How To Monitor Network Speed and Performance

Monitoring the status of the components of your network is the responsibility of a network administrator.  Since a network is made up of computers, servers, workstations, switches, routers, WAPs, firewalls, cables, UPS units and other components, it is critical that a network administrator knows what is happening with the network. He needs to monitor network speed, monitor traffic, and monitor routers, be able to report results of Internet traffic monitoring, LAN monitoring, and WAN monitoring, and know the details of traffic on the network, the bandwidth usage, and the infrastructure's performance.

Network speed and performance needs to be monitored to check the health of the network and be able to catch potential or existing problems and correct them before they cause greater damage to your system. The earlier you determine the problem, the faster and easier it can be fixed.

For a small network with a very tight budget, use the existing tools built-in in your computer's free utilities and operating system. Make your monitoring strategy comprehensive by implementing a combination of different software solutions.

  1. Use the Performance Monitor/System Monitor included in your Windows operating system server to determine performance glitches.
  2. Select from the various counters the performance you want to measure among the server's services, which include memory, processor, network interfaces and physical disk. You can even monitor your counters from the remote computers.
  3. Use the Alerts and Performance Logs feature to log activities or to send network messages once the network reaches a specified threshold amount.
  4. Monitor systems and other application activities, including events related to security, using the Windows event logs. The error messages and warnings send messages about detected impending problems.
  5. To remotely view your event logs with Windows computers, you can use WMI or third-party software like the Event Log Explorer.

Here are some free server and network monitoring tools you can use:

  • Sysinternals monitoring utilities include monitoring for FileMon (for Linux or Windows), CPUMon, PMon, DiskMon, PortMon, RegMon, Process Explorer, TDIMon, TCPView, and TokenMon.
  • Big Brother offers a free "little brother" version that provides information on your system's status through WML pages or a web page for devices that are WAP-enabled.
  • WaveXMonX is an easy to install software package that examines services, event logs, disk space, backups, memory, CPU, and removed or added applications. The software sends email notifications for detected problems.
  • ManageEngineOpManager supports SMS notifications and emails that can monitor services, event logs, memory, CPU, and disk space, UPS and firewall, printers and switches, WAN links, URL monitoring, and application monitoring for MS SQL, Oracle, and Lotus Notes Exchange. 

Linux provides a variety of free, open source traffic analysis and network monitoring applications. It generates data in HTML format that you can view with your Web browser. You can set up a remote monitoring system that can be accessed from a central location. Linux systems work well on old hardware, but some Pentium system's horsepower may be too low to capture the packets at gigabyte wire speeds.

To monitor traffic, monitor routers, your network speed, and performance, and complete Internet traffic monitoring, LAN monitoring, WAN monitoring, you could have several monitoring systems that are running at different applications. Since the output of these systems is in an HTML format, set up one monitoring home page that can be located in any system running Apache or on a Web server. Then add the links to your other monitoring systems on this home page for quicker access.


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