Have you ever experienced an Internet outage or disconnection, a complete local area network (LAN), or a wide area network (WAN) failure? The leading cause of such incidents is network device malfunction or latency in network bandwidth.
Network failures or delays lead to massive loss of sales or loss of trust in the company, or a lot of dissatisfied users.
To address these outages and failures, organizations use network diagnostic tools to monitor network devices and infrastructure. The tool alerts in advance so that administrators can take the necessary steps to prevent disasters.
Network diagnostic tools are designed to scan, analyze, identify blockages in network infrastructure and send warnings long before errors occur. Such tools tend to reduce tedious tasks like network management, network maintenance, troubleshooting, performance optimization, etc.
This article discusses some of the FAQs on network diagnostics and then looks at the ten best network diagnostic tools, features, best-suited market, and their pricing structure.
Network Diagnostics FAQs
#1. What are the five command-line network diagnostic utilities?
There are many command-line utilities used for network diagnostics. Following are the top 5 frequently used tools:
Ping: It is used to check the packet loss and latency in the network
Tracert: If you want to know how many hops/network devices are available between the source node to the destination node in the network, then Tracert will do this job. It is used to find the routing problems in the network.
Ipconfig: If you would like to check the IP address (IP4/IP6), default getaway, DNS names of the host, then Ipconfig will provide all these details. This command-line tool will display dropped packets and the quantum of traffic flowing from the network interface.
Netstat: It helps to figure out which ports are open and which are listening. From a security point of view, it helps a lot to find if any port has been compromised with attackers.
Scanner: In a large network, if you want to find duplicate IPs or inappropriate IP allocation to devices, this tool will play a vital role in accomplishing this.
Nmap: It is used to ping network devices, transmitting packets to find hosts details like ports, OS versions, etc. This collected information can be integrated into other tools to find connectivity problems and susceptibilities.
#2. What are network diagnostic tools (NDT)?
NDTs are used to identify, analyze, troubleshoot, and manage IT networks. It is the best tool to identify network performance issues and help take preventive measures before network outages occur. They can be used in LAN, WAN, and WWW networks. There are several paid and free tools in this category.
#3. Which tools should you use to diagnose problems with DNS?
Tools can be specific to Windows or Linux operating systems, and there are even browser-based tools. The following are the main tools used to diagnose Domain Name Server (DNS) errors:
- Dig and Host: Used for Linux operating system
- Nslookup: command line for Windows systems
- DNS Lookup: Browser-based tool
#4. What causes poor network connection?
There are several reasons for a poor network connection, but the following are very common:
- Network congestion due to hardware or software applications
- Hardware configuration problem
- Operating system or software problems
- Issues in physical connection in the network
#5. What are the common network problems?
Here are some problems that are sure to happen in the network:
- Duplicate or exhausted IP address
- A problem in resolving domain name
- User cannot connect to server – The problem could be hardware or software related
- Problems with physical connections to network devices such as firewalls, SANs, routers, switches, and more.
- Slow network connection
#6. Why is network diagnostics necessary?
With today’s innovative achievements in IT, there is a high probability of malware or digital attacks, disruptions, crashes, and unexpected traffic spikes. Using a network diagnostic tool to mitigate this impact will warn you about severe crashes before an incident occurs.
In addition, this tool improves network management by detecting errors and fixing them faster. These activities prevent significant outages, interruptions and overcome network latency.
#7. What are the main features of NDTs?
They provide powerful capabilities for improving network performance and IT infrastructure by diagnosing bottlenecks and errors related to devices, applications, networks, and services. They also protect the network from security breaches.
Network diagnostic tools include packet sniffer, mapping tools, performance-based dashboards, and display charts and graphs with real-time insights and historical data. They also include special smart alerts to monitor network device health, performance issues, and spikes in suspicious traffic activity.
Next, let’s start the technical review of some of the best Network Diagnosis Tools.
PRTG Paessler network monitoring and diagnostic software is reputable and widely used and has more than 300 thousand installations worldwide.
It monitors IT infrastructure around the clock and uses pre-configured sensors to quickly detect network loads and errors before problems arise.
This tool monitor and ensures that the system, network devices, network bandwidth, and resource consumption are running smoothly and notifies you in advance if the threshold is exceeded.
- Dynamic API for creating custom alerts, generating notifications to send external systems, and HTTP requests.
- Flow technology to monitor bandwidth and other traffic details
- Packet sniffer sensor to indicate network connectivity problems
- Provides historical data that helps quickly isolate possible causes of errors
- Custom notification mechanism to receive notifications when certain limits are exceeded
- Customized reporting
If you are looking for a specialized network diagnostic tool to narrow down the search and eliminate errors, then an advanced tool like PRTG will be the right pick. It can be used for mid-sized to complex IT infrastructure for network analysis and diagnosis purposes.
