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8 Best NetFlow Analyzers and Collector Tools for Your Network

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One of the most significant aspects of monitoring a network infrastructure is the ability to do NetFlow analysis.

If you are looking for the best NetFlow analyzer and collector tools for your network, this article can help you.

First, let’s understand some fundamentals of NetFlow Protocol.

What is NetFlow?

NetFlow is a Cisco-developed network monitoring protocol that records information about the frequency and sorts of data traffic passing through an access point. A NetFlow receiver is used by a NetFlow protocol to capture data packets and transmit flow statistics from NetFlow-enabled equipment. The exported flow data is subsequently processed via visualizations, real-time notifications, and historical information using a NetFlow analyzer.

NetFlow monitoring tool involves three elements:

  • Flow Exporter – It is in charge of gathering flow data from NetFlow-enabled devices and sending it to a flow collector.
  • Flow Collector – This component collects the exported flow data.
  • Flow Analyzer – It is responsible for evaluating and analyzing the data acquired by the flow collector.

NetFlow analyzers help the user identify bandwidth-hogging devices, identify potential problems, and increase the overall functionality of the network.

What is the purpose of NetFlow?

The NetFlow protocol collects flow metrics that are commonly used for:

  • Bandwidth monitoring and diagnosing the Root Cause
  • Controlling and Planning Bandwidth Usage
  • Detection of network threats like DDoS assaults, ARP spoofing, and Man-in-the-Middle (MIM attacks).
  • Examination of connectivity issues causing application slowdowns and overload.

We have summed up a list of the best NetFlow Analyzers and Collector Tools for Your Network

Let’s get rolling!

PAESSLER PRTG

PAESSLER PRTG is specialized network management and monitoring solution. A NetFlow sensor is included in the free edition, as well as many other capabilities such as In-depth reporting, alarms, and SNMP monitoring. PRTG’s NetFlow Analyzer allows the users to inspect and monitor bandwidth and analyze its usage.

PRTG offers its own version of the autodiscovery mechanism. Without the need for any manual configuration, the Autodiscovery method locates devices across the network and begins monitoring. This makes it incredibly simple to operate the network because the network administrator doesn’t have to spend a lot of time dealing with configuration options.

PRTG NetFlow collector is simple to set up. There’s even a step-by-step video to show you how to do it.

This network Monitor additionally provides the ability to send notifications. Users have the option of receiving alerts through email, push notifications, and SMS.

Features:

  • Easy-to-use dashboards and multiple user interfaces.
  • Other Flow sensors like S-Flow and J-flow provided by PRTG can be used to monitor protocols like Citrix, FTP, and email traffic.
  • It mainly records packet headers, speeding up processing and reducing inventory costs for prolonged storage.
  • For network traffic visualization, it employs a straightforward graphing mechanism.
  • In-depth reporting and cluster failover solution is available.

PRTG monitors your whole network, including bandwidth, data centers, runtime environments, webpages, and VOIP (Voice over IP) services. PRTG licenses give the user access to all software capabilities, including alarms, reporting, assistance, and the whole sensors library.

100 sensors are available in the free version. A 1-month free trial of the paid version is also available.

ManageEngine

The ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer comes with several features for managing complicated networks that rely heavily on NetFlow. It’s an excellent tool for gathering, evaluating, and reporting critical network traffic data, such as what it’s being used for and who’s accessing it.

It comes with a standard framework with multiple real-time pie charts and bar graphs, including a heat map indicating the condition of monitored connections, leading protocols and conversations, and more included in the web-based user interface.

And here is a demo on how to configure the ManageEngine tool for NetFlow analysis.

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This ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer supports a wide variety of protocols, including NetFlow, making it ideal for monitoring Cisco infrastructure. This tool also supports the most popular flow technologies like S-Flow, J-Flow, IPFIX, NetStream, and AppFlow. Its user-friendly interface immediately identifies bandwidth hogs and other network activity irregularities.

Features:

  • Cisco NBAR and CBQoS reporting
  • In-built NetFlow generator – It collects and transforms network packets into NetFlow packets in the background, allowing you to analyze systems that don’t support flow.
  • Displays details about the devices that are connected to network nodes.

