Networking optimize

10 indispensable iPhone apps for IT administrators

There are many sophisticated iPhone applications that can simplify your life as a system or network admin. Michael Kassner highlights his favorites.

Working while mobile is becoming a requirement for IT administrators. I see two choices. Either carry a notebook and data card or use a smart phone with equivalent capabilities. Apple's iPhone, with the following applications, make that decision relatively simple.

Note: This article is also available as a TechRepublic gallery and as a PDF download.

1: Analytics App ($5.99 US and rated 4+)

This application (Figure A and Figure B) gives immediate access to Google Analytics, allowing prompt feedback on Web site traffic. Using this app is easier and quicker than the actual Analytics Web site. For more information, visit the Inblosam, LLC Web site.

Figure A

Figure B

2: LogMeIn Ignition ($29.99 US and rated 4+)

I use LogMeIn extensively, yet I balked at getting this app because of the price. Then I thought why not use my iPhone instead of a notebook and expensive data card? All of a sudden, 30 dollars didn't seem like much. If you aren't convinced, LogMeIn offers a free trial of Ignition (Figure C) on its Web site.

Figure C

3: Network Utility Pro ($0.99 US and rated 4+)

This one offers a lot of capability for one dollar: Ping, TCP/IP port scan, GeoIP lookup, and Whois query. All the utilities work well, with the exception of GeoIP lookup. It never provided the correct location. For more details about Network Utility Pro, refer to Codepacity's Web site. Figure D and Figure E show the available utilities and the results of a Whois query.

Figure D

Figure E

4: Network Ping ($3.99 US and rated 4+)

Network Ping is a series of network tests (Ping, Ping a subnet, Traceroute, and Telnet) ported to the iPhone. I prefer this app over Network Utility Pro when it comes to Pinging. It remembers past queries. For more detailed information, check out MochaSoft's Web site. You can see the available utilities and the results of a trace route in Figure F and Figure G.

Figure F

Figure G

5: RDP Lite (Free and rated 4+)

RDP Lite is a helpful application when dealing with networks containing Windows XP Pro, Vista, or Windows 7 computers. It allows remote access of workstations, solving all sorts of logistics issues. RDP Lite is another application from MochaSoft. Figure H and Figure I show the configuration page and the log-on window.

Figure H

Figure I

6: SIO to Go (Free and rated 4+)

Cisco has a project called Security Intelligence Operations. It is a global threat-monitoring network. Zeek Interactive, along with Cisco, developed an iPhone app that delivers SIO early warning intelligence, threats, and Cisco-built solutions. The app also allows you to check the reputation of an e-mail or Web site address (Figure J). Figure K shows current security items of interest.

Figure J

Figure K

7: Snap ($1.99 US and rated 4+)

Simple Network Area Prober (SNAP) locates all active devices on the network. It displays both IP and MAC addresses, as well as services of each device found. It's a great tool for network administrators who need to keep track of devices. 9Bit Labs is responsible for this handy app. Figure L and Figure M show an in-process scan and the results.

Figure L

Figure M

8: Speedtest Pro ($0.99 US and not rated yet)

Speedtest Pro is a simple application for evaluating the bandwidth of the iPhone's 3G, EDGE, or Wi-Fi connection. Several bandwidth apps are available for the iPhone, but few register latency. This app was developed by Xtreme Labs. You can see a completed test and a comparative history in Figure N and Figure O.

Figure N

Figure O

9: Telnet ($1.99 US and rated 4+)

Telnet allows the iPhone to connect to standard telnet servers running Linux, BSD, Solaris, OS X, Cisco, or Windows operating systems. I consider this a must-have application. Throughput Inc developed the client and recently released several improvements. Figure P shows the setup page. Figure Q shows an actual connection.

Figure P

Figure Q

10: WifiTrak ($0.99 US and rated 4+)

WifiTrak scans for available Wi-Fi networks. The app displays a list of networks, prioritized from most usable (open and strongest signal) to least usable (secure and weakest signal). The application was developed by Bitrino, Inc. Figure R and Figure S show the ranking of available networks and specifics for the mjvn network.

