In this review, we'll discuss and compare two of the most popular network monitoring solutions, WireShark and Paessler PRTG. Wireshark Overview Paessler PRTG overview User interfaces Key features Customer support Pricing Conclusion No organization can function without a robust and reliable IT network in today's always-on business world. As a result, organizations require a powerful network monitoring solution in place. Network monitoring tools allow you to track your network usage, identify bottlenecks, and troubleshoot problems quickly and efficiently. By proactively monitoring your network, you can avoid disruptions in services and keep your business running smoothly. Wireshark overview Wireshark is an open-source packet analyzer. Network administrators use it to troubleshoot network issues, and security professionals monitor network traffic for signs of intrusion. You can use Wireshark to capture live data from networks, including Ethernet, Bluetooth, and Token Ring. Wireshark Main Interface (Source) Wireshark works by capturing packets of data that are being transmitted over a network. These packets are then displayed in a human-readable format to be analyzed. Each packet that Wireshark captures contains a wealth of information. This information includes the packet's time stamp, source and destination, the type of packet, and much more. Captured data can be analyzed and filtered to display only the most relevant information. This allows network administrators to quickly identify and resolve problems in their networks. Security professionals can use Wireshark to monitor network traffic for signs of malicious activity, such as denial-of-service attacks, SYN floods, and other attacks. All of this information can be extremely helpful in troubleshooting or understanding how a network or particular device functions. Equipped with this information, you can quickly identify and fix networking issues. Paessler PRTG overview Paessler PRTG is an all-in-one monitoring solution for networks of all sizes. With it, you can monitor your entire infrastructure, from servers and switches to applications and databases. Paessler PRTG gives you a single-pane view of your network, so you can spot problems early and prevent them from becoming major incidents. Paessler PRTG Interface (Source) Paessler PRTG works by constantly polling the devices on your network and collecting data about their performance. This data is then visualized in graphs and tables, so you can quickly see which devices are healthy and which need attention. Paessler PRTG also sends alerts when it detects problems so that you can take corrective action immediately. It has over 200 built-in sensors for standard devices like Windows servers, Linux servers, routers, and switches. These sensors track everything from CPU and memory usage to disk space and traffic analysis. And if you need to monitor a custom device or application, Paessler PRTG offers custom sensors that give you the flexibility to do just that. Paessler PRTG provides all the data you need to ensure your network runs smoothly. By identifying potential problems early, it helps you avoid significant outages and keep your business up and running at all times. Wireshark vs. Paessler PRTG: A comparison User interface Wireshark's user interface is divided into three main panes: the packet list pane, the packet detail pane, and the packet bytes pane. The packet list pane shows a list of all the packets that Wireshark has captured. You can use the various display filters to limit the list to only the packets that you're interested in. For example, you can filter by protocol, source IP address, destination port, etc. The packet detail pane shows the currently selected packet in the packet list pane. This includes information such as the protocol headers, hex dump of the data payload, and decoded fields for specific protocols such as HTTP. The packet bytes pane shows a hex dump of the data payload for the currently selected packet. This can be useful for low-level troubleshooting or looking for specific data strings. By dividing the UI into three panes, Wireshark makes it easy to view relevant information for each packet while still providing access to all of the packets that have been captured. And with various display filters, you can customize your experience only to show the information you're interested in seeing. Whether you're a seasoned network engineer or a novice just getting started, Wireshark's user interface has something to offer everyone. One of the first things you'll notice about the user interface of Paessler PRTG is its easy use. Everything is laid out intuitively and logically. The main screen shows you an overview of your entire network at a glance, and from there, you can drill down into specific devices and sensors to get more detailed information. Even if you've never used a network monitoring tool before, you'll be able to get up and running with Paessler PRTG in no time. In addition to being easy to use, the user interface of Paessler PRTG is compelling and flexible. It includes a wide range of features and options that allow you to customize the tool to fit your needs. For example, you can create customized dashboards to display the most crucial information, set up alerts so you're notified immediately when something goes wrong, and generate reports on demand or on a schedule. Whether you're looking for a more straightforward way to monitor your small network or need an enterprise-level solution for your business, Paessler PRTG has you covered. Key features If you work in network administration, you know that a packet analyzer is one of the most critical tools in your arsenal. A packet analyzer lets you see all the data passing through a network, which is invaluable for troubleshooting network problems. And of all the packet analyzers out there, Wireshark is by far the best. It's used by