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When assessing network performance monitoring tools, some of the features to focus on are the ease of setup, network discovery and reporting. See how the network monitoring software solutions from SolarWinds and Paessler PRTG compare. Also, check out TechRepublic’s comparisons of Zabbix vs. Paessler PRTG and Nagios vs. Zabbix.

SEE: Hiring Kit: Network Engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor vs. PRTG Network Monitor feature comparison

User interfaces

In terms of the user interface, both SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor and Paessler PRTG Network Monitor offer a Windows GUI and a web-based GUI. You can access each platform online and on the device.

The initial setup

Paessler PRTG operates on the central server together with one or more probes. The setup process is simple. You can monitor the network entirely with only one server. Paessler PRTG for Windows can be downloaded in five or fewer minutes. It takes you through the configuration process by a configuration guru. Paessler PRTG does not store its information in an SQL database; it has a unique storage system.

Paessler PRTG is also scalable for ever-expanding businesses because it’s multi-layered. Big organizations can upscale their servers, probes and sensors to meet custom needs.

On the other hand, SolarWinds NPM requires users to have 100 MB of hard drive space for the installation. This is more than the space Paessler PRTG takes up. For SolarWinds NPM to operate appropriately, you also need extra Windows solutions like Windows server 2003 or 2008, .NET Framework 3.5 or higher, and Microsoft SQL Server 2005 SP3 or later.

The SolarWinds NPM setup process is not complicated, but it is difficult compared with the Paessler NRTG process. In terms of lightweight features, Paessler NRTG is better.

Network discovery

Once the installation and setup process is done for SolarWinds NPM, the network discovery process starts immediately. Auto-discovery recognizes all devices in your network, which saves time: There’s no need to enter information manually. NPM programs that lack this feature require you to key in all your data on all devices, which is inconvenient.

The Paessler PRTG network performance network also has a network discovery feature. With this product, it’s possible to scan networks over a range of IPs. Between the two, SolarWinds’ network performance is much better than Paessler PRTG because of its excellent network discovery maps and design.


Most of the monitoring activities take place in the dashboard, a central hub that displays everything that takes place under your network together with live data. A dashboard is good, but a customizable dashboard is way better.

The SolarWinds network performance monitor is customizable. You can view devices in colored codes, graphs and pie charts. This feature indicates the performance of the infrastructure. The product also has its PerfStack Performance Analysis Dashboard, allowing you to drag and drop data into a timeline for comparison. With this program, you can compare different data sets side by side. The data displays allow you to troubleshoot specific network problems without hovering around many windows.

SEE: 5 programming languages network architects should learn (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Like the SolarWinds network performance monitor, Paessler NRTG network performance network offers a customizable dashboard. The dashboard is built with charts, maps and dials options. You can create map objects for a unique network with custom HTML codes.

The SolarWinds network performance monitor takes the lead in terms of dashboard simplicity. Its Perfstack Performance Analysis Dashboard makes it unique, efficient and effective.


Notifications are a way to keep you updated on what’s going on in your network. Paessler NRTG offers you email and SMS notifications once specific activities are recognized. You can also design your notification messages. With the PRTG app, you can also receive push notifications to your phone. The app is available for Windows, Android and iOS.

With SolarWinds, you can also create your trigger conditions to activate alerts, so you only deal with the most pressing issues. SolarWinds and Paessler NRTG are evenly matched in terms of notifications.

Network monitoring and flow support

SNMP polling is integrated with SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer. The Traffic Analyzer allows you to capture packets and NetFlow, J-Flow, IPFIX, sFlow and NetStream data.

Paessler PRTG network monitor uses SNMP polling, WMI, NetFlow and sFlow to gather your network information. It gives you a network monitor that can run packet analysis. In this instance, SolarWinds has a more compelling package.


SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor has over 100 default templates that you can use to schedule and customize network performance reports. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor also has customizable reports. A report tab is dedicated to producing and managing the information. It’s possible to customize the display and schedule of future reports. In terms of reporting simplicity, Paessler NRTG takes the win.


SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor offers a fully functional free trial for 30 days. The price starts at $1,638 for 100 elements. The cost to support unlimited aspects can cost you up to $32,525.

Paessler NRTG Network Monitor also has a free trial. The network will cost you $1,799 for 50 devices and $15,999 for 1,000 devices. The price is on a per-server license basis. NRTG is available as PRTG Enterprise Monitor.

More head-to-head feature comparisons

Features SolarWinds Paessler PRTG
User interface Web-based GUI
Windows GUI
Web-based GUI
Windows GUI
Dashboard Customizable Customizable
Discovery Auto Auto
Network monitoring and flow support SNMP
Net Flow
Net Stream w/ SolarWinds Net Flow Traffic Analyzer
Net Flow
Alerts and notifications Email
custom trigger conditions
Push Notifications
Mobile App
Create own scripts
Reports Email
Push Notifications
Mobile App
Create own scripts
Scheduled reporting
Price Free trial
From $1,638
Free for less than 100 sensors
Paid versions starting from $1,700

Should you choose SolarWinds or Paessler PRTG?

In terms of unique and advanced procedures, SolarWinds performance network monitor offers a better package for all business sizes. The PerfStack Performance Analysis Dashboard and customizable notifications make monitoring your network easier with SolarWinds. One key feature for Paessler NRTG is that it’s scalable, and the initial setup process is easier than it is on SolarWinds. In terms of autodiscovery, SolarWinds takes the lead. Ultimately, the decision between these network monitoring software solutions will depend on your business use cases, needs and budget.

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