What is a Network Diagram? Types and Best Tools to Use


A network diagram is a visual representation of your network that shows the devices, connections, paths, and data flows. Network mapping and network topology mapping are other terms for network diagramming.

Learning about your network, keeping a check on its health, and keeping track of your network’s devices (called “nodes”) all need network diagramming. You may better grasp how your network operates and what it needs to perform in an optimum way by learning about the intricacies of its nodes and connections.

Also, a network diagram can assist you in observing both the logical and physical characteristics of your network.

Types of Network Diagrams

1. Logical Network Diagrams

Logical diagrams explain how information travels through a network by displaying the inner characteristics of your network, such as routing protocols and subnets. This type of network mapping is ubiquitous and has a variety of applications.

2. Physical Network Diagrams

Physical diagrams depict the physical components of your network, such as cables and switches, as well as their placement. A physical network diagram can be thought of as your network’s “floor plan,” and these types of network maps are very valuable for network engineers.

You’ll need to draw a logical network diagram and a physical diagram to get a full view of your network. There are also hyper-specialized network diagrams that might assist you in concentrating on specific areas of your network.

Network security diagrams, which focus on security-related equipment, computer network diagrams, and a network switch diagram, which shows the pieces of hardware that connect devices over the network, are examples of these.

You can combine several types of networking diagrams to create networks diagrams that are tailored to your own requirements. Building a physical network switch diagram or a network diagram focusing on the security of your network’s PCs are two examples.

The ability to modify your network’s diagram is one of the reasons why it’s so important—and why utilizing a network diagram builder like SolarWinds NTM can help you create clear and accurate networking diagrams.

Types of Network Diagram Tools

There are numerous types of network diagrams, as we said earlier. Your network security, individual devices, or the physical or logical features of your network can all be addressed in your networking diagram. Now that you understand what network diagrams are, you can learn about the various methods for creating them—manually, automatically, or semi-automatically.

1) Manual Network Diagramming Software

You’re in charge of comprehending and visualizing the connections between your nodes when you manually construct a network’s diagram. Manual network diagrams allow you to completely customize the look of your map, which is ideal for complex, one-of-a-kind networks.

However, when your network develops and evolves, you’ll have to manually edit your network design, which makes keeping a manual networking diagram challenging.

2) Semi-Automatic Network Diagramming Software

Semi-automatic diagrams combine both manual and automated network maps, as the name implies. While using a semi-automatic network diagram tool, your network’s devices will be automatically found, but you’ll have to manually place and connect your network’s nodes. While this allows for customization, creating a networking diagram without templates or drag-and-drop functionality can be difficult.

3) Automated Network Diagramming Software

These network diagramming generators are meant to automatically detect the nodes and links in your network and build a network’s diagram. An automated network diagram updates in real-time as your network evolves, making network mapping upkeep a breeze.

Many automated network diagramming solutions provide a range of templates to choose from, allowing you to personalize your network diagram to fit your network’s context.

7 Best Network Diagram (Diagramming) Tools

Make sure your network diagram software enables movement inside your network, regardless of which networking diagram creator you use. Static network diagrams, or maps that don’t alter as the network changes, quickly become obsolete.

The best networking diagram tools will adapt to your network, accounting for changes as they occur and keeping your network diagram current. Here is our pick of the best networking diagram software to manage network diagrams:

1. Microsoft Visio

Microsoft Visio is a dependable network diagram maker that allows you to interface with other software and applications while keeping your data safe. It has semi-customizable templates and themes but lacks the ability to create automated networking diagrams.

The network diagram tool comes in a free 30-day trial of the Standard version, as well as the more expansive and pricey Pro version.

2. SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper (NTM)

SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper (NTM) is a one-stop-shop for creating detailed network diagrams from a single network scan. NTM allows you to plan periodic network re-scans, which will automatically update your networking diagram, ensuring that you are always up to date.

Using NTM’s drag-and-drop tool or manually relocating your nodes, you can edit existing nodes on your network design. NTM is designed to allow you to share network topology diagrams in a variety of formats, including Cisco, Microsoft Visio, and PDF and PNG. NTM is a fantastic tool for building user-friendly automated network diagrams, and it comes with a free 14-day trial.

3. Lucidchart

Lucidchart network diagram software is an excellent tool for producing flowcharts, process maps, and other network diagrams. It, like SolarWinds NTM, works effectively with other programs and automatically backs up data.

The network diagramming tool, however, lacks auto-discovery capabilities, making it unable to automatically safeguard and manage your network’s devices. There are three professional options available for download, as well as a free single-user alternative.

4. Creately

Creately is a sophisticated networking diagram creator with built-in collaboration and chat features that make it simple to create and share network diagrams. Smart connectors make your network diagrams more readable, while stylistic choices and a large variety of node shapes allow you to customize your network’s diagrams.

The network diagram software works nicely with other systems like Microsoft Office, Slack, and Google Workspace, but it doesn’t have real-time networking diagram tools. You can sign up for a free version or opt for one of its paid plans.

5. Intermapper

Intermapper is an outstanding network’s diagram generator that allows you to construct real-time physical and logical network diagrams. This network diagramming program was created with customization in mind, so you may construct your networking diagram precisely the way you picture it in your head.

It has a different pricing structure than its competitors. Intermapper has a pay-per-device plan that increases as you add devices, but it also has a free trial.

6. SmartDraw

Endorsed as a (Microsoft) “Visio Alternative,” SmartDraw is a web-based networking diagramming application that can be used from anywhere with an internet connection. Because it is designed to be as simple to use as possible, it has few modification choices but very tidy, professional-looking network diagrams.

Because of its limited customizability and pay-per-user model, the product is best suited for small networks. Anyways, you can get a free online version by signing up.

7. LanFlow

LanFlow provides easy network diagramming tools as well as comprehensive design capabilities, including 2D and 3D icon libraries. An optional snap grid, full zoom-in capability, and figure labels that shift automatically as you edit are some of the best features of LanFlow.

It is used by many Cisco specialists for managing network topology diagrams. You may also add hyperlinks and websites to your network’s diagram by using existing templates or totally creating your own. LanFlow is primarily a diagramming tool with no autodiscovery or alarm programming capabilities. You may get a 30-day free trial of LanFlow.


To conclude, a network diagram is a visual representation of a computer network, and it is of two types. While a physical network diagram shows the physical components, like cables and switches, a logical network diagram represents how data and information flow in the network.

Moreover, there are a galore of network diagramming tools that can be categorized into one of the three categories, namely manual, semi-automatic, and automated. Lastly, we have listed seven great tools to manage network diagrams.

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