In this article, we will talk about the importance of endpoint monitoring and management tools, the benefits they may bring, what to look for before selecting a tool, and present some of the best options available, with the hope of helping you choose the best one for your needs. FAQ's about Endpoint Monitoring What is Endpoint Monitoring? Why invest in it? What to look for in these tools? Best Endpoint Monitoring Tools Endpoints are exposed "nodes" in your network, devices that connect to it from outside your traditional firewall perimeter. These may include, but are not limited to, personal computers and mobile devices used by remote workers, IoT (Internet of Things) devices, PoS (Point of Sale) systems, and more. With modern corporate networks beings increasingly distributed, the number of endpoints tends to grow exponentially. A single remote worker, provisioned with a notebook and smartphone, will add at least two to your infrastructure. A new building may easily add hundreds, between printers and IoT devices. This makes the classical approach of IT management and monitoring useless. It quickly becomes impossible to dispatch technicians to solve every problem "in loco", or manually keep an up-to-date inventory of every device in your network. Automation is the only way to ensure that your endpoints are connected, that they are provisioned with the latest configuration policies and software updates, and that they are protected from external attacks. Endpoint monitoring and management tools are not something that is "nice to have", they are essential. Frequently Asked Questions About Endpoint Monitoring and Management Tools What are Endpoint Monitoring and Management Tools? Endpoint Monitoring and Management Tools are tools that allow you to monitor the status of the endpoints on your network (are they connected and performing as expected? Any causes for concern?) and remotely manage them. This management can range from simple commands, like "reboot now", to more sophisticated operations involving software patching, OS updates, remote access, inventory generation, etc. Many, but not all, of these tools also incorporate endpoint protection features, like antivirus, anti-malware, access control, and threat detection and mitigation. Endpoint vulnerabilities are highly sought after by cybercriminals looking for a starting point for lateral movement attacks that may put them right inside your infrastructure, and having security features integrated into your management tool can help you save time, money, and effort. With such a broad range of capabilities and use cases, there is no single tool that does "absolutely everything". Thus, the first step for selecting the "perfect" one for the job is to define your needs. From there, you can check our list below for pointers in the right direction. Why Should You Invest in Endpoint Monitoring and Management? There are many reasons to invest in endpoint monitoring and management. Here are five of them, in no particular order. Performance optimization: constant monitoring can help you pinpoint issues and identify opportunities for optimization that will improve the performance of your infrastructure, sometimes without the need for hardware upgrades. Security: monitoring allows you to spot early signs of uncommon behavior or usage patterns indicative of an intrusion attempt or ongoing attack against your assets. This will give you time to react and deploy countermeasures before a data breach occurs. Resource allocation: find out where resources are being underutilized or overutilized, allowing you to redistribute them according to real needs to ensure the most effective usage of your systems. Proactive maintenance: monitoring allows you to detect and fix potential issues before they become critical and result in outages that may affect the performance of your applications or even the profitability of your business. Regulatory compliance: businesses that handle sensitive information, like financial or healthcare data, need to meet strict regulatory standards that specify how this information is stored and handled. Monitoring will allow you to prove compliance with these standards and secure approvals that may be crucial to keep your business running. What to Look for When Choosing an Endpoint Monitoring and Management Tool? Broadly speaking, there are 5 main features you need to look out for when choosing an endpoint monitoring and management tool. Keep in mind that this may vary according to your specific needs. The capability to monitor many aspects of your network infrastructure, including endpoints, at once. A centralized display of information from many sensors for better observability. Customizable alerts and automated notifications when alerts are triggered. Native and automated reporting features, so you can keep co-workers and management "in the loop". A free trial period, so you can attest to how the tool works with your network infrastructure. How to do Endpoint Monitoring and Management? There are many endpoint monitoring tools, from as many different vendors, which may focus solely on a single aspect of the task or offer this capability as a subset of a broader range of features. We present a few of them below, in no particular order. The Best Endpoint Monitoring and Management Tools PRTG TeamViewer N-Able / N-Central Heimdal Atera CrowdStrike ManageEngine MS Intune NinjaOne Google PRTG Paessler PRTG is known as the Swiss army knife of the monitoring world. PRTG is based on basic monitoring elements called "sensors". One sensor usually monitors one measured value in your network, e.g. the traffic of a switch port, the CPU load of a server, the free space of a disk drive, and so on. PRTG comes with more than 250 built-in sensors for various tasks, device types, and use cases, so you would be hard-pressed to find something you can't monitor. Plus, you can mix and match sensors, and even deploy custom ones, to create monitoring solutions specific to your needs. There are many sensors that can be used and combined for endpoint monitoring, depending on your needs. From a simple Ping sensor to query if an endpoint is "up" or not, to SNMP sensors to measure resource usage (like CPU or Memory Load) to sensors that check the status of running processes or keep an eye on operating system updates. Monitoring Windows Updates on PRTG Regardless of which sensor is used, information gathered by PRTG is shown on a centralized dashboard with all the relevant metrics. You can set alerts based on threshold values, with notifications delivered by text (SMS) or email if those values are exceeded. There is also an automatic reporting feature, so