The 5 Best Tools and Utilities for Network Administrators

There was a time when managing a network of whatever size would be a tiresome job. A time when configuring and setting up a network would take a network administrator quite a lot of time and the experience would be a nightmare to say the least without the right resources. A network admin without the right tools and resources is like a human body without hands. Managing and setting up a network manually takes valuable time that would have been otherwise utilized in something way more productive. Thus, to say the least, the efficiency is not there in the absence of the relevant tools.

Let us take an example, consider you have to manage the IP addresses of a network manually using spreadsheets and what not. This would take hours to days considering the size of the network and an unfortunate mistake here and there would ruin efforts of all this time. However, if you have an IP address management software that manages and scans your network for available addresses, the task would be way easier to complete in a much smaller relative time period. This just shows the importance of having the right tools and resources at hand so you can make use of them whenever the need arises. In the similar fashion, network tools and utilities help network engineers troubleshoot and diagnose any anomaly that might show up. Consequently, a faster resolution time is ensured.

Choosing the Right Tools for Network Administration

In this article, we will be going through the best tools and utilities that will help network admins avoid any network surges or downtimes and will help in managing as well as monitoring the network so that any future incidents are avoided. There are various factors that we had to consider before composing this list which includes reliability and having the ability to perform various tasks rather than being limited to one thing. Now, there are hundreds to thousands of tools available out there and having to look for the right tool among them might often prove to be difficult. So, with that in mind, let us get into the best 5 tools and utilities for network administrators.

1. Solarwinds Engineer Toolset


Solarwinds is a company that no longer requires an introduction when it comes to the best network and system management tools or products. With deep hands in the networking industry, their products are known to be industry-favorite. Engineer’s Toolset is a network software that includes more than 60 IT tools. The best thing about this product is that you have all the tools that you will ever need while managing or monitoring a network so you don’t have to download and install every single tool individually. One of the key features of the product is automated network discovery which saves you from the trouble of manually configuring every single device on your network.

Engineers Toolset

The real-time monitoring and alerting system ensures an enhanced level of network security which is essential in today’s time. Other than that, there are various other tools and features that this product packs but sadly, we can’t mention them all here. From being able to find used and free IP addresses to being able to monitor the memory utilization of your network devices, you can get it all done with the help of Engineers Toolset. The product is indeed a network admin’s dream come true which is why it tops our list.

2. Nagios


Nagios also known as Nagios core is a software that monitors both systems and networks. If you wish to monitor Linux to Windows servers in a network, Nagios has got you covered. It basically works as a suite of solutions for analyzing the flow of data in a network and the security, monitoring network availability as well as storing auditing logs. One of the great things about this is that it entirely open source and has a very friendly and vibrant community.

Nagios

With the help of Nagios XI, you will be able to monitor anything you would have to in an infrastructure including applications with granularity. The Nagios Log Server enables you to go through the audit logs of a network as well as setup alerts that are triggered per your custom defined metrics. Another great thing about Nagios is that they prefer to represent data visually in different styles which is extremely user friendly and helps in quick error identification as well as resolution.

3. Wireshark


Wireshark is a tool that we don’t think really requires an introduction to most of the network administrators as they have came across this said tool at least once in their careers. An open-source network protocol analyzer that is available for free to everyone. Whenever there is an issue in a network and you need to dig deeper into the network, Wireshark has to be your go to tool. It enables network admins with troubleshooting and network analysis so that they can have a better hold of their network.

Wireshark

Some common problems that are often solved by referring to Wireshark include latency issues, packet drops and even malicious activity on a network. This is one of the reasons why Wireshark is one of the world’s leading network traffic analyzer as well.

4. SoftPerfect Network Scanner


SoftPerfect Network Scanner is a highly configurable and fast IPv4/IPv6 scanner that simplifies many tasks of a network administrator. This network scanner is a lightweight and portable tool that includes a wide range of options that make it one of the best tools available for network admins. With the help of SoftPerfect Network Scanner, you can ping network devices, scan ports on a network as well as collect almost any information about network devices via Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), WMI and more.

SoftPerfect Network Scanner

SoftPerfect Network Scanner performs ping sweeps and displays the available IP addresses. The MAC address scanning feature inside the tool makes IP address network mapping way easier than it normally is. Other than that, it also features the ability to scan for users that are currently logged in so that you are always aware of your network connectivity and availability.

5. ManageEngine OpManager


OpManager by ManageEngine is basically a network monitoring and infrastructure management software that comes along with application performance management as well. With its real-time monitoring and over 2000 built-in network performance monitors, you will be able to monitor the health of your network along with other important aspects such as packet loss, speed, latency and more. Packed with over 200 performance widgets, you will be able to customize the default dashboard to your liking with ease so that you have everything important to you right in front.

ManageEngine OpManager

Other than that, you are also able to monitor servers present in your network both virtually and physically which includes monitoring the memory and disk utilization along with many more. It also comes with pre-configured network device templates that tend out to be very useful while monitoring. 

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, the tasks of a network administrator are way too many and without the right companions, they almost seem quite frightening. From network monitoring to troubleshooting and diagnosing an error, all these things cannot be done efficiently without the help of third-party tools. From all these awesome and helpful tools, Solarwinds Engineers Toolset really stands out because of the multiple functionality offered by the product in one place. With just a single installation, you are able to access more than 60 different network tools that help you in making your networking easy and much more fun than it normally is. Not only that, the rest of the products are all great in their own place as well and offer great reliability and features along with their sleek and neat design.

Kamil Anwar


A former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.