Figure R

Figure S

Two more iPhone apps

Where are most device labels? On the back, of course. Instead of struggling to see the label, I reach around with my iPhone and take a picture. And being older, I find small print is getting tough to read. That's where the iMagnify application comes in handy.

There are occasions when I wish I had a flashlight with me. While researching this article, I came across an app called Flashlight. It's not perfect, but it's better than the iPhone's regular display.


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104 comments
ameharhughes
ameharhughes

rather than spending $30 on LogMeIn have a look at 2x Client/RDP it has a mouse as well, and 3 keyboards, QWERTY, Function and shortcut and you can right click as well, best of all its free. I have 9 servers added and saved on my iPhone and iPad

zingzong
zingzong

What about Rove Mobile Admin for iPhone / iPad?

jbartholomew
jbartholomew

"AD HelpDesk" lets me unlock user accounts from my iphone, which I find pretty useful. www.adhelpdesk.com

pgit
pgit

Will these apps install/run on an ipod touch? A colleague just acquired one and the wifi is incredible, more sensitive than the Mac he uses that sits about ten yards from the access point. That one drops wireless on occasion, but so far the touch is rock solid anywhere it goes. To my eyes the touch is nothing but an iphone without the phone, true? In that case the sole distinction would be the iphone carries it's own internet connection (via ATT, meaning "when available") But most of the apps if not all look like they'd work in an environment where the internet/network access is provided by a wifi access point. Anyone know? (I can't talk the fellow into trying, he's new to the touch and so far uses it for tunes, weather and some contact info...) If these would work on the touch, I absolutely would get one, I can't think of anywhere I'd use these tools where the phone connection would be necessary.

llowen08
llowen08

Nice article. I'll take a look some of the apps that was mentioned. Currently, I'm using the built in VPN client then the RDP lite to perform task which I normally do in the office.

pgit
pgit

Any of you familiar with the forums over at ZDNet are well aware Linux leaves the telnet port "wide open by default," so I suppose #9 is a good idea, so's you can close the door to keep the pigs from getting out of the barn... But seriously, SNAP looks like a simple arp scan, which is just about the most useful tool to get started with ever invented. Reading this list makes me want to get an iphone, not that I'd use a cell phone (who needs the radiation to the head) but at arm's length, and in such a small form factor these apps look like contenders. Only thing is I'd need to borrow glasses from Bubbles to see anything: http://www.thecoast.ca/images/blogimages/2009/09/17/1253194372-bubbles.jpg

raiderqb13
raiderqb13

Hello everyone, I need a new smart phone. I love both. But I need one thats great for I.T. I work in I.T. and I need to know which is best Droid or IPHONE, or are they about even. Thanks for your help.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Speedtest.net also has a bandwidth testing app which indicated latency, and it's free :)

tperez
tperez

How about Blackberry apps?

andy.gravett
andy.gravett

Citrix ICA client for iPhone and Adroid has been availible for free for some time now :-)