you can keep management and co-workers informed. PRTG runs on Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, 2019, 2022, or Windows 11. There is a 30-day free trial of PRTG, with all features available during this period, no credit card is needed. TeamViewer Remote Management TeamViewer Remote Management is a complete monitoring solution that includes network monitoring, asset & inventory tracking, patch management, endpoint protection, backup, web monitoring, and more. With it, you will be able to monitor many aspects of your endpoints, like disk space and health, CPU and memory usage, network traffic, online state, and more. There are also software-related features like monitoring Windows processes and services, system updates, the status of antivirus software, parsing of event logs, and more. The overview dashboard on TeamViewer Remote Management You can set custom monitoring policies, with individual thresholds and recipients for alerts, and assign those policies to individual devices or device groups. Alerts can be delivered via instant push notifications on a phone, the TeamViewer Contacts List, or email. There is even an API that allows for the development of a custom monitoring interface without the use of the TeamViewer Management Console. TeamViewer Remote Management can monitor devices running Windows (7, 8, 8.1, 10 and 11), Windows Server (2008, 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019, 2022), Linux (Debian-based distributions, on x64 or ARM platforms) and macOS 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave), 10.15 (Catalina), 11.2-5 (Big Sur) and 12 (Monterey), on Intel or ARM (M-series) processors. There is a 14-day free trial available. N-Able N-Central N-Central is a monitoring package developed by N-Able, which can monitor network devices, nodes, and endpoints, including workstations, servers, printers, routers, and even switches, across platforms and operating systems. Besides device discovery and monitoring, this tool offers patch management and can update both operating systems, like Windows, and more than 100 applications, with "single-cycle patching" that handles the entire update process, through patch and reboot. Device monitoring on N-Central A powerful automation system allows for "no code" automation, with scripts for integration with more than 650 devices and self-healing and auto-remediation of issues built into the workflow. Multiple actions and scripts can be chained together, allowing you to automate the delivery of custom services. The N-Central server software runs on "bare metal" on a modified version of CentOS 7 on x86_64 CPUs, or virtualized on VMware ESX Server 6.0 or newer and Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V. The monitoring agents support multiple editions of Windows Server 2012, 2016, 2019, and 2022, Windows 10 or 11, macOS 10.14, 10.15, 11.x, 12.x and 13.x, and Linux distributions like RHEL/CentOS 7 or 8 and Ubuntu 20.04 or 22.04 LTS. There is a free trial available. Heimdal Security Next-Gen Antivirus Heimdal Security offers quite a few security-focused solutions for endpoint management. Two of the most interesting for us, in the scope of this article, are the "Antivirus, Firewall & MDM" and the "Patch Asset and Management". The antivirus solution (NGAV) is based on a four-stage architecture, which includes comparing suspicious files against a local database, then against a cloud-based scanner powered by machine learning, and then two stages for backdoor scanning, with possible threats being executed in a sandbox environment to look for suspicious behavior. The Patch and Asset Management dashboard in Heimdal The patch management solution (PAM) allows you to "patch any Microsoft and Linux OS" and more than 120 third-party applications on-the-fly. You can set a patching schedule, force updates to endpoints, and even uninstall software. And with the "Infinity Management" add-on, administrators can automate the patching and updating flows for in-house developed software by using command-line scripting. The Heimdal solutions require agents to be installed on the endpoints being monitored. Versions are available for Windows Server (2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019, and 2022), Windows 8.0, 8.1, 10 or 11, macOS 10.15, 11, 12 or 13, Linux (Ubuntu 18.04, 20.04, 22.04 or Debian 11) and Android (6.x, 7.x, 8.x, 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13). There is a free trial available. Atera Remote Monitoring and Management Atera's Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solution offers real-time monitoring and alerts, IT automation, patch management, advanced remote maintenance, activity logs, reporting and analytics, and much more. The patch management feature can apply Windows, Office, Java, and Adobe updates, update drivers, and manage reboots (with scheduling) as needed. The IT automation module can be used to execute custom scripts or to automate repetitive tasks like checking for updates, uninstalling applications, the cleanup of temporary files and the creation of system restore points. Checking device status on Atera RMM There is integration with remote access solutions like Splashtop, AnyDesk, TeamViewer, and ConnectWise, which allows employees to access their work PCs from home, or technicians to access remote machines for support and maintenance tasks. Atera can also be used for asset scanning and inventory building, generating lists of hardware and operating system distribution, software inventory, license status, and more. Atera requires agents to be installed on the endpoints being monitored and managed. Supported operating systems are Windows Server (2012, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019, and 2022), Windows 10 or 11, macOS 11, 12 or 13, Debian 11, and Ubuntu 18. There is a free trial available. CrowdStrike Falcon Endpoint Protection Like Heimdal, the CrowdStrike Falcon Endpoint Protection platform is security-focused, designed to protect your endpoints from viruses, malware, and attacks. It is composed of a next-gen antivirus (Falcon Prevent), an Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tool (Falcon Insight), a threat-hunting tool (Falcon OverWatch), an asset discovery tool (Falcon Discover), and an automated threat intelligence platform (Falcon Intelligence). The antivirus solution boasts artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) features, capable of detecting even file-less or zero-day threats based on indicators of attack, described as "sequences of observed events that indicate an active or in-progress attempt to breach a system". The main monitoring dashboard on