What is Bandwidth Monitoring?

Bandwidth monitoring involves monitoring and analyzing the bandwidth in a network. Bandwidth monitoring tools provide for real-time data on download and upload speeds and allow you to filter by endpoints, ports, and applications.

Why is Bandwidth Monitoring important?

Without a professional monitoring tool, IT professionals run the risk of being more “reactive” than “proactive” when faced with downtime or dips in performance. By monitoring your bandwidth, you can quickly identify and eliminate the bottlenecks that may be plaguing your network. Among other things, a monitoring tool will show you (often at a glance) which users and applications are consuming the most bandwidth. You will also be able to determine if certain times of the day are more bandwidth-intensive than others.



Bandwidth monitoring enables you to make smart decisions when upgrading your network – or makes it possible to avoid having to shell out money for more bandwidth in the first place. And when you have no other choice but to upgrade, you can justify the increased need with convincing data.

Here’s a brief summary of the main advantages of bandwidth monitoring:

  • You get an overview of the bandwidth consumption of users, programs, and services
  • You improve the performance of your network
  • You save money and only upgrade your bandwidth when you really need to

We tested some popular bandwidth monitoring tools and found the following five to be our favorites:

1. PRTG Network Monitor


PRTG Network Monitor is a comprehensive and easy-to-use tool for monitoring bandwidth as well as your entire IT infrastructure. PRTG monitors bandwidth with a variety of different protocols, including SNMP, WMI, packet sniffing, and Flow. This is what makes PRTG Network Monitor so special: it lets administrators choose between protocols that won't put a lot of strain on the network (like SNMP), standards with features such as Top Talkers, and popular protocols such as NetFlow. What’s more, every PRTG license comes with all the software’s features. Other tools (e.g. SolarWinds NPM) charge for features such as Flow monitoring. With licenses ranging from $1,600 to $15,000, PRTG is also relatively inexpensive.

Along with bandwidth, PRTG monitors servers (click here for a comparison of server monitoring tools), hardware, cloud services, databases, and virtual machines.



PRTG is not only packed with features but is also renowned for its intuitive and user-friendly interface. Thanks to its easy-to-read dashboards, you can quickly check bandwidth levels and see if a certain tool is using too many resources. PRTG lets you create custom notifications which immediately alert you if bandwidth levels spike and allow you to begin troubleshooting at once. Meanwhile, mobile apps for iOS and Android let you monitor while on the go.

Unfortunately, the standalone version of PRTG is not yet available for Unix. Instead, you can use the SaaS version.

Learn more about bandwidth monitoring with PRTG here >


2. WhatsUp Gold


  

Whatsup Gold


WhatsUp Gold by Progress (formerly Ipswitch) is a well-known bandwidth monitoring tool. It comes with all the features you need to perform comprehensive bandwidth monitoring. It can also break down bandwidth consumption by processes, users, and applications, thereby allowing you to quickly root out bandwidth hogs.

The latest versions of WUG are extremely user-friendly and offer significant improvements in the layouts of the dashboards.

Its main module is sufficient for monitoring bandwidth with SNMP. On the other hand, if you wish to monitor with Flow (NetFlow/jFlow/IPFIX), you'll need the Network Traffic Monitor which will hike up the price of the license.


3. SolarWinds

SolarWinds provides for comprehensive bandwidth monitoring by way of its Network Bandwidth Analyzer Pack. This pack includes licenses for the Network Performance Monitor (NPM) and the NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA). You’ll need both to take full advantage of bandwidth monitoring, which makes the software considerably more expensive than say PRTG.

However, the Bandwidth Analyzer Pack lets you monitor with SNMP and various Flow protocols, filter by users and applications, and benefit from error notifications and detailed statistics.

SolarWinds products can be configured and customized in countless different ways. On the other hand, compared to ManageEngine and PRTG, the monitoring platform is more cluttered and less user-friendly.

SolarWinds offers a free tool called Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor which comes with the software’s most basic features.


4. ManageEngine OpManager with NetFlow extension

ManageEngine OpManager is a user-friendly network monitoring tool with a wide range of features. You’ll need the NetFlow Analyzer add-on to monitor bandwidth (extra charge applies). This tool supports all the major Flow protocols, including NetFlow, sFlow, jFlow, and IPFIX. Once the monitoring environment is set up, you can filter bandwidth consumption by applications, devices, and conversations.

Protocols such as SNMP and WMI for Windows Server are included in the basic version of the software.

ManageEngine can be installed on Windows or Linux servers and comes with mobile apps for Android and iOS.

The software is best known for its outstanding range of features. However, you’ll need the paid NetFlow add-on to take full advantage of its bandwidth monitoring capabilities. In general, the ManageEngine suite is more expensive than other tools. PRTG and Nagios (open-source tool) offer better value for the money.


5. Nagios


Nagios is the bandwidth monitoring tool of choice for fans of open-source software. It runs on Linux and can be configured in countless different ways, which makes it perfect for do-it-yourselfers. However, this is also one of the biggest disadvantages of Nagios. It can take days to set up, and often that leaves only one person in the company with the know-how associated with the specific configuration. What’s more, special add-ons are required for comprehensive bandwidth monitoring.

For example, the main version of Nagios only supports SNMP. If you wish to use Flow protocols such as NetFlow, jFlow, and sFlow, you’ll need to purchase the Nagios Network Analyzer ($1,995). And if you want technical support, you’ll have to go with Nagios XI, the paid version of the software.

Nagios

Which vendor of servers can be monitored in depth?

PRTGSolarWindsManageEngineWhatsUp GoldNagios XI
Apache
Azure
Buffalo
Cisco
Dell
Exchange
Fujitsu
HP
IBM
Oracle
Sharepoint
SQL/MySQL
Allnet
PaloAlto
Mongo DB
3Com
VMWare
HyperV
Citrix
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How do the various solutions monitor?

PRTGSolarWindsManageEngineWhatsUp GoldNagios XI
API
Batch Scripting
DLL
Jflow
sFlow
Netflow
IPFIX
Ping
Powershell
Python
Rest/Json/XML
SNMP
SNMP RMON
SNMP Trap
SNMP Syslog
SSH
WMI
SOAP
WBEM
HTTP/HTTPS
IMAP
POP3
SMTP
FTP/FTPS
Dicom
HL7
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What are some additional features the solutions offer?

PRTGSolarWindsManageEngineWhatsUp GoldNagios XI
Agentless
Auto Discovery
Custom Dashboards
Custom Reporting
Multi Platform Agent/Probe
On-Premises
Push Notificiations
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General Information about the tools

PRTGSolarWindsManageEngineWhatsUp GoldNagios XI
"Transparent" Pricing
Clear License Structure
Operating SystemsWindowsWindows, LinuxMac, Windows, LinuxWindowsLinux
Maintenance Support
Subscription Pricing available
Price/Performance Ratio
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