Systems, software, and network technologies are incredibly complicated, and it can be difficult to keep track of everything; fortunately, there are numerous Web-based tools available that can help you lighten your workload. These are the Web-based tools that our IT consultancy uses on a daily basis.
Eight essential toolsBroadband DSL Reports Bandwidth Calculator: Clients often ask how much time it will take online backups and other data transfers to complete. Using this free utility, which enables plugging in data sizes and transfer speeds, it's easy to calculate the actual time required to download/upload files. Default Password List: Clients collect a variety of equipment, and there's no way to ever know which default pairings you'll need next. This is why all good IT consultants keep a list handy documenting various router, firewall, and modem default usernames and passwords. With help from such sites as Phenoelit-us.org, discovering default logins for even obscure devices consumes much less time compared to conventional Googling. (Note: This tool is not interactive like the other seven tools.) DynDNS: Dynamic Network Services, Inc.'s DynDNS is a vital tool for consultants. Clients without static IP addresses that require remote access or other static IP configurations can often implement workarounds using free dynamic DNS services found on this site. DNSstuff: This site collects free and paid tools consultants can leverage with clients to diagnose DNS issues, routing problems, reverse DNS configurations, and more. Users can also perform whois lookups, track mail servers listed within spam databases, and analyze email paths. (Read my Product Spotlight about the DNSstuff network management suite.) MX Lookup: This free Web-based utility assists IT consultants in performing MX record lookups. The utility works by checking for the mail authority for a specific domain, connecting to the server, verifying reverse DNS configuration, and testing for open relay weaknesses. The tool also checks response times to help diagnose performance issues. Network Abuse Clearinghouse Mail Relay Testing: This experimental site provides IT consultants with a free tool for checking client email servers. The online utility helps ensure client mail servers don't permit open relaying, which leaves email servers open to abuse by unauthorized users. Network-Tools: IT consultants looking for a free site for performing ping, lookup, trace, and whois lookups should bookmark Network-Tools. The site includes free tools for checking spam blacklists, analyzing DNS record entries, verifying email accounts, and more. Speedtest.net: Ookla's free bandwidth test is a proven tool for checking client network throughput. Checking transfer speeds, both upstream and downstream, is a simple click away. Better yet, unlike many speed tests, the SpeedTest.net utility also measures latency, lists the active ISP, and displays users' satisfaction ratings for the ISP in question.
What tools make your list?
What about you? What online tools do you use regularly in your IT consulting work? Post your favorites in the comments.
Additional tech resources
- 10 essential items for onsite tech jobs
- 10+ IT pros share the utilities they can't live without
- 10 obscure antivirus tools worth checking out
- The top 10 TechRepublic tools and gadgets of 2009
- Check out TechRepublic's Product Spotlight blog
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.