network professionals worldwide for troubleshooting, analysis, software and protocol development, and education. Wireshark has a rich feature set, including: Deep inspection of hundreds of protocols Live capture and offline analysis Standard three-pane packet browser Multi-platform: runs on Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, etc. Captured network packets can be analyzed via a GUI or the TTY-mode TShark utility. Paessler PRTG is a complete solution for network monitoring. It is simple to set up and use and provides users with a wealth of features and options. It can monitor your entire infrastructure, including servers, networking devices, virtual environments, and cloud services. It can also track applications, databases, and websites. Paessler PRTG has a range of sensors that can monitor different aspects of your network traffic and usage. These sensors can collect data on ping response time, SNMP metrics, SSH connections, and more. By monitoring all this data, Paessler PRTG can give you a complete picture of your network performance. Paessler PRTG can generate graphs, tables, and reports that help identify trends and pinpoint problem areas. Its reporting features are handy for tracking long-term changes in your network performance. Paessler PRTG is also scalable. As your needs change, it can change with you. It can monitor up to 10,000 sensors and unlimited devices with a single installation. And if you need more than that, scaling up is easy with its distributed architecture. Just add more PRTG core servers! If you're looking for a solution to help you keep your network running smoothly, then Paessler PRTG is worth checking out. Customer service and support If you are getting started as a Wireshark user, a wealth of documentation and resources is available on the Wireshark website. But there's an even richer trove of information and help from the Wireshark community. Here are just a few of the ways you can get help from other Wireshark users: Forums: Several forums are devoted to Wireshark and packet analysis, such as the official Wireshark Q&A Forum and Networking StackExchange. These forums are full of knowledgeable users eager to help others solve their Wireshark-related problems. Guides and tutorials: There are also many helpful guides and tutorials available. These guides can walk you through everything from setting up your first capture to advanced analyzing techniques. Community support sites: In addition to general forums and how-to guides, several community support sites are devoted to Wireshark. These support sites provide users with a place to ask questions, share tips and collaborate on projects. When it comes to choosing a network monitoring tool, there are a lot of factors to consider. But one of the most important things to look for is customer service and support. And that's where Paessler PRTG shines. With a world-class team of customer service and technical support representatives, Paessler PRTG is always there to help you. When you contact customer service and support, you'll be connected with a technicians who will assist you in resolving your issue as quickly as possible. In addition to providing world-class customer service and technical support, Paessler PRTG offers a full range of support services. From training and consulting to custom setups and report creation. So whatever your needs, rest assured that Paessler PRTG has you covered. Pricing Wireshark is an open-source tool released under GNU General Public License v2. You can download and use Wireshark freely and use it for non-commercial and commercial purposes. Paessler PRTG provides its users with various pricing options to better suit their business needs. Not only is this solution adaptable, but it is also one of the most cost-effective monitoring solutions available on the market. PlanPricingFeaturesPRTG 500$1,799/ per server licenseSuitable for small networks Monitor up to 500 metrics of your devices in your network, which covers about 50 devicesPRTG 1000$3,399/ per server licenseSuitable for small to medium-sized networks Monitor up to 1000 metrics of your devices, in your network, which covers approx. 100 devicesPRTG 2500$6,899/ per server licenseSuitable for medium-sized networks Monitor up to 2,500 metrics of your devices in your network, which covers approx. 250 devicesPRTG 5000$11,999/ per server licenseSuitable for large networks Monitor up to 5,000 metrics of your devices in your network, which covers approx. 500 devicesPRTG XL1$15,999/ per server licenseSuitable for very large networks Monitor up to 10,000 metrics of your devices in your network, which covers approx. 1000 devices Paessler PRTG is available for a free, 30-day trial. Regardless of the size of your business, you can find a license that meets your needs. Conclusion Both Wireshark and Paessler PRTG are great network monitoring tools. They offer numerous features and benefits that make them essential for any network administrator. However, there are some critical differences between the two tools that you should consider before making a decision. Wireshark is an open-source tool that you can download and use for free. However, it doesn't offer as many features as Paessler PRTG. Additionally, Wireshark's community support is excellent, but you may have to search for the answers you're looking for. Paessler PRTG, on the other hand, offers a full range of support services, from training and consulting to custom setups and report creation. And with world-class customer service and technical support, you can be sure that you'll always have someone to help you if you run into any problems. So, which tool is right for you? If you're looking for a free tool with excellent community support, then Wireshark is a great choice. However, if you're looking for a more feature-rich tool with world-class customer support, then Paessler PRTG is the better option.