5 Best Free and Open Source Network Monitoring Software

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Have you put off investing in a network monitoring solution because it’s too expensive? Our list of free and open source network monitoring tools can help.

header image shows a magnifying glass over an icon representing network monitoring software on a computer screen

Network monitoring is key to any business’s IT management and security strategy. Yet, according to a 2019 Capterra survey, 42% of businesses don’t use network monitoring software at all.

The costs associated with network monitoring tools could be a deterrent for many businesses. On the higher end, these systems can cost up to $10,000 in the first year of use, and small businesses may pay, on average, $1,400 annually for network monitoring software.

Freemium versions of network monitoring software can serve as a stepping stone until you gain confidence in the value of these tools and are able to exploit them for maximum return on investment (ROI).

We analyzed about 80 free network monitoring tools from Capterra’s software directory and identified the best five choices to help you make a buying decision.

Each of the five tools mentioned in this article has a minimum user rating of 4.0 and at least 10 user reviews on Capterra in the past year. You can find our full methodology for product selection here. Products are listed in alphabetical order.

chart comparing aspects of the top 5 free and open source network monitoring tools

5 Best free and open source network monitoring software

1. Checkmk

Checkmk is a free and open source network, server, and application monitoring tool. It uses smart plug-ins to collect data from different types of hardware and software and supports agent-based as well as agentless monitoring via SNMP, HTTP, or through APIs.

Checkmk supports log- and event-based monitoring, creation of time-series graphs and reports, and log data analysis. Other features include alerts/notifications, auto discovery, rule-based configuration, and inventory tracking.

This software is suited for businesses of all sizes and is available in both hosted and on-premise versions.

Pros Cons
Capterra reviewers say the software is simple and easy to use.

Users especially like the software’s auto-discovery and monitoring features and customization capabilities.

Some users feel that documentation should be updated and more detailed.

Some users also say that the user interface could be modernized.

Cost to upgrade: Checkmk Raw Edition is completely free and open source; the Enterprise Edition costs $660 per year for monitoring up to three devices.

Most often reviewed by: In 2018 to 2019, 35% of user reviews for Checkmk on Capterra came from small businesses (fewer than 100 employees), 18% from midsize businesses (101 to 1,000 employees), and 47% from large businesses (more than 1,000 employees).

The majority of reviewers are from the IT services and automotive industries.

Mobile app: Not available

screenshot of service graphs in Checkmk

Service graphs in Checkmk (Source)

2. CloudStats

CloudStats is a website and server monitoring tool for Linux and Windows operating systems. It helps identify processes that consume large volumes of network bandwidth.

CloudStats is set up to monitor resources on the cloud as well as on-premise servers; it also supports data backup on Amazon S3 or local storage. This software is an agent-based monitoring system and it uses its proprietary CloudStats Agent to collect and send network data to user accounts.

The software is suited for businesses of all sizes and is available as a cloud-based solution.

Pros Cons
Capterra reviewers mention that the software is easy to use and has a simple and clutter-free user interface.

Users also say that configuring the software is easy and that it offers all the necessary features for tracking IT resources.

Some users feel that the accompanying documentation could be improved.

Some users mention that the software is not as customizable as they’d like to see.

Cost to upgrade: The free version supports only one user, basic alerts, and 24-hour data retention. The paid version costs $5 per server, per month and offers 30-day data retention, advanced alerts, and role-based permissions for multiple users.

Most often reviewed by: Between 2018 to 2019, 90% of user reviews for CloudStats on Capterra came from small businesses (fewer than 100 employees), 5% from midsize businesses (101 to 1,000 employees), and 5% from large businesses (more than 1,000 employees).

Most reviewers are from IT services, software, and internet businesses.

Mobile app: Not available

screenshot of server monitoring in CloudStats

Server monitoring in CloudStats

3. Spiceworks

Spiceworks is a free IT asset management solution that offers network monitoring and help desk tools. The network monitoring tool allows for tracking critical IT infrastructure such as servers, IP devices, and switches; the help desk tool supports ticket management, reporting, ticket rule automation, and integration with active directory.

Spiceworks is primarily suited to small and midsize businesses and is available in both cloud-based and on-premise versions.

Pros Cons
Capterra reviewers say that Spiceworks is simple and easy to use. Users say the Spiceworks community promptly responds to queries.

Many users mention that the large volume of functionalities offered by Spiceworks sets it apart from other free tools.

Users say that the application slows down occasionally. Some users also mention that the software setup is slightly complicated.

Many users say that too many ads in the software are distracting.

Cost to upgrade: All plans offered by Spiceworks are free.

Most often reviewed by: In 2018 and 2019, 67% of user reviews for Spiceworks on Capterra came from small businesses (fewer than 100 employees), 20% from midsize businesses (101 to 1,000 employees), and 13% from large businesses (more than 1,000 employees).

Most reviewers were from the IT services, education management, financial services, and nonprofit sectors.

Mobile app: iOS, Android

Device inventory in Spiceworks

Overview of all devices connected to a network in Spiceworks

4. Splunk Enterprise

Splunk Enterprise is an IT infrastructure monitoring tool that helps collect and analyze data from different IT devices. It supports application monitoring, server monitoring, network monitoring, event analytics, container monitoring, virtualization monitoring, and more.

