Review and compare the top Network Discovery Tools to help you identify the best Network Discovery Software to manage networks and devices:
This insightful tutorial will help all beginners and experienced professionals understand the operation and functioning of the best network discovery tools and choose the best one for their network.
Network discovery tools or software are essential for IT professionals working in LANs, WANs, or the cloud. With the size of network infrastructure and growing concerns about network attacks, IT professionals need tools to monitor and manage connected devices on the network.
What You Will Learn:
- Understanding Network Discovery Tools
- Frequently Asked Questions
- List of the Best Network Discovery Tools
- Comparison of Top Network Discovery Software
- #1) SolarWinds Network Discovery Tool
- #2) Auvik
- #3) Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
- #4) Nagios XI
- #5) ManageEngine OpUtils
- #6) Intermapper
- #7) Advanced IP Scanner (Free tool)
- #8) Atera
- #9) NetBrain
- #10) WhatsUp Gold
- #11) Datadog Network Performance Monitor
- Other Noteworthy Network Discovery Tools
Understanding Network Discovery Tools
Network discovery software will help find and analyze known and unknown devices on the network to get a detailed picture of the network that will help clear congestion and troubleshoot problems.
IT professionals such as network administrators, network architects, network programmers, or IT professionals working on LAN or WAN networks need network discovery tools to monitor and manage their network to ensure that it is in safe hands.
These tools play an important role in identifying devices connected to local or remote networks. It not only identifies connected devices but also documents device inventory like desktop computers, servers, switches, routers, printers, managed devices, etc.
It also provides a graphical representation of the network to help network administrators manage various network locations. Network Security analysts use this tool to determine if the connected device has the correct resolution and meets the standards for detecting security breaches on the network.
In this article, we’ll look at the top paid and free network discovery tools, including their benefits, features, current market challenges, and more.
The below image shows a glimpse of the network performance monitoring market:
Pro Tip: There are many multi-functional network discovery tools out there. But some basic features will definitely come in handy when choosing a tool, such as automatic detection, inventory documentation, network topology analysis, easy installation and configuration, real-time updates, signaling.
There are free and paid tools in the market, but it is highly recommended that you use paid and proven tools on an enterprise-class network to get the desire results without creating havoc. Free tools can be used for small networks or infrastructure and even for testing, assessment, and learning.
Current challenges in the networks:
The ever-growing network, either private or public, has several challenges. A few of them are listed below:
- The network admins or system admins have the overwhelming task of managing the ever scaling network of the organization.
- Network security consultants face the challenge of investigating geographically dispersed networks for security breaches.
- The current trend towards BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) raises concerns about connecting people from anywhere on the network and accessing sensitive data.
- The growing fear of malware injections and infiltration into networks.
The perfect solution to master these and many other challenges is a network discovery tool.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q #1) How do network discovery tools work?
Answer: It uses a specific set of protocols, such as SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) to scan the IP addresses of connected devices. The SNMP protocol uses a polling method to identify connected devices.
Q #2) What is passive scanning in networking?
Answer: Passive scanning is an indirect method of communication that collects network data available on the network without sending a direct ping request. Since the passive scan function is limited to the currently available traffic data, it does not have complete accuracy because the device cannot detect it when it is turned off.
Q #3) What is network inventory?
Answer: Network inventory is the list of connected devices in the network, like desktops, laptops, servers, routers, switches, printers, and so on.
Q #4) What is a network discovery scan?
Answer: Network discovery scan is a method that scans various IP addresses to find known and unknown devices and their open ports. This is considered the first step in evaluating network administration security.
Q #5) What is a network discovery tool?
Answer: This tool helps IT professionals find connected devices on a network, making it easier for them to manage their network and devices.
Q #6) How do I setup network discovery
Answer: For setting up network discovery in Windows operating system, search for the “Network and Sharing Center” option -> Select Change advanced sharing settings-> Select the “Turn on network discovery” option and save changes.
