How to Monitor Your Network

As Online Marketers, we put a lot of time, effort, and attention into what we do online:  blogging, emailing, testing ideas, creating ads, etc.

We often overlook the need to monitor the foundation that supports all our efforts:  your home network.

I know what you’re thinking:  “Please!  Not a technology article!” 🙂

Don’t worry; I won’t write about the bits and bytes of how all the components of your home network interact to give you the (hopefully) pleasurable Internet experience that you enjoy each day.

However, I will write about some simple steps that you can take to ensure that your home network is running smoothly, with the performance that you expect.

 

Let’s start with your workstation.  You may have a desktop or a laptop, a Mac or a Windows-based machine.  (If you’re technically advanced enough to regularly use a Linux-based operating system for daily tasks, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this article!)Notebook

Is your workstation running as fast as you think it should be?  ‘Or, has it slowed over time?

Is your workstation connected to a switch (becoming more and more rare these days), or is it  to “connected” your home Wi-Fi setup?

How do you know you are getting the connection speed that you should get?

 

Let’s take a look at your switch or router.  This is the unit that is often the gateway or middle-man between you and the Internet.

Is everything running smoothly with your switch or router?  No overheating?  No slowness?  Are you sure?

 

What about your Internet connection?  Are you getting the speed that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) says that you should be getting?  How do you know?

 

Without having a system or software in place for monitoring all the aspects of your home network, it is difficult to know what is causing a “problem” or lack of performance at any given time.  It’s even difficult to determine if what you think is “normal” has actually been a problem the entire time. 🙂

There are dozens of ways to monitor your workstation to determine if it is functioning at optimal performance.  There are an equal number of ways to monitor your network to determine the same thing.  What is “best” is best determined by what you like to see….

Since most people tend to shun very technical reporting, and virtually no marketer really has time for it, the occasional weekly (or even monthly) monitoring should suffice.

Keeping it visual with charts and/or graphs is often the best way to go.

The software I use to monitor my network is made by a company called Paessler.  The software title is “PRTG Network Monitor“.  It excels in monitoring the bandwidth, availability, and usage statistics of your network.

The software can monitor your server/workstation, your switch, and your router.  The bandwidth (“speed”) of your connections between the devices and to the Internet is presented in easy to read graphs.  This can help you quickly build a “baseline”, or history of normal usage.  This baseline can be used to help spot problem areas when they occur.

If all of this sounds too technical, I can assure you that it is mostly just terminology! 🙂

  • Bandwidth – Basically the speed between any two devices or to the Internet
  • Availability – Is this device/connection “up” or “on”?
  • Usage – “How often” and “how much” does activity occur on a device?

As long as you monitor these three statistics in your network, you are covering the majority of what you need to solve/report any network issues…sometimes before they occur.

The most technical interaction you will have will be to setup “SNMP” on your network devices.

SNMP is a service protocol that can be setup on your workstation and your network devices.  It allows software like PRTG to be able to gather performance information from your network.

You may have to do some research on how to setup SNMP for your specific workstation/network device.  However, you can always make things easier for yourself by getting someone who knows about it to do it for you. 🙂  It actually takes less than 5 minutes per device to setup.

 

PRTG will continue to run the background collecting performance information.  This means that you will want to run PRTG on a separate server or workstation that is (preferably) always on.Network Monitor

 

Network monitoring is indeed an advanced topic, especially from an online marketing perspective!

However, the effort put into the one-time setup of some monitoring software can help insure that you get the best possible connectivity on your next webinar session or Skype voice/video conversation. 😉

You can check out a free version of PRTG here:  http://www.paessler.com/prtg

 

Enjoy! 🙂



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Author: Wilton White

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