NTRsupport
NTRsupport

I saw your review of LogMeIn Ignition and wanted to let you know about another solution, free NTRconnect Remote Access for iPhone and iPod touch. NTRconnect is here with all the security, speed and ease of use that LogMeIn Ignition boasts. No hefty price?no sale price?just free. Access your Mac or PC from anywhere as though you were sitting right in front of it. Would you consider reviewing it? Download it at www.ntrconnect.com or you can find it at the Appstore. 1. Download NTRconnect for iPhone from the App Store to your iPhone. 2. Go to www.ntrconnect.com. 3. Download the NTRconnect agent to the computer you want to access. 4. Follow the Wizard-driven installation process. 5. Start NTRconnect iPhone to immediately connect to you computer! Using NTRconnect is simple: ? Access the NTRconnect Home page and enter your account data. ? Select the computer you want to control ? Remotely access the computer selected LANGUAGES: English Spanish French German Italian NTRconnect Free meets the needs of those who require simple remote access and control of up to two computers. When you sign up for NTRconnect, you'll automatically get a 30-day free trial of NTRconnect Pro remote access. If you decide that NTRconnect Pro offers more than you need, continue with NTRconnect Free at no cost. NTRconnect Pro is a total remote access solution with advanced features like file transfer, remote start up, key card access and Skype Integration. With NTRconnect Pro you can connect to as many computers as you need. Our affordable pricing plan includes volume discounts and you can pay month to month or save 30% if you pay for a 12 month subscription. Share your digital photo albums, music and video files, or anything you keep on your Mac or PC (Windows or Linux) Improve productivity and save time - get to your remote files and applications in seconds. Keep in touch. Answer e-mails; attend to your customers and colleagues at any time. Access your intranet at any time. You can access your corporate intranet as if you were sitting right in front of your office computer. Enjoy 24/7 unlimited mobility - access your work or home computer from anywhere. Avoid unnecessary travel. You never have to go to the office to access e-mail and files on your work computer or run home to retrieve a file. The ideal tool for executives and sales reps. Designed for professionals who need to access their computers when on business trips or just out of the office.

Kevin_LogMeIn
Kevin_LogMeIn

Thanks for providing this resource for IT admins and for including LogMeIn Ignition as part of it. As a quick point of clarification, due to the way the App Store works, the iPhone version of LogMeIn Ignition cannot be offered as a free trial. Those interested in learning more about Ignition can visit https://secure.logmein.com/welcome/iphone/ to view a demo, read reviews, and connect with other users. Thanks, Kevin Aries Community Relationship Manager, LogMeIn www.Facebook.com/LogMeIn www.Twitter.com/LogMeInNews

dmeireles
dmeireles

You are right indeed, the iPod Touch (lets call it iTouch) is just an iPhone without the mobile phone thing and integrated microphone. The last generation of the iTouch can also use the headsets with integrated mic for apps like Skype and Fring. When I had my iTouch, I had some of the applications mentioned in this article, plus some other ones that I mentioned in my first reply, thus making the device my pocket IT swiss-knife. Basically, like the author said, the iPhone OS platform is a very very useful device for the tech guy, I would have one if I was still doing consulting.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Of my knowledge all the apps will work on the iPod. I have not personally checked all of them, but the few I did worked great.

dmeireles
dmeireles

Using linux since RedHat6 and never got that... Can you explain where you got that idea? And btw, why use telnet with *nix os's when you have ssh!? In fact, the only use I can think of for telnet is to connect to some small appliances (routers, printers, etc) or to telnet a specific port of a TCP/IP service for troubleshooting.

tommy higbee
tommy higbee

Linux leaves the telnet door open? I've been running Linux for years. I can't speak for all installs, but since at least Debian 3.1, telnet isn't even running on the server unless you specifically install it. In fact, I believe on Ubuntu you don't even have SSH server installed unless you tell it to. There's been an effort on the part of Debian and Ubuntu, and probably many others, to move people away from telnet and to ssh. Apparently, many people are not aware that anyone running a network sniffer on the same network where someone is using telnet can watch the password go across in the clear. That's just the way telnet was designed. Unfortunately, Windows machines come with telnet installed but not ssh, so people will sometimes enable telnet on the Linux servers. Better practice by far is to install Putty or some other SSH program for anyone who actually needs to access the server, and leave telnet off.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Pgit, I missed your humor. Glad to have you comment. I keep finding uses for mine. Snap and WifiTrack are indispensable in my world.

jody.noles
jody.noles

Get the droid and get all the functions mentioned in this article for free or much, much less than for the iPhone.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I have an Archos (Android) and an iPhone. IT-wise, I think they have similar apps. I like the iPhone better for the quality of the apps (personal opinion). Besides, it has so many other apps that I consider must have now.

staffordfields
staffordfields

I use ITap RDP Client on the iPhone. Costs about 1/2 what Logmein costs (11.99 so still a bit $) but works great. Its fast and keyboard input is really nice the way the app handles that. Has FIPS compliant security and support for NLA. The bottom line is its actually very usable. I tried several before going with this one, however didn't give the logmein app a try.

