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Coming Home to Windows Home Server Part 36

Feb 7, 2011 11:22 AM, By Eric B. Rux

Monitoring your home network

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It's no secret that the "network" has become the central mechanism for transferring data in our homes. Besides the Home Server that this column is dedicated to, many homes have networked gaming consoles (Xbox 360, PS3, etc.), IP-based security cameras, shared printers, and of course, desktop and laptop computers. Just like in a business network, it sure would be nice to know when a network device is not functioning properly before you need to rely on it. For example, if your printer is out of ink, a network monitor might be able to notify you before the night your daughter's term paper is due. Or, if you have a security camera, you would want to know that it was unplugged before your house was broken into.

Network monitoring systems like these can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. But when a company can lose thousands of dollars each minute their systems are down, network monitoring suddenly becomes quite economical.

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Coming Home to Windows Home Server Series
Welcome Home! In this series, Eric B. Rux—Windows Home Server MVP—breaks down the Windows Home Server (WHS) with useful tips, new add-ins, problems solvers, and the latest news. ...

Home users, on the other hand, do not need to spend thousands of dollars to monitor their home network. In fact, they do not need to spend anything. There are many network monitoring solutions that have free editions available for home use. Because we already have a Home Server that is powered on 24/7, this makes a great platform to host our monitor.

Note that Microsoft does not support adding network monitoring software onto your Home Server. There shouldn't be a reason why it will not work, but just be aware that it will not help you if you call.

These three network monitor solutions allow a home user to monitor up to 10 devices for free:

The first network monitor is called Servers Alive. I have used this product for many, many years, and it is a faithful friend. Whenever I need to quickly set up a monitor, I turn to this free product. For example, I recently need to monitor a website and have Servers Alive email me when it went down. In less than 10 minutes, I had Servers Alive downloaded, installed, and set up to email me when it didn't see the website.

Servers Alive can monitor devices by pinging them. If they do not answer, then you will receive an alert. This simple product can also monitor Windows services, DNS servers, databases, email, or a script. If you can't find the monitor that you're looking for, check out the free add-ons that the other Servers Alive customers have written—you just might find what you're looking for there.

Configuring Servers Alive is extremely easy, and it is done via a simple interface that walks you through each step. If you want a very simple, no fuss network monitor, then Servers Alive should be your first stop.

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