The world of technology is constantly evolving and the effect of this is pretty clear in the Networking scene. Now there is a greater push to phase out the manual network monitoring methods in favour of the new automated techniques. Especially now that most organizations have to deal with large networks. It can be extremely cumbersome even for the best system admin to manage this type of network without the right monitoring tools.
So in this post, we will be looking at the Netflow Analyzer. It is a great tool that greatly simplifies the process of monitoring and analysing your network traffic.
By analysing the Cisco-developed Netflow, and other network protocols like AppFlow, JFlow, and SFlow these tools are able to gather information on bandwidth usage, establish the top talkers in the network and also check network traffic.
They are great tools for identifying which devices or users are slowing down your taking up all the bandwidth and slowing down your network. They also help to maximize the network uptime and can be used to alert you of potential security breaches
Unfortunately, not every tool will deliver what they claim to do. So instead of wasting time trying out different tools we have done all the work for you and present you with the 5 best NetFlow analyzers.
Some of the factors we considered include monitoring efficiency, ease of use, scalability, connectivity and ease of deployment. Check them out and choose your best pick.
1. SolarWinds Real-Time NetFlow Analyzer
The SolarWind’s real-time NetFlow Analyzer is what you would consider a free version of their Network Monitoring tool. It is capable of capturing and analyzing NetFlow, Appflow, JFlow, as well as sFlow data in real time.
It works by checking on your NetFlow network to identify the types of traffic that are available on your network, where the traffic is coming from, and where it is going.
This tool boasts of a variety of other amazing features including the capability of isolating traffic based on conversation, application, domain, endpoint, and protocol. It can even be used to identify users, devices and applications that are most likely to consume the most bandwidth.
So in case you are having a slow down on your network then you can use this tool to troubleshoot and quickly rectify the issue.
SolarWinds also did a great job coming up with a simple but intuitive user interface that provides an easy way to start and stop the network monitoring process while also separately displaying the inbound and outbound traffic. This effectively allows you to keep track of multiple devices, the in and out traffic data and the flow type all at the same time.
The SolarWinds NetFlow Analyzer is capable of storing up to 60 minutes of captured flow data.
Also included in this tool’s installation package is the Netflow configurator. It’s a great tool that will help you in configuring collectors for the NetFlow data as well as specifying the ports on which the collectors will be listening.
2. Paessler PRTG NetFlow Analyzer
The PRTG Network Monitor is not just a NetFlow analyser, it is a full-blown Network Monitoring tool. It can be used to monitor every aspect of your network including LAN, WAN, VPN, Cloud services and application monitoring.
But the impressive functionality comes at a cost. You only get unlimited access to all of its features for 30 days after which the software reverts to the free version. At this point, you will still get the full functionality but you will be limited to 100 sensors. Which may not be very practical for a large network.
This tool allows you to collect statistics from hosts such as switches, routers, and servers and allows you to check and monitor your bandwidth utilization by utilizing various protocols such as NetFlow, Jflow, sFlow and SNMP.
The auto-discovery feature is a welcome addition that will save you a lot of configuration work and valuable time by automatically detecting the active devices within the IP range and adding them to your monitoring setting.
For easy monitoring, this tool displays all the network hosts in a tree view together with the sensors which monitor each of these devices. It also has an alert feature that ensures you are automatically notified whenever there is unusual activity in your network. This could be via email or SMS messaging.
3. ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer
The ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer is the other great tool for bandwidth monitoring and network traffic analysis. that can also be used to carry out network forensics.
The tool will be helpful in troubleshooting traffic spikes and comes with the ability to notify you when a set threshold has been exceeded. The analysis report generated will be a great tool in the capacity planning of your network to avoid oversaturation which exhausts the bandwidth.
The ManageEngine has an intuitive web-based interface that can also be customized to your liking. There are also several real-time pie charts and graphs that show the status of top monitored interfaces, top protocols, top conversations and other network aspects for better understanding.
iPhone users will also be happy to learn that there is an iOS application that allows you to monitor the traffic from your mobile phone.
Other useful features of this tool include protocol and application monitoring, generating Medianet reports and integrated network management.
The free version of the ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer allows the analysis of just two interfaces which may not be ideal if you have a large network. However, you could download the free trial which gives you access to the tool’s full functionalities for 30 days
4. Plixer Scrutinizer
The Plixer Scrutinizer is a network traffic analyzer that also provides active network monitoring, visualization, reporting as well as delivering rich data to support fast and efficient network incident response. It supports multiple flow technologies including sFlow, JFlow, and AppFlow.
The tool packs excellent features and benefits such as threat detection of odd traffic patterns and advanced reporting with design and custom reports and also. It also supports hundreds of unique login accounts and uses attributes such as response time, username and detailed metrics on applications to limit access to the network.
The Plixer Scrutinizer can work in both physical and virtual environments.
This tool has a 30-day free trial where you have full access to all its features after which you can upgrade or revert to the limited free edition.
The last on our list is the Ntopng which is a free and open-source NetFlow tool that monitors the network usage. It comes with an intuitive web-based interface for real-time network monitoring and is designed to run on every Unix/Linux platform, Windows and on MacOS. In addition to NetFlow, other supported flow protocols include IPFIX, sFlow, and NetFlow-lite.
One feature that makes Ntopng such a great NetFlow analysis tool is the ability to sort the network traffic based on several attributes such as the port being used. It can analyse the IP traffic and sort it according to the source or destination. It can also be used to produce comprehensive reports for several network metrics.
Similar to the other tools in our list, Ntopng also has an alert engine which notifies you of anomalous and suspicious activity in your network.
This tool comes in three versions. The Community edition which is completely free, Professional version which is great for SMEs and the Enterprise software. You will miss some features like the generation of graphical reports in the free version but I would say its still a very effective tool for NetFlow analysis.