Software products are complex and are equipped with multiple branches and internal API connections. As the complexity of the application increases, the need to make it free of redundancy and anomalies become evident. In such a scenario, identifying and handling multi-faceted network errors requires robust, specific network testing tools that provide extensive statistical data that aids in having an insightful view of the application.
Before progressing and discussing network test tools in detail, let’s understand the basics of network testing.
What is Network Testing?
Network testing is a technique for assessing security measures throughout a network to identify and display flaws to estimate risks. While the testing medium may vary, such as wifi, ethernet, hardware/IoT, phishing emails, physical access, and Dropbox location, the result is network access to secure data or systems. Network testing can help with any electronic data. Here are some instances of typical tests:
- Vulnerability assessment.
- Penetration checking.
- Wireless network penetration testing.
- Application security testing.
How to Choose an Ideal Network Testing Tool?
The availability of a wide range of network testing tools makes the decision of choosing an ideal tool difficult and cumbersome. These tools are available from free web-based apps to high-end suites offered by network research companies. Here are some of the factors one can consider while choosing the best network testing tool:
Look for a network testing platform with a Windows-like interface instead of a command-line or hotkey entry. A Windows environment is preferred as it reduces the initial learning cycle and supports memory storage during extended periods between usage.
Whether the user is setting up to do network testing or selecting what information to display on a report, wizards help speed up the process and minimize mistakes.
Network Testing Templates
A standard collection of network testing templates allows for faster start-up and fewer errors. The network testing templates should include regular setup, scheduling, filtering, and so forth.
Network Testing Reports
A network testing tool should quickly turn an extensive network testing database into comprehensible graphs, charts, and tables. Most clients do not want to perform a network test, take it back to the office, and then return with a report several days later. Therefore, a platform that can provide rapid and on-time reports is preferred.
Scheduling refers to the capacity to plan when data will be collected and when it will not. Avoid network testing solutions that don’t have a scheduling agent and only have an “on/off” switch.
Real-time Network Testing and Analysis
This function isn’t available in many network tester software. Analyzing traffic while doing network testing leads to more precise network testing and reporting.
Network Testing Management
Initial network testing provides accurate measurement and record of a network’s present state of functioning. Subsequent network tests are generally carried out and compared to the first to discover whether there have been any changes. It’s best to choose a network testing management system that’s easy to use and takes advantage of available resources.
Network testing software should have a wide range of statistics, including analysis at the station and segment levels. The higher the number of statistics available, the more valuable the tool.
Integrated filtering narrows the focus of the sampled data gathered. As a consequence, what is necessary is collected at the appropriate time. This is especially important for collecting data from long-running network tests.
Types of Network Testing Tools
There are two types of network testing software:
1. Proprietary Network Testing Tools
For proprietary network testing software, licenses are available. These tools are available for monthly, half-yearly, and yearly pricing packages.
2. Open-source Internet Testing Tools
Open-source tools are customizable, scalable, robust, and provide organizations with a free alternative to proprietary software. Individuals and many businesses utilize and prefer open-source network testing tools to detect network issues, improve network performance, and obtain real-time insights into:
- Bandwidth utilization
- Internet hyperlinks
- The network’s current state
- Unauthorized access and cybersecurity
- The network’s functionality
Best Network Testing Tools
Graphite is a free and open-source software (FOSS) platform that can track time-series data, such as network performance. It allows users to view the information on a dashboard, substantially simplifying network administration. The exceptional reporting capabilities of Graphite aid businesses in quickly discovering network problems.
Although Graphite is one of the most frequently used open-source network performance testing tools, it has some issues. It cannot assist users in viewing insights as a group or extracting and loading data into a database or data warehouse.
It is a SoundCloud product. Prometheus is an open-source network testing tool able to alert users to a range of network-related issues, such as low latency, excessive memory use, cybercrime and whatnot! The platform can search for the data from network operations and can also display it in an easy-to-understand dashboard for analysis.
Prometheus works optimally with Windows and supports a range of networking equipment, including Cisco. The severity of network difficulties varies, and Prometheus differentiates between minor and significant issues and sends only the critical notifications. (For example, one will only receive warnings from the platform if there is a severe network outage.) One of the other features of Prometheus is NetFlow analysis.
Zabbix is a free network testing tool that keeps track of a variety of infrastructure, including networks. Thousands of organizations use this platform to obtain valuable insights into packet loss, network mode, connections, CPU, memory, and bandwidth use.
It allows easy and immediate network testing setup and sends immediate notifications if any difficulties arise, such as network overuse or underuse. This automation frees up resources and team members by eliminating the need to inspect networks manually.
4. Nagios Core
Nagios Core (formerly Nagios) is a popular open-source infrastructure testing program with advanced network, system, and server testing capabilities. It schedules and automates network testing activities to enhance performance, claiming to be the “industry standard in IT infrastructure testing.”
