Two Tools for Network Junkies
Tsarfin's IPMonitor makes quick work of monitoring network processes, while NetInfo gives you a nice, formatted view of your network's activity.
I recently evaluated a couple of tools from Tsarfin
called IPMonitor and NetInfo. IPMonitor is a basic
network monitoring tool that allows network administrators to monitor
a network computer through the Internet or intranet. Among other
features, it also supports audible alarms, messages and e-mails
for notification in case a monitored computer loses its connection.
IPMonitor can keep tabs on up to 500 devices or services simultaneously
using Transmission Control Protocol, User Datagram Protocol and
Internet Control Messaging Protocol. This product should not be
confused with another product bearing a similar name. (The Web-based
monitoring tool from DeepMetrix Corp., which renamed itself ipMonitor
Corp., has a product that's also called ipMonitor
that product was reviewed by MCP
Magazine in 2003
NetInfo is a collection of 15 tools aimed at administrators and
Webmasters: Local Info, Connections, Ping, Trace, Lookup, Finger,
Whois, Daytime, Time, Quote, HTML, Scanner, Services, E-mail, and
Web Center. You might ask, why do I need NetInfo when some of these
utilities are either included in the Windows OS or they're available
as freeware on the Internet? The advantage is that NetInfo provides
access to all of these valuable services from one graphical interface.
In addition, it presents the information to you in a way that’s
much better than command-line utilities. It also adds functionality
to the common tools that don't exist in some of the built-in utilities.
However, if you prefer command-line utilities, then you may not
be too thrilled about these tools. I should also point out that
these NetInfo's tools are not the only tools of their kind. Most
likely you have already seen or used utilities with somewhat similar
The system requirements for both IPMonitor and NetINfo are identical.
They require Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP/2003 and Internet Explorer
5.5 or later. I evaluated versions 5.8 Build 405 for both these
Installation and Configuration
Installation is pretty straight forward for both the products and
follows the standard installation method used by most vendors.
You can customize the global settings for IPMonitor from File,
Options menu, or by clicking the Options button in the lower right-hand
corner. The six different tabs offer you plenty of options to customize
the software to your liking. In addition, you have the option to
save and restore the IPMonitor configuration.
When you add a computer, you can configure several settings, including
ICMP settings and alerts (see Figure 1).
|Figure 1. Computer configuration
In situations where the host is configured not to respond to ICMP
echo requests, you might want to configure the “Bypass ping”
option. When this option is checked, IPMonitor verifies available
network service, even if the host doesn’t respond to an ICMP
echo request. By default, IPMonitor checks for a service every 10
minutes. You may need to adjust this interval to suit your environment.
To test the utility, you can shut down or disconnect one of the
computers that have been added to the IPMonitor console. Depending
on how you have the tool configured, you will be alerted either
by an audible alarm or by one of the other means that you’ve
configured. I configured the audible alarms for all my computers,
selected a .WAV file and configured the alert schedule.
NetInfo has its own set of options that allows you to configure
most of the tools. You can easily clear a particular view, such
as Ping, or clear all the views. Similar to IPMonitor, you can save
and restore the NetInfo configuration to a file. NetInfo has the
added capability to save the contents of any tool to an HTML file.
Make sure you use Internet Explorer 5.5 or newer because that’s
the only supported browser. If you are like me and use Mozilla’s
Firefox as your default browser, simply add the IE Tab extension
to Firefox to use Internet Explorer’s embedded engine within
Firefox so you can view the HTML output properly.
The console for NetInfo (see Fig. 2) is easy to use and it also
provides quick access to the tabs but the tabs are not configurable.
For example, you can’t enable or disable specific tabs, click
and drag the tabs to rearrange them, or tile them if you wanted
to. Another thing I noticed that’s lacking is the ability to
stop a process. Therefore, if you make a typo and start the process,
you can’t stop it until it times out.
[Click on image for larger view.]
Figure 2. NetInfo's main console.
Not Wallet Busters
The price for IPMonitor and NetInfo is the same, $39.95 each
for home, $59.95 for academic, and $79.95 for enterprise licenses.
You can download a free 30-day evaluation copy for both of these
products from Tsarfin Computing. The eval doesn’t contain a
“time bomb” so you can use it indefinitely. But with the
registered version you get additional benefits and features. For
example, the unregistered version of IP Monitor only allows monitoring
of up to five computers. Register it and you're entitled to obtain
free upgrades for one year from the date of purchase. If you purchase
a product and decide not to upgrade, you can still benefit from
the support because Tsarfin Computing offers indefinite support
for their products.
Valuable Additions to My Toolkit
IPMonitor extremely simple to use yet powerful enough to monitor
hundreds of IP devices simultaneously using TCP, UDP or ICMP. The
alerts, logging, and remote connectivity features further enhance
this handy utility. Download the trial version and see for yourself.
I found this tool to work flawlessly and have been pleased with
NetInfo's 15 tools are beneficial to network administrators, and
that you can use all these utilities in a single application is
not the only thing that makes NetInfo so useful. It is also the
way that it formats the information and presents it to the user,
coupled with the ease of saving the contents to an HTML file.
Overall, both these tools are a valuable addition to any network
administrator’s toolkit. They are fast, simple, easy to configure,
and an effective solution to monitor, diagnose and troubleshoot
network devices within a single console.
Zubair Alexander, MCSE, MCT, MCSA and Microsoft MVP is the founder of SeattlePro Enterprises, an IT training and consulting business. His experience covers a wide range of spectrum: trainer, consultant, systems administrator, security architect, network engineer, author, technical editor, college instructor and public speaker. Zubair holds more than 25 technical certifications and Bachelor of Science degrees in Aeronautics & Astronautics Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Information Systems. His Web site, www.techgalaxy.net, is dedicated to technical resources for IT professionals. Zubair may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.