List of the Best Network Discovery Tools
Here is a list of some popular network discovery software:
- SolarWinds Network Discovery Tool
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
- ManageEngine OpUtils
- Advanced IP Scanner
- WhatsUp Gold
- Datadog Network Performance Monitor
Comparison of Top Network Discovery Software
|Top Features||Free Trial||Price /
|SolarWinds Network Discovery Tool||Network monitoring and management||Visibility of critical metrics |
Auto discover and mapping
|30 days trial||Price starts at $1,638|
|Auvik||Network Management Software & Tools||Prevent, detect, & resolve issues quickly; Network visibility; secure network management, etc.||14 days||Get a quote for Essentials or Performance plans.|
|Paessler PRTG Network Monitor||Handle large IOT infrastructure networks||Multiple user interfaces|
|30 days trial||Price starts at $1,750|
|Nagios XI||Enterprise level Server and Network Monitoring tool||Flexible Architecture|
Robust monitoring engine
Advance management console
|30 days trial||Standard Edition starts at $1995
Enterprise Edition starts at $3495
|ManageEngine OpUtils||Network administration, troubleshooting and monitoring||Network Discovery |
|Intermapper||Network auto discovery and mapping software||Proactive monitoring |
|30 days trial||Offers device based licensing. Contact company for quote.|
|Advanced IP Scanner||Monitor, manage and administer LAN devices||Export scan reports |
Let’s do a technical review of the above-listed tools.
#1) SolarWinds Network Discovery Tool
Best for medium to large enterprises to get an insight into granular metrics.
This tool can be used for medium to large enterprises that can create precise and advanced network illustrations to monitor and manage network infrastructure.
The SolarWinds Network Detection Tool is part of the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM). It is a powerful network monitoring software that can identify and analyze network problems and solve problems faster. It is an important tool for measuring network performance and health to ensure business performance and network security.
Another important feature is that it scans network availability and connected devices to identify faulty devices and performance issues, thereby eliminating bottlenecks.
Further Reading => Explore the TOP Network Detection and Response Vendors
- Visibility of critical metrics.
- Cross-stack correlation.
- Auto-discovery and mapping of network devices.
- Cross-platform support.
Verdict: If you are looking for more advanced network monitoring and management tools, Solar NPM is a perfect choice. Its intelligent network warning function provides information long before problems occur.
Price: Its price starts at $1,638. The fully functional software is available for 30 days trial.
Best for cloud-based and easy to use networking management & monitoring solution.
Auvik is a cloud-based solution for network management. It has capabilities for automatically discovering the distributed IT assets. You can gain insights into the connectivity of every device. It also helps to know how the network is configured and when it changes.
- Auvik can provide automated security & performance updates.
- Network data encryption with AES-256.
- Up-to-date device logs help with identifying the root cause.
- It has traffic analysis tools.
Verdict: Auvik is an easy-to-use network management platform that can be used to automate time-consuming tasks, streamlining operations, and mitigating business risks.
Price: Auvik offers a free trial for 14 days. There are two pricing plans, Essentials and Performance.
#3) Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
Best for handling large IoT infrastructure networks.
PRTG monitors the entire Internet of Things infrastructure around the clock and uses its alert mechanism to signal a warning before anyone notices. Its simple working architecture is to collect, analyze and publish statistics.
This tool provides a complete picture of your network and its performance and ensures that all network devices and infrastructure connectivity are functioning properly. To alert administrators, it sends alerts via various sources like email, SMS, push notifications based on threshold configuration.
- Flexible Alerting: In-built various technologies make it viable to send alerts through email, SMS, push, and even through audio alerts.
- Multiple user interfaces.
- Cluster failover solution.
- Versatile map.
Verdict: The PRTG network monitoring tool can handle large IoT infrastructure networks and can monitor, analyze, and report on LANs, WANs, servers, websites, applications, etc.
Price: The pricing structure is a simple one-time payment, while to get support, the maintenance plans need to be renewed. You can also try a full version for free for 30 days.
Website: Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
#4) Nagios XI
Best for monitoring enterprise-level servers and networks.
All in uniform software that can be used for all network devices, infrastructure components, operating systems, system statistics, and, above all, support add-ons from third-party providers.
