Best 21 FREE Network Admin Tools for Everyday Troubleshooting!

Best Free Network Admins Tools and Software

by DAVID VARNUM, CCIE, VCP, MCSE+ - Last Updated: December 1, 2022

Every magician has a bag of tricks. Every mechanic has a bag of tools.

Whether you’re designing a network, diagnosing an anomaly, troubleshooting an issue or monitoring an environment – your bag of Networking Tools and software should be complete, robust, and reliable.

This is why we’ve compiled a list of some of the Best Tools for Network administrators, at zero cost, to get you started.

Some will be familiar, some will be new.

Either way, this list should serve to either validate what you’re already using or supplement where you’re lacking.

Let’s dive in!

Here is our list of the twenty-one best network admin tools for everyday troubleshooting.

  1. SolarWinds Real-Time NetFlow Analyzer – FREE TOOL A free network traffic analyzer that shows live traffic flows per user, device, address, or protocol. Installs on Windows Server.
  2. ManageEngine OpManager  – FREE TRIAL A network, server, and endpoint monitoring system that is also able to manage the resource usage of hypervisors. Installs on Windows Server and Linux.
  3. Kiwi Syslog Server – FREE TOOL A Syslog message collector that can be upgraded to a more sophisticated paid version. Installs on Windows Server.
  4. Nagios An extensible, free network monitoring system, called Nagios Core with a paid version, called Nagios XI. Installs on Linux.
  5. Ntopng This is a free network traffic monitoring and analysis system. The software is free to use but the developers ask for a donation. Ntopng is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, Raspberry Pi, and Unix.
  6. SolarWinds TFTP Server – FREE TOOL A free, lightweight file transfer server for small network files. Installs on Windows Server.
  7. SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server – FREE TOOL A free secure file transfer system that can manage multiple file movements from different devices simultaneously. Installs on Windows Server.
  8. SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager – FREE TRIAL A system that automates the standardization of device configuration and then guards them against unauthorized changes. Installs on Windows Server.
  9. SolarWinds Port Scanner – FREE TOOL A free tool that identifies which IP addresses within a given range are in use and then checks all of the TCP and UDP ports on each. Installs on Windows Server.
  10. Wireshark / Tshark A free network packet sniffer that is highly respected and widely used. The packet viewer enables protocol identification.
  11. iPerf / JPerf A free tool that measures the available bandwidth between two nodes on a network. Installs on Windows, Linux, Android, macOS X, and Unix.
  12. Nmap / Zenmap A network monitoring system that generates a range of data including IP address usage. Nmap is a command-line system and Zenmap has a GUI interface. Installs on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  13. Paessler SNMP Tester A free tool that checks on all of the conditions needed for SNMP agents to work properly and communicate with the SNMP manager. Installs on Windows Server.
  14. Angry IP Scanner A free tool that gathers IP address usage data. This utility offers a lightweight IP address manager and also a port scanner. Installs on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  15. Ansible A task automation system that enables administrators to create playbooks, that act as workflows to complete mundane tasks. Runs on RHEL Linux.
  16. Netmiko A Python library that enables Python automation scripts to interact with network devices.
  17. Solar-PuTTY – FREE TOOL A free, secure terminal emulator that has an integrated secure file transfer utility. Runs on Windows Server.
  18. Notepad++ / UltraEdit / Sublime Text Three text editors that are great for editing scripts and config files.
  19. Cygwin Implements well-known Linux commands on PCs at the command line.
  20. A free, online diagramming tool that is great for creating ERDs and flow charts.
  21. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor – FREE TRIAL A masterful network monitoring system that gathers live statuses on network performance and traffic throughput from devices by SNMP communication methods. Runs on Windows Server.

Here’s the Best Network Admin Tools & Software:

Monitoring & Logging

1. SolarWinds Real-Time NetFlow Analyzer

“A real-time view of the network with SolarWinds NetFlow Analyzer”

When I need to troubleshoot network performance at a single site, or from a particular perspective, I rely on SolarWinds Real-Time NetFlow Analyzer. It’s free and simple to use.

