20 Great, Free Networking Utilities
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10. Collaborate online with Microsoft SharedView
Need to work on a project with a large and geographically dispersed team? Microsoft SharedView lets up to 15 people share their screens and collaborate on documents. It supports remote copy and paste, personalized mouse cursors(so you can see who's pointing at what) and the ability to track the groups changes in a document. (Note: Requires a Windows Live ID to download and use.)
11. Remotely shut down a system with Switch Off
If need to shut down a computer from a distance--or just put it into sleep or hibernate mode--Switch Off can do the job. The software's embedded Web server makes it accessibly from any browser, and the remote UI is simple enough to pose no problems for a bare-bones phone browser.
12. Breathe new life into an old PC with Jolicloud
If you have an ancient or underpowered PC that you'd like to resuscitate for Web browsing or use with online services like Google Docs, Facebook or Skype, Jolicloud can convert it from doorstop to a functional Net-centric computer complete with apps for those services and more. You can even dual-boot with Windows.
13. Ditch the (KVM) switch with Synergy (Windows, Mac, Linux)
You may not need to set aside money (and space) for KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) hardware when there's Synergy. It lets you share a keyboard and mouse with multiple systems over a local network (each system still needs its own display, though) and offers some features you don't get with a hardware KVM switch, like copy and paste that works across all your connected system.
14. Provide and receive remote support with TeamViewer (Windows, Mac, Linux)
If you need to give--or get--remote support, TeamViewer is quick and easy way to do it, since it doesn't require installation prior to use (you can download and run the program directly from the Web site). The software can also be used to administer unattended computers, or for online meetings and presentations. (Note: TeamViewer is free only for non-commercial use.)
15. Stream any speaker output with SpeakerShare
If you don't have appropriate music streaming software--or want to take advantage of better speakers on another PC--when listening to audiog, check out SpeakerShare. This portable app transmits speaker output from one PC to another over the network via Bonjour (which is included).
16. Look up IP addresses/hostnames quickly with FastResolver
Need to match a batch of IP addresses to hostnames or vice-versa? FastResolver makes the job much quicker and more efficient than NSLOOKUP. On local networks, it will match IP to MAC addresses and look up the OUI so you can identify the network hardware manufacturer.
17. Quickly switch network configurations with NetSetMan
If you frequently travel between networks, NetSetMan will let you save custom profiles for up to a half-dozen of them--with settings including IP address, mapped drives, and default printer--and easily switch between them. (Note: NetSetMan is free only for non-commercial use.)
18. Track uptime with PingInfoView
To keep an eye on a group of systems, servers, or sites to make sure they're up, consider PingInfoView. It pings local or remote IPs or hostnames at scheduled intervals, beeps when a monitored system fails to respond, and reports the last successful contact.
19. Secure your network with Untangle Lite
Untangle Lite combines a gateway router and firewall with virus, spyware, spam, and phishing filters, and it includes VPN capabilities to boot. Best of all, it runs a garden-variety PC with minimal hardware specs, as long as your network has fewer than 50 PCs. (Read a How-to.)
20. Build your own network storage server with FreeNAS
If you'd rather not shell out for a NAS device, FreeNAS can help you make a DIY storage server out of an spare PC. It provides many common NAS features such as multiple network protocols and file systems, streaming servers (e.g. UPnP, iTunes) and supports a few uncommon ones as well, such as wireless networking and disk encryption.
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Joseph Moran is a longtime technology writer and co-author of Getting StartED with Windows 7 from Friends of Ed.
For more help, check out the PracticallyNetworked Forums.
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