With the economy slowing down and budgets tightening up, you’re probably scaling back on new hardware and software purchases. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the latest and greatest tools in networking. Many free tools are available to help you manage your network more efficiently. Here’s a roundup of some of the best tools out there.

Virtual Network Computing
Are you thinking of purchasing more copies of PCAnywhere or another remote access management utility? If so, you may want to consider Virtual Network Computing, a product similar to PCAnywhere that’s distributed free under the GNU General Public License (GPL) from AT&T Laboratories Cambridge. One of the best things about this product is its cross-platform capability. Versions of the product are available for Windows, Macintosh, Solaris, and Linux—and no matter which platform you are running, you can manage systems on the other platforms. There’s even a new Windows CE version of the software. You can find out more about VNC from the company’s Web site and by reading TechRepublic’s product review.

Sam Spade
If you’ve been looking for a tool that will help prevent spam, monitor and troubleshoot Web servers, and gather information on Internet hosts, you might want to investigate Sam Spade, a freeware network utility focused on security administrators. To learn more about this multipurpose utility, go to www.samspade.org/ssw and read Jason Hiner’s review.
Do you use any free network management tools? If so, we’d love to hear how they’ve helped you. E-mail us and let us know about your favorite free network tool.
TCP Net View
If you need to figure out which users on your network are using a specific IP address or perhaps determine whether more than one unique MAC address is assigned to two separate machines, TCP Net View can help you out. Visit the product’s Web page to learn more about this handy tool.

For those Linux/UNIX administrators out there, a free utility is available that, according to the developers, is designed to “provide high performance and accurate network monitoring.” In a nutshell, the application monitors your network and alerts you via e-mail if there’s a problem within your infrastructure, such as a server shutting down. For more information on this tool, visit the Sysmon Web site.

Have you ever wanted a utility that logs network pings in a file? Perhaps you want a program that will detect breaks in your network and log them in a file. If so, you may be interested in ‘E’cho. This application is similar to the ping program found in many operating systems, but it includes a few more robust components that can help you troubleshoot your network. For more information on ‘E’cho, visit the developer’s Web site.

Hopefully, I’ve introduced you to some tools you weren’t aware of that can help you better manage your network. Remember, if you know of a free tool I didn’t mention, e-mail us so that I can include it in a future compilation of TechRepublic members’ favorite free networking tools.
We look forward to getting your input and hearing your experiences regarding this topic. Join the discussion below or send the editor an e-mail.