Hours of finger-pointing can be eliminated by firing up this tool and looking at traffic going through a router or interface.

Easily identify users, apps, and devices that are consuming the most bandwidth.

netflow traffic analyzer

If you like the tool, I highly recommend upgrading it to the full version, which we covered in a previous article. It’s truly stellar.


  • Supports multiple protocols like NetFlow, great for monitoring Cisco equipment
  • Both tools work well alongside each other to help view traffic patterns and bandwidth usage
  • Easy-to-use interface automatically highlights bandwidth hogs and other network traffic outliers
  • Scales well, designed for large enterprise networks
  • Can view traffic on a per-hop basis, allowing for granular traffic analysis


  • Built for enterprise use, not designed for small home networks


2. ManageEngine OpManager – FREE TRIAL

“An infrastructure monitor that covers network device and server statuses”

While many monitoring systems separate network performance monitoring and server monitoring out into two separate packages, OpManager combines the two in one purchase. This tool also covers some key applications, such as virtualizations.

OpManager uses a threshold system to identify when performance is likely to get impaired. There are many little problems that can soon stack up to bring performance to a level of impairment that users will notice. Catching these problems when they first arise gives you a chance to take action to head off disaster.

If a performance threshold gets crossed, the OpManager system generates an alert. This is shown in the service’s dashboard but it can also be forwarded to key personnel by SMS message or email.

ManageEngine OpManager

OpManager is available in a free version. This has all of the functionality of the paid edition, but it is limited to monitoring only three devices. Those interested in the paid version have three choices of plans: Standard, Professional, and Enterprise. All versions are available for installation on Windows Server and Linux.


  • Can monitor bandwidth consumption as well as alert to configuration changes that could impact network performance
  • Can monitor bandwidth and resource consumption on the application level, and even drill down to identify specific users consuming the most resources
  • Supports email, SMS, and webhook for numerous alerting channels
  • Integrates well in the ManageEngine ecosystem with their other products


  • Takes time to fully explore all the options available in the ManageEngine software suite


Access a 30-day free trial of ManageEngine OpManager:

3. Kiwi Syslog Server – FREE TOOL

“View and archive Syslog messages and SNMP traps from five sources in real-time”

Again, if I’m troubleshooting a particular network, site or node, I rely on a logging mechanism to audit and aid in troubleshooting. With Kiwi Syslog Server Free Edition you can collect, view and archive up to 5 sources including routers, computers or other devices. Logs may also be written to disk—either in one large file or split up by day or priority.

It’s easy to use, and absolutely free for small, focused logging engagements. You can view logs in real-time, gather stats, and even setup warnings and alerts. It’s not just Syslog messages, but also SNMP traps you can collect and analyze with Kiwi.

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators


  • Offers a freeware version for smaller networks
  • Captures both syslog and SNMP traps, ensuring nothing is missed
  • Interface is easy to use, and allows for quick filtering based on application, location, or custom grouping
  • Color-coded warning level helps critical events pop out, and aids in prioritization
  • Affordable for any size network


  • Built for sysadmins, not the best option for home networks or non-technical users

Download: Get the 100% FREE Tool!


4. Nagios

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

Nagios is a networking monitoring software solution. In fact, it’s a suite of solutions for monitoring network availability, analyzing data flows and security, as well as collecting logs for auditing. It’s completely open source and has a vibrant community of like-minded developers and administrators.

With Nagios XI you can monitor everything from infrastructure to applications with granular detail. With Nagios Log Server, you can quickly sift through a central repository of audit logs, or setup triggers to alert you to critical events such as threats. And with Nagios Network Analyzer, dig deep into the health and integrity of your systems and network. Analyze flows, validate intent and troubleshoot with the lights on.