It offers one of the most customized GUI that helps administrators to organize work according to their needs and flexibility. It offers advanced schedules to help IT professionals resolve incidents or clear bottlenecks before major damage occurs.
- Flexible Architecture.
- Robust monitoring engine.
- Advanced management console.
Verdict: This multipurpose tool is designed for comprehensive monitoring of network infrastructure and connected devices with the flexibility of third-party integration. A fully customizable graphical user interface for administrators helps them work in a comfortable layout.
Large networks are always on the verge of expansion, so the tool is equipped with a 4-core engine that handles all enterprise scalability plans.
Price: Before buying, one can use its full version for 30 days free of cost. The pricing is provided in two different versions – Standard and Enterprise editions.
#5) ManageEngine OpUtils
Best for network administration, troubleshooting, and monitoring for small to mid-size firms.
This free plan supports and delivers results on heterogeneous networks comprising Windows and Linux operating systems. Since all paid network discovery tools and software use the SNMP protocol to effectively manage the network, this free tool also uses the SNMP protocol to check its health and performance.
- Network Discovery
- Network Diagnostic
- Communication trace
- System Utilities
Verdict: It is a basic set of tools like ping, network scanner, proxy ping, route tracking, DNS resolver, and more. These tools help troubleshoot, monitor uptime, diagnose network connectivity issues, find system bottlenecks, manage DNS, and more.
Price: ManageEngine OpUtils is the set of free network monitoring and diagnostic suite. If you are looking for an advanced version, then you can go for the Professional edition.
Website: ManageEngine OpUtils
Best for creating real-time network maps for mid to large size enterprises.
This software makes the life of an IT professional easy by creating real-time network maps with information about what’s up and what’s down. Intermapper is a network mapping software compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac systems that scans and maps all IP devices so that we can view the entire network in real-time without updating.
Intermapper performs a process called auto-detection via SNMP to provide a visualization of all connected devices in the network and to support them across platforms.
Its unique security controls allow administrators to configure the internal firewall to enforce strict access control lists.
- Proactive monitoring.
- Intuitive interface.
- Customized Alert Mechanism.
Verdict: This is the best map visualization tool for the entire network infrastructure and connected devices. Network architects from small to large businesses can use Intermapper to receive real-time data about networks and devices to notify them of bottlenecks and display all devices on a dashboard. The mobile user interface works on any responsive layout.
Price: Available for free for 30 days.
Intermapper offers device licenses regardless of the number of apps installed on the device. Pricing is based on two models. One is based on an annual subscription and the other is a lifetime license. For specific details need to contact company sales.
#7) Advanced IP Scanner (Free tool)
Best for scanning LAN (Local Area Network) devices in seconds for small to mid-size companies.
It is a free tool for monitoring and managing LAN devices, as well as remote management. As a free tool, features such as access to shared devices on a computer, remote on/off, Mac address detection, and remote control of a computer are made simple.
- Windows 10 compatible.
- Exporting scan reports to CSV format.
- No installation is required.
- Remote management of computers.
Verdict: This free tool can be used on a local network to monitor and manage network computers and devices. We cannot use this tool on WAN links or on remotely connected cloud infrastructure. It is best for small LANs for basic administration and management.
Price: It is a free tool.
Website: Advanced IP Scanner
Best for managed service provider and internal IT department for mid to large size enterprises.
Apart from being a simple network monitoring tool, Atera Software plays an important role in remote control, ticketing, automation, surveys, and more. Atera is an exceptional tool that can be used for network monitoring and management as well as for companies providing IT services to other companies.
The software handles remote monitoring and management, help desk, remote support, billing and reporting, and more.
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
Verdict: One stop solution for the entire IT business. These tools assist with remote control and management, CRM, automation to reduce maintenance tasks, enable third-party integration for easier management, and improve operational efficiency.
Price: Atera comes with 30 days trial period. Its pricing is monthly and yearly based. The following image shows yearly-based plans:
Best for large enterprise networks and companies having multiple data centers and disaster recovery sites.
Its unique design and architecture map almost every network as physical, virtual, SDN, and cloud.
