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Hardware agent vs running a PC 24/7

The Internet monitoring reports software, called the ‘agent’ is available for Windows 7/8/10, Centos, Debian, Ubuntu and others. It also optionally available pre-installed onto small plug-and-play devices which we call hardware agents. 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 hardware agents, they are 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.

When you receive your agent, you must activate it using the details sent to you. This is a simple process that adds your new agent into your own account.

Once connected and activated it will show as an asset in your Manage Agents list. Note that the ‘Status’ of an agent is updated once it has begun sending data for a while, typically, a few 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 5V 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.

Protect your hardware

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.

Internet speed testing - Ethernet interfaces

Most of our hardware devices come with Ethernet interface speeds of 100Mbps therefore, speed testing can only reach the maximum amount of throughput that the device can handle. If you have a need to use higher speeds, you may wish to opt for our Windows or Linux agents.

However, the point behind the speed test is not so much to fully saturate your Internet connection but to know if you have a reasonable, usable amount of bandwidth at the time of the test. Using a slower Ethernet speed will use up less of your bandwidth and data if you have a capped data plan.

Please read the information in your control panel or the FAQ when enabling and setting speed testing.

Can I switch between hardware and software?
If you started using 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, you could 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

We are constantly refining the service and all of the software. Updates are required to make sure that your device is running the very latest bug free versions. The Windows agent is not updated very often because we are mainly a Linux house but wanted to provide a Win version.

Most new features and updates are made available on our hardware agents.

The agent continuously monitors to make sure that it is running the latest versions. The agent automatically restarts every 24hrs or so to help ensure there are no issues with the device, basically just to clear it and restart it. Each time it restarts, it looks for updates and if any are found, will automatically update itself then get back to work monitoring your services. The code tries NOT to send you an outage notification when it is restarted but in some cases, this cannot be avoided.

Some devices have one or more LEDs, some flash, some do not. The sure way to confirm that your device is running correctly is to log into your control panel and check the Agent Status. Give it several minutes and keep watching the Heartbeat graph.

Pings are used to let you know the status of the agent. If the device is communicating, the status will be a green Active. If the device is not reaching the 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.

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 every device before they are shipped to customers. It is unlikely that a device will fail other than if subjected to misuse, hacking or power issues which render the device inoperable.

If the device cannot be recovered, it may have suffered a fatal problem. If we know we cause it, we will replace the device. However, note that devices are sold with no warranty what so ever since we do not manufature them, we only resell them running our software.

However, we are always happy to try and resolve a problem so long as you can put the device online so that we can reach it. This means opening a port on your firewall to give us remote access to the device.

Depending on the cause, a replacement could be free or discounted but we must be able to reach the device before assessing anything. In most cases, it will require that you return the device so that we may further assess what happened. This also helps us to better our services.

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 various makes and models which we sometimes sell at a discount.

How do I order?

Check the menu above to order your hardware agent.

Once ordered, the agent will be prepared and shipped to you . When you receive it, simply activate it by logging into your account using the information sent in the activation email.

You can also find activation information on this site, under Help and ‘Activating hardware’.
There is no nothing else to install, once activated it will be on the job 24/7 for you, logging any and every problem seen with your Internet service.