PRTG Network Monitor Review

We can see trends for hard drive space and bandwidth usage


What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is for monitoring infrastructure: servers, printers, endpoints, and certain services on certain systems. We are alerted in regards to any issue with them.

How has it helped my organization?

The remote probes are absolutely fine. They allow us to connect from sites. We have a few different sites spaced across the UK. The remote probes serve a purpose, like separating stuff logically, which is handy. 

The historical data provided by the solution helps us optimize our network performance. Though, we had a few issues with a specific performance, we managed to pin it down because it wasn't throttling in any way. Seeing the history six months ago compared to what it was six months down the line, where there have been more computers put on the site, we could start slowly seeing the bandwidth increase. Then, we were able to identify what the issue is, and resolve it.

In general, we can see trends for a lot of different things, such as hard drive space and bandwidth usage. We can see and plan for the future by knowing, "We're sort of at 75% capacity now. In three months time, we know we're going to be up to 90%,so we need to plan ahead for it, getting upgrades booked in place." Since things like this take time and effort, it's handy to see trends into the future of where our company is going.

What is most valuable?

The nitty-gritty that you can get down to in terms of monitoring individual things. While seeing if the service or hard drives have halfway fallen out is fine, being able to monitor stuff with custom scripts (such as SQL scripts) and know whether your data warehouse is built in the morning, this is something which ticks all the boxes for us.

The sensors work as they should. There are hundreds of thousands of them with custom scripts that you can put out there to do different things, like file counts, monitoring SQL Server databases, and specific entries. There are a plethora of sensors out there that are really cool.

It gives us feedback on our servers. For example, we've an ERP server which we monitor for certain files, and it allows us to go back and see that we had an influx around dinnertime or lunchtime of a certain number of files, so this was a busy period. It also provides us the feedback to go back to the business, and say, "This is a busy period of the day for us. Are there any resources that we need to ramp up during that time?"

What needs improvement?

I would like a live chat solution. This would be useful and handy, especially with the ability to provide logs and an overview of what we are doing at that moment in time to get answers to our questions. 

The setup aspect of it  and getting devices working needs improvement. The reliance between different devices, so if one device goes down on Ping, the whole network will go down if the roots goes down. So, the time it takes to set that up is a bit more than I would have liked and is a bit cumbersome to actually go through. That's the only side that I can see a bit of improvement on. Some sort of relationship between devices, making that a bit easier to see what would be useful.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is absolutely spot on, in terms that it will never go down. 

The only sort of limitation is the actual probes. So, if you don't have enough probes on there, you can over flip them and cause the WMI sensors and SNMP sensors to sort of overload. Sometimes, they might timeout for a minute, but they do come back. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have close to a 1000 sensors on it. I'm sure there are other people out there with a lot more sensors with bigger infrastructures than us. It performs absolutely fine if you have a site which has got a 1000 sensors on it. 

We can just add another probe onto another server on the site and extend that by doubling up the capacity on it. So, it can go as large as we want it to.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very interactive. They've invited us to go down to the computer museum down in Milton Keynes, where they run trips. You can go down, they put on lunch, then have Q&A and a bit of a demo. They're very interactive people. They have active forums, as well. If you ask a question, it's not just the employees who will answer. Other key users like to get into the nitty-gritty stuff, which is really good.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We had sort of massive bandwidth bottlenecks, where our sites used VoIP telephonics. So, when something was throttling the bandwidth for one site, they wouldn't be able to make telephone calls. We had a few instances of that before we got the PRTG product in place.

We knew we need to invest in a new solution because of the amount of time that we were spending manually checking if devices were up or not, then troubleshooting those instances, and where devices went down. We realized that we could have seen these a lot earlier and spent a lot less time on them, thus allowing us to have more time to spend doing actual project work rather than dealing with the break/fix side of things.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is as straightforward as you want to make it. You will get out of it the time that you've put into it. It's absolutely fine and straightforward to the point. It's only when you go into more specific stuff, like custom sensors, then you might need a little technical support, but they are always there to help.

It took a week from the time we set up the solution until it provided us with feedback on our IT infrastructure.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller to purchase it. However, we just sort of integrated it ourselves.

What was our ROI?

We have gotten weeks and hours back from using the product.

This solution enables our IT department to be more cost-effective. The time that you spend looking at stuff and monitoring services for updates, PRTG notifies you when stuff needs to be done. You could spend eight hours a week looking at stuff manually or you could just wait for PRTG to email you. Once you put in a couple of hours setting it up, it will just notify you to the business critical stuff, allowing you to plan ahead for your next week or month.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

While I am not the person who deals with pricing, I would say that we pay around 1000 pounds a year.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at PRTG and SolarWinds. From a cost side perspective, compared to PRTG, and from what you get back from it, PRTG was sort of a hands down the winner. We had read a few different reviews of PRTG and had a few of the colleagues that we'd worked with in the past who now used it at their new businesses and recommending it. These were sort of the main driving factors for going down that route.

What other advice do I have?

Spend your time looking into PRTG and give it a trial. They're more than happy to give you a trial license for 30 days or so. Get it up and running on a certain site or system that you want to monitor just to see what you think of it. 

It is a very in-depth solution. You have to take the time to get it up and running the way you want. If you want it to be the best monitoring system, you have to put the time into it, such as creating a reliance on other sensors. E.g., if a ping sensor goes down, you're not going to get a response from the other sensors 99% of the time if the device isn't working.

They've spent a good amount of time refining and turning it into a really robust product.

We don't use the desktop app. We just use the web browser.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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