JCitizen
JCitizen

does it use SSL? How vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks? Can you go through any firewall without punching a hole in it? Etc, etc..... Security is top priority for some of us.

clc
clc

I have been using logmein free for a year now.(Our company is using it for more than 1 year). i can connect to multiple computers with no limitation, can copy/paste, can even disable user's monitor and keyboard and mouse. the downside is. they removed the grouping function. we kinda need that since we are supporting our external offices in the middle east so grouping them by country is great. but found a work-around. i just renamed the computer name so that the country name will be the first word. then just sort alphabetically. as for the iphone app, yes kinda expensive. but i believe its worth it. but would suggest not installing it.. Why? you will have an instant Overtime :D

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

That you are only allowed to access two computers with the free version?

pompeychimes
pompeychimes

because you don't offer a free trial. You have to be able to try it before buying. The online demo is good but its not enough.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I appreciate the update, that Web page is a bit confusing then.

JCitizen
JCitizen

If that works, it might as well be a phone! I read very good reviews of skype on mobile, I used it almost exclusively on my PC now. I can always call 911 on my super-cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone. That one only cost me 15 cents a month to maintain, if I'm not using it!

pgit
pgit

The ipod touch devices I've seen looked exactly like an iphone sans phone. I think I might just pick me up one of these critters, after the property tax and home owner's insurance bills are paid and my wife's whole house water filtration system project is done and paid for... maybe June? (year withheld)

jimsiff
jimsiff

Nice article. You covered a lot of good apps. It's not specifically an IT tool, but I found jailbreaking the iPhone was the best thing I ever did. It allows a complete overhaul of the locked down UI, full mutlitasking support and a myriad of other powerful features, tools, and apps that make my mobile life easier. And, it's easy to go back to default if necessary. For SSH, I like both iSSH and TouchTerm. iSSH is an awesome swiss-army knife that I just found. It handles telnet, ssh, vnc, and X11 tunneling. It supports custom key macros, saved sessions, and multiple concurrent connections within the app. The features on the roadmap are pretty exciting (connection wizards, NX Compression for X, a native X Window Manager port, Windows RDP, etc.) http://www.zinger-soft.com/iSSH_features.html As a network and security guy, I like the Cisco SIO To Go app for Day 0 threat activity information. I like snap and wifitrak for basic tools, but Stumbler Plus is more powerful. I have nmap, ngrep, netcat, tcpdump, and others available from the cli using either a local console or ssh client connected to localhost. Enjoy... Jim

pgit
pgit

I prefaced my comments with 'those familiar with the forums at ZDNet...' There's a world class troll over there going by the name of "Loverock Davidson" that is in fact either Linus Torvalds or Steve Ballmer having fun. No other explanation for the lunacy this fellow spews. Every chance he gets he slams Linux, always refers to the other as "Microsoft Windows" (always spelled out in full) and almost always makes the unfounded statement that Linux is insecure because it "leaves the telnet port wide open by default." I have been an exclusive Linux user in my shop since 1998, and my current 'large account' efforts are toward greater Linux presence in the SMBs I service. (though the times have me servicing individual's crudded up windows computers a lot lately) Anyhoo, this LD character gets the new comers all the time. People try to reason with him, and often get hot under the collar when he never, and I mean never, backs up a single statement he makes with fact one. I haven't even seen telnet installed on an out of the box distro since probably 2002. Yet this LD keeps harping on it, despite hundreds of people asking him to back up the claim. Didn't mean to get anyone's hackles up, one of my own resolutions for 2010 is to get the blood pressure down... which if I were encountering LD for the first time right now would have been an abysmal failure not a week into the new year. (he's quite effective until you catch on) I have another question about this article, I'll post separately so it'll get noticed...