  • Open-source transparent tool
  • Simple, yet informative interface
  • Flexible alerting options support SMS and email
  • Robust API backend makes it a great option for developers who want to integrate their own custom applications
  • Very generous two-month trial period


  • Open-source version lacks quality support found

What I like most about Nagios is their straightforward approach to monitoring. They have multiple ways to represent data visually, which is another key interest of mine. Lastly, the built-in failover is wickedly cool if you start monitoring larger environments.


Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

“High-Speed Web-based Traffic Analysis and Flow Collection.”

Named after the popular top command in Unix, ntop shows network usage similarly to how top shows system usage. Ntopng, based on libpcap, is the next generation version of the original ntop. It was written in a portable manner, which gives it the flexibility to run on numerous platforms: Linux, Mac OSX, and Windows.

Web-based, ntopng allows you to view traffic data and gather reports regarding network status. You can use numerous criterion for sorting, including IP address, ports, Layer 7 protocols, BGP AS, and so on. You can even do long-term reports to collect metrics such as throughput over time.


  • Open-source project with full transparency
  • Free version available alongside the enterprise version
  • Special licensing options for nonprofits and educational institutions


  • User interface is easy to use, but could be improved upon

I personally use this tool to generate detailed host-based reports showing applications latency, RTT, TCP statistics like retransmissions, out-of-orders, and zero windows.

6. SolarWinds TFTP Server – FREE TOOL


At some point in your day-to-day as a network administrator, you’ll have to transfer a configuration file or image file to a router.

TFTP has been the easy go-to for this task for many years, and although alternative protocols are out there, good chances are you’ll still run into the case where TFTP is just easier.

This is the reason why I always have a TFTP server app loaded on my laptop.

My personal choice for this software is SolarWinds TFTP Server.

We’ve written about it in the past and it still holds its rank. It’s a multi-threaded, reliable and works like a champ. Best of all, it’s free.

As a bonus little feature, you can actually authorize specific IPs or ranges to limit sending and receiving directly to the server for advanced security.

And if you’re doing this regularly or from a central server, run it as a service for 24×7 availability. Get the 100% free tool.


  • Completely free
  • Simple interface, no clutter, fluff, or advertisements
  • Available as a Windows service, allowing tasks to be scheduled
  • Can authorize single IP addresses, or an entire range
  • Lightweight install, uses minimal resources


  • Like all TFTP servers, you will still need technical experience to set the service up properly


7. SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server – FREE TOOL

SFTP Server

Those alternative protocols I mentioned before? SFTP and SCP are two of them.

If you have the capability to use the secure protocols instead of TFTP, do it, just make sure you have trusted software like SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server.

Like the TFTP Server software, SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server is multi-threaded and commonly used to upload and download executable images and back-up configurations for routers and switches.


  • Can support large volumes of file transfers
  • Free to use
  • Has an advanced user interface, helpful for managing multiple file transfer locations or partners
  • Can automatically sync files, helping keep both parties updated
  • Built for business use, EDI, backups, etc


  • Not designed for home users, features are designed for larger enterprise companies

You can authorize specific IPs or ranges to limit sending and receiving directly to the server for advanced security, and run it as a service on a centralized server. Get the 100% free tool.


8. Network Configuration Manager – FREE TRIAL

Network Configuration Management Tool

Assuming you need one of these tools, it’s likely you’re transferring config or images files to/from network devices.

If you’ve never checked it out, I highly recommend giving SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager a whirl.

It’s Free to try but does have a cost associated past the trial period.


  • Built for medium to enterprise-size networks, with features designed to streamline troubleshooting and revert config settings quickly
  • Can automatically discover new devices on the network and provide templated health reports for immediate insights upon installation
  • Offers configuration management, allowing teams to quickly backup and restore changes that may have impacted performance
  • Can monitor settings for unauthorized changes and specific teams or managers


  • Not designed for home networks, this is an enterprise tool built for system administrators and network technicians

I am intimately familiar with several very large networks that use SolarWinds NCM for configuration, compliance and image transfers. In my opinion, it’s absolutely worth every penny. You can evaluate the software with a 30-day free trial.



9. Port & IP Scanner (GUI & Command-line) – FREE TRIAL

portscanner gui

Scan available IP Addresses and ranges, along with TCP and UDP ports of your networking devices, servers and desktops!

This tool works much like other port scanners, but with some added features that really set it apart from almost any other tool we’ve worked with.

This tool can be run either from the GUI or via command-line if needed and it gives insights into TCP/UDP port statuses, Resolves hosts names, MAC Addresses and even OS fingerprinting.

portscanner command-line

Some Features & capabilities include:

  • Save Scan configurations for Future scans
  • Define DNS Server for scanning
  • Either GUI or Command-line based scanning
  • Multi-Threaded Post scans!
  • and many more features!
  • 100% FREE Tool!


  • One of the easiest tools to use on the market
  • Great for small networks and home use
  • Can output in multiple formats, giving more flexibility than solo CLI tools
  • Offers DNS and hostname metrics


  • The interface doesn’t scale well on enterprise-size networks
  • Lacks graphing capabilities


10. Wireshark / Tshark

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

This is a no-brainer for most but needs to be mentioned for integrity’s sake.

Wireshark is an unparalleled network protocol analyzer, and honestly, one of the best free network tools ever made.

When you’re troubleshooting an issue and actually need to get into the weeds to find out what’s going on – this is your microscope. Never leave home without it!


  • Massive open-source community keeps the software updated and new features are added periodically
  • Built by network professionals, for network professionals
  • Can save captured packet data for further analysis or archival purposes


  • Collects massive amounts of data by default – must be sorted and filtered

If you’re looking for some command-line capturing, or maybe you want to programmatically trigger packet captures, don’t forget to check out TShark. It’s included with Wireshark, and totally awesome.

11. iPerf / JPerf

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

Between any two nodes is a network – be it vast or small.

A simple ping between the two nodes is only good for general reachability and understanding the round-trip time for the small packets.

If you want to measure actually achievable bandwidth, you need another tool such as iPerf.

iPerf3 is the latest iteration of this tool. You run the client on two ends of a network, configuring the parameters needed to measure performance. It supports tuning of many parameters related to timing, buffers, and protocols (TCP, UDP, SCTP with IPv4 and IPv6). Upon execution, it actively measures and reports on bandwidth, loss, latency, jitter, and so on. You can initiate multiple simultaneous connections to truly simulate load across the network. Very handy tool!

If you’re more of a GUI person, check out Jperf. It’s up there in age but still works like a champ.

12. Nmap / Zenmap

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

I personally use Nmap at least once a week. Almost verbatim from their website: Nmap (Network Mapper) is a security scanner used to discover hosts and services on a computer network, thus creating a “map” of the network. To accomplish its goal, Nmap sends specially crafted packets to the target host and then analyzes the responses.

Nmap provides an incredible number of features for probing networks, including host discovery, service discovery and operating system detection. These features are extensible by scripts that provide more advanced service detection, vulnerability detection, and other features. In fact, Nmap is used in the backend for various security assessment tools such as Nexpose.


  • Doubles as a security tool, allowing administrators to discover open ports, and applications communicating over ports that are suspicious
  • Massive open-source community, is one of the most popular free security tools available
  • Offers a GUI version, Zenmap, which lowers the barrier to entry for new users
  • Syntax is straightforward and not difficult to learn for most users


  • Nmap can have a steep learning curve for new users
  • Might be overkill for simpler troubleshooting tasks

Again, if you’re more a fan of GUIs, make sure the download the bundle with Zenmap.

13. Paessler SNMP Tester

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

SNMP can be hard. This is why you need a good tester. There are a few out there, but I’ve found great success with Paessler’s SNMP tester.


