Why would someone want simple and free (or cheap) monitoring tools for Windows? Remotely monitoring CPU, Memory and Hard Drive usage for a test lab of 6+ servers (or for any size network) is important for detecting resource constraints, either before the happen or as an explanation for why something fails.
Some may want flexibility in the resources they monitor. Personally I wanted a tool that is web based, has low (or real-time) refresh, could send alerts, relatively easy to install, is free and works for Windows Server. Nagios, which is one of the most popular (supposedly) network monitoring tools, is overly complex and takes far too much time to setup, however it also provides great flexibility.
Instead I searched the web and evaluated a few tools:
Spiceworks and to some degree PRTG offer the features I described above: web based, low refresh times, email alerts, easy to install and they work for Windows. They both install quickly and on a regular basis scan the network for changes to individual devices as well as additions / removal of devices. Spiceworks is free, although it has some annoying ads and PRTG is free for up to 10 monitors after which it can get pretty expensive.
Screen Shot of Spiceworks Dashboard
Both products would work well for production monitoring but for a test lab these seem a little overkill. PRTG is more powerful than Spiceworks since it allows WMI plugins but it also costs money for over 10 monitors.)
Free Windows Health Monitor by ManageEngine isn't web based, doesn't send alerts but is easy to install, has 5 minute refresh times (not horrible) and is free if you monitor less than 10 machines. You can see from the image I've got the "Dashboard" up - although it only provides summary on the top 3 machines in each category.
Screen Shot of Windows Health Monitor Dashboard
It's a little sad how few options there are for simple and free (or cheap) Network Monitoring Tools for Microsoft Windows. Looks like I'll be using Free Windows Health Monitor until I find something better.
Comments? Did I miss any programs that you found to work well?