In this first “Why use?” post, I will tell you about PingInfoView, a freeware utility from NirSoft that makes it easy to monitor ping to several servers overtime. In the “Why use?” series I will review interesting software products and services.
PingInfoView is a utility by Nir Sofer, a powerhouse of Win32 utilities. I have stumbled upon his programs over and over again in the last 10 years. Like many other Nirsoft utilities, who are very nice and convenient wrappers of internal Win32 APIs, this one takes a familiar function, ping, scales it and presents it nicely.
The target audience of this utility seems to be technically oriented individuals, who need to monitor several servers or communications channels in Windows. This would usually mean IT, network or DevOps professionals. Note that this is for ad-hoc monitoring, when you suddenly need high resolution and low latency data, and not for day-to-day monitoring, when you would use nagios-like software or a third-party service.
Before finding this tool, my alternative was to open several ping windows simultaneously and track them. This becomes nearly impossible with over 6 servers. It is as simple as having difficulty managing the real-estate on the screen, not to mention tracking anything that scrolled out of the current ping window view.
My main use was monitoring the servers restart for monthly Microsoft updates. If didn’t pay attention for a few minutes, I might miss a reboot and have a hard time knowing the state of a specific server. Even if you have a script to open the various “pings”, it is still a pain to close them when you are done.
With PingInfoView, I just run it and enter a list of hosts/IPs. PingInfoView then starts monitoring each one with a configurable interval. For each host you have a success and a fail counter. It is a good practice to add some stable third-party server (google.com) as an anchor for a general network up/down monitoring. Now, with just one glace I can tell which hosts are down and which hosts have been down and are now up. Furthermore, selecting a host shows you a detailed view with all the individual pings.
There are various other options such as localization, command line parameters and export, but I don’t care ;), I like it already. Thanks Nir!