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Monitor Computers Using SNMP Traps and Other Methods

By Andrew Erickson

March 3, 2023


Monitoring computers is an important part of IT operations and network management. It allows organizations to ensure that their systems are running smoothly and efficiently, and can alert them to any problems or issues that may arise.

There are several methods available for monitoring computers, including SNMP traps and other types of monitoring software and tools. I'm going to teach you how to monitor computers using SNMP traps and other methods, as well as the benefits of doing so.

We'll also discuss together how these tools can help improve overall system performance, reduce downtime, and provide detailed analytics about your network's health.

Monitoring any of your computers is equal in importance to the function of each computer

It's natural to get a bit annoyed about the need for computer monitoring. "Is it really that important?" you might ask yourself.

Well, you can also answer that question yourself by considering what that computer does on a daily basis:

  • Are you a PC hobbyist at home with a limited budget?
  • Is this computer used by professionals in a fast-paced business environment?
  • Are you part of a law enforcement agency? A hospital> providing life-saving care?

As you can see, some computers cause little or no loss to wider society when they fail. Others represent a danger to public health and safety.

Monitoring technology and methods are similar for most computers

No matter how big or small, how expensive or inexpensive your computer is, the actual process of monitoring it follows common patterns. You will likely see big differences in the specific software you'll use as a hobbyist vs. as a professional. Still, the overarching architecture - including protocol messages like SNMP traps - will mostly remain the same.

What specific benefits can you expect if you properly monitor computers?

Good monitoring will provide insight into how well the computer is performing and can alert you if any problems arise. You can then respond early rather than waiting to repair damage and experience system downtime.

As one example, hard disk failures can be extremely damaging to a computer system if they are not detected early. One of the most effective methods for detecting hard disk failures before they become catastrophic is to monitor for precursors that indicate a loss in performance.

Outside of hardware, software and network performance can be measured in any number of ways. This can provide an early indication of trouble, either due to malware, hardware fault, or even just organic system growth that leads to higher levels of stress.

What are SNMP traps, and how can I use them for monitoring?

The most common type of monitoring software used by businesses today is SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol). SNMP traps are messages sent from an agent (such as an SNMP-enabled device) to a network management system. This allows the system to monitor and manage connected devices, such as computers.

In a typical network, it's common for individual computers to run software that performs internal scans. If a problem is detected, that data can be transmitted in some way to alert you to the problem before it grows.

This where SNMP traps come in. SNMP traps can be used for virtually any monitoring task, such as reporting hard drive failures or memory usage spikes to your central SNMP manager.

SNMP traps are special network messages that are sent whenever there is an issue with a device or system. They are sent in a standard format and can be used to alert you when something goes wrong. You can use them for a variety of tasks, including monitoring system performance, detecting hard disk failures, detecting unauthorized access attempts, and much more.

How do SNMP traps fit into my broader computer monitoring architecture?

The basic architecture and process of SNMP notifications from computer monitoring is:

  1. One of your monitored computers has a problem that it detects internally via software (or perhaps internal hardware sensors).
  2. Your computer assembles an SNMP trap, a digital message that describes the problem and identifying information about your computer itself.
  3. Your computer sends the SNMP trap across your network and/or over the internet to reach your SNMP manager, the central server that handles incoming SNMP traps.
  4. Your SNMP manager reacts to the incoming message according to its severity level. It may simply log a minor issue for later review, send you a email or SMS text message, or even use a more aggressive method like a voice call for severe alerts.

Monitoring your computers via SNMP trap can improve your bottom line

By taking advantage of SNMP traps, you can significantly reduce how much time it takes to identify and react to computer issues. This can save your business money in lost productivity, repair costs, and customer trust. The best way to take full advantage of this technology is to set up a monitoring system with an appropriate architecture that can detect any problems early and alert you to take action.

Now that you know how to monitor computers using SNMP traps, you can start taking advantage of this technology and ensure that your computer systems remain healthy and running smoothly.

Telecom infrastructure devices are some of the most important computers you could possible monitor

My background on this topic stems from my work at DPS, where we make monitoring devices to help clients keep tabs on servers, network hardware, HVAC, and backup power systems like UPS batteries and generators. These are mission-critical devices that keep 911 service, the power grid, and police/fire radio systems online, 24 hours per day, every day.

As a result of this experience, I can help you monitor everything from basic computers to advanced telecommunications hardware using protocols like SNMP.

Call DPS for SNMP help

As a manufacturer of remote monitoring hardware, our engineers at DPS have a deeper SNMP background that almost anyone else. In ages past, manufacturers each created their own proprietary protocols in the hope that customers would be stuck purchasing with that ecosystem forever.

We were early adopters of SNMP in our industry, and that commitment to openness continues today. If you have a question about the implementation of SNMP within your network, give me a call. I'll get you connected with an engineer quickly. You'll get fast answers to all of your questions.

To get SNMP help, call DPS at 1-800-693-0351 or email sales@dpstele.com

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...