Paessler PRTG Network Monitor 12.4 review
Good value, ease of use and a range of new sensors make this a top choice for network monitoring
Review Date: 22 Feb 2013
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: £736 (£883 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Paessler’s PRTG avoids the hidden costs of network monitoring since it’s licensed by the number of software sensors, rather than systems and software elements. The latest version looks even better value for SMBs, as it comes with plenty of new features as standard.
The key change is that Paessler has done away with rigid versioning, replacing it with a continuous rollout; the version numbers now refer to the year and quarter. Updates are carried out in the background, so you don’t have to worry about planning system-wide upgrades.
PRTG offers more than 150 sensor types, and these have been augmented with application-specific ones for SharePoint, IIS and mail servers, including Exchange. The Amazon CloudWatch sensor has been rewritten to cover all apps in Amazon Web Services (AWS), and there’s another that talks to Google Analytics.
Unlike Ipswitch’s WhatsUp Gold v16, you don’t need an optional plugin to monitor VMware hosts – the feature comes as standard. PRTG also scores for its Hyper-V awareness; this still hasn’t been added to WhatsUp Gold.
Host demands are modest, and we were able to load PRTG on a Fujitsu Esprimo AMD Athlon desktop running Windows 7. Larger sites can use PRTG’s fault-tolerant clustering feature, which supports up to five members, where one is designated the master node and the others as failover systems.
The new Configuration Guru gets things moving briskly by helping with the initial setup and network discovery. On our single-network subnet, we found PRTG’s network discovery took much longer than WhatsUp Gold.
Even so, it’s thorough – it found all of our servers, PCs, switches, printers and NAS appliances, plus our Hyper-V and VMware hosts. PRTG adds sensors for every entity it finds, and it soon becomes clear how quickly sensors can be used up. After our first discovery we were down by more than 300, so some needed to be weeded out. This is easy to do: just delete the ones you don’t want and return them to the sensor pool.
The slick PRTG web console uses hierarchical groupings to organise systems that can easily be customised to suit your network. With colour coding showing which are up, down, paused or in a warning state, it’s possible to see at a glance what’s occurring across the network.
We tried the Google Analytics sensor on the Binary Testing website and only needed to provide our login details, profile ID and the number of days to query data. Channels gather Analytics values for new visit percentages, all visits, page views, ad clicks, ad costs, goal completions and downtime.
We were able to gather a heap of useful data for our Exchange 2007 server. The new WMI sensor can keep an eye on queue lengths and sizes, latencies, mail traffic in and out, and more. Our Hyper-V and VMware servers were also made welcome, and we could see host and VM status along with statistics on real and virtual CPU, memory and disk usage.
Rather than diversifying, Paessler’s PRTG sticks with what it does best. The new sensors allow it to carry out the job of network monitoring and problem alerting better than ever. It’s easy to deploy and use and, as long as you keep a close eye on sensor uptake, it’s one of the best-value network-monitoring tools on the market.
Author: Dave Mitchell
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