AdRem NetCrunch 9.3.3 review

A lightning-quick deployment, informative console and top value makes NetCrunch a great monitoring tool for SMBs

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£2,095
  • Affordable licensing; Good mapping tools; Simple setup
  • Limited hyper-V monitoring

Small businesses that want network monitoring in double-quick time will find Adrem's NetCrunch 9.3.3 the perfect choice. We installed the Server and Console components on a Windows Server 2012 R2 host, scanned the lab network and had a full read-out on all our systems in only 15 minutes.

NetCrunch also uses a simple licensing scheme where any device with an IP address is considered a node. This differs from the sensor-based licensing used by other products as it allows you to monitor as many (or as few) elements on a device as you wish without consuming extra licenses.

You can access the NetCrunch server locally, load the Console on a remote system or reach it via a web browser, although the latter only provides a subset of functions. Either way, the well-designed console and its Atlas summary screen provides a colour-coded view of the network, making it easy to spot problems.

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Smart Pages aid troubleshooting as the Atlas automatically presents views based on available content and allows you create your own. The Nodes Overview dashboard is ideal for monitoring smaller networks as it presents a graphical status report on all devices which can be customised using drag and drop.

NetCrunch even creates Layer 2 maps of network segments, which incorporate bi-directional, real-time views of network traffic passing between each node. It's also easy to configure as all program, network scan and report settings are accessed from a single tab in the Atlas top-level view.

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Monitoring Packs group together commons sets of performance monitors with alert conditions, and include ones for system and service monitoring, Active Directory, VMware, DNS, DHCP, Linux, OS X and many more. You can add them manually but NetCrunch does most of the hard work as it automatically assigns relevant ones to each system during the scan.

NetCrunch inventories each system and we found OS identification to be spot on, with it correctly picking up our Windows Server 2012 R2 and 2016 systems plus Windows 7 and 10 desktops. The Top Charts tab is very informative and shows systems with the highest CPU, memory and storage usage plus nodes with the most problems. NetCrunch also receives NetFlow and sFlow data, breaks it down into graphs of apps and provides detailed flow analytics.

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Features for virtualized environments are a mixed bag, as the VMware Monitoring Pack delivered a wealth of information about our ESXi host. It provided performance statistics, hardware monitoring including the host's datastores, power supplies, fans and temperatures plus details on each VM, their status and resource consumption.

We could also add selected VMware VMs to the Atlas dashboard as separate monitored entities with a single mouse click. Hyper-V monitoring is very basic as this Pack can't list VMs and only provides details and alerts on host CPU utilization and the Hyper-V Windows Management services.

Actions allow NetCrunch to carry out a set of commands as a reaction to specific alerts. Basic actions include playing a sound or sending an email while control actions can run a program or script, reboot an errant system, pause, start or stop a Windows service and more.

The free GrafCrunch server is designed to display NetCrunch data sources on a big screen as real-time graphs. This latest version has been updated with a range of useful monitoring templates but only use Chrome to access GrafCrunch as Edge won't display anything.

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AdRem's NetCrunch delivers a super range of network monitoring tools and its node-based licensing makes it very affordable. We were impressed with its remarkably fast deployment and found its colourful console highly informative and very easy to interpret.

Verdict

AdRem’s NetCrunch delivers a super range of network monitoring tools and its node-based licensing makes it very affordable. We were impressed with its remarkably fast deployment and found its colourful console highly informative and very easy to interpret.

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