ways to diagnose network traffic on LAN

hi, im a systems administrator for several smaller (5 to 50) workstation networks, and was wondering if there is a way to diagnose network traffic problems, or originators of chatty nics, failing switches, and the like.  im willing to use dedicated computers, and buy software, but im really looking for something thats below 200ish, and dosent take a weekend of dedicated fiddeling to figure out.

thanks a ton, dan
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pcavenueAsked:
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TannerManCommented:
I would suggest trying the eval copy of Link Ferret.
you can download at http://www.accuwired.com by clicking the banner at the bottom of the page.
Full version is under 300.00, but try the eval to make sure it is what you want.
This may or may not make the mark for you.
Hope it helps
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lrmooreCommented:
Freeware tools are always nice. Primary in any toolkit is Ethereal
http://www.ethereal.com
Are your switches SNMP managable?

Both of these allow you a free 30 day full product eval:

Take a look at Netcrunch from Adrem.
http://www.adremsoft.com/netcrunch/index.php
You might be able to find a ver 2.0 that is freeware...

My favorite is SolarWinds Orion, super easy to set up, but it's a little over the budget
http://www.solarwinds.net

Of course, you always have Microsoft's own built in tools like Perfmon..

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ngravattCommented:
i just looked at this software,

www.websense.com

you set up port mirroring on a switch and it shows you all the traffic going through one of your interfaces.  your supposed to mirror the port that is the uplink to your WAN router.  I guess it really is only good to monitor network traffic.  

setup your switches for logging (syslog) and use a program like Logalot (www.somix.com) or AutoNOC (www.autonoc.com) to see the syslog reports.

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