The Free Windows Networking Toolkit: 10 Must-Have Apps
6. Network Notepad
Network Notepad lets you create a graphical map of your network to better help you visualize devices like routers, printers, servers, and workstations and the links between them. The diagramming tool’s object library includes a collection of icons (albeit rather crude looking and limited in number) that you can drag and drop to easily build your network diagram.
Once you’ve assigned IP addresses to the various devices, you can right click or use F1-F6 hotkeys to quickly run ping tests or connect via Telnet, HTTP, or Secure HTTP. Network Notepad also offers an add-on that can auto-discover Cisco devices or others that support the Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP).
Faxing seems so 1990s when you’ve got PrinterShare. When you install this utility (available for Windows, OS X, and Linux) you’ll be able send documents to the printer of another PrinterShare user via the Internet, and they’ll be able to send documents to your printer. PrinterShare works with both local and network printers, and lets you control ink/toner and paper usage by letting you approve incoming documents before printing them.
PrinterShare does require that provide your e-mail address to create an account, and on Vista systems you need to turn off User Account Control (UAC) in order for it to work.
8. Proxy Switcher Lite
When you get Internet access through a proxy server at work, using a work laptop to browse the Web at home (or anywhere else) isn’t as simple as connecting to the local network. Instead you have to delve several layers deep into your browser settings to bypass the proxy before accessing the Internet, and then re-enable the proxy settings latter so you’ll have connectivity back at the office.
Proxy Switcher Lite can make the process of moving between proxied and non-proxied Internet connections a lot less cumbersome. Just provide the utility with your proxy server address and port info (the free version can’t discover this info on its own), and you’ll be able to conveniently switch back and forth from its taskbar icon.
9. Rokario Bandwidth Monitor 2 Lite Edition
These days, more and more ISPs (like Comcast, and Time Warner in many areas) are rolling out bandwidth caps that limit the amount of data you can transfer each month via your Internet connection (or compel you to pay extra for using more than a certain amount).
The demise of “all you can eat” Net access means it’s a good idea to have some idea of how much you’re actually eating. Rokario Bandwith Monitor 2 Lite Edition’s compact usage meter will track how much data you download and upload—both count toward any limit—from your PC both cumulatively and in real time. The utility also lets you choose which day of the month the monitoring period begins so it corresponds to the start of your ISP service period.
10. Windows Live Sync
Making data available on multiple PCs can be a challenge when you don’t have centralized place to store it like a server or NAS device. Download Microsoft’s Windows Live Sync (formerly known as FolderShare) for XP/Vista or OS X and it will replicate the folders you choose to the computers you use, and keep them updated as files are added or changed.
You can also use Windows Live Sync to share folders with friends or family (they must also have the software) or to remotely access files on via a Web page when you don’t have your own computer handy. (You’ll need a Windows Live ID to download and use the software.) For more detail on how to use Windows Live Sync, click here.
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