IT teams that manage Windows 10 desktops must be able to monitor them on an ongoing basis to ensure optimal performance and to catch potential issues before they develop into serious concerns.
With the right Windows 10 monitoring tool, administrators can proactively detect and diagnose problems on their Windows desktops from a single pane of glass, ensuring that their users stay productive and systems remain operational.
Choosing the right Windows 10 monitoring tool is no simple task. Most IT teams want a platform that provides visibility into all managed devices, including servers and network components, not just their Windows 10 desktops. Most organizations also want a monitoring tool that can easily scale to meet business needs as their requirements change. At the same time, the tool should have a minimal effect on network and system resources.
Benefits of Windows 10 monitoring tools
IT teams must be able to monitor the status of their Windows 10 computers to ensure they remain operational. This requires a monitoring tool that can continuously collect system data and provide easily searchable logs of that data that IT administrators can understand and act upon. The tool must also be able to issue real-time alerts based on predefined thresholds and send notifications via different mediums and based on unique triggers. This ensures that the appropriate individuals are immediately aware of potential problems and can act immediately in critical situations.
Administrators need a Windows monitoring tool that can provide comprehensive visibility into all layers of the Windows 10 environments, including firmware, OSes, services, applications and the hardware components themselves. At the same time, they need a tool that can track other infrastructure components from a centralized interface.
Although monitoring tools can vary significantly in terms of features and function, most of the leading products offer the following benefits:
- detecting potential issues in real time before they become serious problems;
- providing insights into infrastructure that can help IT make more informed decisions;
- preventing a security breach by alerting administrators to unusual activity or system anomalies;
- increasing productivity by reducing downtimes and optimizing system performance; and
- helping to plan and budget for upgrading monitored systems, including Windows systems.
An effective Windows 10 monitoring tool can track and report various metrics that give insight into the system's health and availability for hardware and software. For example, the tool may collect metrics about a system's CPU, memory usage or processor temperature. This tool could also provide an inventory of the installed applications or report on their activity and performance.
Monitoring Windows 10 desktops with Microsoft tools
Administrators don't necessarily need to rely on a third-party tool for Windows 10 desktop monitoring. Windows includes several built-in tools to monitor a computer and diagnose potential issues.
One of the most valuable native tools is Windows Performance Monitor, which makes it possible to collect system performance data from a computer's performance counters and trace events. Administrators can view the data in real time or capture it in a log file for later viewing. They can also use Windows Event Viewer to collect and view Security, System and Application events or Resource Monitor to view information about network, disk, CPU and memory usage.
Although these tools can be beneficial to administrators, they are only useful to troubleshoot individual machines directly or through a remote connection. These native Windows tools don't provide the large-scale, comprehensive capabilities of enterprise monitoring tools. However, Microsoft does provide some alternatives for IT teams managing multiple Windows 10 desktops within their organizations.
For example, organizations can use Microsoft Intune within Microsoft Endpoint Manager -- in conjunction with Microsoft's Endpoint Analytics service -- to receive recommendations based on aggregate event data. The recommendations might include suggestions for software, ways to improve startup performance or steps to fix common support issues. In addition, IT teams using System Center can deploy System Center Management Pack for Windows 10, which enables them to monitor the availability and performance of Windows 10 OSes.
5 desktop monitoring tools to consider
Although Microsoft's tools are handy for managing Windows devices, many IT teams need coverage for non-Microsoft systems. This is when IT teams should turn to monitoring platforms that can account for the entire infrastructure for aspects such as security, system availability, performance and end-user experience.
Selecting the right monitoring tool can be an overwhelming process. The tool must meet an organization's requirements without adding unnecessary overhead or making administrators' jobs more difficult. To help decision-makers select the right tool, consider these five popular monitoring platforms chosen for their breadth of features and significant place in the current market.
1. ManageEngine OpManager
OpManager is a software tool that can monitor a wide range of systems, with support for over 10,000 device types and 450 device vendors. For each type of system, OpManager provides an XML-based template preconfigured with device-specific details that help OpManager automatically classify a device and associate the necessary monitors during the discovery process. One of these templates is for Windows 10 devices, enabling administrators to track metrics such as device availability, CPU and memory usage, and the device's network traffic. OpManager supports several industry-standard management protocols, including Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). This support enables it to track a wide range of Windows 10 metrics.