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I also am aware of the risk of telnet. I only use it when connected to the local network, never over the Internet. I use LogMeIn for that.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I have an Android device and no way does it have the quality and quantity of apps that the iPhone does.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I have been using LogMeIn for along time and to switch all the remote clients would be painful. Thanks for mentioning it.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I miss the grouping ability. Wonder why they did that. Trying to move us to professional I suppose.

Haemaglobin
Haemaglobin

I have already spent $200 on Hamachi that gives me 250 or so licences. Ignition should be included here as one of my Hamachi licences.

Kevin_LogMeIn
Kevin_LogMeIn

Unfortunately, due to the way the App Store works, it is not possible to offer free trials.

airborne
airborne

Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and try it. I bought the app and whilst I don't use it on regular occasions, it is great to have it for that little emergency when you just need to see what the error message is on the screen or navigate someone's computer out of trouble. It blows a lot of clients' minds that I can drive their computer through my phone when they're in a different country. Regular use? Probably not. Get out of jail card? Definitely.

kenmo
kenmo

I agree 100% about the jailbreak. Also pleased to know about iSSH & Stumbler Plus. I already use Touch Term and the various console tools, as well as Backgrounder & Pro Switcher for the multitasking. Going to have to step up to the 3GS soon for the increased RAM :D

JCitizen
JCitizen

I used to make fun of people responding to LD by making cracks about how he reeled in another one, and so on! But I just feel sorry for the poor respondents that fall for his tripe now! :( However, I can be fiendish when prompted ]:)

pgit
pgit

You are among the smallish body of folks who's posts I always read, you have a good tendency to make me (and others if they have a propensity...) think. Like recently I was touting scroogle and mentioned their policy of expunging records in 48 hours. You asked how do I know that's true... um. Making folks think = all good. =D I tried to use a non-sequitur approach to LD but he never responded. He seems to never respond unless his name is mentioned. We should keep trying though, something has to push his buttons... unless it is in fact Steve Ballmer or Linus having fun.

dmeireles
dmeireles

Ah, I see, thanks for the explanation. I failed to see the resemblance as I was not aware of that trolling @ ZDNet... Hum, will start to follow that, sounds like fun (:

JCitizen
JCitizen

and over here too(of course); I read your posts over there a lot! If I had time, I'd use physiological warfare on LD, but he is brain dead. I suspect that is on purpose. Maybe if I come up with a tactic, I'll relate it, but I usually enjoy using other techniques on the other folks there. I've been pleasantly surprised as of late, though. Seemingly, there is a new breed of argument, that actually listens to some form of logic, and my quips have back fired on me, as of late. I feel I should have engaged more intelligently with some of these new folks there! As far as LD - (s)he is not nearly as much fun as Mike Cox(of course), but I bet we could have some fun with "it" if we put our heads together. HA!! Thanks for you contributions to both sites here; I really appreciate it!

JCitizen
JCitizen

time permitting, you could issue a security reliability report? Like you don't have enough on your plate already!! =) Logmein has a good security track record for now, any upstarts would have to build a reputation, the way I look at it.

gavkoch
gavkoch

got it on my iphone... v cool

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

You get the apps through iTunes on your computer or through the iPhone itself. I think they are different stores. Or different parts.

JCitizen
JCitizen

where is this "app" store? I'm thinking of the generic Apple store online, where my brother gets all his apps. Of course Apple had a great deal to do with the pricing of iTunes music.

JCitizen
JCitizen

that Apple always has their mitts in the pie...

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I don't think Apple does the pricing, it usually the app's developer.

