IT Management
Network Monitoring

4 Best Free Network Monitoring Software

By | 6 min read | Published

Tired of troubleshooting your network every few weeks? Invest in a free network monitoring tool to reduce server errors/failures and optimize your technological framework to give the best service to your customers online.

We empower businesses to accelerate their growth by helping them find the right software. We select and rank products based on an objective methodology developed by our research team. While some vendors may pay us when they receive web traffic, this has no influence on our methodology.
The analysis in this article was conducted based on reviews and ratings data as of August 2021. In order to present the most up-to-date information, the current ratings are shown within the product cards below. Please note that this means the current values may not be reflected in the previously published analysis.

A network monitoring tool is key to any business’ IT management and security strategy. As an IT manager or network administrator at a small business, you may face network bugs and server errors that can damage your network architecture and halt your business.

The right network monitoring tool can help you avoid such situations. However, network monitoring software solutions aren’t cheap, and small businesses often don’t have the budget to maintain high-end solutions with monitoring capabilities. In such scenarios, you can opt for free software to troubleshoot network problems without burning a hole in your pocket. This article looks at four best free network monitoring software options, sorted alphabetically.

See the full list of free network monitoring tools in Capterra’s software directory.
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1

Datadog: Best functionality

Datadog is a network monitoring solution that provides end-to-end visibility into on-premise and cloud networks. This tool offers network activity and traffic analysis, device and DNS performance and bandwidth monitoring, and server load balancing.

Datadog helps you capture and troubleshoot abnormal spikes in server traffic by tracking key network metrics such as TCP retransmits, latency, and connection churn. It also captures and analyzes network communication between servers, devices, and cloud regions.

This solution regularly analyzes system-wide DNS performance to check on overall health and any performance issues with the server. It also lets you measure overall bandwidth utilization and sends alerts in case of abnormal usage or network issues.

Datadog offers email, phone, and live chat support. There is a mobile app available for both iOS and Android devices.

Best Functionality
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Key Features:

  • Alerts/Escalation
  • Audit Trail
  • Anomaly Detection
  • Application Security
  • Dashboard
  • Data Visualization
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

Log Explorer
Metrics and traffic traces and logs in Datadog
2

New Relic One: Helps with infrastructure maintenance

New Relic One is a network performance monitoring tool built for application and network infrastructure maintenance. This software offers performance analysis, real-time network and SNMP monitoring, application management, and transaction diagnostics for network admins.

New Relic One can scan through an entire network system to find the root cause of server malfunctions. It also offers a network dashboard that provides greater visibility into internal switches, bandwidth usage, and network data.

You can also create custom visualizations of your network system to make it easier to understand each node and connection, as well as diagnose server issues more efficiently.

New Relic One offers email, phone, and live chat support. There is a mobile app available for both iOS and Android devices.

View Profile

Key Features:

  • Application Management
  • Availability Testing
  • Bandwidth Monitoring
  • Full Transaction Diagnostics
  • Performance Analysis
  • Real Time Monitoring
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

Network dashboard in New Relic One
3

Obkio: Automates network scanning and reporting

Obkio is a network and application performance monitoring solution. This tool offers a monitoring agent to measure network and application performance and availability. You can also use Obkio to collect historical data and create a performance baseline for your network.

This tool continuously scans your network system and immediately sends out an alert in case of abnormal behavior or a problem, such as a spike in traffic or failed connections between devices.

Obkio also keeps an eye on latency and packet loss with the help of automatic speed tests; it eliminates nodes with slow speeds in your network to create an efficient system.

Obkio offers email, phone, and live chat support. There is a mobile app available for both iOS and Android devices.

View Profile

Key Features:

  • Bandwidth Monitoring
  • Capacity Management
  • Connectivity Management
  • Data Visualization
  • Historical Audit
  • Network Analysis
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

Measure Network Metrics
Measuring network metrics in Obkio
4

OpManager: Provides end-to-end network visibility

OpManager by ManageEngine is an integrated network monitoring tool that offers real-time network monitoring, physical and virtual server monitoring, multi-level thresholds, customizable dashboards, and WAN link monitoring.

The platform helps you monitor critical metrics such as packet loss, latency, network speed, and errors. Additionally, you can create customized reports that help you identify performance bottlenecks.

OpManager provides end-to-end visibility into your network system, including local devices, wireless network connections, and cloud-based access points. It can troubleshoot and pinpoint the exact location of system errors and immediately notify you about possible solutions.

OpManaer offers email, live chat, and phone support. There is a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices.

View Profile

Key Features:

  • Access Controls/Permissions
  • Audit Trail
  • Automatic Configuration
  • Bandwidth Monitoring
  • Capacity Management
  • Compliance Management
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

HyperV Performance Metric
Performance metrics in OpManager
Read our network monitoring software buyers guide to understand the benefits and common features of these tools.

How to choose the right free network monitoring software for your business

Every business has different needs when it comes to network monitoring software. Your small business should aim for a solution that is easy to use and doesn’t take much time to configure. Choosing the right tool for your business is a crucial step, and these considerations can help you make the best choice:

  • Choose a tool that offers a customizable dashboard: Free network monitoring tools have limited functionality. However, ideally, your solution should have a customizable dashboard that provides visibility into your virtualized network. A central dashboard makes tracking your network traffic and connected applications even easier.
  • Select a tool that sends automatic alerts when issues arise: It’s impossible to constantly observe your network traffic for signs of abnormal spikes or outages. Choosing a tool that sends automatic alerts when your network encounters problems can help you overcome this challenge and make troubleshooting more efficient.
  • Pick a tool that offers scalability as your business grows: As your business expands, so will its accompanying number of systems, devices, and servers. Look for a solution that can adapt to your expanding network and accommodate multiple applications and systems.

