Paessler PRTG is one of the leading IT infrastructure monitoring tools. However, there are plenty of other monitors to consider before you commit to PRTG. We’ll show you the best PRTG alternatives.
PRTG stands for “Paessler Router Traffic Grapher,” which was the tool’s original name. Paessler is a German company that began operations in 2001. It first released PRTG in 2003. Since that date, the monitoring tool has become one of the industry leaders.
Paessler ships the same package to all clients, be they large or small. The PRTG Network Monitor pack is a collection of monitoring functions, which are called “sensors”. A sensor is either a utility, such as Ping, or an action that monitors one hardware element. For example, a switch port monitor is one sensor per port. If you activate the monitor on all of the ports on your switch, you have used up that many sensors, not just one.
The number of sensors that you activate is very important because that is the basis of Paessler’s charging structure. The company has several price points that give a sensor allowance. These are:
|PRTG Free||100 sensors with a single server implementation|
|PRTG 500||500 sensors reporting to one server installation|
|PRTG 1000||1,000 sensors reporting to one server installation|
|PRTG 2500||2,500 sensors with one server installation|
|PRTG 5000||5,000 sensors with one server installation|
|PRTG XL1||An unlimited number of sensors on one server installation|
|PRTG XL5||Unlimited sensors on up to five servers.|
The monitor covers networks, servers, and applications. That is rare in the industry, where the monitoring of these three equipment sectors is usually divided into separate tools. It is also rare to find a tool that includes both network device monitoring and network traffic analysis – often these two functions are split between two separate tools.
So, Paessler PRTG has a lot going for it and its ability to be tailored is fairly unique. If you just want a network monitor and you aren’t interested in server or application monitoring, then you only turn on the network-related sensors. Similarly, you can decide to just monitor your network device status or spread your paid-for sensor allowance to traffic monitoring functions as well.
No matter which paid PRTG package you think would be most appropriate for your needs, you start off with a 30-day free trial, which gives you an unlimited number of sensors. During this trial period, you are probably going to go for those sensors that cover the infrastructure monitoring functions. However, while there are no limits on the number of sensors, you may well investigate many of the other areas in the package and ultimately decide to extend your original monitoring boundaries.
PRTG network monitoring
PRTG’s main function is as a network monitor and central to that task is the status monitoring of network devices. The tool performs these tasks by employing the procedures of the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). This system has the advantage of already being installed on all of the network equipment that you buy. SNMP requires a central controller to poll the agent software, which is the pre-installed software on your routers and switches.
As the SNMP manager regularly broadcasts report requests to all device agents, the responses to those requests provide a bonus feature to the system, which is autodiscovery. This enables PRTG to gather information on all of the devices on your network and how they link together, so you don’t have to type in your equipment inventory when you set up PRTG. As these request broadcasts are ongoing, PRTG can spot any changes to your infrastructure.
The tool creates a network topology map from the information in the equipment inventory. Again, this task is performed automatically and the map gets updated without any manual intervention whenever the layout of the network and its component devices changes.
The SNMP system includes a message type, called a “trap.” This allows device agents to send a status report in emergencies without having to wait for a request. These are interpreted in the PRTG console as alerts, which can also be forwarded to you by SMS or email.
The main package installs on Windows Server, but can monitor devices with any operating system. Paessler also produces mobile apps for Android and iOS so you can keep in touch with the dashboard when you are away from your desk.
Frequently-deployed sensors in the pack include Ping, Traceroute, a packet sniffer, a NetFlow sensor, a J-Flow sensor, an IPFIX sensor, and an sFlow sensor. Traffic throughput rates are calculated by querying network devices with SNMP for their in/out processing reports every five minutes.
The network monitoring tool is able to cover wireless networks as well as LANs and it can also monitor the connection to and equipment at remote sites.
PRTG server monitoring
The PRTG system can be set to monitor your servers, wherever they are. It is also capable of cloud infrastructure monitoring and has specialist sensors for Amazon Web Services, Dropbox, Google Drive, and One Drive. With on-premises servers, you can activate sensors to report on their CPU performance, memory utilization, disc volumes, and spare disk space. The package also includes environmental sensors for the server room and server racks.
The PRTG server monitoring package includes tailored sensors that monitor specialist servers. These include mail servers, web servers, database servers, file servers, and virtual servers. The monitoring of these functions is closely linked to the application monitoring software services of PRTG.
