Open Source NMS - Best Free Tools for Network Monitoring & Management (2023)

Network Monitoring Software covers a surprisingly wide gambit of software and functionality.

Here is our list of the five best free open source network monitoring software and tools:

  1. Zabbix – EDITOR'S CHOICE A free system monitoring package that includes network, server, application, services, and cloud platform monitoring capabilities. This system uses SNMP and ICMP to discover all devices and continuously monitor their availability and performance. Runs on Linux.
  2. Observium This free network monitor saves time by squeezing many system graphs of live data into each view and has detail view overlays to allow greater scrutiny. Installs on Linux.
  3. Cacti An SNMP-based free network performance monitor that also displays live traffic data in graphs. Runs on Linux.
  4. Nagios Core A comprehensive free open source monitoring package that includes network device and traffic monitoring. This system can be expanded by hundreds of free plug-ins. Runs on Linus or on Windows over a VM.
  5. Icinga 2 This is a fork of Nagios Core and it can take all of the Nagios plug-ins. Offers network performance monitoring and traffic analysis. Runs on Linux.

Some software is focused purely on observation and tracking of monitoring network traffic, while others are more geared on response and awareness, with features that let you set alarms or even trigger scripts based on specific events, and still other pieces of software allow you to focus on the trends of traffic and network performance for sake of longer term adjustments and heuristics for hardware devices.

Whatever your needs may be there's likely a free, open-source option that can perfectly fit the bill.

Every network should have at least one of these tools available; whether you're performing some in-depth troubleshooting and need a program with powerful data aggregation and graphing abilities to help pinpoint a problem device or application, or if you're tracking the traffic of several physical devices over several different network environments over time to watch for trends in your bandwidth needs or other statistics.

What should you look for in free network monitoring tools?

We reviewed the market for free network monitoring software and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:

  • Device discovery routines that continuously search for new equipment
  • An automatic network inventory creation system
  • Graphical representations of live traffic data
  • Performance monitoring with alerts when problems arise
  • Traffic monitoring to detect bottlenecks
  • An easy-to-use, self-installing package
  • A package that is forever free and works well without the necessity for paid extras

With these selection criteria in mind, we have found a selection of very good free network monitoring systems. We made sure to find options for Windows and Linux.

Here's the Best Open-Source Network Monitoring Software:

1. Zabbix

Open Source NMS - Best Free Tools for Network Monitoring & Management (1)

The interesting thing about Zabbix is that there is no enterprise level paid version, it's all completely open-source and completely free.

They do offer some consulting and monitoring contracts, but the software itself is wide open! It's one of the most powerful open-source options in this realm and can handle most all of the standard NMS needs, plus some.

One prime advantage is that it has a particularly slick and intuitive interface, while also being exceptionally easy to install with compatibility across numerous systems and environments. On the flip side, some of its ability to aggregate and report information, and especially then exporting that information, could definitely be a bit stronger in their offering.

Available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, 6 and 7, CentOS, Debian, Oracle Linux and Ubuntu 12.04 and 14.04


(Video) Free Network Monitoring Software | Top 10

  • Open-source transparent tool
  • Uses both SNMP and ICMP for a broader monitoring range
  • Can detect new devices and configuration changes immediately
  • Offers useful templates for quick insights
  • Robust notification system supports SMS, email, custom script, and webhook


  • Would like to see better-alerting features, specifically related to reducing false positives


Zabbix is our top pick for a free, open source network monitoring tool because it has a very appealing interface, which makes it easy to use. The service includes a network discovery process that identifies all devices and maps your network. The monitor makes frequent checks on all devices for statuses, using the SNMP protocol.

Official Site:

OS: Linux

2. Observium

Open Source NMS - Best Free Tools for Network Monitoring & Management (2)

Observium is another offering with a really slick interface style to it. The charts and graphs are all readily available and organized in a beautifully intuitive fashion.

This program pushes more into the realm of physical monitoring of devices and can even show where, geographically, systems are located and how they're communicating and passing traffic!

It uses a variety of methods for monitoring and does an excellent job of providing automatic discovery while still allowing manual additions.

There are few NMS software packages that will do so much of the legwork for you and do it accurately!

Observium even has a cohesive web interface, meaning you have a lot less to worry about when it comes to accessing controls and viewing network status and statistics from anywhere you are.

The software itself is, however, Linux-based aside from the web-based front-end. Observium does have a professional edition.

Available for Linx/Unix including Debian, RHEL, Ubuntu, CentOS 6 and 7.