It is a user-friendly network performance tester that alerts about network performance and security issues and assists programmers and software testers to respond immediately to avoid further problems. The platform is equipped with a basic dashboard that provides real-time data on failing servers, slow apps, etc. Nagios can increase its capabilities via plugins and flexibility.
Monitorix is a Linux-based network performance test tool that presents network-related data in basic graphs that are easy to comprehend and use. It has certain limitations as a free solution, but it excels at detecting mistakes, poor response times, and network security problems. Monitorix describes itself as “lightweight.”
Icinga (now Icinga 2) is an open-source network testing application that provides a range of network-related alarms and statistics. It checks for network resource availability, outages, security vulnerabilities, and other network problems using an easy-to-use API.
SNMP testing, auto-discovery, and tracking capabilities are also provided for the whole IT infrastructure. Although this platform is a valuable addition to the tech stack, it lacks some features found in other comprehensive network testing tools, such as Graphite and Prometheus. Its functionality and usability, however, make it an ideal choice for small enterprises or newcomers.
Observium can work with several network and device types, including Cisco, Windows, Dell, HP, and VMware. Adding devices to Observium is a simple and clarified process. A simple user interface, add-ons, and a range of alerting tools help one improve network infrastructure and performance.
Cacti is a web-based RRDTool-based graphing solution and network testing application that offers accurate network statistics for the organization. The platform has a good range of amenities, such as unlimited graph components, graph data manipulation, customizable data collecting scripts, SNMP support, and graph auto-padding.
The front-end of the software can handle a large number of users and provide results unique for individuals depending on the tests. This makes Cacti an optimum choice for web hosting businesses since it allows optimum bandwidth usage. For novice testers, Cacti can be a challenge to learn, but the platform is powerful for expert software analysts.
LibreNMS is a self-discovering PHP and MySQL-based network testing tool. Despite being web-based, the program is mobile-friendly and allows flexible monitoring of networks, even from remote locations. And, best of all, it doesn’t require an extensive testing team to design and run network performance tests.
It supports various hardware configurations and operating systems, including Linux, Cisco, Foundry, and Juniper. LibreNMS includes horizontal scalability capabilities that enable it to scale with the preferred network. Custom alarms and notifications through Slack and email are just a few other highlights of LibreNMS.
Acunetix is equipped with a fully automated network vulnerability scanner that detects and reports over 50,000 known network vulnerabilities and configuration errors.
The network card testing utility examines the security of routers, firewalls, switches, and load balancers, among other things such as weak passwords, DNS zone transfer, improperly configured proxy servers, weak SNMP community strings, and TLS/SSL ciphers.
It can interact with Acunetix Online to provide a comprehensive perimeter network security evaluation on top of the Acunetix web application audit.
11. The WAN Killer from SolarWinds
SolarWinds offers several networking-related services and solutions. It has a useful toolset that includes network testing, diagnostics, network discovery tools, and almost all of the tools needed for running network performance tests in one package.
It’s a network traffic generator application that lets users test network performance in a controlled environment for a specific WAN. The network tester software can also be used to test load balancing and network traffic thresholds.
The DataDog Network Performance testing tool can assess the performance of on-premise and cloud-based networks using a unique tag-based technique. It allows easy and efficient analysis of network traffic between hosts, containers, services, etc.
By combining flow-based NPM with metric-based network device testing, DataDog can gather complete insights into network traffic, infrastructure metrics, traces, and logs in one place. It employs an interactive map to graphically show traffic flow to aid in the detection of traffic bottlenecks and their consequences.
It’s easy to navigate and use and allows one to look at metrics like volume and retransmits without having to write lengthy queries. The DataDog network performance tester can efficiently correlate network traffic data with suitable application traces, host metrics, and logs to consolidate troubleshooting into one single platform.
The fundamental source of most network performance and security concerns is packet detail traveling over the web. Wireshark is the industry-standard network performance test tool for gathering and analyzing this data. With almost one million monthly downloads, it is a network tester software that allows an insightful view into what’s going on in the network.
Wireshark allows the user to get to the packet level of a problem quickly. This favors immediate identification if the problem is caused by the network, server, service, or client.
14. Nmap (Navigation Mapper)
For today’s networks, there is a continuous need for scanning and monitoring for unauthorized devices and open ports to ensure complete and centralized security. This ensures the identification of intrusions and weaknesses that hackers could exploit.
Nmap offers tools for detecting what hosts are available on a network, what ports those hosts have known, what operating systems and firewalls are in use, and much more. One can also use it to search whole subnets, and TCP port ranges for open sockets and faulty devices.
Network testing aids in detecting serious concerns, such as internal dangers and unauthorized network accesses. Utilizing appropriate network testing tools cut down unnecessary efforts and brings in efficacy and higher performance in networks, and establishes secure and end-to-end optimally functional applications.
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