The troubleshooter's guide to free IT resources

With the lightning pace at which most IT pros work, it's no wonder that many overlook the wealth of free informational resources available. That's why we're offering this handy guide with links to our favorite free IT magazines and newsletters.

Staying abreast of the latest products, developments, trends, and industry-specific news is an absolute necessity for IT support technicians. Fortunately, there are many informative and useful resources available to IT professionals free of charge. Many are printed magazines that are sent to your home or office, and others are Web-based e-zines. Regardless of their form, they are an excellent resource providing timely, well-written articles.

Since these resources are provided at no cost, you will often be required to fill out a subscription application that includes a survey related to your job functions (this will apply mainly to printed publications). The publishers then use that information to provide a target audience to advertisers. You can also indicate whether you would like to receive external offers (ads) or opt out if you wish to receive only the magazine.

Printed magazines
To receive the following print magazines, you must subscribe and qualify for the subscriptions. The publishers will decide if you meet the criteria necessary for a free subscription. More often than not, you will be accepted if you have some connection to IT. Many publishers also limit shipping to within the United States.

Frequency: Monthly

Baseline is a new publication that details the business aspects of IT and provides IT managers and business executives with case studies of the application of technology and IT solutions. Subscribe

Electronic Products
Frequency: Monthly

Primarily aimed at electrical engineers and electronics designers, Electronic Products magazine focuses on providing information about various electronic components and test equipment. It frequently covers the technology of new components that are used or will be used in computer systems or networks. It can be very useful for understanding the components that make up the low-level systems in computers. Subscribe

Enterprise Systems
Frequency: Monthly

Enterprise Systems' articles provide solutions and advice for dealing with IT-related business problems. Industry news and product overviews are also provided, as well as exclusive articles on the Enterprise Systems Web site. Subscribe

Frequency: Weekly

InformationWeek strives to providetechnology news articles and information to IT purchasers, designers, and managers. Subscribe

Frequency: Weekly

InfoWorld covers IT news and technology analysis from a business standpoint. Subscribe

Network Computing
Frequency: Biweekly

Although intended mainly for network managers, Network Computing's wide range of articles will appeal to anyone who deals with computer networks, whether a venerable veteran or networking newcomer. Network Computing provides very accessible, yet in-depth, articles, including networking tutorials, real-world product evaluations, and articles that deal with the application of networking technology. Subscribe

Network Magazine
Frequency: Monthly

Concerned with providing networking information for enterprise networks and service providers, Network Magazine offers a variety of content, including new product overviews, news and analysis, and instructional articles. The articles are generally more technical and are intended for a higher level of expertise than many articles you would find elsewhere. Subscribe

Network World
Frequency: Monthly

Network World is a very comprehensive networking magazine covering news, trends, product reviews, advice and opinion, testing, buyer’s guides, and tutorials. Network World does a good job of presenting articles in a clear and easy-to-follow manner, despite the fact that some topics are covered in great depth. Subscribe

New Architect
Frequency: Monthly

Formerly Web Techniques, New Architect provides instructional and informative articles for IT professionals involved in creating World Wide Web infrastructures. It includes articles that deal with the legal issues pertaining to digital rights, opinions and insight, realistic case studies, product reviews, and the technical issues of development and infrastructure. Subscribe

Frequency: Monthly

Optimize is another new publication that deals with the business aspects of deploying networking and IT technology. Each issue is themed and features a “90-day plan” designed to allow for immediate implementation of the featured topic. Subscribe

Services News
Frequency: Monthly

Formerly IT Support News, Services News covers mainly news relating to the application of technology by enterprises. Nevertheless, there usually are a few articles of interest to technicians and help desk personnel in each issue that deal with troubleshooting tools and certifications. Subscribe

The Net Economy
Frequency: Monthly/Biweekly

News, analysis, and opinion are the central components of The Net Economy, which covers the business aspects of communication networks. Subscribe

Online magazines
Some of the resources listed below are exclusive to the Web, while others are online versions of their print counterparts that, on occasion, include content and features not included in the print versions. Most of these sites also allow you to sign up for a variety of e-mail-based newsletters that cover specific topics.

EE Times
Although available in a weekly printed format, the EE Times Web site may prove more convenient for those wanting to learn the latest technology news. The EE Times site features a wonderful section on semiconductor news that is useful for keeping up with chipset happenings as well as other sections relevant to those interested in low-level PC hardware.

eWEEK is another weekly journal that is available in print but that you might find more useful as a Web site. The eWEEK Web site provides news, product reviews and comparisons, commentary, and even rumors dished out by the very clever and amusing Spencer F. Katt.

Intel Technology Journal
Just as the name implies, Intel Technology Journal is a quarterly journal covering technical issues pertaining to Intel technology. It is a good place to obtain a more profound understanding of Intel’s processor architectures, among other topics. No subscription is required, but if you do subscribe, you will be notified of new issues. The articles are available for download as PDF files as well.

Although the printed version of Microsoft’s journal for developers, MSDN, is not free, its Web site is, and it provides very interesting and highly in-depth articles with insights into the workings of a variety of Microsoft products. Even though the articles are intended for developers, they will appeal to other technical professionals as well.

Network Computing Online
The Web version of Network Computing not only contains all of the articles in the printed version but also exclusive content available only online. No subscription is necessary to access the articles, and they are even provided in Adobe Acrobat’s PDF format for easy offline reading and printing.

Network World Fusion
Network World Fusion is much more than just the online version of Network World. It is a great source of daily technology news as well as a tremendous resource and reference. Besides an extensive array of articles on a variety of enterprise networking topics, it provides excellent resources, such as its NetSmart section that allows you to find and buy certification courses. These resources include white papers, forums, and links to technology primers. In essence, Network World Fusion is a portal for networking information that provides a full plate without being overwhelming.

Open Magazine
Originally a print journal, Open Magazine is now a Web-based journal covering all aspects of the open source movement as it relates to enterprise IT. But this doesn't mean that Open Magazine just provides Linux articles—in fact, it has covered topics as diverse as quantum computing and software patent issues. Typical content includes articles on hardware, the application of open source in business, and very thorough product testing conducted by OpenBench Labs. Unfortunately, the means of accessing Open Magazine’s articles is somewhat awkward. After you subscribe, you will be sent weekly links to its PDF-based newsletter. Once the newsletter is opened, you can read parts of the articles on the newsletter and then you must follow a link to the Web site to finish them.

TCPmag provides practical information to anyone who aspires to become Cisco-certified or to those who already are. This includes exam overviews, Cisco certification news, and useful advice for anyone looking for a Cisco networking job.

UnixReview is a Web-only journal for users and administrators of UNIX and UNIX-derived operating systems (e.g. Linux). The articles, which are mostly practical, deal with software tools, shell scripting, open source, and backups. Especially interesting is its section on Linux certifications.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox