Retrace vs Microsoft Application Insights – 14 Reasons to Choose Retrace

Looking for an Application Insights Alternative?

Retrace Monitor

You are in the right place! Retrace full lifecycle APM is designed to help developers optimize the performance of their applications and is an excellent Application Insights alternative.

How is Retrace different?

Development teams need visibility to application performance, errors, logs, metrics and monitoring. Retrace provides a simple and holistic experience for developers with a variety of key differentiators:

Retrace is Easy to Use

Retrace combines code-level performance, application metrics, errors and logging together in one easy-to-use solution. All the data is at your fingertips with a simple user interface designed for developers. If you want to verify application performance, look for ways to optimize it or hunt down ugly bugs, Retrace has you covered.

Retrace vs Application Insights – 14 Reasons to Choose Retrace

1. Reporting by individual SQL queries

As your Application Insights alternative, Retrace provides reporting of every single SQL query in your application, quickly finds and helps you optimize slow and high-volume queries.

Application Insights only provides reporting down to the server and database, which isn’t very helpful for identifying why your app is slow.

Retrace - App Insights Alternative

2. Find All Hidden Application Exceptions

With ZERO code changes, Retrace can track every single exception thrown in your code. You can send exceptions to Retrace, tell it to collect only unhandled exceptions or tell it to collect all “first chance exceptions” for .NET, which is literally every exception thrown.

On the other hand, Application Insights only shows exceptions that have been explicitly logged to it, which means you’ll be missing lots of exceptions without Retrace.

3. Detailed Trace Views of Individual Web Requests

Retrace captures key methods in your code – how your code uses dependencies, SQL queries, HTTP calls, errors, logs and more – and presents all this highly useful data in an easy-to-use format that developers love in their Application Insights alternative.

For this sample request below on the right, Retrace shows all of these excellent details: 2 SQL queries, 2 Redis calls, 1 external HTTP call, 2 MVC child actions, 2 MVC partial views, all HTTP modules, 8 log statements, and 1 exception.

Retrace - Detailed Trace Views of Individual Web Requests

4. Support for Many More Application Dependencies

Retrace supports many dependencies including Oracle, PostgreSQL, MySQL, MongoDB, RavenDB, Elasticsearch, Redis, Memcached, AppFabric, MSMQ, NServiceBus, AWS services and more.

Application Insights only supports SQL Server, HTTP calls, Azure Storage and Cosmos DB.

5. Full async/await Support

Retrace has complete support for asynchronous .NET programming, including all dependencies and even your own custom code.

Application Insights does not have full support for application dependencies being used with asynchronous code, iIncluding basic async HttpClient usage.

6. Identify Slowest Application Dependencies Immediately

Retrace puts key metrics and associated data front and center in your dashboard, immediately identifying if SQL, HTTP calls or any dependency is causing performance problems.

Application Insights tracks how much time is spent in the dependencies it supports, but doesn’t present data in a very usable way.

7. Monitor Specific Web Requests & SQL Queries

As your Application Insights alternative, Retrace enables you to monitor the performance of any web request or SQL query in your application, a key functionality for any APM product that you won’t find in Application Insights.

Most applications have critical or high-volume requests that should be closely monitored. Application Insights does not provide any way to monitor an individual key transaction in your application.

8. Powerful Log Searching & Monitoring Included

Retrace provides many advanced log management features at no additional cost:

  • Log searching across all apps/servers
  • Supports log4net/NLog/Serilog and more
  • IIS Logs, Windows Events, Syslog and more
  • Support for structured logging
  • Field explorer and analytics
  • Log monitoring and alerting
  • Real-time log tailing
  • Tight integration with Retrace exceptions and APM

By contrast, Application Insights provides some basic features around searches for log or trace messages, but for advanced functionality, you will incur an additional cost.

More: Retrace Log Management Combines Logs, Errors, and Code Level Performance

Log management search dashboard

9. Advanced Alerting Functionality

Retrace provides many advantages when it comes to monitoring and sending alerts when problems arise, supporting notification groups, escalations and dashboards to view all alerts across all of your applications.

10. Reporting Across Applications & Environments

Being able to view all exceptions and search logs across all apps is critical functionality that all developers need. Created for developers by developers, Retrace provides first class support for reporting across multiple environments for a specific application, as well as across all applications. This enables you to quickly find your slowest web requests, SQL queries, exceptions and much more across every app.

A critical feature for any application performance management solution is the ability to view data across multiple applications. However, Application Insights isolates all of its reporting within individual applications, so your only option is to custom build dashboards in the Azure Portal.

11. Customizable Profiling

Since Retrace uses the .NET CLR profiler, you can customize it to track any method in your code and provide visibility in Retrace’s awesome transaction traces.

Application Insights does not provide any mechanism to profile specific methods in your code.

12. Full Support for Windows Services

Retrace provides full support for Windows Services and Azure Worker Roles. All you have to do is define the scope of what a transaction is, and Retrace will automatically detect all of your application dependencies and provide all the same great functionality that it does with web apps.

Application Insights requires all reporting of Windows Services to be coded manually. You would have to go through every place in your code that you do an SQL query, HTTP call, etc. and manually report it to Application Insights.

13. Correct SQL Query Timings

Retrace tracks the server time it takes to execute queries along with how long it takes to download the SQL query results. For a query that returns a lot of data, the total amount of time is much longer, which is important to understand so you can fully realize the impact of how long your web requests or transactions are taking. Retrace tracks the full and correct timing for SQL queries.

Retrace - View Correct SQL Query Timings

14. Security Warning! SQL Queries May Contain Sensitive Data

Retrace scrubs all SQL queries to remove dynamic SQL and potentially sensitive information. This is part of our process of uniquely identifying all of your SQL queries.

Application Insights collects all of your SQL statements. If you are using dynamic SQL that may include sensitive data, which is then sent to Microsoft.


Now you see why Retrace is the #1 Application Insights alternative. Retrace provides robust application performance management functionality with an amazing user experience designed just for developers.

Still not convinced? Check out our pricing calculator to see how much you could be paying for all these services. Or simply start your FREE 14-DAY TRIAL with Retrace today!