PRTG application monitoring
Monitoring the servers that deliver applications to your staff and customers requires application sensors. The PRTG sensor includes mail application sensors that include POP3, SMTP, and IMAP monitors. The database sensors in the pack include monitors for MySQL, Microsoft SQL, and Oracle SQL. Web server sensors can report on IIS and Apache and the main focus of the file server sensors is FTP.
The activity of these applications can be tracked both on the server and when they appear in network traffic. Combining application data with network monitoring enables you to improve your traffic analysis by getting reports on volume per application.
Performance-related sensors monitor VoIP traffic delivery. Firewall and port monitoring are also included to cover your security system and team performance sensors include SLA auditing.
If you operate virtualizations on your network, the combined network, server, and application monitoring capabilities of PRTG will come in particularly handy. There are specific sensors from VMWare vSphere ESXi systems, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix Xen products.
You no longer need to install PRTG on-premises because the system is now also available on the Cloud. The online version of the system has all of the functionality of the on-premises software, only you don’t need to maintain the software, in fact, you don’t need to have any servers.
The payment plan for the Cloud-based PRTG is subscription-based with a charge per month. You don’t get to use 100 sensors for free with this service; however, you can get a trial of the 500 sensors package (PRTG 500) for free for 10 days. There are no XL packages available with the Cloud version of PRTG.
Paessler PRTG FAQs
What is the use of PRTG Network Monitor?
Originally called “Paessler Router Traffic Grapher”, PRTG Network Monitor is basically an all-in-one inclusive monitoring solution for business customers. You don’t need to get any additional plugins or downloads as the program already provides what you’ll need and even more options to choose from. This includes the ability to monitor nearly anything running in your networking system—from detailed app statistics and overall server capacity to the bandwidth’s status and your local network’s stability.
To do this, it uses “sensors”, which are specific aspects that you can monitor on a device or system. These can be the port of a switch, the database of the server you use, the CPU load on a computer, a specific URL, and even the traffic of a network. Plus, protocols such as SNMP, WMI, and SSH are supported and integrated into PRTG, allowing you easy data access on your devices.
These are great as they ensure that the software stays completely agentless—never requiring you to install anything on your devices for it to work properly. There is a mobile version available, though, which allows you to keep an eye on your IT setup whenever you’re on the go. Plus, PRTG does not need a database before installation since that already comes with the software. This convenient tool is even able to monitor multiple locations using Remote Probes.
Is PRTG free?
PRTG Network Monitor’s strong points are on its ease of use and in-depth customization. This program provides both a web and a desktop client interface that are highly customizable. Their layout designs make it easy to know where exactly to go, but creating your custom network maps can be a bit tricky as the whole process has a steep learning curve. Despite this, the PRTG map designer allows you to craft detailed real-time maps with live status information that you can share with others.
Not only that but PRTG gives high priority to alerts and notifications for any issues found—whether they be serious errors or simply unusual-looking metrics. This program comes with many built-in mechanisms for such—like emails, SMS, and even automated messages on productivity applications like Slack and Microsoft Teams. These alerts are quite flexible and can be configured to only send during certain working hours or display custom text.
PRTG is a tough contender in its market. However, it can fall short against its rivals due to its “per sensor” licensing scheme. Its free trial eventually turns into a free version that has no time limit, supporting up to 100 sensors. You can easily run out of them depending on how many devices you want to cover, though. If you want more, you must upgrade to a commercial license—there are 6 options, from a minimum of 500 to no maximum with its XL1 and Enterprise licenses.
Is there a typical PRTG user?
PRTG’s pricing structure, including a free trier, makes the system suitable for all sizes of businesses. Any business that has an IT system needs a monitor and so could use PRTG.
What database does PRTG use?
PRTG uses its own proprietary file-based database system.
What is PRTG configuration.dat?
PRTG configuaration.dat is held in the PRTG data directory at
%programdata%\Paessler\PRTG Network Monitor
Is MRTG associated with PRTG?
Multi Router Traffic Grapher (MRTG) was an early network monitoring system. Dirk Paessler decided to write his own network monitor that would be better than MRTG. He named his new system after himself to create Paessler Router Traffic Grapher (PRTG).
Worth the price tag
Overall, PRTG Network Monitor is a highly-versatile software for all of your business’ IT monitoring needs. It’s easy to use and configure once you’ve gotten the hang of how to handle it. Plus, it offers features that both beginners and advanced IT users can appreciate. While its sensor-based pricing scheme may fall behind other software’s device-oriented licensing, its great performance and usability is still nothing to scoff at. This is a recommended tool for businesses of all sizes.