A network monitoring solution helps you get an overview of your network and it allows you to monitor the availability of devices and services. There are many sophisticated commercial monitoring tools. But The Dude from Mikro Tik is by far the best free network monitoring tool I have ever tried under Windows.

Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor in chief of 4sysops. He has more than 35 years of experience in IT management and system administration.

The Dude has so many features that I can't cover them all in this article. If you are planning to get a monitoring tool, you should definitely have a look at it before you evaluate high priced commercial solutions. This post will help you get started with it. I tested The Dude 3.0 beta6.

The DudeAfter the installation, you have to specify the subnets you want to monitor. If you have a big network, it is probably better to run your tests in a small subnet first. Scanning networks can take a while and the many devices displayed will only confuse you. To set up monitoring for a server, you only need the Probes, the Devices, and the Notification folder. The fact that there are 15 more folders lets you guess that The Dude has countless features to offer.

The Dude - probesThe Dude - MySQLThe Probes folder shows the services you can monitor out of the box. You will find the most famous network services like HTTP, Netbios or SMTP here. But the The Dude also lets you monitor routers, switches, disk space, memory and so on. You can also create your own probes easily. In my test, I created a probe to monitor a MySQL server. You just have to click on the red plus symbol on the toolbar to add a new probe. I configured the probe to connect to the TCP port 3306 only. You could also send a command to the server and let The Dude wait for a certain response (see screenshot). There are other ways to create probes. I am only scratching the surface here.

The Dude - notificationNext, I created an email notification method in the Notification folder. There are already a couple of preconfigured notifications such as "popup", "beep" or "log to eventlog". Creating an email notification is simple. You just have to specify the address and the SMTP server. It probably makes more sense to use just one SMTP server for all outgoing email notifications. You can configure such general settings by clicking on the corresponding symbol in the toolbar of The Dude. It is possible to create multiple email notification methods.

The Dude - devicesI, then, opened the settings of my test server in the Devices folder. Under Services, I added the MySQL probe I created and also the preset http and ping probes. You should check out the other tabs of the devices setting. The Outages tabs displays the states of the services (probes) and the History tab shows the response times of the probes on this server. There is more to discover here. To test the monitoring function I shut down and restarted the MySQL server a couple of times. The Dude always notified me reliably about the changes.

The Dude - historyEven though I tested only the beta of The Dude, it made a stable impression to me under Windows Server 2003. However, it crashed once on a Vista machine. So far HealthMonitor was my favorite free monitoring utility, but The Dude really plays in quite another league. It might not be a match for Microsoft Operations Manager. However, it certainly can compete with some other commercial monitoring solutions.

The only real downside of The Dude is its meager documentation. It only has 12 pages which is certainly not enough for such a complex program. For example, I wanted to find out how the memory probe works, but the help file doesn't even contain the word "memory". But there is a vivid user forum where you can always get help.

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13 Comments
  1. trasshbox 12 years ago

    Thank You for the review!
    It looks very nice, will try it asap.

    trasshbox

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  2. Michael Pietroforte 12 years ago

    Trashbox, thanks. Please, let me know if you liked it.

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  3. trasshbox 12 years ago

    Hi,

    I tested it yesterday and it worked fine on Windows Server 2003 - but on Vista it's really instable (3.0 beta 6).

    The network map with the available and monitorable devices / services was created fast and clearly. I added the notifications very easily and got finally a well arranged and monitored network map. Even the network links between the devices and the switches were shown properly - Sweet!

    The only setting I haven't found yet is a device black list by DNS names (only by IP) - so I can't except devices with dyn IPs (DHCP).
    A possibility to automatically arrange and scale the devices (grid) would enhance the handling.

    All in all "The Dude" is a very powerful monitoring tool, which is on it's way to be my new favorite for monitoring.

    Thanks,
    trasshbox

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  4. Michael Pietroforte 12 years ago

    Wow, that was fast. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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  5. [...] 4SysOps, The Dude 3.0 Comparte esta entrada: [...]

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  6. Ronin Vladiamhe 11 years ago

    Anyone have any thoughts on the v3.1, which appears to be the sixth version released since the last beta?

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  7. Andrew 10 years ago

    The dude rocks 🙂

    Ive been using it for a while now and it has so many great features in it.

    Been using it for a while now, also just seen a new network map that looks promising

    http://www.spiceworks-news.co.uk/2009/06/spiceworks-network-map/

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  8. RoninV 10 years ago

    I downloaded The Dude (v3.1) back in Jan, but never used it. From my reading of it, there are a lot of features that will definitely come in handy. I've used a few of these "watered down" network apps (NetWrix, DreamSys, etc.), but am coming to the conclusion that the "pumped up" network apps may be the way to go. I'm going to turn my attention back to The Dude, and also give Andrew's "look what I found" reference (SpiceWorks-v4.0).

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  9. RoninV 10 years ago

    I downloaded Dude(v3.4) today. Very surprised by the "meager documentation" of The Dude. It still reads v1.0! Maybe it was so far ahead of its time, when first intro'd, that the computer world has yet to catch up.

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  10. K 7 years ago

    Has anyone used the latest versions - either 3.6 or 4 beta? How does it compare to the oldest version? I just discovered this site and wanted to try it out.

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  11. Kwabena Akomea-Agyin 6 years ago

    I installed dude 3.6 on my network. Eventhough it worked fine, some of my nodes got frozen and I had to do hardware reset of the nodes. I guess the queries from dude increases the CPU utilization of the nodes. This causes some nodes on the network to freeze when their CPU occupancy is overwhelmed.

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  12. Bryan 5 years ago

    Requires Local Admin privs to do even the simplest of monitoring. Given that it sends and listens on the network, for me this was a huge red flag.

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