Paessler PRTG Network Monitor 18.4 review: A comprehensive monitoring suite

Dave Mitchell

22 Jan, 2019

Features galore and great value makes this one of the best network monitoring tools on the market

£3,939 exc VAT

Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor is perfect for SMEs that want to know about everything on their network, as it offers over 250 sensor types. Even better, these are all included as standard so you don’t have to worry about any future costs for optional features.

PRTG’s licensing is based on the number of monitored elements, which can be anything from a CPU core or network switch port to a web URL or Exchange mail queue. The sensor count can get eaten up very quickly on large networks but you can delete those you don’t want so they’re returned to the licensing pool for other devices.

We’ve been running PRTG on a Windows 7 desktop in the lab for over six years, and Paessler’s continuous rollout model has faithfully kept it updated to the latest version. Our host system is fine for monitoring our lab network of up to 50 devices and 500 sensors but for larger networks, Paessler would prefer you to use Windows Server 2012 R2 or later.

New users are guided along with a network discovery wizard which does all the hard work for them. Once it has identified each device, it assigns the most appropriate set of sensors to them along with pre-set threshold triggers so it can start issuing alerts immediately.

PRTG’s web console is a slick affair and its home page provides quick readout graphs showing the status of all sensors and alarms. The latest v18.4 has been updated so that all the status icons next to the donut charts are now active and clicking on one takes you directly to a filtered view.

The console presents a wealth of valuable information with systems neatly organised into hierarchical groupings. You can move systems to other groups as required, where they inherit settings such as discovery schedules and login credentials from the parent group – or they can have their own settings.

It’s easy to pinpoint trouble areas as the colour-coded sensors show clearly whether they are up, down, paused or in a warning state. Hover the mouse over any sensor and it’ll pop up a window with graphs of live data and any relevant warning messages.

PRTG offers ten notification methods including email, SMS, Syslog and Slack. Events can be tied in with actions and the pre-set values provided by the wizard can be changed at any level of the group hierarchy.

Extra sensors can be added to the web console and PRTG scores highly for its cloud service sensors. The price includes ones to monitor Amazon CloudWatch services, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox while the Common SaaS sensor keeps an eye on Office 365, SalesForce and Google Apps.

To help interpret sensor data, PRTG provides pre-set views such as the top ten sensors for uptime, downtime or CPU usage but it’s easy enough to create your own custom dashboards. Paessler also delivers unbeatable mobile support and we used the iOS app on our iPad to remotely access the main PRTG server, view the same content as the web console and receive alerts via push notifications.

The new eHealth sensor even puts hospitals on Paessler’s radar, as it monitors the HL7 (Health Level 7) and DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) protocols. It has no access to patient data and is designed to monitor these systems and provide early warnings of problems.

Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor 18.4 presents a well-designed console that tells you everything you need to know about your network. The huge range of sensors makes it a compelling choice for businesses of all sizes and the all-inclusive price means there are no hidden costs to worry about.