JCitizen
JCitizen

and the whole greed picture at the apple store.

smartin
smartin

Been using Logmein for years - great product, and would like to use the iphone app but to simply say there is no trial version "due to the way the App Store works" is lame. Come on guys figure it out.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I once worked for the government. In that case, I couldn't in good conscious waste tax payer money by buying a product that I wasn't %100 sure of, no matter the price. But in the case of corporate money or even my own I wouldn't fret too much over a sub $50 purchase. :)

jruddy
jruddy

About 99 cent apps and I don't think it should be that cheap but somewhere in the middle. It is a business expense and has a coolness factor for a client but I don't have a client that can't wait for another tech to get near a computer and use showmypc for free. I have never had a client say if I have to wait 30 mins for a call back I am taking my business elsewhere. Would rather put the $30 towards taking a client to lunch and saying thanks for all the support. It's just not an app that is going to get used so much it justifies the cost, at 10 or 15 you don't have to think about it. As far as the Tom Tom well that's pricey in my mind but atleast that would be used on a dailey basis. Just my 2 cents.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

You made some good points. That is why I love reading comments. What works for me, may not for others. This is one of the best ways to learn that. The Tom Tom app is surprisingly close. I do know that I like Tom Tom over Garmin. The one issue is that it is a huge download, taking so long it will not allow you to do it using 3G.

Economix
Economix

Yeah, interesting way to look at it. Though I think it's a bit of a 'new' application which I think may lack what another $100 dedicated device may offer. I have a TomTom as well and still use mine though I hacked my iPhone and have the xGPS now (voice , GPS driven - not triangulated) and it was free. Works pretty well for free. I really can't provide a response to how well TomTom on the iPhone works. My only criticism would be that there's no transfer of the unit...it's YOUR iPhone, so if your wife wanted to go on a trip with the girls she'd have to take your phone as well. A dedicated unit would allow you to let her borrow it and you don't lose your phone in the process. I guess this is all a matter of preference. $100 is pretty steep for an application though another comment made on here is that buying apps is not unlike buying software for your home computer and $15, $30, or $100 is a steal in the software world. - just a thought

JCitizen
JCitizen

I'd be lost without logmein. It is the only completely finished product that I've found, that has top security in mind. You can go through any firewall including some of the tough ones, and not have to worry about violating the clients security or mine either. The logmein support team seems to be very conscientious and competent, and development is always ongoing to improve the server service, and GUI. So far I really like the Pro2 product and have had very good experiences with it. My clients are simply gob-smacked at how well it works, while keeping client side security as a top priority. I must admit, if I were on the go, I'd actually buy the iPhone just to get logmein as a feature! I would need to be able to talk to the client at the same time as using logmein though; I assume this is possible - from what I see about it on AT&T commercials. I don't work for any person or company besides myself(disclaimer)

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

You can flip that logic. How much does a GPS cost? Also, you have two devices to deal with. I have Tom Tom on my iPhone and I sold my GPS. It is especially nice when on business trips.

Economix
Economix

There's so much available for free it's tough to pay for an app when there may be a lite version that does what you need it to. You're right $10, $15, $100 (TomTom) is craaazzyyyyy to me.

airborne
airborne

Whilst I understand that it is a lot of money and I thought twice before buying it, I don't really understand why people don't want to pay more than 99 cents for an app on the iPhone. It's not as though it's a piece of software that should have been included on the iPhone. Software packages on the PC are a lot more than that. Surely the $30 is a simple business expense. I think I've only bought 2 apps for the iPhone and Logmein was one of them.

Kevin_LogMeIn
Kevin_LogMeIn

Thanks, I'll pass this suggestion along to our Product Team. I appreciate the feedback! Kevin Aries Community Relationship Manager, LogMeIn Inc. Facebook.com/LogMeIn Twitter.com/LogMeInNews

jruddy
jruddy

It wasn't $30. Give me a break, that's a lot of money for an app. I don't care how good it is, I would imagine there are a lot like me that won't spend $30 on an app. I really look at the paid apps but if it is over $15 I dont even read the description. Maybe I am to cheap but I didn't get an iphone so I could continuously spend money on it.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I used to access the LogMeIn Web site using Safari and that was just too painful. One of my clients was surprised that I was accessing his server while riding in a car.