It handles large IT infrastructures and supports 1 lakh plus IP address with thousands of users. Its dynamic mapping technology helps automatically update diagrams not only for architecture but also for network events and tickets.
- Data modeling
- Multi-vendor support
- Deep Discovery
- CMDB integration
Verdict: It is a powerful tool that provides full visibility across large infrastructures. If you are planning a network discovery tool or software that will handle your entire IT business, NetBrain will definitely exceed expectations. One of its unique advantages is that it provides a programming interface to automate manual activities for network professionals.
Price: As the tool serves multipurpose tasks, the pricing is not straightforward and not available on the site. The pricing is available after demonstration so contact the company sales team.
#10) WhatsUp Gold
Best for monitoring and reporting on-premises network or in the cloud network.
This tool has won 8 awards and is recognized as an industry leader in the latest G2 networking report.
WhatsUp Gold’s new logging and monitoring technology help monitor application performance, network bandwidth, AWS and Azure cloud environments, and wireless networks. One of its unique functions is to find and report suspicious IP addresses on or off the network.
- Monitor Cloud Applications like AWS and Azure
- Easy implementation
- Integrated Log Management
- APIs to integrate other tools
Verdict: The versatile tool WhatsUp Gold is having an edge on other tools by providing add-on modules that extend the visibility to monitor most common software’s like Microsoft Exchange server, communications platform Lync, SQL Server, content management SharePoint, domain name server, Internet information services, and user and resource management tool Active Directory.
Price: The full version is available for 30 days free trial. This tool is available in two versions – Premium and Total Plus. Prices are based on an annual subscription and a perpetual subscription. Pricing data is provided based on the requirements.
Website: WhatsUp Gold
#11) Datadog Network Performance Monitor
Best for private network, including hybrid environments as well cloud infrastructure.
Its architecture is based on eBPF, which allows it to penetrate the depths of network flow. It also plays the role of optimizing network traffic. With the help of this tool, it is possible to integrate into various services and programming languages such as Kubernetes, Chef, Puppet, Ansible, Ubuntu, and Bitbucket.
- Optimizing network patterns.
- Full-stack dependency monitoring.
- Supports Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.
Verdict: This tool can be used in complex networks to facilitate analysis and visualization via dedicated websites and network maps.
Price: The Datadog platform can be used for 14 days free of cost. The price starts at $5 per host per month.
Website: Datadog Network Performance Monitor
Other Noteworthy Network Discovery Tools
Spiceworks offers a variety of free tools such as a cloud-based help desk for network inventory, website monitoring software that helps system administrators and network engineers maintain and troubleshoot IT infrastructure. The website claims to offer free support.
Zenmap is a free graphical user interface for Nmap (Network Maker). Nmap is a network tool used for network discovery and security audits. It is an open platform that supports various operating systems, including basic and advanced features.
Cacti is a free web-based network monitoring tool. It is an open-source platform integrated into the RRD database (Round Robin Database) for data storage. It also offers a full network graph. Cacti is a universal tool that provides a redundant data collection framework. Its performance can be expanded by integrating various plugins.
#15) NetBrain Dynamic Map
Dynamic Map is one of the best features of the NetBrain too It is a network discovery and monitoring tool. A dynamic map describes the scope of the problem and understands the network design. Maps are updated automatically and it also updates network documentation.
As described above, paid and free network discovery tools can solve network monitoring problems and help IT professionals troubleshoot complex network infrastructure issues. In short, the choice of a suitable network discovery software is based entirely on the diversification and complexity of the IT infrastructure.
Suggested Reading =>> Top Network and IP Scanner
To visualize and manage a complex and geographically dispersed network, choose a powerful platform like SolarWinds Network Discovery Tool, Paessler PRTG Network Monitor, and Nagios XI an enterprise-grade server and monitoring tool.
Organizations looking for a complete solution can use the Atera software and NetBrain tools. For basic monitoring and management, and on a budget, can use free tools like ManageEngine OpUtils, Advanced IP Scanner, Spiceworks, Zenmap, and Cacti.