Splunk Enterprise measures the latency, volume, and status of all HTTP connections, helping track response and query time from web servers. The software also helps with cloud infrastructure monitoring and managing security compliance.

This tool is primarily suited for midsize and large businesses. Splunk Enterprise is the on-premise version while Splunk Cloud is the hosted version of the software.

Pros Cons
Capterra reviewers appreciate the software’s capability to handle large datasets and analyze log data.

Many users also praise the dashboard and reporting capabilities of Splunk that allow users to combine data from multiple sources.

Some users feel that the software’s learning curve is steep.

Users mention that the software becomes slow when saving large queries.

Cost to upgrade: Splunk Enterprise’s free version supports only one user and 500 MB data per day. Paid plans start at $225 per month (billed annually) and support unlimited users.

Most often reviewed by: In 2018 to 2019, 15% of user reviews for Splunk on Capterra came from small businesses (fewer than 100 employees), 30% from midsize businesses (101 to 1,000 employees), and 55% from large businesses (more than 1,000 employees).

Most reviewers were from the software, IT services, and banking industries.

Mobile app: Android, iOS

screenshot of the network monitoring dashboard in Splunk Enterprise

Network monitoring dashboard in Splunk Enterprise

5. Zabbix

Zabbix is a free and open source network monitoring software. The software supports server monitoring, application monitoring, and cloud infrastructure monitoring; it uses advanced problem detection techniques to predict trends and detect anomalies.

Other features offered by Zabbix include auto discovery of devices on a network, alerts, event correlation, and remote command execution. The software has an active community that regularly updates the software and adds features.

Zabbix is used by businesses of all sizes in a variety of industries including financial services, retail, IT, and telecommunications. Zabbix is available as a hosted solution (Zabbix Cloud) as well as on-premise software.

Pros Cons
Capterra reviewers appreciate the available integration options as well as the tool’s alerts/notification and dashboard features.

Users liked the software’s ability to generate graphs from network data.

Some users feel that the tool is hard to set up and its documentation and training options are limited.

Some users also mentioned that the learning curve is steep.

Cost to upgrade: Zabbix is a free tool with no paid plans.

Most often reviewed by: During 2018 and 2019, 43% of user reviews for Zabbix on Capterra came from small businesses (fewer than 100 employees), 38% from midsize businesses (101 to 1,000 employees), and 19% from large businesses (more than 1,000 employees). Most reviewers were from the software, IT, and computer services industry.

Mobile app: Third-party Android and iOS applications

Dashboard in Zabbix

Dashboard in Zabbix

Next steps to choose the right tool for your business

Selecting the tool that works best for your organization is always a challenging task.

Here are some tips to help you choose the right network monitoring software for your business.

  • Demo your shortlisted software: Based on your initial research, shortlist two to three products and try them out to check if they meet your needs.
  • Compare data and user limits in different free plans: Check out how many users the software’s free plan supports. Also look out for other parameters such as data storage limits and data retention time.
  • Read product reviews: Listen to what other users have to say about their experience with the software. Learn the pros and cons of each solution before investing in them.

If you’re currently using a free or open source network monitoring solution or have used one in the past, tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

Check out Capterra’s network monitoring software directory for a complete list of vendors.


METHODOLOGY

Survey methodology: Capterra conducted this survey in June, 2019, among 714 respondents who reported full-time employment in the United States. Of the 714 respondents, 207 identified as IT professionals.

Product Selection Methodology:

Products considered for this article fulfill the following criteria:

Free products:

For this article, we classified a product as free if:

  • It offers a free, stand-alone version of the software.
  • It’s not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a paid version after a limited amount of time.

Open source products

For open source software to be considered for this article, the tool has to make its source code open to everyone to inspect, modify, and enhance. The source code must also have been updated (full version or small fix) within the past 12 months and must support one of the following operating systems: Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Selection criteria

The products that met the above criteria were then evaluated against our network monitoring software definition— network monitoring software tracks and monitors computer network systems for failed or delayed components and notifies network administrators of any network issues.

This check verified the basic network monitoring capabilities and appropriateness for the category. A product was classified as network monitoring software if it contained all the core features—bandwidth monitoring, server monitoring, and dashboards.

Software that met the market definition also needed a minimum of 10 reviews published on the network monitoring software category page between September 5, 2018, and September 5, 2019.

Note: Listed pros and cons are derived from features listed on the product website and product user reviews on Gartner Digital Markets domains (Capterra, GetApp, and Software Advice). They do not represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Capterra or its affiliates.

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

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About the Author

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Gitanjali Maria

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Gitanjali is a researcher for Capterra, a website that connects buyers and sellers of business software. She covers topics in a variety of markets including construction, rental, analytics, and others. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, traveling, or playing badminton. Follow her on Quora.

Comments

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

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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.

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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?

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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 .

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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.

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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.

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Hey,

How can u not mentioned Cacti ???

Regards

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“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…

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

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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

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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

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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.

[…] crashes. When team members are located in different location , it’s a good idea to use virtual incident management software . This software helps in exchanging information in real-time among the team […]

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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.

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

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Glad I could help, Paula!

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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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