CrowdStrike The asset discovery tool promises a "comprehensive view into all assets in minutes without traffic mirroring or network monitoring appliances". It can generate maps showing the relationship between assets and which ones are most at risk, and create inventories of all applications in use, helping you better understand your attack surface and take proactive actions against known vulnerabilities. CrowdStrike's platform uses lightweight agents that support many versions of Windows Server (2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019, and 2022), Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, and 11 (with ARM support on Windows 10 and 11), main Linux distributions (Alma Linux, Amazon Linux, CentOS, Debian, Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SuSE, Debian, Rocky Linux, and Ubuntu) on Intel and Amazon Graviton platforms, and macOS (11, 12 and 13). There is a 15-day free trial available. ManageEngine Endpoint Central Formerly known as "Desktop Central", ManageEngine Endpoint Central is a solution that helps in "managing desktops, laptops, servers, smartphones, and tablets from a central location". It combines traditional endpoint management procedures like patch management, software and operating system deployment, and system imaging, with asset management features, usage monitoring, device management, and remote access. Patch management on ManageEngine Endpoint Central There are also security features like ransomware protection, data loss prevention, application and browser security, and vulnerability management, all in one tool. Admins can use it to block app installs or access to specific system resources (like the camera), remotely lock or wipe a device, and more. ManageEngine Endpoint Central supports Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and ChromeOS, including personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, allowing your team to manage all of your devices from a single console. There is a free version that allows the management of up to 25 endpoints, and also a 30-day free trial of the full-featured editions. Microsoft Intune Microsoft Intune is an Endpoint Management solution that promises to "simplify endpoint management, strengthen security and reduce costs". Integrated into the Microsoft 365 platform, it offers "full visibility into the health, compliance, and security status of your cloud and on-premises endpoints". Among its core capabilities are cross-platform endpoint management, with support for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android, built-in security, with automatic threat detection and remediation, mobile application management and an Endpoint Analytics feature, showing app and device health scores and recommendations to improve performance and reduce the productivity impact of eventual issues. Endpoint security overview in Intune Intune also has features for monitoring and managing "specialty and shared devices" used by frontline workers, like floor workers, their managers, customer service professionals, and some sales professionals. Those positions may require the use of shared mobile devices or PCs, or even specialty devices designed for specific tasks. Microsoft Intune is offered as a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform, with pricing varying according to the features needed. It is also included with some subscription plans for Microsoft 365, such as "Enterprise Mobility + Security E3 and E5" and "Business Premium". A free trial (with limited features) is available. NinjaOne Endpoint Management Like other solutions in this category, NinjaOne Endpoint Management offers unified device management and IT task automation, with integrations with many other popular tools for remote access, endpoint security, SSO (Single Sign-On), analytics, and more. With this tool, you will be able to do automated OS patching, application patching (with support for "over 200 applications"), software management (installation, removal, and inventory generation), with "one-click device actions" (like starting tasks or establishing terminal sessions in the background) without disturbing your users. The main dashboard on NinjaOne Endpoint task automation can be used to free your team from repetitive tasks (like app installs, patching, device setup, and maintenance), with auto-remediation to solve common issues like a missed reboot or a stopped service. Of course, there is also real-time device monitoring, with automated and customizable alerts in case of issues and more than 100 alerting templates for popular apps and services. NinjaOne Endpoint Management can be used to monitor and manage Windows, macOS, Linux, and VMWare endpoints, and also SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) compatible devices. There is a 15-day free trial available. Google Endpoint Management Like Microsoft, Google also offers endpoint management software. It is not as full-featured as other solutions mentioned in this article, but it may be enough for businesses that have already adopted the Google Workspace platform. It allows admins to implement a "bring your own device" (BYOD) approach, to enforce policies like screen locks and strong passwords on personal devices, execute remote wipes, locate missing devices, remotely exclude accounts, and more. Implementing security policies on mobile devices with Google Endpoint Management. Admins can deploy important apps through the App Store (on iOS devices) or Google Play (on Android), and even make exclusive, internal use apps available on a dedicated channel inside the Google Play Store. Google Endpoint Management is provided at no extra cost for Google Workspace subscribers and supports Windows, Linux, macOS, ChromeOS, iOS, and Android devices. There is a 14-day free trial available. Conclusion Among all these, our favorite endpoint monitoring tool is Paessler PRTG, as it "ticks all the boxes" in our list of desired characteristics, and streamlines your workflow by enabling you to monitor all of your infrastructure with a single tool. The built-in sensors cover many of the main use cases, without the need to purchase extras, so it can monitor your endpoints, but also your whole network, including services, servers, IoT devices, cloud infrastructure, and much more. And it is extensible, which means you can deploy third-party sensors, or even develop your own, to cover specific needs. That means you can do away with having to rely on a variety of individualized solutions, which can carry potential risks such as conflict with your current workflow and even network security issues. It really is a "Swiss army knife" of the monitoring tools.