Getting started with IPHost Network Monitor

Getting started with IPHost Network Monitor

This page provides you with essential information on using IPHost Network Monitor. Note: as IPHost is a general purpose monitoring application, there may be several scenarios of its setup and usage. We provide a typical quick start sequence below.

Product overview

IPHost Network Monitor is a Windows application, capable of monitoring various network devices and alerting to the changes in performance and/or availability.

IPHost Network Monitor allows you to organize continuous monitoring of your critical network assets: servers, applications and network equipment.

Supported monitoring methods are:

  • SNMP v1/v2c/v3;
  • SNMP traps, payload can be validated (match against a regular expression);
  • WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) queries, including resources utilization (CPU, memory, processes etc) and custom queries;
  • Web sites and services monitoring – HTTP/HTTPS GET and POST requests including response validation, FTP;
  • Web transaction monitor (WTM) – for complex multi-step monitoring scenarios of using sites and Web applications;
  • DNS: check whether DNS server works, and allows to validate its response; can also detect DNS zone update;
  • database servers – Oracle, MySQL and MSSQL Server, others via ODBC;
  • mail servers – SMTP including actual sending of test e-mail message, POP3, IMAP;
  • email round-trip – sends an email via SMTP, then checks its delivery on POP3 or IMAP server;
  • file size, disk space, Windows service availability;
  • basic connectivity checks – PING, TCP connect, UDP datagram send/receive;
  • run a script or program, including Nagios plugins and Python scripts;
  • run a script on remote computer via SSH;
  • collecting resources usage metrics via SSH;
  • traffic monitoring via SNMP and WMI (average speed and data volume for specified time interval).
  • virtual machines (hosts and guests metrics), supported are Hyper-V, VMWare, KVM and XenServer (the latter two – via application templates)
  • office applications, such as Microsoft SharePoint, MS Exchange (via application templates)

Application monitoring templates offer a great number of monitor presets to cover many typical use cases; users can also create their own templates and exchange them with one another via templates community site. More than 50 server and application monitoring templates are provided.

You can configure IPHost Network Monitor to alert you if a given monitor enters a problem state (performance or availability issue). The following simple actions are available:

  • send e-mail (a number of template variable can be used; email text and recipients list can be completely customized);
  • send SMS (short message) via GSM phone/modem or email;
  • set SNMP variable value;
  • play sound (both in web interface and monitoring service);
  • execute a program (for automatic problem resolving) or Python script;
  • execute a script on remote computer via SSH;
  • send HTTP(S) request (this allows to post notifications to a variety of messaging services, such as Slack, HipChat, Stride, Microsoft Teams etc);
  • show pop-up message;
  • send network message via Net Send;
  • send message to instant messenger (Jabber/ICQ/AOL IM).

Every simple actions can have its own schedule; alerts can include arbitrary number of simple actions, thus providing very flexible way of reacting to monitoring events.

System requirements

Note that the requirements below assume all your monitors are being polled once a minute, you retain monitoring data for 180 days (half a year) and keep at least 3 backup copies of your monitoring database.

The actual resources amount will differ; values below are shown to provide you with starting point to assess your needs.

Minimal license Monitors number RAM recommended
(Gb)
Minimal CPU speed
(GHz)
Database size
(Gb)
Backups disk usage
(Gb)
Freeware 50 0.75 0.8 0.1 0.15
Basic 200 200 1.0 1 0.25 0.3
Professional 500 500 2.0 1.5 0.7 0.8
Professional 1000 1000 3.0 2 1.4 1.6
Enterprise 2500 4.0 2.5 3.5 4.0

(*) Note: you need at least twice the database size amount of free disk space to generate a backup.

(**) If two or more CPU cores are available, IPHost overall performance increases.

Quick start: monitor a small network

Typical small network consists of several computers, running typical services (mail server, DNS server, domain controller, file server etc), along with workplace computers, all included in a single local network.

Since all the network devices are within a single network, ther’s usually no need in installing remote network agents. Simple network discovery can be sufficient to detect all the vital network devices and set up basic set of monitors.

