Best Network Simulation Tools [2021]

In this article, we will discuss the best network simulation tools. During the initial learning phase, you may not arrange all networking devices, so it is recommended to install network simulation software to practice and learn networking. Simulation tools, helps you to understand the traffic flow. In the modern computing era, these tools give you real-time experience. The beauty of these tools that they are cross-platform, so you can install it in Windows as well as Linux. So, let’s start!


Best Simulation Tools for Computer Networking

1. Cisco Packet Tracer

Cisco Packet Tracer is proprietary software that allows you to run Cisco platform devices. It is a lightweight software and by default, Cisco devices are preloaded into it. It is a cross-platform software, so it can be installed in Windows, Linux, Mac OS.

Cisco packet tracer also allows you to understand the packets on each OSI layer. The Simulation mode of the Cisco packet tracer allows you to understand the traffic flow, and it will graphically show you each packet.

You can also customize the router/switches by adding the additional modules to it. However, you will be not able to integrate external devices. So, the communication will be internal to the packet tracer only.

To test out various services, like, HTTP, HTTPS, TFTP, FTP, DNS, etc., you will get some additional virtual servers with limited facilities.

This is also good for topology design. Overall, it is very helpful for networking students to learn networking.

Download Cisco Packet Tracer

2. GNS3 – Graphical Network Simulator

GNS3 stands for Graphical Network Simulator. It is an open-source network simulator that allows you to learn networking. GNS3 is a cross-platform software, so it is very easy to install it on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

By default, it comes with ethernet switches and hub, you need to add additional Routers, Firewalls, etc. Unlike, Cisco packet tracer it is multivendor network emulation software and gives you a great learning experience.

Additionally, GNS3 supports integration with VMWare Workstation, KVM, and Virtual Box. So, operating systems like, MS Windows, Linux, etc.

Wireshark can be used on live links to analyze the traffic. Additionally, you can set up the Syslog server, so it is become easier to analyze the historical logs.

Apart from CCNA Certification, you might learn other security certifications like NSE and PCNSE. If you haven’t tried VM Firewalls on GNS3, I recommend to setup Palo Alto and FortiGate on GNS3.

Download GNS3 – Graphical Network Simulator

3. EVE-NG: Emulated Virtual Environment – Next Generation

Emulated Virtual Environment – Next Generation (EVE-NG), is another network simulator that allows you to run virtual devices. You can interconnect many other virtual or physical devices.

Like GNS3, EVE-NG is a multivendor network simulation software in which you can integrate Cisco, Juniper, Palo Alto, FortiGate, and many other virtual devices. So, it provides you a great learning experience.

EVE-NG comes with two different editions, i.e. Paid and Free. The community edition is free and anyone can download and deploy it. You can read the download EVE-NG Cookbook to get started with it. Other is paid edition, called EVE-NG Professional. You need to buy a license to use this.

EVE-NG can be easily accessed by the modern web browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla, etc. So, the GUI of EVE-NG is very interactive.

Overall, EVE-NG is useful for topology design and learning. EVE-NG, provides a great learning experience for network and network security certifications, like Cisco Certifications, NSE, PCNSE, and many others.

Download eve-ng community edition

4. VIRL – Virtual Internet Routing Lab

VIRL stands for Virtual Internet Routing Lab – and this is the proprietary software of Cisco. It is a paid network simulation software. It is also one of the top five network simulation software. Another good thing with VIRL is that it is portable. It has a very reach user interface so you will get a great learning experience.

In the VIRL network simulator, all common Cisco virtual appliance, i.e.  IOSv, IOSv Layer-2, IOS-XRv, NX-OSv, CSR1000v, and ASAv are in build.

Further, it can be integrated with third-party devices, so this means you can enhance your lab by adding third party appliances. Depending on your requirements, it can be connected to the virtual and real-world networks.

So, if you are looking for the best network simulator software for preparing certifications, like, CCIE ( Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) then you should go for this simulator.

Learn More About VIRL

5. CORE – Common Open Research Emulator

CORE stands for Common Open Research Emulator. It is an open-source network emulator. Comparing to other network simulators, it is a little bit more technical to work on it. It consists of python based hosts and small VMs which are very easy to start.

To understand the traffic flow, CORE has builtin a tcpdump tool, which can show the traffic in raw format.

The GUI (Graphical User Interface) of the CORE is very easy to understand. Like GNS3, it has some buttons to start and stop the supported host.

So, if you are looking to design a network within a box, CORE is the best emulator. It can also be integrated with an external network, so you can enhance your learning.

CORE demo can be check from here.


In this article, we discussed top network simulation tools for Computer Networking. These tools help you to clear initial certifications like CCNA. Once you have good command in networking, you might integrate these tools with other virtualization technologies like VMWare Workstation or Virtual Box. Most of the tools support the integration of the Firewalls, like i.e. pfSense, Palo Alto, FortiGate, etc. If you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend you go ahead and try them out. In case if you have any challenges, you can comment in the comment section.

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