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Five tips for using Web-based tools on your consulting jobs

You can solve all kinds of problems if you tap into the power and convenience of the right Web-based utilities. IT consultant Erik Eckel offers a quick rundown of five tools he finds indispensable in his work.

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 tasks

IT 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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About

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 o...

4 comments
zloeber
zloeber

Here are two I use frequently: http://www.robtex.com/dns/ - The level of detail you can get from this site is voluminous. Check out the graph tab after a search for a cool diagram. http://www.subnetonline.com/ - I use this primarily for the IP4 to IP6 conversion calculator for new windows 2008 servers when there is no IPv6 plan of action. At least this way there is some set value for servers based on internal broadcast domains. But there are soooo many ip tools here it can really do a whole lot more.

inventor96
inventor96

When I need to work on machines remotely, I use LogMeIn (https://www.logmein.com/). They actually have MANY services/software to help with different problems.(https://secure.logmein.com/US/products/default.aspx/) Unfortunately it can get a little spendy. Their free program that I use -LogMeIn Free (https://secure.logmein.com/US/products/free/)- allows me to do pretty much all I need: Remoting the PC, WOL (if the PC supports it), chating w/ the client. I won't list the small things, but there is more. It only takes one program that needs installed on the Host, and everything else is Web-Based.

reisen55
reisen55

DYNDNS has long been a favorite of mine, but some of the others are unique, particularly the default password list, saves time on Google. I also recommend OPENDNS.ORG for setting down internet security lockdowns, the basic free service can be used for homes but a paid account, and it is inexpensive, opens up white and black list management, simple to implement too.