The licensing model is designed to fit any budget that best suits each individual network. You can try it free for 30 days and then choose to activate the features. You can even use 100 free sensors as you like.
The pricing starts at $1,750 per server, which is a one-time price, and there’s even a subscription-based model.
ManageEngine Opmanager is one of the easy-to-use and affordable network monitoring and diagnosis tool. It helps to keep a close watch on any device that has an IP address.
It monitors everything that is part of the IT infrastructure or network, such as routers, switches, security devices, load balancing, wireless setups, servers, virtual environments, printing devices, SAN boxes, and more.
Its constant vigilance on the network helps to have complete control of the network and provides detailed visibility. If an error, difficulty, or crash occurs, the network administrator can easily find the root cause of the problem and fix it quickly, avoiding a major outage.
- Its real-time monitoring feature allows admins to closely watch network packet loss, slowness in the network, performance issues like errors and bottlenecks, etc.
- Various physical and virtual network metrics like memory, processor, disk utilization, hosts, VMs can be monitored.
- Its customizable dashboard benefits to view entire network performance at a glance.
- Its mobile app for Android and iPhone helps to monitor the entire network platform and receive alerts and perform basic troubleshooting while you are off-screen.
This award-winning Gartner tool helps monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot complex distributed networks. Many miniature network or device metrics can be viewed on physical and virtual networks from a single adaptive console. In short, these tools can maintain the general health of IT infrastructure.
This tool is available in perpetual and subscription models. Its flexible pricing structure allows network owners to integrate it regardless of network requirements and size. The software has three versions – Standard, Professional and Corporate.
WhatsUp Gold is a comprehensive network monitoring and diagnostic tool for wired, wireless, and virtual environments.
The tool helps to identify and fix problems before major problems or network outages occur. It monitors the network and applications and devices in the cloud and on the local network.
- Application Performance Monitor: Monitor Linux, web servers, and Microsoft applications
- Monitoring bandwidth consumption in the network
- Cloud-based resource monitoring – AWS and Azure environment resource monitoring, mapping, and alerts for hosts, guests, and clusters.
- Automatic device detection: It detects and lists all devices connected to the network. It collects device type, company, serial number, firmware version, and more.
- Real-time alerts: Centralized dashboard to quickly monitor alerts when thresholds are exceeded and take action before users are notified.
- Monitor virtual environments such as VMware and Hyper-V
- Ability to integrate third-party tools
If you are looking for end-to-end management like monitoring, inventory, diagnosis, troubleshooting, etc., for medium and large companies, this tool will live up to your expectations. If you are also looking for application monitoring, configuration management, log management, and so on, this tool provides additional options.
Pricing modules are available upon request on the provider’s website. The pricing structure is flexible enough to accommodate all types of requirements.
Datadog tools provide a complete network management solution for medium-sized networks and large enterprises. It is a comprehensive network analysis and diagnostic tool that deals with IT infrastructure, log file management, network security, analyzing network traffic patterns, and more.
With the Datadog platform, network administrators can view all servers, cloud structure, all hardware and application parameters, databases, and more in one central console.
- Not only does it offer a simple dashboard, but it also provides a high-resolution custom view of all real-time metrics and events in the form of a real-time interactive dashboard.
- Convenience to create versatile trigger conditions and receive notifications for your emails, slack console, and more.
- Quickly search, filter, and analyze log files of all your services, applications, and platforms for diagnosis and troubleshooting.
- Visualize traffic flow in a cloud-based environment through separate hosts to data centers.
- Various add-ons like incident management, security management, synthetic monitoring, etc.
This Nasdaq-listed company’s tool is an advanced monitoring, security, and diagnostic tool used for any device, application, or environment. It supports major operating systems – Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is listed on Forbes’ Cloud 100 and is ranked among the ten fastest-growing companies in North America on Deloitte’s 2016 Fast 500 List.
This tool can be used for free for 14 days. The pricing model is divided into two divisions – Pro and Enterprise. The professional version starts at $15 per host/month.
SolarWinds Network Monitor is developed by network and systems engineers who know what it takes to manage today’s demanding IT infrastructure.
It is an advanced network diagnostic tool used to quickly diagnose and troubleshoot network errors and performance issues, covering all on-premises, hybrid, and cloud environments.
The automatic map update utility allows administrators to view metrics, contextual layouts, and network graphics.
Its multi-vendor support for monitoring faults performance and availability makes it compatible with almost all types of networks and service providers.
- Reduces network outages: Its intelligent alert mechanism allows the creation of user-defined thresholds.
- Automatically track and display current and historical performance metrics via custom charts and dashboards for better analysis and faster resolution.
- The tool helps find the source of the problem by analyzing the software packet to determine if the problem is hidden in the application or on the network.
