Lead Image © Tono Balaguer, 123RF.com

Lead Image © Tono Balaguer, 123RF.com

Network monitoring with Total Network Monitor

Child's Play

Article from ADMIN 16/2013
Even Windows doesn't have to have an expensive network monitoring tool. The free Total Network Monitor helps you keep an eye on your network.

Administrators who have still not deployed a professional monitoring solution for servers and network devices should take a look at Total Network Monitor (TNM), free network monitoring software that can help admins monitor servers, network devices, and individual processes or services in detail. For servers, you can create one specific "monitor" object or multiple monitors and perform actions, such as sending mail, executing scripts, and restarting services.

The setup is simple, and the tool is more powerful than it seems at first glance. The installation file for TNM can be downloaded from the Softinventive Lab website [1], and registration is not needed. After installing the package on a computer or server, you can get started. The tool supports up through Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8.

No Agents

Installing agents on endpoints is not necessary. The tool not only checks whether certain servers respond to ping requests, but it also can monitor individual services running on servers, event viewer logs, processes, and much more.

When launched, the tool displays the status of the current PC. On the left side are the connected devices; the next pane to the right shows the monitored services; at the bottom, any messages and errors from connected systems appear. You can extend monitoring to other devices after the install.

The File | Properties menu item takes you to the basic settings (Figure 1). For example, you can set up the program as a system service that starts automatically at every reboot. Various other tabs configure other settings that are self-explanatory. Total Network Monitor can also send email alerts. To do this, you define an SMTP server and login credentials. If you use a compatible instant messaging program, you can send messages via Jabber.

Figure 1: After installation, begin the initial setup of the tool.

When you first begin, delete the default groups on the left and use the folder icon top left to create a new group. For a better overview, you can combine monitored devices into groups, which it displays as a folder in the left pane.

The View | Map function lets you create a map of connected devices and arrange your equipment to provide a good overview. In map view, you can also add or remove devices, just as in the normal tree view.

Integrating Servers and Services

To monitor servers and services, start the device integration wizard via Tools | Scan Wizard or press the button with the wand tool (Figure 2). Next, click the plus sign that appears at the bottom of the list window on the left and enter the IP range you want the tool to scan. After clicking Next , TNM scans the network for devices. It then displays the devices it discovered. On the right, you can specify the device type for each device found. Uncheck the devices you do not want to monitor.

Figure 2: After installation, you need to integrate the devices on the network.

You can create separate groups for the devices found, add all of the devices to one group, or divide the devices among groups. After integrating a device, TNM automatically creates a monitor for each device that lets you keep an eye on the device or server.At this point, you can already see whether the devices are responding to pings.

Besides automatic integration, you can also enter servers manually via the context menu of a group. Start by creating folders to which you will be adding devices by entering the device name, type of device, and IP address in the window. Select the monitors in the middle and then either click the Play icon or select Check now/Run from the context menu.

Once you have integrated a device manually, you can use its context menu to create a new monitor. First start by managing the name and description in the Common tab. In the Probe tab you can specify the number of retries, the TTL, and the packet size with which to ping the device. Actions lets you choose how TNM reacts if the monitor reports an error, but to do so, you first need to create some actions.

As the first step, integrate the servers you want to monitor, and only then configure the actions. Later, I'll go over the details of creating actions and cloning monitors, as well as comprehensive server monitoring.

First Monitoring Steps

Once the individual devices have been integrated, you will see an overview of the network and its components. Active servers are marked on the left with a green box; problem cases are displayed in red, and if a device cannot be found, TNM displays a black box.

On the left-hand side, you can press the icon to view all faulty devices. At the bottom of the window, the program outputs messages if something is not working, along with a summary of all monitored nodes and memory consumption of the tool.

If you need more in-depth monitoring, you can now add additional monitors for individual devices, and you can create multiple, different monitors for all integrated devices in all groups. If desired, you can later define actions for the monitors. All of this is optional and can be added gradually.

The context menu of the monitors also lets you pause monitoring (e.g., to perform maintenance tasks). To add an additional monitor, right-click the appropriate device on the left-hand side and select Add monitor .

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