UPDATE: This post was updated on 2/7/2018 to include more recent information and research on the network monitoring software market.
Your network is one of the most important tools at your small business’ disposal. If it goes down, your employees can lose access to important information. Your customers might not be able to use your website.
In short: your business could grind to a halt if your network stops working efficiently.
To stop network downtime before it occurs, you need a network monitoring tool to keep an eye on network activity. Network monitoring solutions run continual tests on your network performance, and alert you to any detected issues.
On the one hand, keeping your network running is an invaluable business concern. On the other? You don’t have unlimited funds to spend on network monitoring software.
To help you spend your budget wisely, I researched the cost of network monitoring software for small businesses. Since every business’ needs are different, I can’t provide exact prices for different systems. Below, you’ll find the average cost of network monitoring software and an outline of the different pricing models these companies typically use.
This information will give you get a rough idea of what network monitoring software will cost you and your business.
The average cost of network monitoring software
I evaluated 50 systems in Capterra’s network monitoring directory to calculate the average cost of network security software for a company’s first year of use. For consistency, I tried to consider what a small company looking for their first network monitoring solution might look like.
Based on each system’s pricing model, I calculated for:
- Monitoring 25 devices on a network
- One license (one access point for monitoring the network)
- Three technicians or agents responsible for responding to network alerts
Where companies used a pricing model that didn’t account for these factors, I used the cost of the solution’s most basic package recommended for small businesses.
I’ve got good news right from the start: on the low end of things, there are multiple free or open source options available to monitor your network. On the higher end, systems can approach $10,000 in their first year of use (one even reached $30,000; I didn’t include this outlier in my calculations).
Overall, the data showed that for its first year of use, small businesses can expect to pay an average of $1,400 for network monitoring software. However, smaller businesses with fewer employees and a need for fewer features can look at the median cost of network monitoring software ($390 in first-year costs) as a better estimate of their starting costs.
Luckily, there are lots of network monitoring solutions on the low end of the cost spectrum.
Network monitoring software cost guide
Network monitoring software is pretty self-explanatory. At its most basic definition, it’s a program that monitors activity on your network. If something looks off—say, a suspicious spike in network activity—the system will alert you to the problem.
Many systems also include diagnostic tools to help you and your team resolve any issues.
Robust network monitoring solutions monitor additional parameters, and might offer more in-depth diagnostics. In addition to monitoring your server, these systems can also monitor your SLAs or your web traffic.
As you might expect, the more a system monitors, the more it costs. For the network monitoring solutions I analyzed, the average cost per feature was a little over $200, regardless of the pricing model.
Below, I’ll discuss the most common pricing models you’ll see when searching for network monitoring software in order of how often they cropped up in my analysis.
Pricing model: Per device or endpoint
When considering systems with this pricing model, keep in mind that device and endpoint don’t always mean the same thing. A laptop is both a device and an endpoint, but most people would only reference a server as an endpoint, and not a device.
Modeling the classic square/rectangle conundrum: a device is always an endpoint, but an endpoint is not always a device.
Many product sites will define their terms explicitly, and quite a few provide pricing calculators to help break down your network by device and endpoint type for a more accurate cost estimate.
The average cost of a system that uses this pricing model is $4.70 per device, per month.
Price range: $0.45–$20 per device, per month
Pricing model: Per license
When paying for a system license, you’ll typically incur a one-time charge for the license itself.
Since licensing fees are usually one-time charges, you’ll likely spend the most on this system type in your first year of use. However, after that, costs reduce to (often optional) support and maintenance fees, in addition to renewal fees that are less than the up-front cost.
The average cost of a license for a network monitoring solution is a little more than $2,000 for the first year of use.
Price range: $115–$5,800 per license
Pricing model: Per technician or agent
These systems are often marketed with managed service providers (MSPs) in mind and can include SMS alert services to let a technician know when a client’s network is acting up. However, companies with internal help desks can also use these systems, especially if their tech teams monitor the company’s network remotely.
The average cost of systems with this pricing model is $60 per agent, per month.
Price range: $0.40–$200 per agent per month
Pricing model: Tiered packages
Tiered packages charge based on the number of included features.
Smaller businesses often find that they need fewer features than larger companies or teams, driving costs for tiered systems down. The higher end of the cost spectrum often reflects a more robust feature set and higher levels of support, such as an account manager.
The average cost of systems that use tiered packages is $1,950 for the first year of use.
Price range: Free plans are available for small businesses who need minimal features, but packages can cost as much as $5,750 for a one-time setup fee.
Is network monitoring software worth it?
If the cost of network monitoring software still seems prohibitive after reading this guide, you might be wondering whether network monitoring software is a necessity.
Sure, you can ignore network monitoring software…if you want your business operations to come to a grinding halt.
Network monitoring software ensures that your business operates smoothly. Network outages prevent that, both internally (employees) and externally (customers). Network monitoring software helps you diagnose potential issues and stop large-scale problems before they happen.
While every company experiences hiccups with network connectivity and performance, network monitoring software keeps those hiccups from turning into full-blown outages.
If you’re wondering whether an outage would really be so bad, trust me: suffering an outage is something your small business can’t afford to risk. One hour of downtime can cost more than $100,000. If you do the math, that’s over $1,500 per minute. And that’s without accounting for the loss of employee productivity, a damaged reputation, or decreased customer trust.
Whether you opt for a basic network monitoring solution that sends you updates on performance or a robust system that monitors ten million factors at once, you can’t afford to not have eyes on your network.
Other things to keep in mind
Aside from the price tag, the most important factor to keep in mind when searching for software is whether or not it meets your business’ needs.
Before starting your search, make sure you know what you’re looking for. A great way to do this is creating a list of “must-have” features along with some “nice-to-have” components that you could compromise on if the cost is too steep. Use the filter tool at the top of Capterra’s directory to make sure the systems you’re eyeing have all the features you need.
Before making your final decision, it’s always best to schedule a product demo or take advantage of a free trial across several systems to figure out which works best for you, and why.
If you need more information before starting your search, check out these resources:
- The 5 Most Reviewed Network Monitoring Software Compared
- Top 5 Free and Open Source Network Monitoring Software
Looking for IT Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best IT Management software solutions.