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  Most Popular Tutorials

• Microsoft Vista Home Networking Setup and Options
The most daunting part of upgrading to Windows Vista may be trying to figure out where in the layers of menus the networking and file-sharing options are hidden.

• Do It Yourself: Roll Your Own Network Cables
It may not be something you do everyday, but having the supplies and know-how to whip up a network cable on the spot can be very handy.

• Tips for Securing Your Home Router
Seemingly minor and easily overlooked settings can still have profound security implications. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your wired or wireless home router and by extension, your network is as secure as possible.

  Most Popular Reviews

• Microsoft Windows Home Server
If you have a home network, you'll welcome the easy file sharing, remote access and the image-based backup features of Windows Home Server.

• Iomega StorCenter Network Hard Drive
Iomega's fourth generation StorCenter Network Hard Drive brings many of the features found in higher-end storage devices down to an attractive price.

• MikroTik's The Dude
This free tool delivers many of the same capabilities that you'd find in pricey network monitoring tools. As long as you don't mind tinkering, The Dude is a decent network utility that should be worth the download.



20 Great, Free Networking Utilities

By Joe Moran

It's easy to get lost in the aisles of shrink-wrap software at the big-box tech store, but you don't always have to pay a lot to get a lot of functionality. Here's a list of 20 great apps and services that provide lots of features for no money up front. Most of these utilities are Windows-only unless otherwise specified. Also, there may be more advanced pay versions of some of the items listed here, but any of the features mentioned are available in the free version we cite.

1. Find all network shares with NetResView

When shared network resources are strewn across multiple systems, keeping track of them can be a chore. NetResView displays all shared printers and folders (including hidden ones) from an entire workgroup or domain in a single comprehensive list.

2. Monitor shared files with ShareMonitor

To keep tabs on files you're sharing over a network, use ShareMonitor--it will tell you when files on your system were remotely opened (and closed) and by whom.

3. Manage your network with Spiceworks

It's overkill if you only have a few networked computers, but if you have a few dozen (or a few hundred), Spiceworks is a godsend. It offers a provides hardware and software inventory network monitoring and mapping, and even includes an integrated help desk application. (Read a review.)

4. Check your PC's network traffic with MyPorts 2010

At any given time, your computer can be running myriad programs in the background, each with multiple open network connections. MyPorts scans your system's TCP/IP ports and tells you which are in use, the IP address they're connecting to, and which program is using them to communicate.

5. Indentify Wi-Fi Interference with inSSIDer (Windows, Linux)

Wi-Fi performance problems are frequently the result of multiple wireless networks interfering with each other by trying to use the common or adjacent frequencies. inSSIDer can tell you how crowded your airspace is; it scans for nearby wireless networks and reports--among other things--the channel used by each so you can relocate your equipment to an area with a bit more elbow room.

6. Improve DNS Performance with NameBench (Windows, Mac, Linux)

DNS latency is often responsible for poor performance when Web browsing and using other Internet services. NameBench benchmarks your DNS response time when contacting popular sites (or it can use your own Web history), then recommends new DNS servers that are faster than the ones you're currently using.

7. Access passwords from anywhere with LastPass (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Password manager LastPass helps you create and manage complex passwords for every site you visit on the Web. It's available for virtually every operating system and Web browser known to humankind, and it stores passwords (securely) online, so you can get to them from anywhere.

8. Master your HOSTS file with HostsMan

Editing the Windows HOSTS file can be an effective way to prevent your system from accessing specific IP addresses or Internet domains (e.g. those belonging to ad servers/trackers) . Editing the file manually can be tedious, but HostsMan makes it much simpler by automatically checking entries, allowing you to easily enable or disable the file, and identifying questionable entries that may have been made by malware.

9. Make online storage look local with Gladinet Cloud Desktop Starter Edition

If you use Amazon S3, Google Docs, Windows Live SkyDrive, or other forms of online storage, Gladinet Cloud Desktop Starter Edition will mount that storage as a drive letter in Windows Explorer so you can treat it as if it were on your local network (drag and drop files, etc.) The software will also let you schedule and pause/resume file transfers to and from the cloud.

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