Network Associates' popular Sniffer network management tool has been in transition from its DOS-based form since the company's acquisition of Cisco's GUI-based NetXRay.
Those familiar with the DOS version of Sniffer needn't worry about losing functionality when switching to Sniffer Pro 98. However, it will take some getting used to.
Sniffer Pro 98 still allows you to monitor network activity in real time: you can probe the network to troubleshoot problems, measure response times, count hops, or even simulate traffic. The version of the product I reviewed is software-only, allowing you to install it on your desktop or an existing Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT notebook computer.
Sniffer Pro collects information on a network segment or detailed utilisation and error statistics for individual nodes on the network. You can also capture network traffic and save it to disk. Once it is saved, you can perform a detailed packet analysis or pass along the saved captures to associates for packet decoding.
I installed and ran Sniffer Pro 98 on my test network, but to really put it through its paces, I also installed it on a high-traffic network. It installed easily, and I could readily display packets per second, see utilisation percentages, and track errors per second.
A variety of views are available, and many graphs can be selected to display what's going on with the network. Behind each graph is the lowdown needed to pinpoint and remedy problems.
What differentiates Sniffer from other protocol analysers on the market is the depth of tools provided, topology support, monitoring, analysis, and the rich decodes. It will not only flag errors but give expert advice on how to fix them.
Sniffer Pro remains a reliable, comprehensive tool. It can capture traffic from any network, ranging from ISDN to high-speed Ethernet and ATM, and interpret captured data; and it diagnoses network problems, which helps minimise network downtime. Its new look only enhances this already indispensable network management tool.
The Bottom Line
Sniffer Pro 98 1.5
The software-based Sniffer Pro 98 hasn't lost any of its stellar functionality but has gained much in the ease-of-use department.
Pros: Detailed graphs show high-level network activity; easy to drill down to low-level information; Expert tool helps diagnose and solve errors.
Cons: Complete port not ready until later this year.
Platforms: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0.
Price: Pricing is yet to be announced.
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