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If you thought that pinging a host to check its availability is a simple thing, you will change your mind after you try EMCO Ping Monitor. It is amazing what kind of things you can do with ICMP echo requests.
EMCO Ping Monitor - Hosts overview
Configuring hosts ^
When you add a host to Ping Monitor, you can configure a variety of settings that determine how the ICMP echo requests are sent and how Ping Monitor reacts to replies. Most of those settings are pre-configured and can be changed in the Preferences of the ping tool. These general settings apply to all hosts where you didn’t change the default configuration.
You can work with either the host’s IP address or its DNS name. Ping Monitor also supports dynamic IP addresses. If you work with many servers, you might want to add the host to a group (a new feature in version 5.0), which allows you to analyze and compare the availability of multiple hosts easily. Another way to manage multiple machines is to add them by IP range.
General host information
The ping options are important if you intend to use Ping Monitor to get notified when a server is down. If you don’t configure these settings correctly, you will generate many false positives.
The Ping Timeout specifies the time, in milliseconds, that Ping Monitor waits for a ping from the host after the echo request has been sent. The tool counts the number of failed pings and will report an outage whenever the number reaches the configuration in the Outage Condition field.
If the reply arrives in time, Ping Monitor will send the next ping after the Passed Pings Interval. The Failed Pings Interval setting defines when Ping Monitor will send a new request after a failed ping. If you set a low number here, you might want to increase the Outage Condition to decrease the likelihood of a false positive—for instance, during temporary network issues.
You can usually leave the default configuration for Packet Size and Time to Live (TTL). TTL determines the number of routers that an ICMP packet may pass before it is dropped. The main purpose of this setting is to prevent packets from circling the Internet forever.
Monitoring interval options
The Monitoring Intervals settings allow you to define the days and the hours when Ping Monitor checks the availability of the host. This can be useful if a server is not always online.
The settings on the Automation page are important to prevent Ping Monitor from continuously sending notifications to admins after problems on a host have been detected. If Ping Monitor is unable to establish a connection to the host during the timeout configured here, you can tell the tool to stop or pause monitoring. If you configured the tool to only send notifications in case of an outage (defined on the Monitoring page), you can use the last setting to stop or pause monitoring after a certain number of outages.
Auto-stop monitoring options
The Custom Actions page enables you to execute an application or script whenever Ping Monitor detects a certain condition, such as connection loss or connection restore.
Ping Monitor supports three kinds of internal notifications. You can play a sound and display a balloon message on the machine that runs Ping Monitor. These notifications make sense if you run the tool on your own desktop. For 24-hour monitoring, you will prefer the e-mail notifications.
The Notifications page offers additional options to ensure that Ping Monitor doesn’t get on admins’ nerves with too many alerts. You can specify the e-mail recipients on the next page. As with all settings, you can do this per host or use the default configuration for all hosts.
The notification sounds can be configured as well. These settings are not just a matter of taste. In a noisy office environment, you might want to choose a sound that you can’t miss easily.
Reviewing connection data ^
After you have added and configured a host, it will appear in the navigation pane on the left side. In the main pane, you can view detailed information about the status of the host. The Overview tab shows your configuration and gives you general information about the connection health, such as uptime, downtime interval, or failed pings count.
Live Data tab
The Live Data pane shows you a graphical presentation of the host’s response times. The Historical Data pane displays a similar graph for the response time in the past. You can specify the time interval for which you want to retrieve historical ping data. Finally, the Events tab informs you about important occurrences in the past.
If you select multiple hosts (the way you select files in File Explorer) or if you click a group, Ping Monitor will compare the response times on the Details tab.
Monitoring multiple hosts
In addition to the live and historical data in the program’s main pane, you can use Ping Monitor’s powerful reporting features to stay informed about the availability and response times of your servers.
Configuring a summary report
The monitoring tool supports HTML and PDF reports that can either just contain a summary of uptime response times or include detailed information such as charts and detailed numeric data. Ping Monitor lets you schedule reports and can send them automatically via e-mail. You can also automatically upload reports to a web server, which is a new feature in version 5.0.
EMCO Ping Monitor is perhaps the most sophisticated ping tool on the market. The only feature I missed was the ability to test connections via TCP and UDP. ICMP is sometimes blocked by firewalls and can’t tell you if a particular service is operative.
Nevertheless, if you only need to test whether a host is online, Ping Monitor gives you all the features you need to monitor multiple servers. The free edition can only monitor five hosts and is limited in its configuration options. However, the pro edition starts at only $99, money that is well invested if you are notified in time when one of your servers is down.
This table gives you an overview of the differences between the free and the professional editions. If you have been using a previous version of Ping Monitor, you might be interested to learn more about the new features in version 5.0.