Monitor your systems

A good watchdog notifies you when trouble is afoot. Wouldn't you love to have a watchdog for your computer systems? Tessler's Nifty Tools' WatchDog-IP 3.0 proactively monitors IP-based computer services (e.g., DNS, DHCP, FTP, HTTP, Telnet) and looks for periodic and consistent failures. WatchDog-IP offers flexible monitoring capabilities, including monitor scheduling, general or detailed monitoring, and user-defined criteria triggers for status transitions (i.e., Normal, Warning, and Died). When the software detects a failure, it sends notifications based on specific monitoring parameters that you've set.

WatchDog-IP is a full 32-bit, multithreaded program that comes on two 3.5" disks and includes a one-page quick start installation and configuration guide. Installing the program was easy, and within 2 minutes I was configuring the software to monitor a system.

The first time I opened WatchDog-IP, a Help file offered pertinent information about how to use the program. I closed the Help file and accessed the main WatchDog-IP console, which Screen 1 shows. On this console, you create items for the software to monitor. Color-coded circles and an Item Information field keep you up-to-date with items' success or failure.

To create an item to monitor, you click Insert from the Item menu, name the new item, select the type of service to monitor, and enter the item's IP address. The software's context-sensitive Help lets you click each dialog box and drop-down menu to receive detailed help.

I decided to monitor the primary DNS server on my network. After naming the item (SaturnDNS), I selected DNS as the type of service and filled in the DNS server's IP address. Next, I clicked the Overall tab (which monitors only for general errors) and then the Configure Actions button, which displayed seven tabs. On these tabs, I could select and configure each notification option from a separate dialog box. I clicked the Email tab, selected the Send every person below an email check box, and clicked Configure. I entered the user's display name, email address, and SMTP server address to set the configuration. On the Message Box tab, I entered the text that I wanted the console to display in the event the DNS server failed. I finished configuring the item in less than 5 minutes.

I started monitoring the event by clicking the right arrow button on the toolbar, but you can also enable all events to start automatically by clicking Autostart on the Options menu. The lower half of the main console immediately displayed information and event messages. I let the event run for 5 minutes of monitoring. Then, to test the program, I pulled the network cable from the back of the monitored DNS system. Within 1 minute I received an email message and a console message notifying me that the DNS server had failed. The program worked quickly and without any hitches.

When a monitored system experiences a status transition, WatchDog-IP can perform several alerts, including Messaging API (MAPI) and SMTP email messages, alphanumeric and numeric paging, an alarm sound of your choice, and program or batch file execution.

WatchDog-IP is a good monitoring tool that notifies you when a critical server or workstation fails to respond to a variety of communication attempts. I was pleased with the easy setup and configuration, not to mention the robust number of alerts that I could configure. At first glance, WatchDog-IP's $695 price tag seems steep. However, the software includes a 10-system license, and the company offers a low-price guarantee.

WatchDog-IP 3.0
Contact: Tessler's Nifty Tools * 925-275-9353
Web: http://www.niftytools.com
Price: $695 for a10-system license
System Requirements: x86 processor or better, Windows NT Server 4.0 or NT Workstation 4.0, 16MB of RAM, 2MB of hard disk space