Network analyzers are commonly used in the computer section of the industrial world and are sometimes known as packet sniffers and Ethernet sniffers. Network analyzers are usually software programs, but they can also be a part of your computer’s hardware. They are tools that are widely used by LAN administrators, network programmers and technicians who deal in network server installation.
They are used with protocol decoders for the monitoring and managing of the networks. These analyzers help: provide complete analysis of the networks, designing the network profiles, measuring the traffic on the network and detecting any intruders who get past the network security. They can also filter suspect content from network traffic, spy on other network users and collect sensitive information such as passwords (depending on any encryption methods in use) and reverse engineer protocols used over the network.
As data streams back and forth over a computer network, the analyzer will capture each packet and decode and analyze its content. Depending on the structure of the network an analyzer one can decode all or just parts of the traffic from a single machine within the network. Network analyzers are selected based on parameters like network protocol and types of ports. Other factors to be considered are the number of ports, size and rate of data that has to be transferred. Network analyzers are quite popular and many variations of them can be found on the market.
Some network analyzers are also used for electrical networks. These analyzers which are generally called electrical network analyzers are able to examine and monitor active and passive electrical components. They can analyze the properties of electrical networks, especially those properties which are associated with reflection and transmission of electrical signals known as s-parameters.
The electrical network analyzer's main function is impedance matching in radio electronics so as to satisfy the maximum power theorem. The two main types of electrical network analyzers are the Scalar network analyzer (SNA), which is for amplitude properties only and the Vector network analyzer (VNA), which handles both amplitude and phase properties. These analyzers are also called gain-phase meters and they are the most common type of electrical network analyzers. If somebody refers to a network analyzer they usually mean a VNA as an SNA is almost functionally identical to a spectrum analyzer in combination with a tracking generator.