Operating ntopng on large networks

ntopng, in its default configuration, works out-of-the-box for most of the users. Home networks and small- to medium-sized corporate networks rarely require changes and optimizations to the ntopng configuration.

However, under some circumstances, a fine-tuning of the configuration could prove to be very helpful. There are some clear indicators that suggest a tuning is required. Those indicators are discussed below.

Red Badges

Sometimes, badges shown in the bottom-right corner of ntopng can turn into red. A red hosts badge indicates ntopng has not enough room to handle all the hosts. Similarly, a red flows badge indicates ntopng has not enough room to handle all the flows.

To increase the maximum number of hosts and flows handled by ntopng, it is possible to use options -x and -X, respectively. It is recommended to use values that are much greater than the actual number of hosts and flows.

For example, assuming that ntopng has, on average, 10000 hosts and 20000 flows, one could safely specify -x=100000 and -X=200000 to make sure there always be enough room.

Packet Drops

When ntopng drops packets, it means that it cannot keep up with the rate at which packets are entering the NIC being monitored. One first check to perform is to disable the “Idle Local Hosts Cache” preference from the ntopng “Cache Settings”, which has an high impact on the packet capture thread due to its interactions with Redis for newly created hosts.

If the above change does not solve the packet drops issue, one should consider operating PF_RING Zero Copy (ZC), and even use RSS to let multiple thread handle the incoming traffic. The configuration of PF_RING ZC and RSS fall outside the scope of this guide. Additional information can be found at the following links:

When RSS is enabled, the traffic will be spread across multiple virtual interfaces. View Interfaces can be used in order to aggregate the traffic back into a single interface, check out https://www.ntop.org/guides/ntopng/advanced_features/view_interfaces.html .

Additional Tuning

We recommend the user interested in fine-tuning ntopng to refer to this blog post for additional tips and tricks: https://www.ntop.org/ntopng/best-practices-for-running-ntopng/.