OpManager also offers multithreshold alerting and instant notification capabilities. Administrators can monitor critical KPIs on managed Windows 10 desktops and other infrastructure components. In addition, OpManager offers extensive reporting capabilities, with over 100 built-in reporting profiles and more than 125 out-of-box reports. Administrators can view reports about resource usage, such as CPU, memory and disk space; incoming and outgoing interface traffic; service response times; device health, such as packet loss and temperature; and numerous other metrics. The tool also offers a customizable dashboard with over 200 performance widgets. OpManager comes in three editions: Standard, Professional and Enterprise.
2. Nagios XI
Nagios offers two IT monitoring products: Nagios Core and Nagios XI. Nagios Core is a powerful, free and open source platform for monitoring IT infrastructure, including Windows, Linux, Unix and macOS computers. In addition, Nagios Core can monitor Windows services, processes and event logs with multiple APIs for extending the Nagios architecture. Like many leading products on the Windows monitoring market, Nagios Core offers both agent-based and agentless monitoring. It also supports both SNMP and WMI, providing greater flexibility. Nagios XI incorporates all Core's capabilities but includes a more extensive and user-friendly interface. XI provides more advanced reporting and visualization capabilities and is simpler to deploy at scale.
Nagios XI is available in two editions: Standard and Enterprise. These editions share many of the same features, such as bandwidth usage reports, custom views and dashboards, and remote machine monitoring on external networks. In addition, both can monitor applications, system metrics, performance counters, system and process states, and other infrastructure components. Open source Nagios Core also brings a wide range of community-developed add-ons to Nagios XI. The Enterprise edition adds features that benefit larger organizations, such as bulk renaming, business process monitoring, compliance auditing and service-level agreement reports.
3. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
Paessler PRTG offers a full-featured platform for monitoring systems, applications and network traffic. This platform includes flexible alerting capabilities based on defined event triggers, such as threshold breaches or status changes, and it supports a wide range of notification methods. PRTG also provides multiple UIs, including a web interface, desktop application and mobile app. Administrators can use the PRTG map designer to create dashboards that integrate their networked components and include real-time maps with live status information. They can also generate reports based on their specific monitoring data, which they can export in several formats.
Paessler PRTG supports SNMP and WMI, making it possible to monitor various metrics on Windows 10 computers and gather statistics about each one. With WMI, administrators can monitor event logs, performance counters, CPU loads, bandwidth usage, system uptimes, disk health, disk space, memory usage and numerous other metrics. In addition, PRTG includes failover capabilities and supports distributed monitoring across multiple networks. Paessler offers multiple licensing options to accommodate organizations of all sizes. Each license includes all the features listed above and supports unlimited users.
4. Progress WhatsUp Gold
WhatsUp Gold from Progress -- formerly Ipswitch -- is an availability and performance monitoring platform with alerting and notification capabilities for tracking Windows 10 computers and other infrastructure. Like most leading products, WhatsUp supports SNMP and WMI for tracking system metrics, such as CPU, memory and disk utilization. Administrators can also monitor the Windows event logs and specific process performance counters. To troubleshoot and look for root causes of issues, IT can manage and visualize device log data and search the WhatsUp repository for monitored and discovered devices. The WhatsUp API can help automate workloads as well.
WhatsUp provides administrators with a web interface to create customizable maps, dashboards and alerts. They can also view and manage device log data and generate a wide range of reports about inventory, system performance, device uptime and health. Additionally, WhatsUp includes a Layer 2/3 network discovery feature that automatically discovers every device connected to a network that can generate network maps that provide visibility into physical, logical and virtual environments. WhatsUp Gold is available in two editions: Premium and Total Plus. Total Plus includes several features that are optional add-ons in the Premium edition.
5. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor
Server & Application Monitor (SAM) is a comprehensive product that can monitor applications and their supporting infrastructure. As with other monitoring tools, SAM supports both agent-based and agentless monitoring, as well as SNMP and WMI. This makes it possible to track a wide range of metrics on Windows 10 computers, such as hardware health, fan and power supply status, and disk, processor and memory usage. In addition, SAM includes real-time process tracking of everything from disk I/O to application response times. From the SAM interface, administrators can generate dashboards that display visualizations of their systems' health.
Administrators can also schedule and generate system performance alerts and reports. Reports can be based on real-time performance alerts or built on historical data. They also support customizations to meet an organization's specific needs. The SolarWinds SAM tool can monitor over 1,200 systems, application and infrastructure monitoring templates and over 1,000 community templates. It also supports custom template creation via SNMP, WMI, PowerShell and the SAM REST API. SolarWinds offers perpetual and subscription licensing for SAM based on the number of monitored nodes.