Systems, software, and network technologies are incredibly complicated, and it can be difficult to keep track of everything. Fortunately, numerous Web-based tools are available to help lighten your workload. Here are five ways our consultancy uses Web-based tools on a daily basis.
Note: These tips are based on an entry in our IT Consultant blog.
1: Calculating transfer times
Clients often ask how much time it will take online backups and other data transfers to complete. The free utility Broadband DSL Reports Bandwidth Calculator lets you plug in data sizes and transfer speeds to easily calculate the actual time required to download/upload files.
2: Keeping track of default logins
Clients collect a variety of equipment, and there's no way to know which default pairings you'll need next. That's why all good IT consultants keep a list handy that documents various router, firewall, and modem default usernames and passwords. With Default Password List, discovering default logins for even obscure devices is far more efficient than conventional Googling. (Note: This tool is not interactive like the other tools mentioned here.)
3: Obtaining DNS services
Dynamic Network Services' DynDNS is a vital tool for consultants. Clients without static IP addresses who require remote access or other static IP configurations can often implement workarounds using free dynamic DNS services found on this site.
4: Managing DNS, Web, and email settings
DNSstuff offers free and paid tools you can use to diagnose DNS issues, routing problems, and reverse DNS configurations. You can also perform whois lookups, track mail servers listed within spam databases, and analyze email paths. (For more on these tools, see my review of the DNSstuff network management suite.)
5: Performing networking tasksIT consultants looking for a free site for performing ping, lookup, trace, and whois lookups should bookmark Network-Tools. The site provides free tools for checking spam blacklists, analyzing DNS record entries, verifying email accounts, and more.
What tools make your list?
What online tools do you use regularly in your IT consulting work? Post your favorites in the comments.
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Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.