  • Great tool for prepping devices for a SIEM implementation or other agent-based monitoring
  • Super lightweight, doesn’t take up much space or system resources
  • Works well in tandem with other PRTG sensors


  • PRTG is designed for network administrators and requires networking knowledge to fully utilize

The idea of this program is to have a tool that enables the user to debug SNMP activities in order to find communication and/or data problems in SNMP monitoring configurations. Are your devices configured properly? Are you using the correct keys? Use this tool to validate if your SNMP configuration will function with programs like PRTG Network Monitor.

14. Angry IP Scanner

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

Angry IP scanner is an open-source, multi-threaded IP address and port scanner. Similar to Nmap, and used by millions, it’s become a standard tool for network admins. Angry IP Scanner first rapidly pings, then checks port status, then starts resolving hostnames, gathering MAC addresses, OSs and whatever it can discern based on the data gathered. It can collect NetBIOS info like workgroup and domain names, as well as logged-in users if you happen to have to privileged rights to retrieve this information. Like Nmap, it’s extensible with plugins. Scanning results can be saved to CSV, TXT, XML or IP-Port list files.


  • One of the easiest tools to use on the market
  • Great for small networks and home use
  • Provides simple log outputs
  • Lightweight tool – uses little system resources


  • Not ideal for continuous monitoring
  • Lacks graphing capabilities

Runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Get it here.

Configuration & Transfers

15. Ansible

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

“No one likes repetitive tasks.”

Ansible is a simple and powerful automation engine with the goal of reducing repetition by automating tasks. It’s vendor agnostic, programmable and relatively easy to learn. The folks at Ansible believe that automation shouldn’t be more complex than the tasks it’s replacing.

From a network perspective, I like this tool for generating configuration files based on my custom templates. I can quickly build “playbooks” for a large number of scenarios, ensuring that my configuration files are properly built based upon my standards and that my network devices are configured accordingly.


  • Simple minimalistic interface – makes it easy to view key metrics
  • Leverages playbooks to automate device configuration and deployments
  • Supports numerous vendors, with plenty of community-built template
  • Completely open source and free


  • Is a full-service monitoring platform that can take time to fully explore all options available
  • Open source tool that might not be the best fit for all network environments

If you want to get more with a GUI, check out Ansible Tower. Super clean.

16. Netmiko

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

Created by Kirk Byers, Netmiko is a multi-vendor Python library that simplifies Paramiko, gearing it toward network devices. This is a more advanced tool, and only beneficial if you’re using Python for scripting or automation. It simplifies SSH connections, command execution and data retrieval like no-one’s business.

Netmiko current supports the following platforms:

  • Cisco IOS, IOS-XE, IOS-XR, ASA, NX-OS, and WLC (with limited testing)
  • Arista EOS
  • HP ProCurve
  • HP Comware (limited testing)
  • Juniper Junos
  • Brocade VDX (limited testing)
  • F5 LTM (experimental)
  • Huawei (limited testing)


  • Lightweight SHH-based tool
  • Ideal for users who are looking for a CLI automation tool
  • Features an extensive library of supported vendors


  • Not as beginner-friendly as other tools that offer both GUI and CLI options

Each vendor has their own quirks regarding shell interaction. Whether is privileged modes, expert modes or commit functions, Netmiko is designed to simplify this lower-level SSH management across a wide set of networking vendors.

Terminals & Text Editors

17. Solar-PuTTY – FREE TOOL

SolarWinds Solar-PuTTY

Solar-PuTTy from SolarWinds is a Advanced PuTTY Alternative the gives you extra features that the normally do not come with the standard putty!

Features include:

  • SCP, SSH, Telnet & SFTP connections
  • Save Credentials w/ Private Keys for Auto logins
  • Tabbed Interface for multiple sessions at the same time!
  • Auto Reconnect of Lost sessions
  • Favorite your most Frequently Used Sessions in a Sidebar Panel
  • File Transfer Capabilities (via SFTP)
  • Post Connection Script Support & Execution
  • Integrate with Windows Search!