Please read Quick start: monitor a small network page for detailed instructions of such a scenario.

Recommended settings

Default settings IPHost is installed with, match most setups. While monitoring setup spans over few hosts and doesn’t require much system resources, default settings work fine.

As monitoring setup grows, keeping it efficient and easy to manage may become a challenge. It is recommended to address possible growth issues by setting up monitoring properly: take into account possible situations and simplify maintenance tasks.

This could be achieved by

  • avoiding unique, individual settings
  • allocating enough resources
  • providing failover notification means
  • making sure monitoring setup health is itself monitored

Please read the above in more details on recommended settings page.

Security considerations

Monitoring deals with sensitive data: both hosts and monitors settings may contain information not intended for public access. Apart from that, IPHost is built from several software components; security issues may be found associated with those components. Keeping the installation up-to-date, from security viewpoint, is important.

Note that information security isn’t one-time task. It’s both process and discipline; if certain habits are developed to address current and possible risks, keeping your system secure becomes simpler task.

In short, security-related recommendations can be briefly explained as

  • keep everything up-to-date and properly upgraded
  • utilize “least access possible” approach
  • avoid using defaults: check and update settings as recommended by security experts
  • assume nothing: when incorporating new element into monitoring (say, running external program), manage it as possible security threat

Read the above in more details on Security considerations page.

Using backups

Monitoring everything important; keeping all the devices and services well-configured and up-to-date; making backup copies – these three activities are fundamental for every IT infrastructure.

Recent IPHost versions all have built-in tools for database maintenance. Monitoring configuration, gathered performance data, reports – all these data pieces are kept within IPHost monitoring database. Unless one cares about creating backup copies of monitoring data, they will be damaged or altogether lost, it’s only a matter of time.

The following guidelines can help you to understand whether you would need backing up your monitoring data:

  • it only takes a few mouse clicks to request manual backup creation; it usually takes 2-3 minutes to have the backup complete
  • it can take hours to process and fix damaged database (imagine hardware failures; blackouts; security incidents; OS or other software failures causing system to hang), and some data still can be irreversibly lost
  • keeping backups on the same storage device where the database itself is located can result in total data loss if corresponding storage device fails
  • testing backups (by restoring them) only takes a few minutes more, but it confirms the backup is valid and can be relied upon

For more details on the above please read Using backups page.

Common pitfalls

Whereas default IPHost settings do work fine for small monitoring setups, as more monitors are added, care should be taken to avoid certain configuration mistakes.

Every monitor’s poll can result in quite a number of actions. While there are few monitors, the impact of that can be negligible. As number of monitors and/or frequency of polling grows, that can easily become the bottleneck.

The following is the list of most frequent configuration flaws:

  • utilizing too much resources by polling monitors too frequently, or doing discovery on large networks over all known ports
  • using no password to restrict access to GUI client and/or Web interface
  • running monitoring on busy systems
  • making no backup copies of monitoring database and/or custom Web interface pages

While every effort was made to make IPHost work as efficiently as possible, while staying as error-proof as possible, we still recommend to optimize IPHost installation for performance at first opportunity.

Read more about typical user errors on Common pitfalls page.

Troubleshooting

In case IPHost doesn’t work as expected or breaks, please follow the below shortlist to have the problem handled as fast as possible:

  • send us IPHost version (“Help > About IPHost Network Monitor…”), OS type, version and build number (run “winver” command)
  • send us IPHost logs (compress the entire C:\ProgramData\IPHost Network Monitor\logs folder and send us resulting archive)
  • explain us in most details the issue (what was done, what happened, what was expected instead)
  • send us all screenshots (namely, those of error messages, Logs view, affected monitor’s parameters (Main parameters, State conditions, Alerting tabs)
  • contact us via means on support page

Read more about handling monitoring problems on Troubleshooting page.

IPHost Network Monitor 5.1 build 13330 of July 27, 2018. File size: 60MB


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