  • Platform independence - The software is available on mobile platforms and web clients.
  • Notifications - Sending of important updates and messages via communication channels, viz. emails, jabber, SMS, etc.   
  • User Management - Creation of user profiles with specific access rights to determine data access.
  • Automated Troubleshooting - The best free network monitoring software helps proactively monitor the device components and networks for signs of trouble and takes necessary action.  


The network management software global market, which comprises network monitoring solutions, is indicated to grow to an estimated $12.2 billion in value by 2027, growing at about 10 per cent CAGR. Network Monitoring Software is crucial in the global economy today - a large number of organizations need it, especially with increasing remote and interconnected system applications, decentralised IT project management, alongside the growing scope of IT products and services.

Review any of the software in the list as mentioned above on GoodFirms’ dedicated  Feedback portal. Please use the comments section below to let us know about any concerns or opinions you may have with this article. If your firm wishes to purchase a network monitoring software immediately, please feel free to refer to the network monitoring software Buyer’s Guide on GoodFirms. Check out the best software to solve all your organizational woes on the GoodFirms Software Directory.

Jason Adams
Jason Adams

Jason Adams is a writer with keen interest to continue learning and develop his research abilities. Avid reader and an eye towards growth, he is associated with GoodFirms, a frontline and evolving reviews and rating platform.

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