Monitoring is an important part of any network or system administrator’s job. A typical network has so many components that it is of the utmost importance to always keep an eye on everything. But with today’s distributed or cloud-based data centers, monitoring is more complex than ever. This is why the market is totally saturated with a seemingly infinite number of monitoring systems, all geared at helping administrators stay on top of things. Not all monitoring is equal, though. Various types exist from the simplest to the most elaborate. Today, we’re having a look at ping monitoring, one of the most elementary forms of monitoring. It consists of using ping to make sure that each component is up and running and responding within an acceptable time frame. Ping monitoring is not only the simplest form of monitoring, but it’s also possibly the oldest as well and to this day, it is still in widespread use. We’ve scoured the market for the best ping monitoring tools available today and we’re glad to share our results with you.
Before we begin, we’ll spend some time discussing ping, what it is and how it works. Ping is an old utility that is deceptively simple and powerful yet it is so reliable that it has not been superseded by anything yet, despite its venerable age. We’ll then have a look at ping as a monitoring tool and discuss the various common features of these systems. We’ve kept the best for last so we’ll finally review some of the best ping monitoring tools we could find. What we have for you is an interesting mix of very different tools.
Ping In A Nutshell
Back in 1983, a developer who was seeing an abnormal network behaviour couldn’t find the right debugging tool so he decided to create one. This is how ping came to life. The name, by the way, refers to the sound of sonar echoes as heard inside a submarine. Today, ping is present on virtually every operating system and although individual implementations vary slightly in their available options, they all serve the same basic purpose. Most variations have to do with the available command-line options which can include specifying the size of each request’s payload, the total test count, the network hop limit of the delay between requests, for example. Some modern operating systems include a ping6 command which serves the same purpose but uses IP V6 addresses instead of IP V4.
$ ping -c 5 www.example.com PING www.example.com (220.127.116.11): 56 data bytes 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=0 ttl=56 time=11.632 ms 64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=1 ttl=56 time=11.726 ms 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=2 ttl=56 time=10.683 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=3 ttl=56 time=9.674 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=4 ttl=56 time=11.127 ms --- www.example.com ping statistics --- 5 packets transmitted, 5 packets received, 0.0% packet loss round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 9.674/10.968/11.726/0.748 ms
How It Works
Ping is ingeniously simple. The utility sends an ICMP echo request packet to the specified target and waits for it to send back an ICMP echo reply packet. This process is repeated a certain number of times (by default, 5 times under windows and until it is stopped under most other implementations.), allowing the utility to compile statistics. Ping measures the time between the requests and their replies and displays them in its results. On Unix variants, it will also display the value of the replies’ TTL field, indicating the number of hops between the source and the destination. What is displayed in the command’s response is another place where various ping implementations differ.
Pings works under the assumption that the pinged host follows RFC 1122 which prescribes that any host must process ICMP echo requests and issue echo replies in return. Most hosts do but some disable that functionality for security reasons. Some firewalls will also block ICMP traffic altogether, preventing ping from doing its job. Keep that in mind when deploying ping monitoring tools. Pinging a host which does not respond to ICMP echo requests provides no feedback, exactly like pinging a non-existent IP address.
About Ping Monitoring
Given the limited information that can be gathered using ping, monitoring tools making use if it also provides limited information. These tools are primarily used simply to ensure that each host is up and running and that its network connection is operating normally. Some tools do interpret the average response time returned by ping as a measure of how quickly the host is responding or how congested the network is. While a sudden jump in average ping response time is possibly an indication that something is wrong, it would be a mistake to foolishly jump into conclusions. At best, an abnormally high ping response time is, more than anything, an indication that further analysis is required.
The Best Ping Monitoring Tools
Enough theory, let’s have a look at the different tools we could find. We wanted to give you an overview of the variety of tools available, so our list has a bit of everything. We have dedicated monitoring tools that can use ping as well as other types of monitoring. We also have toolsets that include some ping utilities. Our list also includes some dedicated ping monitoring tools as well as cloud-based online ping monitoring tools.
SolarWinds is probably one of the best-known names in the field of network and system administration tools. It’s been around for some twenty years or so and has brought us some of the best tools on the market. Its flagship product, the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor has received rave reviews as one of the best network bandwidth monitoring tool. The company is also famous for its free tools, smaller utilities which address a specific need of network administrators. The Network Device Monitor and Traceroute NG are two great examples of those free tools.
To say that the SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset (ETS) is a ping monitoring tool would be a gross understatement. As its name implies, this is a set of tools. Oven sixty of them, to be precise. It made it on our list because some of these tools let you perform ping monitoring. You can use the Engineer’s Toolset to continuously monitor servers, routers, workstations, or other devices to show response time in real-time and display response rates in graphical charts. The toolset includes a “simple ping” tool which is an alternative to the ping that comes with your operating system and can be used to measure a host’s response time and packet loss.
- FREE TRIAL: SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset
- Official download link: https://www.addictivetips.com/go/database-performance-analyzer/
There’s also an Enhanced Ping tool, which provides several graphing options which can help you visualize and more easily identify response-time problems. Together, these ping software tool solutions help ensure you gain the visibility you need to monitor and troubleshoot network connection issues.
Other Tools Included In The SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset
Among the 60+ tools that you’ll find in the Engineer’s Toolset, a few are free tools that are also available individually but most are exclusive tools which can’t be obtained any other way. A centralized dashboard lets you easily access any of the included tools. Among the different tools you’ll find, some can be used to perform network diagnostics and help resolve complex network issues quickly. Security-conscious network administrators will appreciate a few tools that can be used to simulate attacks on your network and help identify vulnerabilities.
The SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset also includes a few more monitoring and alerting tools such as one which will monitor your devices and raise alerts when it detects availability or health issues. This will often give you enough time to react before users even notice the problem. To complete an already feature-rich suite of tools, configuration management and log consolidation tools are also included.
While there’s no room here to go in details on each tool, here’s a list of some of the best tools you’ll find in the SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset besides ping monitoring tools.
- Port Scanner
- Switch Port Mapper
- SNMP sweep
- IP Network Browser
- MAC Address Discovery
- Ping Sweep
- Response Time Monitor
- CPU Monitor
- Interface Monitor
- Router Password Decryption
- SNMP Brute Force Attack
- SNMP Dictionary Attack
- Config Compare, Downloader, Uploader, and Editor
- SNMP trap editor and SNMP trap receiver
- Subnet Calculator
- DHCP Scope Monitor
- IP Address Management
- WAN Killer
- FREE TRIAL: SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset
- Official Download Link: https://www.solarwinds.com/engineers-toolset
The SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset—including the ping tools—sells for $1495 per administrator seat. If you consider that it includes over 60 different tools, it is quite a reasonable price. IF you want to see for yourself what this toolset can do for you and your organization, a free 14-day trial available from SolarWinds.
The Paessler Router Traffic Grapher (PRTG) is another common name in network administration although most people know the product only as one of the top SNMP bandwidth monitoring tools. But thanks to several available sensors, PRTG can monitor virtually anything. One of those sensors is the ping sensor. What it does is send ICMP echo requests to monitor the availability of a device. The sensor can show various information such as ping time, minimum and maximum ping times when using more than one ping per monitoring interval, and percentage of packet loss, also when using more than one ping per monitoring interval.
Paessler claims that PRTG is one of the easiest and fastest monitoring tools to set up. According to the company, you could be up and running within minutes. Part of the product’s speed and ease of set up stems from its auto-discovery feature. After installation, the tool scans your network and automatically adds the components it finds. The tool is supplied with several user interfaces, another of the tool’s strong points. You get to choose between a native Windows console, an Ajax-based web interface or mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
PRTG is available in a free version which is limited to no more than 100 sensors. Each parameter you want to monitor counts as one sensor. For example, monitoring bandwidth on each port of a 48-port switch will require 48 sensors. Each host monitored with the Ping sensor also counts as one. For more than 100 sensors you’ll need a paid license which starts at $1600 for up to 500 sensors, including the first year of maintenance. A free 30-day trial version is also available.
3. ManageEngine Free Ping Tool
ManageEngine is yet another well-known name. And what this company has for us is the Free Ping Tool. This basic monitoring tool can be used to measure core metrics such as round trip time, packet loss percentage, and hop count. You can also view the number of successful and failed ping, giving you an idea of the reliability of the connection.
Despite being a is a basic tool, it boasts an easy-to-use dashboard where you can view the results of ping tests and the colour-coded status of your devices. The ManageEngine Free Ping Tool also features an alerting system. It is limited but alerts are sent to the dashboard whenever a device becomes unavailable.
As with many free tools, this one has limitations. It, for instance, only allows the monitoring of up to 10 servers or websites at one time. The ManageEngine Free Ping Tool will only suit smaller organizations but it does offer one of the best user experiences in a free ping monitoring tool.
4. Emco Ping Monitor
The EMCO Ping Monitor is quite an interesting ping monitoring tool. Right from its Host Status Overview you can view your devices status, ping response times, and outage information. Each host is monitored in real-time and the tool boasts colour-coded graphs to help you see how connections change over time. The tool also lets you look at historical host data for any time span you select. And this historical data can be used to build reports in both PDF and HTML formats.
One particularly interesting feature of the EMCO Ping Monitor is its scripting capabilities. You can set up scripts to run whenever a network event happens. The scripts can fire some remediation process. Alerting is also available and email notification can be sent when something changes.
The EMCO Ping Monitor is available as a freeware version limited to five hosts. There are also a Professional Edition and an Enterprise Edition. The former can monitor up to 250 hosts for $99 per instance or $245 for unlimited instances. The Enterprise Edition offers hosts-unlimited monitoring at a cost of $199 for a single instance and $445 for unlimited instances. A free 30-day trial version is also available.
5. Dotcom-Monitor ICMP Ping Tool Monitor
Dotcom-Monitor is a well-known cloud-based monitoring service and its ICMP Ping Tool Monitor is its ping monitoring offering. The tool will send ICMP ping requests and validate the status of hosts throughout the network. Test results are displayed in graph format, allowing you to easily spot any change in response time. For extra clarity, up-and-running devices are marked Ok in the table below the graph view.
The DotCom-Monitor ICMP Ping Tool Monitor also boasts a threshold-based alerting system. You will be notified as soon as a monitored metric exceeds the predefined threshold. This is a relatively simple tool but it works really well and it gets the job done. For elementary monitoring, it is an excellent tool
This product is part of the web-based Server Monitoring service from Dotcom-Monitor offers. Its price is determined by the number of targets you need to monitor and the polling frequency you desire. The price ranges from $16/month for 10 targets and a 15-minute polling frequency to $120 for 100 targets and a one-minute polling frequency. Furthermore, a 30-day free trial is available.