Network monitoring is the process of constantly monitoring the state of a computer network, collecting and analyzing its metrics, and notifying the network administrator in case of failures. The IT monitoring process allows you to analyze network performance and identify several problems in its operation, such as failed or overloaded servers, faulty routers or switches, etc. The primary metrics measured are response time, availability, uptime, consistency, and reliability. Constant monitoring of a computer network allows the administrator to identify and eliminate problems in its operation in time to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the network and its high performance. Special IT monitoring tools are used to monitor the operation of a computer network. It makes it easy to process large amounts of data and visualize them into metrics in an easy-to-analyze graphical interface. In this article, we will compare the two popular monitoring platforms Microsoft Network Monitor and Paessler PRTG, so that you can choose the one that is right for you. Functionality Paessler PRTG is a powerful monitoring solution that includes all the necessary tools and does not require the installation of additional plugins. It allows you to monitor LANs, WANs, servers, websites, applications, and much more. PRTG Network Monitor provides extensive functionality to analyze the performance of different networks and identify network problems. It allows you to monitor traffic and data packets, filter data by IP address and protocol, determine congestion time and potential bottlenecks, and sort and analyze network traffic. In addition, you can receive constant updates on the status of your firewall. Paessler PRTG allows you to monitor all devices and services in the local network. Other than that, it allows you to control network security, traffic, configurations, and more. If any failures are detected, you can automatically receive a notification about them. You can read in more detail about all the functions that the PRTG Network Monitor provides for network monitoring here. PRTG Network Monitor allows you to perform fault-tolerant monitoring. If the primary cluster master is not connected or is down, another node takes over all of its responsibilities. All nodes constantly monitor all sensors so that you can compare response times from different locations on the network (LAN/WAN/VPN). Paessler PRTG allows you to visualize your network metrics with a map and dashboards in real-time. You can monitor multiple networks in different locations, individual networks in your company, and your customers’ networks with PRTG remote probes. You can also use remote probes to distribute monitoring load. PRTG Network Monitor provides detailed statistics and graphs of your monitoring data. You can run reports on demand or generate regular reports and export results to PDF, HTML, XML, or CSV files. Paessler PRTG allows you to send notifications in various ways, such as email, push notifications, playing alarm audio files or triggering HTTP requests, etc. Its free push notifications help you stay up to date when using mobile devices. In addition, you can tailor the notification system to suit your needs and write your own notifications using the PRTG API. Microsoft Network Monitor allows you to collect, view and analyze network data in real-time. It can be used to troubleshoot applications on the network. It allows you to check network traffic, debug programs with Internet connection problems, detect possible malware activity, perform security analysis, and much more. Microsoft Network Monitor allows you to monitor processes, group by network conversation, capture sessions simultaneously, conduct wireless monitor mode with supported wireless network adapters, capture and display frames in real-time, collect fragmented data, and read libpcap capture files. You can also use the API to access the capture and analysis engine. It also provides a lot of useful features for different users. Network Monitor provides the ability to filter frames using a simple expression-based syntax. Then, all frames matching the expression are displayed to the user. In addition, there is a "Conversations" feature that allows you to group frames and display them in the Network Conversations panel in a tree structure according to the conversations they belong to, along with information about the process. However, this function can take up a lot of memory. The Network Monitor provides the Nmcap.exe command line tool. It allows you to set the start and end times of the capture session. You can also use the Nmcap.exe command line tool to create capture chains, which allow you to create multiple capture files. Unfortunately, Nmcap.exe cannot save process information. The Network Monitor parsers are designed to make the parser development process as easy as possible. You can view or modify the parsers included in Network Monitor. The main disadvantage of Microsoft Network Monitor is the use of a large number of system resources such as disk space, memory, and processor load. However, there are also other problems with Network Monitor. Let’s list them. Protocols can be parsed incorrectly. This is possible when the “Conversation” feature is disabled, as some protocols depend on this feature to work.Full parsers may not be included.When working on a computer running Windows Vista, errors may occur if you are not running Network Monitor as an administrator or are not a member of the Netmon Users group. User interface Paessler PRTG provides several user interfaces: web interface, desktop application, and mobile applications for iOS and Android. The web interface offers complete device and sensor configuration, system administration, and user management. You can connect to it using a browser. It has a flexible design so you can easily adapt it to your system. PRTG Desktop is a cross-platform application that can be used to connect to a local PRTG server or a hosted PRTG instance. It allows you to access your data quickly, configure settings, and view monitoring results. You can monitor your network when you are not in your workplace with PRTG free apps for iOS or Android. These apps allow you to view monitoring data and offer various configuration options. Microsoft Network Monitor is a desktop application with a legacy design. Despite this, it is straightforward to use. With this application, you can configure, collect and monitor network metrics. The application displays a simple mode by default. It also has a developer mode that you can use if you need to explore network data with a hex display. Price PRTG offers different tariff plans for both small and very large businesses. Their price depends on the number of devices and applications that you want to monitor. You can buy a perpetual license or choose a subscription-based model. If you subscribe, you get constant access to all updates and technical support. MS Network Monitor is a legacy tool, so it is free. It is no longer supported and no updates are released for it. Customer support The process of learning to work in a new system takes some time and requires some effort. Computer network monitoring systems provide a wide range of different functions, they need to be installed and configured taking into account the needs of a particular network, as well as the specialized knowledge of network administrators. Therefore, customer support is very important for working with IT monitoring systems. Paessler PRTG provides a huge list of system training materials that you can get for free. You can read a quick guide on how to perform a specific action, an extended knowledge base article, get answers to frequently asked questions, and watch tutorial videos and webinars. If you do not find answers to your questions, you can use technical support. Paessler PRTG experts will help you solve your problems. Microsoft provides documentation for installing and using Network Monitor. There is also a special forum where you can discuss topics of interest to you about working with Microsoft Network Monitor with other experts and find answers to your questions. Wrapping up Monitoring tools are a prerequisite for ensuring reliable and stable network operation. Microsoft Network Monitor and Paessler PRTG allow you to monitor network parameters, find problems in the network and devices, and fix them in a time. In addition, Paessler PRTG provides multiple user interfaces and extensive customer documentation detailing all available features.