How to Set up an At-Home Network Monitor

How did you become a network monitor? It probably started small with a couple of linked computers in your home or small business. Then you added a shared printer and maybe some network storage. Before you knew it, you had a network.

The care and feeding of a network involves information on security, hardware and software installations and troubleshooting. Although Windows provides some network monitoring tools, they tend to be scattered around the desktop. Luckily, there is third-party network monitoring software that gathers network management and monitoring into one toolbox.

Network monitoring software can turn the tangle of technical information into an easy-to-view dashboard of tasks and reports. A good application also has the tools to repair, troubleshoot and enhance the software and hardware in your network.

An Inexpensive Network Monitor
Network Magic (www.purenetworks.com) is a commercial application that can simplify your network management and monitoring tasks. Available in "essential" ($29.99) and "pro" ($49.99) versions, Network Magic provides tools to connect computers to the network. Resource sharing, network performance and robust security are all addressed using a simple user interface. Both versions of the software are available in trial versions.

Free Network Management
Spiceworks (www.spiceworks.com) is a free network management tool that is ad-supported. If you can get past the idea of ads appearing in the user interface of the program, Spiceworks can help you manage all aspects of your network. The application comes with an impressive array of tools to address security, asset and performance issues. The application also has sophisticated troubleshooting and reporting tools and an active community of IT professionals who use it and can offer advice.

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