  • Sleek and easy to navigate interface
  • Supports hardware and traffic monitoring in one solution
  • Supports native geolocation tracking – great for tracking global assets


  • Not available for Windows operating systems
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Download Link:

3. Cacti

Open Source NMS - Best Free Tools for Network Monitoring & Management (3)

Cacti is a little more particular in its purpose, and slightly more restricted – it does require a MySQL back end database and SNMP has to be installed and configured on agent devices for full functionality, in addition to Cacti itself requiring a PHP/Apache backbone.

Despite this, it's an extremely powerful but simple tool – it takes data, aggregates it, and presents it in just about any way or combination you can possibly want or imagine.

If there's any need to see several sets of data side by side, to manipulate them, to draw in data from several other metrics that normally wouldn't even be relevant, Cacti can do it all.

It's a tool that focuses primarily, if not almost exclusively, on trend tracking and graphical representations of data sets.

Available for Windows, Linux/Unix variations (Gentoo, Debian, Fedora and SUSE)


  • Highly customizable monitor with a focus on data visualization
  • Large dedicated community of over 20,000 members
  • Simple interface
  • Ideal for researchers looking for more flexibility in their data collection


  • Has a steeper learning curve than competing product
(Video) How to monitor your network for free with Zabbix

Download Link:

4. Nagios

Open Source NMS - Best Free Tools for Network Monitoring & Management (4)

Nagios is one of those programs that is an absolute rose but definitely has its thorns. It's an older software, meaning it's tried and true – it's extremely fast and incredibly reliable, but the learning curve for newcomers can easily be prohibitive.

It is similar to some other offerings in that it is immensely flexible – Nagios can track, monitor, and follow trends of almost any data that can be gathered from a network environment, and it's that same flexibility and wide-open capabilities that are both its strength and it's main drawback.

A powerful piece of monitoring software that is not for the faint of heart. If nagios doesn't fit the bill, check out the best nagios alternatives for other options.

Available For RHEL, CentOS and Nagios for Windows using VMWare or Virtual PC virtual machines.


  • Simple, yet informative interface
  • Flexible alerting options support SMS and email
  • Robust API backend makes it a great option for developers who want to integrate their own custom applications

Download link:

5. Icinga

Open Source NMS - Best Free Tools for Network Monitoring & Management (5)

Icinga is a program that gives some of the others, Zabbix especially, a run for its money but falters when it comes to intuitive setup and configuration.

(Video) Top 10 | Best Network Monitoring Tools | 2022

Icinga requires a good wealth of knowledge to know how to get it setup just right, but once you do it's among the Best open source NMS on the market.

Of particular note is the unusual modularity of Icinga – the core software can be installed with just a few small commands, which is the easy part, and from there almost any other functionality, both standard NMS and beyond, can be added one by one.

The downside is that each one has to be installed and configured individually, and that coupled with documentation that isn't so great for quick setup, makes this another powerful tool that's challenging to put to use right away.

Available for Debian, Ubuntu, RHEL/CentOS, openSUSE, SLES, Gentoo, FreeBSD, ArchLinux and Icinga for Windows will require Vagrant and VirtualBox or Parallels Desktop, along with Ruby for Windows installed.


  • Can be configured via GUI or DSL, making it a good choice for admins who enjoy CLI tools
  • Supports built-in visual reporting
  • Modules allow for different functionality, keeping the base installation sleek and lightweight
  • Can run on Linux as well as Windows operating systems


  • Designed for more technical users, other options have better out-of-box features

Download link:


Whatever program you choose you can take full advantage of the Open-Source nature of each, meaning that an attractive price-tag of ‘Free!' lets you try out all the different software options to see what works best for you and your monitoring needs.

And you can rest easy knowing that the source code is fully available and heavily audited and monitored by the community, which helps reduce security concerns and prevent issues normally present from developer shortsightedness.

Grab one of the above Free Open Source Network Monitor tools for Linux or Windows and give a whirl and see which one works Best for you and your needs.

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What is the tool used for monitoring network monitoring? ›

Zabbix is an open-source free network monitoring tool that combines network, server, cloud, application, and services monitoring into one unified solution. Zabbix uses SNMP and IPMP to monitor your network. The autodiscovery feature automatically locates network devices and adds them to be monitored.

What is the most popular network monitoring program? ›

Top 10 Network Monitoring Software
  • Dynatrace.
  • LogicMonitor.
  • Datadog.
  • Auvik.
  • NinjaOne (formerly NinjaRMM)
  • Atera.
  • Progress WhatsUp Gold.
  • Microsoft System Center.
5 days ago

Is OpenNMS free? ›

OpenNMS is the world's first fully open source enterprise-grade network service monitoring platform, and hundreds of enterprises are using it every day without a bit of help from us. It's that easy to work with. And as true open source, it's 100% free.

