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Hardware agent vs running a PC 24/7
The NutPile Networks monitoring software, called the ‘agent’ is available for Windows 7/8/10, some Linux flavors and also comes pre-installed onto small plug-and-play devices which we call a preconfigured agent. These devices will run 24/7, 365 days/year, using a very small amount of power when compared to leaving your PC on continually.
When you order one or more preconfigured agents, they are typically prepared and shipped within 1-3 days, subject to availability. If we do not have enough stock to fulfill your order, we will inform you and any subscription date will be extended.
When you receive your agent, an activation process is required in order to assign it to your account. Log into or create an account on ncp.nutpile.com, then click on the Actions drop down and select the ‘Activate Hardware Agent’ option. Enter the details that were included in the package to complete the process.
Once connected and activated, your Manage Agents list will include all agents that you have installed. Note that the ‘Status’ of an agent is updated once it has begun sending data for a while, typically, around 12-15 minutes.
A hardware device is primarily for those who do not have or do not wish to keep a PC powered on 24/7 or who want to receive the most accurate reports possible. A PC accidentally turned off, or taken down for a while or being rebooted could miss important outage data.
Plug it in and forget it
Ethernet or wireless
The hardware agent is a tiny device which requires only a free Ethernet port and power. While we do have wireless options available, all testing shows that the best results are always when using a wired connection. It is always best to connect your agent via cable to a free port on your router/firewall.
Your upstream device (modem, or router or firewall) must provide DHCP services so that the agent can receive an IP. For example, if you connect a PC to your LAN and it receives an IP and is ready to communicate with the Internet, then you are good to go.
The hardware agent is a plug-and-play device meaning that once connected and turned on, there is usually no need to do anything else. As with all sensitive electronics such as your computer, monitors and other gear, you should connect its power source to a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) so that it is not damaged during lightning storms or other power issues.
The agent, whether hardware or software, is part of a client/server network. No matter which option you pick, we are constantly fine tuning the software, adding features and testing in order to improve our services.
Internet speed testing - Ethernet interfaces
Currently, hardware devices come with Ethernet interface speeds of 100Mbps. In 2017, we will be introducing an updated version of the device which will have two 1000Mbps Ethernet interfaces.
If you have a need to use higher speeds, you may wish to opt for our Windows or Linux agents which can test speeds based on what your interface and networks can handle.
Please read the information provided in your control panel and the NutPile FAQ when enabling and setting speed testing.
Can I switch between hardware and software?
If you started using NutPile by installing the software onto a PC/laptop and later decide you’d like to take advantage of using a hardware agent, you can easily do that but please keep the following things in mind.
We are working on a swap function which would allow agents to be swapped without losing their reports. However, at this time, the function is in alpha testing and we do not know if it will make it into the production control panel.
If you would like to replace a software agent with a hardware agent, you would install the new hardware agent and once it is communicating with the NutPile, you could simply uninstall the software agent from your PC.
The reports for the software agent would remain in your control panel until you decided to delete that agent, at which time its reports would be removed permanently. Since the new hardware agent would be monitoring your connection, there would be no advantage to keeping both and your reports would begin to build again as they had the first time.
Updates and/or problems
NutPile Networks is constantly refining its software and updates are required to make sure that your device is running the very latest bug free versions. All hardware and software updates are completed automatically. Updates could include hardware, operating system or other software which needs to be updated on your device.
The software continuously monitors itself to make sure that it is running. If it finds a problem, it tries to restart itself. When it restarts itself, it will look for updates and if any are found, will automatically update itself then get back to work monitoring your services.
Some devices have one or more LEDs, some flash, some do not. The way to confirm that your device is working is to log into your control panel and check the Agent Status after around 5 or 6 minutes. Pings should also start coming in and showing up in your Pings graph within the same amount of time. If the device is communicating, the status will be a green Active. If the device is not reaching our network, its status will be red, Inactive.
If an update requires a full restart, which would be rare, a notification email will be sent to the agent notification email address you entered for the particular agent. A notice will also be shown in your control panel asking you to power cycle the device. Simply unplug the power connector then reconnect it a few seconds later.
If for some reason, an update or some other glitch occurs, preventing the device from communicating with our servers, a daily restart is also programmed into the software which should take care of that problem by restarting the device to a fresh state.
Remember, it is ALWAYS best to have a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) connected to sensitive equipment such as your PC and associated devices including your NutPile monitoring agent. Power brownouts, spikes and lightning strikes can hurt or kill your computer gear if it’s unprotected, especially during bad weather.
Note: If your device is receiving a firmware update and your power goes out, this could render your device ‘bricked’ or unusable.
We fully test these devices before they are shipped to customers. It is unlikely that a device will fail other than if they are subject to misuse, hacking or power issues as mentioned above. If the device cannot be recovered, it may have suffered a fatal problem and will have to returned for a replacement. Depending on the cause, a replacement could be free or discounted. We sell the devices at a very low cost so that replacement is not an issue if having to pay full price again.
Why are the agents different makes/manufacturers?
We are continually working to improve and add features to this service and this includes the hardware agents we are using.
Sometimes, we’ll order a batch of something, work with them for a while then find a new model that may have additional features we want to integrate or a slightly better design style. Because we tend to order in batches, we end up with a few of this and that make and model which we eventually sell to the customers. We only sell devices that are compatible with our service, so even if you receive one design and then order another one and receive a slightly different design, both units will be service compatible.
How do I order?
When you register, you create an account. An account is required so that agents can be assigned to your reports. Your information is used only by Support to contact you or to ship hardware agents or other materials to you if you order something.
After registering, you can then log into your control panel to add your first agent. You can either download and install a software agent or you can order a hardware agent by clicking on the Agents menu then the Order Hardware Agent option. The device will be prepared and shipped to you. When you receive it, simply use the activate hardware agent option in your control panel.