  • Completely free
  • Integrates with SCP and SFTP giving it more functionality than PuTTY
  • Offers secure credential storage for fast repeat access
  • Can color-code multiple sessions to help organize multiple simultaneous connections
  • Can automatically reconnect if the connection is interrupted


  • Like PuTTY, this tool is designed for technical professionals and requires basic networking knowledge before use

Download and Use 100% Free for LIFE:

Solar-PuTTY Download

18. Notepad++ / UltraEdit / Sublime Text

If you’re still using regular old Notepad, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. Step up your text game with one of these text editors. I guarantee you will not regret it!


  • Great for editing codes, PHP files, and configurations
  • Can highlight syntax and help streamline edits
  • Is aesthetically better than Notepad


  • Not a dedicated monitoring tool

We use Notepad++ Every single day – whether we’re editing PHP files, Nagios Configs, or Searching through Multiple files for a string or Text at the same time, Notepad++ is the best text-editor on the market!

19. Cygwin

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

If you’ve ever used Linux, you’ve become familiar with useful commands such as ‘grep’, ‘ls’, ‘top’, ‘df’, ‘pwd’ and so on. In the Windows world, we are missing some of these commands, and we have them, it’s written in some other non-intuitive syntax.   Wouldn’t it be great to have Linux commands and applets in Window? Enter Cygwin.


  • Open-source transparent project
  • Allows Linux applications to run inside Windows through recompling
  • Is one of the only few backwards compatible options from Linux to Windows


  • Not as user-friendly as other options, has a steep learning curve
  • Recompiling some applications from Linux to Windows doesn’t always work on the first attempt

Cygwin is a large collection of GNU and Open Source tools, which provide functionality similar to a Linux distribution on Windows. Not only can you run familiar commands, but also you can load (similar to apt-get or yum) various Linux tools. Some favorites of mine are wget and curl. If I’m running Windows, I’m running Cygwin.


Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

I love Visio. It’s undoubtedly the best tool for designing network diagrams. However, it can be expensive, and it only runs on Windows. As a Mac user, I run a Windows VM just so I can use Microsoft Visio. While this does function, I’ve recently started using, a browser-based diagramming application. It’s awesome!


  • Cloud-based diagram creations
  • Easy to use – even if you’re not great at design
  • Offers hundreds of different icons


  • Not a live reflection of your network – better for planning and presentation

Whether you’re building an engineering diagram or a network diagram, has tons of templates to get you started. It connects to online storage environments like Dropbox and Google Drive for real-time saving. No more losing data. Again, it’s absolutely free, and something you can rely on for cloud-based diagrams that are shareable and exportable.


21. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM)

Top 17 FREE Tools for Network Administrators

Say your tool-bag is full, and now you’re ready to upgrade to a professional set.

For enterprise networks, you need robust monitoring, advanced troubleshooting, historical analytics, system analysis, fault alerting, capacity forecasting, detailed reporting, and a constant finger on the pulse of your infrastructure.

This is where SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) steps in.

Winner of our recent Network Manager Software Smackdown, SolarWinds NPM is earned this achievement through constant innovation, easy-to-use interfaces, wide user adoption and an unmatched community in the performance and monitoring industries.

If you need more reasons to check out SolarWinds NPM, read our articles highlighting a few of the new advancements released in their latest iteration of the platform – version 12. NetPath, in particular, is a mind-blowing addition to this toolset that you won’t get anywhere else.


  • Takes a holistic approach to server performance and health monitoring
  • Supports auto-discovery that builds network topology maps and inventory lists in real-time based on devices that enter the network
  • Supports both SNMP monitoring as well as packet analysis, giving you more control over monitoring than similar tools
  • Uses drag and drop widgets to customize the look and feel of the dashboard
  • Robust reporting system with pre-configured compliance templates


  • Designed for IT professionals, not the best option for non-technical users

Get started with a 30-day free trial and start managing your network like a boss. And don’t forget to check out our Network Monitoring Software smackdown!