- It enables hop-on analysis along the network path to better understand bottlenecks, traffic, and device and application configuration details.
This network performance monitor belongs to the solar wind group. This group has various other tools and add-ons covering all types of networks, devices, services, applications, databases, etc. So, if you are looking for a complete solution to manage your IT infrastructure, Solar Wind is worth trying.
There are flexible licensing options that small to large businesses can incorporate into the network. It has a subscription and perpetual license model. Subscription prices start at $1,638.
The following 5 are the best free network diagnostic tools.
Wireshark is an award-winning free network packet data analysis tool and used for network analysis and troubleshooting. This tool allows network administrators to penetrate the network at the microscopic level to find the exact cause of congestion and errors.
It is developed by volunteers and network experts around the world.
This software is standard across many commercial, non-profit, government, and educational institutions.
- It inspects hundreds of protocols while more are added as and when required.
- It reviews hundreds of logs and adds more as needed.
- It has the function of collecting live data and extracting it offline for analysis.
- It supports almost all operating systems – Windows, Linux, Mac, Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD, etc.
- This tool is integrated with powerful display filters in this tool category.
- Color rules can be applied for fast and intuitive analysis
If you are looking for a high-tech tool to analyze network data packets, then Wireshark is a great choice. These are all data packets that show an accurate picture of the network.
Zabbix is a professionally developed open-source software that closely monitors the entire IT infrastructure. It has a lot of features and flexibility, and it’s all free. Network administrators can monitor the whole IT infrastructure stack from a single central console.
This tool can be used both on-site and in the cloud. It is the best enterprise-class software designed to monitor millions of real-time metrics collected from tens of thousands of servers, virtual machines, and network devices.
- It supports unlimited scalability, distributed monitoring, and maximum security and is supported by more than 250 global partners.
- It is scalable for any infrastructure, from smart homes to large enterprise networks.
- Flexible enough to monitor, track and analyze servers, databases, virtual machines, networks, clouds, applications, and services.
- Automatic detection of problems in the input data stream
- Visualization and reporting from a single control panel, e.g., graphs, network maps, etc.
This is one of the best free tools in this segment. No other free tool offers this functionality at the large network level.
Cacti is a complete tool for monitoring operations and managing errors. It also contains provisions for integrating RRDTool functionality. RRDTool is a high-performance system for recording data and graphics for network bandwidth, CPU load, and more.
Cacti is an advanced template-based tool used as a fault-tolerant framework for network devices, graphs, and trees. It also has an easy-to-use console and can extend its use from small LAN networks to complex networks.
- It uses device templates and automatically creates a performance management chart.
- It can be easily scaled to a large number of data sources and graphics using templates and packages.
- Automatically scans and detects devices and adds them to their analysis database.
- It has a three-step authentication level to access its database.
Icinga is another free networking tool for comprehensive IT infrastructure monitoring and diagnosis.
Its uniqueness is that it works in a six-stack module to cover the entire network in the sense of connecting to the infrastructure, getting full transparency, collecting deals and visualizing metrics, generating notifications, and automation rules. Even though it’s free, it supports enterprise-level networking.
- It can be integrated with third-party tools for ease of operation
- Supports high availability clusters with distributed setup for large amounts of data
- Various monitoring indicators can be automated.
- It also supports private, public, and hybrid cloud environments regardless of the cloud service provider.
- Meaningful visualization by recognizing data patterns
- Convenient notification alerts based on rules
Icinga is an authoritative tool with many countless features. Installation is simple, and monitoring and diagnostics are easy with pre-configured templates—worth a try.
Spiceworks is a free set of tools for IT professionals to manage tickets, monitor and troubleshoot IT infrastructure, support remote end-users, maintain IT inventory, and track vendor contracts.
- Dashboard: This is a free tool for real-time monitoring connections between remote locations and your IT infrastructure. This helps speed up troubleshooting by pinpointing the problem at an appropriate level.
- Notification mechanism to receive notifications when the remote device or terminal is not available
- Automatically supports inventory of all connected network devices
- Free cloud-based IT service desk with mobile helpdesk app
- IT Vendor Contract Management Tool – All third party contracts can be managed from one console
Spiceworks is a free tool with many attractive features to try online. It has an excellent user interface, easy to use, informative, and easy to install and use.
To diagnose network or IT infrastructure failures, you need to collect and analyze various metrics for network devices, bandwidth, applications, and network services. The point here is to identify the source of the error and the cause of the error.
Network diagnostic tools help collect all of these indicators in one place and compare them with historical data, allowing multiple indicators to be compared and analyzed to get to the right place to troubleshoot or optimize devices or other elements that are bottlenecks.
As mentioned above, paid and free network diagnostic tools will help you achieve this goal and keep your network and infrastructure error-free, optimize and reduce outages or failures.