Here is my vision for checking a network. I want a pictorial view showing the state of my computers. Green means no problem, whereas red indicates a resource shortage. Yellow hints that a problem is brewing, or a device initializing.
The beauty of ipMonitor is that you get a holistic view; with one glance at the dashboard you can see if the dots are red or green.
Naturally, if a server icon shows red you want to know what’s wrong. No problem, just double-click and drill down for more detail.
7 Reasons to Install ipMonitor
- Detect network bottlenecks.
- Troubleshoot connectivity problems.
- Discover why a server has become less responsive.
- Appreciate the effect of a server’s workload on resources.
- Highlight which sub-systems need upgrading. Also undertake capacity planning.
- Automate a restart of services on failure.
- Discover more about the operating system dependencies, and understand how they interact with hardware components.
Setting up ipMonitor is fun. Moreover, you will learn something new about how your computer’s components interact. The install procedure configures three SolarWinds services, which reminds me, install SNMP on machines you wish to monitor. When you first launch ipMonitor, while you are logging on to its dashboard, the utility is automatically discovering any device with an IP address on your network. Get your free SNMP Enabler.
Once you are logged on, click on the Configuration tab of the browser / dashboard. Take the time check the Alert settings, and create an appropriate ‘Credentials’ to give you access to network computers.
ipMonitor has clever routines which use SNMP and WMI to monitor a range of objects from disk to battery. As a result you get instant monitors, not only for the computer object, but also the sub-systems that SNMP detects automatically. If it misses any important resources, you can call for the wizard who adds a monitor with automatic thresholds.
SolarWinds have put in a great deal of development in matching counters to the display lights. This spares you having to configure each resource individually. However, the settings and values are transparent, moreover, you could change the trigger on free diskspace from 15% to 20% if wished. Perhaps you are beginning to see what I mean about learning about the computer components.
What to Monitor?
What sort of resources can you examine on your computers? As expected, the ‘Big four’, memory, CPU, disk and network, but also hardware devices such as the fan or battery. Once again getting started is easy, but once again, it’s possible to drill-down and get more detail. For this extra level you need a combination of trust in the wizards and knowledge of SNMP, MIBs and OIDs.
I shan’t pretend that creating some of these extra monitors is easy. But trust me, you that you can do it, just click on the ‘Devices’ tab and call for the wizard. Furthermore, while you setup more monitors to analyze resource usage, so you get satisfaction of learning about the computer components. The secret is to build up gradually, create a fewer of the easier monitors, then work your way to studying the OIDs and MIBs.
What I like is learning by doing. As a result of monitoring different types of servers you realize that it’s not efficient for your domain controllers to have the most powerful hardware, that honour should fall to the email or database server.
Supported Operating Systems
- Windows Server 2008 (Windows Server 2003 (SP1)
- Windows 7
While you cannot install ipMonitor v 9.0 on Windows Server 2008, you can monitor it from a Vista machine.
The designers have anticipated that IT professionals analyze information in different ways. Thus ipMonitor provides options to display the data as a graph or as a dial. Install the ipMonitor and then you can see if the CPU is overloaded, or if memory is nearly exhausted. My point is that you can check these, and whole host more monitors, in your ipMonitor Dashboard.
At the heart of this data retrieval is SNMP and WMI, thus you need to install these services if you wish to record data from client computers on your network.
Actually, ipMonitor will auto-discover not only servers, but also computers, routers and TCP/IP printers on your network. However, to make sure that all resources are available when remote monitoring, I want to emphasise that you should install SNMP, and setup ‘Credentials’, but firstly, get your free ipMonitor download
What impresses me is the ease with which you can drill down to reveal nuances that are lost in an overview. The ability to analyze detail is invaluable when troubleshooting bottlenecks, or discovering why computers are responding slower than they were last week.
Network Map – Room View
Here is another neat idea, a network map. When things are working well nobody remembers the relationship between a computer’s physical location and its hostname. However, when you get an alert that the fan on machine LZK51a is overheating, you too can get hot under the collar chasing around to find just where LZK51a is physically located. A network map showing computer locations will save the frustration of a wild-goose chase through all the rooms in your organization.
Naturally, there are other benefits of creating a network map, for instance, bringing new staff up to speed quickly, not to mention impressing your boss with a network plan that they can actually understand. Once they have admired your map, you can mention why you need to upgrade the server in the finance office.
The first time you undertake monitoring, the results always unearth at least one surprise. My most spectacular initial finding was when ipMonitor discovered a lovely server in a broom cupboard. Nobody knew of the existence of this top-of-the-range server. The outgoing network manager had not briefed the incoming network manager!
Other action points that may suggest themselves, including adding more ram or more disks to at least one of your servers. Look for opportunities to load-balancing resources, for example moving the printer from the email server to the domain controller.
Most monitoring systems have the ability to alert administrators when a threshold value is exceeded. SolarWinds bring this important step of network monitoring to the surface by prompting you to configure an email address, or SMS pager to the Alert list.
While Alerts are great in testing and when you are new, after a while they can be counterproductive because you set them too frequently. The solution is to return to the Alert settings until they reach a happy medium.
ipMonitor comes with templates which display historical data on: Availability, Response Time, Downtime, and Diagnostic Analysis. The templates filter and present data stored within ipMonitor’s internal database, and as with Alerts, you can receive a report automatically via email.
Automatic Server Recovery
The idea of self-heal is most appealing. There are circumstances where a computer problem could be solved automatically, a reboot is the most famous, ‘cure all’. However, let us see if we can program ipMonitor to do solve a problem, but using a last drastic method. For instance, to take corrective action we could restart a particular service, web servers or email servers benefit from this recovery technique.
Another idea would be to solve the problem manually, then create a script which would run when the monitor reached a certain threshold. Curing diskspace problems would be a case in point, a script which deleted temporary files would be a case in point. However, with scripts in general, and commands that delete in particular, you need to test thoroughly. A rogue script could be more of a menace than the original problem.
Once you finish testing your self-correcting methods, the next decision is how aggressive or how conservative to set the triggers. Do you restart on 1, 3 or 5 failures? There is no right answer for all circumstance, trial and error is a great teacher here.
I am attracted to ipMonitor because it inhabits that zone of part work, part play; Guy just could not put the dashboard away. This excellent performance monitor will get you started in the quest to remove bottlenecks on your network. SolarWinds provides this fully-functioning product free for 21 days. So download and install ipMonitor, then start scrutinizing your computers CPU, memory and disk performance.
Installing ipMonitor is a breeze, but learn from gung-ho Guy’s mistake, and install SNMP on each computer that you wish to monitor. What sealed my unreserved recommendation of SolarWinds is their support team, you will get expert help even when you are evaluating the ipMonitor.
Guy’s Review of ipMonitor
My attraction to ipMonitor is that it is part work, part play. Guy just could not put the dashboard away. This excellent performance monitor will get you started in your drive to remove bottlenecks on your network. Therefore, download and install ipMonitor, then start scrutinizing your computers CPU, memory and disk performance. You can also select from zillions more performance counters such as fan temperature and battery level.
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