Karen's 'Net Monitor is another nice monitoring tool that has been recommended by a 4sysops reader. Last time the Open Source utility has been updated was in August 2008, but it appears to work fine on Vista and Windows 7.
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Karen's 'Net Monitor supports HTTP, SMTP, and ping monitoring. You can configure the freeware tool to send an email if pings to a specific host have failed. This does not work for HTTP and SMTP monitoring. All failures can be logged, and 'Net Monitor also beeps if a site is unreachable. What I like is that the log file is displayed in the GUI. This gives you a quick overview of the availability of all monitored sites in the past. Other monitoring tools such as PingInfoView only show the current state of all monitored hosts.
The configuration loads automatically when you launch 'Net Monitor. Thus, if you often have to ping the same computers, you don't have to re-enter or load the configuration before you can start pinging. To test only specific hosts, you can select the corresponding entries and then click "Test Selected Now." Independent of this feature, it is possible to disable the settings of individual hosts. This is useful if you want to monitor some hosts only every now and then. Testing selected or enabled hosts is for manually checking their availability. This corresponds to firing up ping on the command prompt. If you want Karen's 'Net Monitor to continuously test reachability, you have to enable automatic/time testing.
Karen's 'Net Monitor doesn't have many features but its user interface is well thought-out. The only thing I dislike is that the pane for the list of configured hosts is not resizable. This makes the tool unhandy if you want to monitor many hosts.