Network Discovery Tools

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Network discovery tools are software applications or utilities that help in identifying and mapping devices present on a computer network. These tools employ various techniques to discover and collect information about network devices, including their IP addresses, MAC addresses, device types, and other relevant details.

Here are some popular network discovery tools:

  1. Nmap (Network Mapper)
  2. SolarWinds Network Discovery
  3. Advanced IP Scanner
  4. Lansweeper
  5. Zenmap
  6. Open-AudIT
  7. Spiceworks Network Inventory
  8. NetBrain
  9. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
  10. Microsoft Network Discovery (Windows)

1. Nmap (Network Mapper):

Nmap is a widely-used open-source network scanning tool that performs host discovery and port scanning. It can identify active hosts on a network, determine open ports, and gather information about network services and operating systems.

Key features:

  • Host Discovery: Nmap can perform active host discovery to identify live hosts on a network. It sends ICMP echo requests, TCP SYN/ACK packets, or other probe packets to determine which hosts are online and responsive.
  • Port Scanning: Nmap offers various port scanning techniques to identify open ports on target hosts. It can perform TCP, UDP, and SCTP port scans, including full-connect, half-open, and stealthy scanning methods.
  • Service Version Detection: Nmap can detect and identify the versions of services running on open ports. It sends probes to the identified services and analyzes their responses to determine the specific service and its version number.

2. SolarWinds Network Discovery:

SolarWinds offers a Network Discovery tool as part of its network management suite. It automatically discovers devices on the network, providing detailed information about device types, IP addresses, and network connections.

Key features:

  • Visibility of critical metrics.
  • Cross-stack correlation.
  • Auto-discovery and mapping of network devices.
  • Cross-platform support.

3. Advanced IP Scanner:

Advanced IP Scanner is a free network scanning tool that quickly discovers and identifies devices on a network. It provides information about IP addresses, MAC addresses, device manufacturers, and network services.

Key features:

  • Windows 10 compatible.
  • Exporting scan reports to CSV format.
  • No installation is required.
  • Remote management of computers.

4. Lansweeper:

Lansweeper is a network discovery and asset management tool. It scans the network to identify devices, collect hardware and software information, and maintains an inventory of network assets.

Key features:

  • Network Discovery: Lansweeper automatically scans the network to discover and identify connected devices, including computers, servers, printers, routers, switches, and more. It performs IP range scanning, SNMP discovery, Active Directory integration, and other methods to collect detailed information about network assets.
  • Asset Inventory: Lansweeper maintains a centralized inventory of network assets, including hardware and software details. It collects information such as device configurations, manufacturer details, model numbers, serial numbers, installed software, and licensing information.
  • Software Inventory and License Management: Lansweeper tracks installed software across the network and provides insights into software usage, versions, and licensing compliance. It helps organizations manage software licenses, identify unused or unauthorized software, and ensure compliance with licensing agreements.

5. Zenmap:

Zenmap is the graphical user interface (GUI) version of Nmap. It provides a user-friendly interface to perform network scanning and device discovery. It offers visualization features to display network maps and network topology.

Key features:

  • Works with Nmap
  • Provides network discovery and inventory
  • Free to use

6. Open-AudIT:

Open-AudIT is an open-source network auditing tool that includes network discovery capabilities. It scans IP address ranges, performs DNS lookups, and identifies network devices to create an inventory of the network infrastructure.

Key features:

  • Network Discovery: Open-AudIT automatically scans the network to discover devices, including routers, switches, servers, workstations, printers, and more. It performs IP range scanning, DNS lookups, and other methods to identify devices on the network.
  • Asset Inventory: Open-AudIT collects detailed information about network assets, including hardware specifications, operating systems, installed software, IP addresses, MAC addresses, and more. It helps maintain an accurate inventory of devices and provides insights into the software and hardware configurations across the network.
  • Configuration Management: Open-AudIT gathers configuration data from network devices, such as routers, switches, and firewalls. It retrieves configuration files, firmware versions, and other relevant information, allowing for centralized storage and management of device configurations.

7. Spiceworks Network Inventory:

Spiceworks Network Inventory is a free network scanning and inventory management tool. It performs network discovery, collects device information, and provides insights into the network topology and asset details.

Key features:

  • Network Discovery: Spiceworks Network Inventory automatically scans the network to discover connected devices, including computers, servers, printers, switches, routers, and more. It identifies devices based on IP address ranges or Active Directory integration.
  • Asset Inventory: It maintains a centralized inventory of network assets, providing detailed information about hardware and software configurations. This includes information such as device models, serial numbers, installed software, hardware specifications, and other relevant details.
  • Software Inventory and License Management: Spiceworks Network Inventory tracks installed software across the network and helps manage software licenses. It provides insights into software versions, and license compliance, and allows users to track software usage and expiration dates.

8. NetBrain:

NetBrain is an advanced network automation and mapping tool that includes network discovery functionality. It automatically discovers devices, maps the network topology, and provides detailed insights into network connectivity and dependencies.

Key features:

  • Data modeling
  • Multi-vendor support
  • Deep Discovery
  • CMDB integration

9. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor:

PRTG Network Monitor includes network discovery features as part of its network monitoring suite. It automatically discovers devices on the network and provides real-time monitoring and management capabilities.

Key features:

  • Flexible Alerting: In-built various technologies make it viable to send alerts through email, SMS, push, and even through audio alerts.
  • Multiple user interfaces.
  • Cluster failover solution.
  • Versatile map.

10. Microsoft Network Discovery (Windows):

Windows operating systems have built-in network discovery capabilities. Using tools such as the Network and Sharing Center or the “arp” command, administrators can identify devices connected to a local network.

Key features:

  • Device Discovery: Network Discovery enables users to discover and view devices connected to the local network, including computers, servers, printers, network-attached storage (NAS) devices, and other network-enabled devices.
  • Shared Resource Browsing: With Network Discovery, users can browse shared folders, printers, and other network resources that are made available by devices on the network. This feature allows easy access to shared files, documents, and devices across the network.
  • Workgroup and Domain Support: Network Discovery supports both workgroup and domain environments. In a workgroup environment, devices can be discovered and accessed within the same workgroup. In a domain environment, devices within the same domain can be discovered and accessed.
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