Cacti versus Paessler PRTG: A side-by-side comparison

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In this article, we will compare both Cacti and Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor solutions, so that you can decide which one is right for your organization.

Network monitoring is critical to ensuring that an organization’s IT infrastructure runs without downtime. It is an essential component of network management as it provides visibility into the infrastructure and allows network administrators to identify and resolve issues before they impact users or business operations.

Today, many different network monitoring platforms are available, both commercial and open source, and two of the most popular are Cacti and Paessler PRTG.

Table of Content:

 What is Cacti?,  What is Paessler PRTG?,  How do Cacti and Paessler PRTG compare?, User interface, Monitoring features, Customer support, Price comparison,  Which tool is right for you?,  Conclusion

What is Cacti?

Cacti is an open-source network graphing solution designed to harness the power of RRDTool’s data storage and graphing functionality. It provides comprehensive monitoring capabilities for routers, switches, servers, applications, and services. It can monitor networks of all sizes, from small home networks to large enterprise networks.

cacti interface
Source – https://docs.cacti.net/doc-images/tree-view-page.png

Cacti provide a wide range of features, including:

  • A web-based interface for easy access to monitoring data
  • The ability to monitor multiple devices simultaneously
  • Detailed graphs and reports that users can customize to show the specific data you need
  • The ability to schedule automatic updates and alerts

Cacti is a popular choice for network monitoring because it is free and easy to use. It is also highly customizable, so it can be adapted to meet the specific needs of any organization.

What is Paessler PRTG?

Paessler PRTG is a network and infrastructure monitoring solution that gives users visibility into their IT environment, helping them quickly identify and fix any issues. Paessler PRTG is a highly scalable solution that can be deployed on premises, in the cloud, or in hybrid infrastructure, and it is compatible with a broad range of devices and systems.

paessler prtg dashboard
Source – https://hlassets.paessler.com/common/files/screenshots/prtg-desktop/new20200302/multi_server_dashboard.jpg

It offers a variety of features, including:

  • Full-featured web interface, desktop, and mobile apps provide real-time monitoring and alerting
  • Monitor several networks in distributed locations and physically isolated networks
  • In-depth reporting capabilities, including scheduled reports

Paessler PRTG is a flexible and scalable solution that can be customized to fit the needs of any organization. This is crucial for any organization to keep its network infrastructure running efficiently.

How do Cacti and Paessler PRTG compare?

User interface

Cacti offer a web-based user interface that allows users to view information and monitor network infrastructure. Cacti is known for its customizable graphs and dashboards. You can create charts and dashboards that show precisely the information you need and change them as your requirements change.

Paessler PRTG user interfaces are known for providing detailed device information. You can see information about each device in your network, including CPU load, disk space, and bandwidth usage. This offers a more holistic perspective of the network infrastructure.

Regarding usability, Cacti’s UI can be advanced for new users, while the UI of Paessler PRTG is designed to be easy to use and navigate. Also, Paessler PRTG provides desktop and mobile native applications for on-the-go and real-time network insights.

Overall, both Cacti and Paessler PRTG offer users different ways to view network data, but Paessler PRTG offers a more user-friendly UI and provides more options for visualizing data.

Monitoring features

Cacti’s comprehensive monitoring features make it ideal for keeping track of the performance of large networks. It can monitor anything from simple pings to complex SNMP data and create custom graphs to visualize it.

Additionally, its distributed data collection framework ensures that data is always accurate, even in the case of network outages or other problems. It also has features for fault management, log management, device discovery, and more, so you can keep your network running smoothly.

Cacti is scalable to grow with your network, and its data collection framework is fully distributed and fault tolerant. This makes it an excellent choice for networks that must be monitored closely.

PRTG Network Monitor has various features that make it a valuable tool for monitoring networks. These features include real-time bandwidth monitoring, device and service discovery, in-depth reporting, and more. Its auto-discovery feature automatically scans your network for devices and services, then creates appropriate sensors to monitor them.

PRTG supports protocols like SNMP, flows, and WMI, as well as packet sniffing technology, allowing you to find out what’s going on in your network quickly.

Additionally, PRTG can generate in-depth reporting on the status of devices and servers, export historical monitoring data in multiple file formats, and schedule regular reports (daily, weekly, and monthly).

Its easy-to-use interface and comprehensive features make PRTG  an excellent solution for small and large businesses.

Customer support

As Cacti is an open-source tool, it offers its users a community-based support forum. The Cacti community is large and active, providing a wealth of resources and support for users. Many community-developed plugins and add-ons are available for Cacti, and the community is always willing to help troubleshoot and fix configuration issues.

Paessler PRTG offers robust customer support, with a team of experts available to help you 24/7. Paessler PRTG also has dedicated account managers that are responsible for providing proactive customer support. This proactive approach means that potential problems are identified and addressed before they cause any disruption to the network.

Cacti and Paessler PRTG both offer extensive knowledge bases, including documentation, FAQs, and support forums. However, if you need 24/7 assistance from a team of experts, Paessler PRTG is the better option among the two.

Price comparison

Cacti and Paessler PRTG are two network monitoring tools that are often compared side by side. Both tools offer a comprehensive set of features for monitoring network infrastructure but there are some differences between them in pricing models.

Cacti is an open-source tool that is free to download and use for commercial purposes.

Paessler PRTG, on the other hand, is a commercial tool with a subscription-based pricing model. Paessler PRTG offers a variety of pricing options to fit your needs. Their most affordable option, the PRTG 500, starts at $1,799 per server license and allows you to monitor up to 500 aspects of your network devices. This starter plan is sufficient for monitoring approximately 50 devices. If you need to monitor additional devices, you can opt in for their following level-up plans.

In terms of upfront costs, Cacti is the more affordable option. But then, pricing is not the only consideration when choosing a network monitoring tool. Paessler PRTG includes several features, such as ease of use, automatic network discovery, in-depth reporting options, and 24/7 customer support, making it the more attractive option in the long run.

Which tool is right for you?

Consider your requirements

When choosing a network monitoring tool, you must consider your specific requirements. A feature-rich tool like Cacti may be a good fit if you have a small network with simple requirements. However, if you have a large and complex network, you’ll need a more powerful tool like Paessler PRTG.

Consider your budget

Another important consideration is budget. Cacti is open source and free to use, while Paessler PRTG starts at $1,799 for a perpetual license. If cost is a significant factor, Cacti may be the better option. However, remember that Paessler PRTG offers more features and better support options than Cacti, so it is worth the investment in the long run.

Consider your team

Finally, think about your team when choosing a network monitoring tool. Cacti may be a good choice if you have limited IT resources since it’s easy to set up and use. On the contrary, if you have an experienced and large IT team, they’ll likely prefer Paessler PRTG because of its greater flexibility and granularity in monitoring networks.

Conclusion

After reading this side-by-side comparison of Cacti and Paessler PRTG, you should better understand which tool is right for your organization. Both monitoring tools have pros and cons, so it’s essential to consider your needs before deciding. If you’re looking for an open-source tool with excellent monitoring capabilities, Cacti might be a better fit. If you need a robust and scalable monitoring solution, Paessler PRTG is a better option. Whichever option you choose, consider your requirements, budget, and team before making a final decision.


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