Paessler PRTG Network Monitor 12.3 review

Version 12.3 of this monitoring software offers over 130 sensor types and a slick web interface. With no hidden costs, it's one of the best value tools on the market.

Count your sensors

PRTG's Ajax-based web interface is a colourful affair and the home page provides a link to the new Configuration Guru. This runs through initial setup which includes providing various default system credentials, enabling cloud and web site monitoring if required and adding your network subnets.

It then runs a network discovery routine and starts populating its database with the systems it finds. PRTG automatically adds sensors for every entity it discovers and it's here that you'll see how quickly they can get used up.

Our lab test setup included a firewall, a 48-port HP Gigabit switch, Hyper-V and VMware hosts, four Windows 7 and five other Windows Server 2008 R2 systems, a network laser printer and two NAS appliances. Add in our AD Domain Controller plus a couple of cloud and Internet connections and we were down by over 330 sensors right from the start.

However, the big advantage of PRTG's licensing is you can delete sensors you don't need and return them to the pool for use elsewhere. Ipswitch's WhatsUpGold, for example, doesn't offer the same level of flexibility as it's licensed only by device.

PRTG Network Monitor - Groups

PRTG Network Monitor - Groups

Groups can streamline systems management but keep an eye on your sensor count as they will get used up very quickly

Hierarchical groups

The PRTG web console keeps your systems neatly organised with hierarchical groupings. You can manually move systems to other groups and each one inherits settings such as login credentials and discovery schedules from the parent group or can have their own settings.

Each sensor is colour coded so you can see at a glance which are up, down, paused or in a warning state. Hover the mouse pointer over a sensor and a graph will pop up showing live data. You can also select a sensor and drill down for more information.

We use Google Analytics on the Binary Testing web site and found this new sensor very useful. To configure it we provided our Analytics login details, the eight digit profile ID and the number of days to query data.

Channels determine which Analytics values to pull in and preset channels include all visits, new visit percentages, page views, Ad Clicks, Ad Costs, Goal Completions and downtime. As with all sensors, selecting it takes you to a page with overview of activity and options to view live data or periods from two days up to a year.

PRTG Network Monitor - Web activity

PRTG Network Monitor - Web activity

We were able to create a Google Analytics sensor to keep an eye on our web site activity

Dave Mitchell

Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.

Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.