Only two interfaces can be monitored simultaneously in the free edition. It also offers a 30-day free trial. During this trial period, it can monitor an unlimited number of interfaces. After that, it reverts to the standard version.

SolarWinds

SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer(NTA) is a network bandwidth analysis and monitoring tool that communicates with networking equipment like routers to collect information. It analyzes the network traffic in real-time.

SolarWinds NTA can give you a better idea of your network’s bandwidth utilization, such as which IP address or program is using the most bandwidth at any given time.  This application collects flow data from flow-enabled devices monitored by the SolarWinds network monitoring tool. It also supports a variety of flow technologies such as NetFlow, S-Flow, J-Flow (Juniper flow), IPFIX, and NetStream.

It takes incoming and outgoing traffic data, correlates it in a usable manner, and displays it to users in a web-based interface for network traffic monitoring and analysis. The entire design is highly contemporary and elegant, making it simple to grow to the needs of any larger company.

This NTA (Network Traffic Analysis) suite comes with a lot of customization and other common capabilities that many other software products don’t have. Here is a complete demonstration of how to configure the SolarWinds NetFlow Analyzer and how to use it for traffic analysis.

You can use the SolarWinds NTA tool to monitor the network bandwidths, discover traffic trends, and deliberately avoid bandwidth hogs, all of which are important for making the network quicker and more efficient. Information from NetFlow analyzers makes it simple to spot defective or harmful activity to the whole network infrastructure.

And here is a demo on how to Use the SolarWinds Flow Navigator.

Once deployed, NPM and NTA provide a comprehensive set of tools for controlling multi-vendor infrastructures. Bandwidth monitoring, packet analysis, performance assessment, alarms, customized reporting, regulation optimization, and other capabilities are included.

Features:

  • Transforms the never-ending streams of bandwidth into clearly readable graphs and charts.
  • Easily evaluates, resolves, and debugs network bandwidth-related issues.
  • Interactive network congestion solutions are available for monitoring, analyzing, and controlling network-related issues.
  • SLA (Service Legal Agreement) tracking and monitoring functions are included in the enterprise-ready solution.

The SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer also comes with a 30-day free completely operational trial.

Nagios

Nagios network analyzer is an open-source platform that monitors devices, connections, and network infrastructures in real-time. When crucial thresholds are reached, suspicious network activities arise, or resource constraints are exceeded, Network Analyzer automatically sends out alerts, allowing administrators to quickly resolve problems.

Network administrators may instantly acquire high-level information about the condition of the infrastructure as well as highly detailed data for a systematic and detailed network modeling using this Network Analyzer, which gives an in-depth insight throughout all network traffic flows and any security issues.

And here is an intro to Nagios Network Analyzer that provides an instant overview of some of the most important elements for your NetFlow data analysis requirements that are currently available.

A fully adjustable bandwidth utilization calculator is available, allowing users to construct reports that summarize bandwidth usage by source address, IP address, or indeed any combination of the two.

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In case of any failure, Nagios automatically notify technical personnel regarding the issue, allowing them to initiate troubleshooting before business operations, end-users, or clients are impacted.

Features:

  • Advanced visualizations give users instant access to detailed information about network activity and overall bandwidth conditions.
  • Maintain historical network flow data and record specified groups of networking flow information.
  • Advanced Security and Reliability
  • Receive notifications when unusual activity occurs or when broadband consumption crosses the set limits.

Nagios Core is a completely public version, whereas Nagios XI is a standard of customer service with advanced capabilities and systematic configuration support.

nProbe

nProbe is an open-source web-based NetFlow capture and analysis tool. nTop handles packet capture, and it relies on nProbe, a NetFlow/IPFIX analyzer and collector, to get flow data. As a result, nProbe acts as a flow collector, receiving flow records from flow exporters and sending them to nTop, which analyses the data and presents it in a useful manner.

Features:

  • Multi-threaded framework for computing systems with several processors and cores.
  • IPv4 and IPv6 are fully supported.
  • IPS Mode is available for nDPI-based traffic filtering and blocking.
  • Multiple flow protocols are supported.
  • For Unix/macOS, this is a fantastic alternative.
  • Open-source tool and highly adaptable.