Is Ntop free? ›

ntopng comes in four versions, Community, Professional, Enterprise M, Enterprise L. The Community version is free to use and opensource (code can be found on Github). The Professional and Enterprise offer some extra features that are particularly useful for SMEs or larger organizations.

Is PRTG still free? ›

Our fair and transparent pricing ensures that there are no hidden costs for you – you don't need to buy additional add-ons or plug-ins to monitor your entire IT infrastructure. Unlimited use of PRTG for 30 days. After 30 days PRTG reverts to the freeware edition. You can upgrade to a paid license at any time.

Which are the three basic tools for monitoring? ›

There are three basic categories of monitoring; technical monitoring, functional monitoring and business process monitoring. These are shown in the diagram below. These three categories have a very clear hierarchy.

How do I choose a network monitoring tool? ›

What to consider when selecting a network monitoring tool
  1. Understand what the technology can do. ...
  2. All-in-one or add-on customizability. ...
  3. Hardware considerations. ...
  4. Alerting features. ...
  5. Proactive network monitoring from ISG Technology.
6 Jan 2017

What is NMS tool? ›

A Network Management Station (NMS) is a server that runs a network management application. Network elements communicate with the NMS to relay management and control information. The NMS also enables network data analysis and reporting.

Is zenoss free? ›

Zenoss Community Edition was a free and open-source application, server, and network management platform based on the Zope application server.

Is Nagios XI free? ›

Nagios XI is free for up to 7 nodes after the trial, so it's a great resource to spin up and explore how easy it can be used to accommodate your enterprise needs.

What can OpenNMS monitor? ›

It can help you monitor the following services: ICMP. SNMP (version 1 for data collection) FTP.
  • A Java 1.3+ development environment.
  • PostgreSQL database servers.
  • Tomcat servlet server.
  • JBossmq Java server.
  • RRDTool graphing engine.
12 Feb 2002

What are the 5 different types of network management? ›

These operational areas are fault management, configuration management, accounting management, performance management and security management, also known as FCAPS.

What are the eight 8 famously used network management tools? ›

You can read details about these options in the following sections.
  • SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (FREE TRIAL) ...
  • Paessler PRTG (FREE TRIAL) ...
  • NetCrunch Monitoring Suite. ...
  • ManageEngine OpManager. ...
  • Zabbix. ...
  • Nagios XI. ...
  • Icinga. ...
  • Spiceworks Network Monitor.
16 Apr 2019

Is NetFlow free? ›

NetFlow Analyzer is a free NetFlow network traffic analyzer and its customizable dashboard enables you to view widgets grouped by devices, interfaces, interface groups, or IP groups, and can also detect network anomalies at a glance.

What is Nload? ›

nload is a console application which monitors network traffic and bandwidth usage in real time. It visualizes the in- and outgoing traffic using two graphs and provides additional info like total amount of transfered data and min/max network usage.

How do I access Ntopng? ›

By default, the GUI can be accessed from any web browser at http://<ntopng IP>:3000/ . A different port can be specified as a command line option during ntopng startup. The first page that always pops out contains the login form - provided that the user has not decided to turn authentication off during startup.

How can I monitor my network traffic at home? ›

This article explains how to monitor network traffic using your router or Wireshark.
What to Know
  1. To locate your router's IP address, in Windows, open a Command Prompt and run ipconfig. ...
  2. Using a router, open browser and enter router IP address > Enter > locate Device List > Status, or Bandwidth or Network Monitoring.
3 Dec 2021

How do you see what sites are visited on my wifi? ›

How Do I Check My Wi-Fi Router History?
  1. Log into your router via your web browser.
  2. Click Advanced. Depending on the router you're using, you may need to click something different such as Administration, Logs, or even Device History.
  3. Click System. ...
  4. Click System Log.
  5. Scroll down and browse through your router's history.
13 Jan 2022

How can I monitor my home network data usage? ›

Some routers can show you detailed data usage per-device. Go to your router's app or logon page, then look for the data usage section. If your router doesn't provide that feature then you can go to GlassWire's “Things” tab with GlassWire for PC to see a list of all the devices (Internet of Things) on your network.

How can I monitor traffic through my router? ›

How to Use a Router to Monitor Network Traffic?
  1. Navigate to your router login panel on your web browser. ...
  2. Look for Advanced Setup. ...
  3. Search for Traffic Monitoring, Traffic Meter, or something similar. ...
  4. Turn on traffic monitoring if it isn't already active. ...
  5. Look for the monitoring options.
10 Jul 2022


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