Common questions to ask while selecting free network monitoring software

Here are some key questions to ask software providers before making a final purchase:

What kind of limitations does the free software have?

Free network monitoring tools often have a limit on the number of servers and applications you can monitor. Before finalizing, determine whether the software can monitor the network architecture that you have in place.

Does the solution offer remote monitoring?

A network monitoring solution can either be on-premise or cloud-based. If your workplace has multiple offices or you work remotely, choosing cloud-based software for network performance monitoring would make more sense.

Does the software offer historical data and performance metrics?

A network monitoring system should be able to provide historical data for your networking environment and performance metrics from different periods to identify improvement areas.

How did we choose these products? We didn’t—you did.

To find your ideal software match, you need information you can trust—so you can save time, stay on budget, and focus more energy on growing your business. It’s why we vet and verify all our user reviews and recommend only the tools endorsed by people like you.

In other words, our product recommendations are never bought or sold, or based on the opinion of a single individual—they’re chosen by your peers, reflecting the views and experiences of our independent base of software reviewers.

To be considered for this list, products have to:

  • Have at least 20 unique product reviews published on Capterra within the past two years, with an average rating of 3.0 or higher. We selected the 4 products with the highest ratings to feature in this article.
  • Offer a free, standalone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
  • Meet our network monitoring software market definition: “Network monitoring software tracks and monitors computer network systems for failed or delayed components and notifies network administrators of any network issues.”

Note: The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users does not represent the views of Capterra.

The “Best functionality” tool is identified using the highest user ratings for functionality that a vendor received based on publicly available reviews.


Looking for Network Monitoring software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Network Monitoring software solutions.

About the Author

Ashish Upadhyay

Ashish Upadhyay

Writer @ Capterra, helping digital Davids beat Goliaths. I cover small business trends in CRM, accounting, real estate, insurtech, and emerging tech. B.A English, University of Delhi. Currently pursuing my master’s in English Literature. When I’m not working, I’m planning my next trek, playing video games, or working out.

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Comments

Comment by Maris Berzins on

The Dude monitoring tool from Mikrotik is very powerful. Free. Realtime link speed between network devices, realtime printer errors, toners, printed pages, ect

Comment by justin on

I have been setting up Zabbix.. A lot can be done with it.. Once you learn the navigation it gets easier.. I was playing around with Cacti and Zabbix.. I like Zabbix much better.

Just looked at the demo of opennms.. I didnt see any interface BW monitoring.. Im sure that has to be available for routers/switches ints.. but I couldnt find it.

Zabbix has great documentation and a big community support it seems..

Just tested out notifications.. works like a charm.. Im just using it in a LAB anyways.. but so far so good.

Comment by Larry Baker on

I am looking for a network monitoring software (FOSS) that would monitor protocols from devices. All of these solutions seem to monitor for failures of hardware. The largest threat to a network is viruses that spin up smtp engines and flood the network. Any advice?

Comment by Viktor Horvath on

Reaction Engine is not only for monitoring the applications but more focused on how to solve the incidents automatically without human interactions (however the administrator can intervene).
More information (presentation, videos, etc.) can be found at https://reaction-engine.bitbucket.io .

Comment by naveed on

We use Probeturion at http://www.probeturion.com. It solves all our demands and is completely different
from all other monitoring systems. What I really like is that it puts the things that needs focus into
our attention. And it doesn’t cost anything.

Comment by James roberts on

I have been looking for a free monitoring solution and stumbled on Mattimon Monitoring which is still in beta but decent.
mattimon.com and they offer free accounts.

Comment by Saulo Fonseca on

Hey,

How can u not mentioned Cacti ???

Regards

Comment by Izzy on

“Spiceworks is free because most of its revenue comes from the sale of ad displays in its network. It’s a small price to pay for a free solution”

Actually, that’s not a small price, given that Ad-Displays can open security holes…

Comment by James Robinson on

NMIS is a great opensource network monitoring tool, surprised it’s not listed.

Comment by Larry McMahan on

I had a question about your list of open source NMSes. Can you tell why you did not include OpenNMS?
Thank you
Dr. Larry McMahan

Avatar

Comment by grantwilson on

What users say – This is one of the best website which i have been using always whenever i need to buy something from the providers

Avatar

Comment by Matt Davis on

This is a nice list of options, Jennifer. Hyperic HQ, VMWare’s solution for monitoring and managing physical, virtual, and cloud server environments, and Groundwork are both worth checking out as well.

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Comment by Overview on

AuditQi (google it), is targeted at updates and the status of windows PCs and and also provides limited user monitoring to assist admin staff, its open source, GPL3. It logs information to a central MySQL database and the current users and their machine’s status are displayed via your browser. Its also fairly easy to select the sources of tracked information and extend by writing your own custom reports if you have an MS access license.

Comment by Riger on

What about ones that monitor workstations? OS updates, Antivirus updates, backups working, etc… That kind of stuff?

Comment by Jennifer Champagne on

Glad I could help, Paula!

Avatar

Comment by Paula Wilson on

Thanks For Sharing a Such a Nice Post, Blog Post is informative and Useful, Network Motioning software Important Software , You have Mention Each software Pros & cons, so that we can make the right decision for your business, regardless of its size.

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