Paessler PRTG Network Monitor Update Proves Worthwhile

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2011-12-08 Print this article Print

Review: Paessler PRTG Network Monitor V9 shows that it is possible to build a better mousetrap by incorporating new features, capabilities and enhancements-all without increasing the price.

Paessler, with the release of PRTG Network Monitor Version 9, is looking to keep ahead of the competition in the ever-evolving world of network monitoring tools.

About a year ago, I took an in-depth look at Version 8 of PRTG and was quite impressed with the product, which left little room for improvement. While there were some minor nits to pick, I found it to be a solid tool overall.

With that in mind, I approached V9 with some trepidation, wondering whether Paessler did indeed improve the product or if it had fallen victim to the all too common phenomena of software bloat and feature de-evolution. In other words, many software products seem to suffer from the problem where a new release does little to improve the underlying product, and in some cases a product update actually removes features or limits the functionality of the software.

V9 of PRTG Network Monitor proved to be a significant revision of the product, though users of previous versions will find that the overall usage paradigm remains much the same, especially from an operational view, save for the fact that V9 is easier to use and does more than V8 in the form of what is monitored.

A Closer Look

PRTG V9 comes to the table chock-full of enhancements. Some are geared toward usability, others toward enhanced data collection, while still others focus on ease of scale. Paessler has published a short list of enhancements:

  • A completely redesigned, interactive Web interface featuring a customizable tree view display and individual libraries for improved at-a-glance monitoring and drag-and-drop ease for moving and cloning sensors
  • A new Enterprise Console designed specifically for larger installations to monitor multiple PRTG installations, ideal for managed service providers (MSPs) or geographically dispersed operations
  • Simplified user management with Active Directory integration
  • Support for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) across all applicable sensor types, including Packet Sniffer, and the ability to use auto-discovery in IPv6 networks
  • New wizard for manually adding sensors as well as dedicated hardware sensors for selected vendors, such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and APC
  • Automatic download of PRTG updates to ensure administrators can always install the latest release with two mouse clicks.
That short list of improvements hides the real value offered by V9. I found that there are other significant enhancements, which will make an administrator's life much easier.

Perhaps the best place to start is with an explanation of what PRTG is all about, something that should prove to be useful to those new to the product, and also refresh the memories of those who have looked at PRTG in the past.

PRTG is a network-monitoring product that has been optimized to enable administrators to monitor network devices across heterogeneous networks, both large and small. The product uses what could basically be described as a client-server model, where a monitoring (and reporting) application is run from a central console, while sensors connect to the various devices on the network to gather information.

The cool thing about PRTG's sensors is that they require no installation on the endpoint, a sharp contrast to products that use agents, which must be hand-installed on each device to be monitored. Sensors work hand in hand with PRTG's probes, which automatically query the various devices on the network, including switches, firewalls and servers, regardless of whether those devices are physical or virtual. Simply put, sensors monitor the devices without administrators having to install any additional software on the target systems.

That amounts to a management platform that gives administrators insight into how the network is operating, provides them with the ability to take a proactive approach to maintaining network health, and keeps them apprised of any potential problems on the network. Simply put, PRTG is a tool that helps administrators monitor, troubleshoot, manage and balance network operations.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at

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