Choosing The Right Server Monitoring Solution

Choosing a server monitoring solution is an important decision, which is worth serious and careful consideration from both IT Managers and external outsourcing companies alike.

The below guide will provide the essential facts required to make a decision on the server monitoring solution that is right for your company.

What is server monitoring and how does it work?

Server monitoring is the process by which servers and databases are automatically monitored by a computer system for any serious faults or changes in status. The programs are also designed to store historical records of server status and allow remote access to the data, thereby allowing the user to view the server’s functionality even during times when the workstations are unmanned.

Server monitoring solutions can be configured to alert you to problems in several ways. The system can be designed to automatically correct minor problems by performing functions such as restarting the server hardware, or even updating anti-virus software automatically.

In addition to this, most of the server monitoring tools on the market today provide email or SMS notifications in the event of a server failure. The notifications provided by the program are entirely configurable, and you can configure the system to alert you only in the event of a major catastrophe, or to send a message for every service update.

A period of time should be allocated to get to know the functionality of the server itself, and also to determine which of the notifications are most useful, allowing determination of which notifications can be turned off without affecting your ability to monitor the service.

Server monitoring is different to website monitoring. This helpful wiki page explains this in further detail -

What elements of your server are monitored?

Most server monitoring programs are multi-threaded, meaning that they can be configured to keep track of a great many variables at one time. This opens up the potential for the program to monitor the server’s traffic and usage statistics, antivirus protection status, historical and current operational state, information pertaining to the backup and recovery status of your server, and much more.

These systems are capable of storing all of this data and archiving it in a file type of your choice, as well as providing visual representations of the state of each piece of hardware in the server network, thereby allowing quick and easy access to the information you require.

It is worth noting that mac users can also take advantage of server monitoring technologies. There are various applications available from your local Mac Support specialists to find out more.

What costs are involved?

The costs of server monitoring solutions come in two parts: the initial cost of setting up a server monitoring system, and the ongoing costs of license renewal and maintenance.

The immediate costs of a server monitoring system include the server license for the monitoring software of your choice, and an optional dedicated work terminal set up to monitor the server. These costs are quite straightforward, and can be ascertained by having a look at each company’s website, or contacting the company for some further information. Future costs include the prospect of expansion of the network, and the subsequent purchase of licenses to accommodate this, as well as technical help with the system.

The costs of technical IT Support can be dramatically reduced by purchasing a system, which is simple enough to allow operation and troubleshooting without having to refer to a professional helpline or service. Some IT Services companies provide free maintenance services to their customers, so this is also worth checking out before making a purchase.

The training that your employees will require to operate the server monitoring system is also of concern when considering the costs of a system such as this, and should therefore be factored in to any calculations on the subject. Not only does training your employees take them away from the work that they are being paid for, a third party expert may need to be employed to conduct the training of employees to use the server monitoring utilities correctly.

Paid vs. free Server monitoring solutions, which should I choose?

In general, the only advantage of a free server monitoring solution over a paid one is the fact that it’s free. Paid systems are often vastly superior to free ones in terms of functionality, usability and resolution.

Although there are several free applications which surpass those at the lower end of the spectrum of paid applications, the majority of free applications can in no way compete with their paid counterparts. Free applications will invariably not provide a help or technical support line, and will require almost all of the updates and services to be provided by employees at your company.

Breakdowns and technical faults must be handled in-house with a free system, while paid systems provide the security and peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re in the hands of the professionals. In addition to the differences in service type from each of these classes of application, paid systems are able to update themselves much faster than their free alternatives, leading to a greater monitoring resolution.

Choosing which of these options, paid or free, is right for you, though, depends exactly on the situation under which your server will be used. If your server monitoring utilities will be used to handle crucial servers or sensitive data, it will likely be worth investing in a paid system. For server systems which supply small businesses or home-based networks, a free server monitoring solution will likely be the best option since the cost of licenses and ongoing renewals for a paid system will likely be prohibitive for applications such as this.


This article provides all the information required to make an informed decision on the best server monitoring utilities to suit the system you have in place, and gives some direction as to whether a free or a paid system is of greatest advantage in a range of potential situations.

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Katie is currently taking a break from IT and writing for various technology companies across the UK. As a fully qualified Apple Certified Technical cocordinator, Katie has a keen interest in all things Apple.