We are extremely proud to be the first US company to achieve Paessler’s PRTG implementation certification.
Serving clients across all sorts of industries, we’re exposed to a wide range of products and services. It’s extremely rare that we run into a product that consistently wins our recommendation when we’re evaluating options to meet a particular client’s needs. Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor is of very few products that we recommend and deploy over and over, for small businesses and enterprises alike.
Systems administrators and executives alike agree: if you have any kind of infrastructure, you need to keep an eye on it. Monitoring the systems and equipment that your business uses daily helps avoid downtime in the first place, and keep it brief when it does occur.
Paessler has built an impressive library of sensors for all sorts of monitoring targets, from servers and networking equipment to cloud services or environmental systems. New sensors are added regularly, and anything not natively supported can be added easily with the robust custom sensor support.
Of course, collecting data and storing it somewhere is just one piece of the puzzle. Especially as the environment and associated monitoring data grow, it’s critical to properly filter, prioritize, and display it to the right people. This is where PRTG really shines: whether it’s a status board for an operations center, general overview for executives, or highly detailed status overlaid on system schematics, dashboards are extremely flexible and customizable, and don’t require extensive programming experience to build.
Dreadnought achieved PRTG Certified Implementation Engineer status in 2020, having already identified Paessler as a company we wanted to work with more closely. When the new implementation certification was offered we jumped at the opportunity, and passed the certification exam with flying colors. Today we offer both implementation support and white-glove setup, training, and a la carte services to help clients get the most out of PRTG in any environment.
Interested in trying it out for yourself? Click here to register for a free 30-day trial with unlimited sensors. Once the 30 days are up, the product remains functional indefinitely at the free tier with a 100 sensor maximum.
What can I monitor with PRTG?
PRTG can monitor infrastructure of virtually any size, from a single office network with just a few workstations to thousands of disparate devices scattered across the globe. There are pre-built sensors for most brands of computer and network infrastructure, and with robust support for custom sensors, practically anything can be monitored. Products like the Paessler Building Monitor further expand the potential uses, offering smart-home-like insight and automation to commercial buildings and factories.
What’s the difference between PRTG Network Monitor and PRTG Enterprise Monitor?
In a word, licensing. All PRTG licenses are sold on a per-sensor basis, but there’s a little more to it than that.
PRTG Network Monitor licenses entitle you to a single core installation plus one failover core for life, plus updates and support for a specified period (or with ongoing maintenance purchases), with a hard limit on the number of simultaneously active sensors. These licenses start at 500 sensors and scale up to 5,000 or even unlimited (constrained only by the hardware it’s running on) sensors.
PRTG Enterprise Monitor licenses are designed for large environments. They start at 20,000 sensors, and entitle you to an unlimited number of installations, allowing for much greater distribution and redundancy. Enterprise also comes with the addition of the ITOps Board, providing a single-pane-of-glass overview of the entire environment across multiple cores. Unlike PRTG Network Monitor, these are not perpetual licenses, but as a result both support and updates are included for the full subscription duration.
Is this a cloud-hosted service?
As a rule of thumb, companies with this kind of monitoring need typically also have the infrastructure to host PRTG themselves; correspondingly, the overwhelming majority of licenses are on-premise.
For customers with highly distributed infrastructure, or few to no on-premise servers, Paessler offers PRTG Hosted Monitor as a cloud-hosted option, but it comes with the caveat of a maximum of 10,000 sensors, and therefore only one PRTG instance.
What is the best way to monitor a large number of devices?
A successful large PRTG deployment starts with a thorough understanding of the environment and monitoring goals, and PRTG’s capabilities and limitations. Dreadnought was the first company in the US to achieve Paessler Certified Implementation Engineer status, and is uniquely positioned to help ensure a smooth, scalable, and effective PRTG deployment.
For those handling implementation in-house, we strongly suggest reading Planning large installations of PRTG Network Monitor.
In general, Paessler recommends a maximum of 10,000 sensors per core, or half that number for 2-core failover clusters. That number can vary substantially depending on the hardware hosting the installation, and the sensor composition. Effective use of remote probes can help alleviate the bottlenecks of highly resource-intensive sensors, dramatically improving scalability. For environments with more than 10,000 sensors, it often makes sense to deploy more than one core, so PRTG Enterprise Monitor may be a better fit.
Once your cores are set up and devices are onboarded, the next challenge is to prevent the large environment becoming overwhelming. Here are a few things we recommend spending time on to maximize the value of a PRTG installation:
- Set reasonable warning and error thresholds
- Configure sensor dependency to reduce notification flood when major infrastructure is degraded or offline
- Customize alert templates to include troubleshooting or resolution steps and escalation points of contact
- Build meaningful maps to provide instant visual feedback on overall status and the impact of any alerts
- Deploy the ITOps Board for even broader visibility into multiple installations
I see SNMP and WMI sensor options for the same type of data. Which should I use?
New PRTG users tend to gravitate towards WMI sensors for a few reasons, the most common of which are Windows nativity and the ease of deployment courtesy of AD credentials. That usually works out fine for overloaded IT staff at the SMB scale, but in larger deployments the performance penalties of WMI start to add up. Paessler recommends a maximum of 200 WMI sensors per probe, whereas cores running exclusively ping and SNMP sensors can scale well beyond the recommended total sensor count per core without performance issues. Fortunately, SNMP provides very similar monitoring capabilities on Windows servers, especially for fundamental resources such as CPU, disk, memory, and network. This table outlines the major differences between the two in both implementation and ongoing monitoring:
|Pros||More scalable (much greater parallelization than WMI)|
Reduces remote probe count (i.e. VM resource consumption)
Consistency across (non-)Windows monitoring
|Native (simple deployment)|
Active Directory authentication
WMI multi-disk sensor reduces sensor count (and license costs)
More detailed statistics for processes
|Cons||Requires additional configuration on Windows hosts|
No SNMP multi-disk sensor (increases sensor count)
Process monitoring in Windows only running or not, no CPU/memory usage
|Resource-heavy for device, probes, and cores |
Low (200) limit on sensors per probe
Higher network load
Requires special permissions or scripting for process monitoring
When discussing SNMP, it’s worth mentioning that SNMPv2 is far and away the most efficient meaningful sensor (excluding perhaps ICMP ping) available in PRTG. SNMPv3 comes with encryption, increasing the CPU overhead of each query on both the probe and device, and reducing the overall scalability in the process. But no matter which version of SNMP is employed, the performance impact is still lower than WMI.
Of course, it’s entirely possible to mix-and-match even on the same device. For example, a single Windows server could have SNMP CPU, disk, and process sensors, but use WMI to check update status, which would still be far more scalable than querying all of those resources via WMI exclusively. Our recommendation is to use SNMP wherever possible, and fall back to WMI as needed in order to meet specific monitoring requirements SNMP cannot.
If you’re interested in deploying PRTG in your environment, or getting help with an existing installation, let us know!