Basic and Professional with Plugins are the two editions of nProbe. The Pro version with Plugins is 299.95 Euros, and also the price depends on network infrastructure size. The professional edition includes capabilities such as recording and displaying previous program usage statistics, continuous monitoring through SNMP, configurable traffic updates, and more.

NetVizura

NetFlow Analyzer by NetVizura is an excellent analytical tool that provides sufficient data to diagnose the network issues by analyzing and collecting the Flow data from NetFlow Protocol. It’s a highly versatile tool that gives network admins more access to secure network architecture than just bandwidth monitoring.

NSEL (NetFlow Secure Event logging), sFlow, IPFIX, and other flow protocols are supported by this tool.

Features:

  • Web Traffic Reporting and Bandwidth monitoring
  • Customizable alarm setup with SMS and email alerts is possible.
  • Collected Flow Data can be accessed via the web interface.

Its license is purely based on your network infrastructure size and flow rate. One month free trial is available, and you can download this tool for different operating systems. MIB Browser and Event Log Analyzer are included in this trial package.

Plixer Scrutinizer

Plixer Scrutinizer provides you with a complete view of your network infrastructure. This technology provides IT experts with the full research and forensic evidence required to deal with different situations quickly and effectively. NetFlow, J-Flow, NetStream, and IPFIX are just some of the flow types it can gather and analyze.

This software gives you insight into both your local and remote environments. It also includes comprehensive reporting and analyzing capabilities, multi-tenancy compatibility, and a dispersed framework that makes it incredibly extensible.

Its multilayered framework, combined with simplified and effective data collecting mechanism, enables users to analyze millions of flows per second. With that data, the network administrator can discover the real issue and troubleshoot it very easily.

Features:

  • Analysis of real-time flows and in-depth reporting
  • Provides contextual forensics data for debugging and enhances network performance

The free edition just provides the last few hours of data only. To do the past historical analysis, you need to upgrade to the premium edition. If you are interested, you can request a demonstration from their official website.

Noction Flow Analyzer

Noction Flow Analyzer is another fantastic network traffic analyzer (NTA) tool that conducts real-time bandwidth monitoring and analysis tool. It uses various IP flow analytical standards to capture bandwidth data from networking equipment.

The entire design is highly contemporary and elegant, making it simple to grow to the needs of any company or individual. It tracks the progress of network load and bandwidth utilization, and when the bandwidth usage crosses threshold levels, it just notifies the user using the reporting system.

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Similar to other tools, different flow protocols like sFlow, IPFix, and NetStream are also supported by this tool.

Features:

  • Live Traffic and network performance monitoring
  • Control bandwidth utilization
  • To perform cascading drill-down evaluation it takes advantage of additional data filtering tools.
  • In-depth reporting and predefined alert mechanism

Noction supports a variety of flow devices like Cisco, Netgear, juniper, brocade, and so on. After the successful setup and deployment, it recognizes the devices automatically that export flows. A 30-day free trial is available.

FAQs on NetFlow Analysis

What is a Flow?

A flow is a set of data packets transmitted between the source and destination host with the same attributes. For example, live streaming video – In real-time, data packets transmits from the server to the user.

What is the difference between NetFlow, sFlow, and SNMP?

The Most typical use of SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) is to track router and switch bandwidth utilization for each port, as well as system metrics such as storage and CPU utilization, something NetFlow does not currently provide.

For statistics gathering and network traffic monitoring, NetFlow emerges as a much more compact protocol than SNMP.

To gather, control, and analyze transmitted data traffic on routers and switches, a layer-independent SFlow should be the option, particularly in a multi-protocol environment.

What are Bandwidth Hogs?

The phrase “bandwidth hog” refers to bandwidth users who consume much more bandwidth than other users on the same connection. In Simple terms, bandwidth hogs consume significantly more data than other users.

Wrapping Up

IT administrators can get a detailed picture of their network traffic using NetFlow analyzer and collectors tools. Since there is no single greatest NetFlow analyzer and collector tool for your network, it is just determined by factors such as the size of infrastructure, portability, pricing, and functionality. Every user has different needs, so pick the one that best fits your requirements.

I hope you found this article very useful in learning the best NetFlow Analyzers and Collector Tools for Your Network.

You may also be interested in learning about the best Wi-Fi Analyzer Software for Small to Medium Business Networks.



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