Paessler PRTG Network Monitor 15 review

There’s one excellent reasons: Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor 15 is ideal for businesses on a tight budget: no hidden costs. Switches, routers, Windows servers, workstations, critical apps, VMware, Hyper-V – you name them and they’re all included in the price, so there’s no need to factor in additional components. 

Licensing is also based purely on sensor count, so you only pay for what you want to monitor. That said, we found they can get used up very quickly. After running our first discovery on the lab network, PRTG swallowed up over 300 sensors, with our 48-port HP ProCurve Gigabit switch using 66 alone. Clearly, these needed culling, but that’s easy enough to do. From the main dashboard, we simply deleted those we didn’t want and returned them to our sensor pool for use elsewhere.

The PRTG web console had been redesigned with a focus on performance. The move to HTML 5 and pure Ajax works well as we found page reloads were much faster than SolarWinds and Ipswitch, perhaps because it only refreshes elements rather that the whole page.

New users will like the Configuration Guru, which helps get their first network discovery running. Set aside some time, though: we found it took over an hour just for our lab network. As systems are discovered, PRTG selects a base set of sensors for each one and adds to them to the dashboard.

The dashboard can get very busy but we kept it tidy by using its hierarchical grouping feature. As we moved systems, they inherited settings such as login credentials and discovery schedules from their parent group, which we then customised as required.

The sensors are colour coded so you can see at a glance which are up, down, paused or in a warning state

The sensors are colour coded so you can see at a glance which are up, down, paused or in a warning state. Hovering the mouse pointer over a sensor causes a live view graph to pop up; select one and drill down for more information.

Data is easily filtered from the dashboard’s sensor tabs and we pulled up views of the top ten sensors for uptime, downtime, CPU usage, fastest web site responses and more. PRTG uses sensor state and threshold triggers to send out email, SNMP trap, SMS or Syslog alerts and these values can be set at any level of the group hierarchy.

Mobile users will love Paessler’s free apps as they can remotely access the PRTG server and display sensor data. With the iOS app loaded on our iPad 4, we connected to the core PRTG server, pulled up sensor data on monitored systems, remotely accessed its central reports and received push notifications when sensor thresholds were breached.

Few devices will escape PRTG’s gaze as it includes over 150 sensor types, ranging from SNMP and WMI to databases, mail servers and Exchange. It also found our Netgear WNDAP350 wireless controller and added SNMP traffic sensors for all its active virtual APs; just note it couldn’t report on the number of wireless clients on each AP.

PRTG found our VMware and Hyper-V hosts and automatically assigned sensors to each VM so we could keep an eye on their virtual resource usage. Currently in beta, the IPMI sensor worked fine with our Broadberry, Dell and Lenovo servers, where it displayed graphs for fan speeds, voltages and temperatures.

Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor 15 delivers a slick set of network monitoring tools neatly amalgamated into a single console. You will need to keep a close eye on sensor usage but the fact that it will monitor just about anything straight from the box, and doesn’t require any expensive add-ons, makes it an A-Lister in our books.

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