Things happen... especially when you're not prepared. Out of nowhere your network can go five shades of wonky and you are at the other end of your campus—and the only tool you have on hand is your Android device. A network scan is a must and, fortunately, Android can comply.
The Android ecosystem offers plenty of tools for network administrators. But which ones you should be using? I've dug into the realm of network scanners to find five that could easily wind up as your go-to mobile scanners. Read on and see if any of these particular apps meet your needs.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
Fing (Figure A) offers one of the fastest ways to find out what devices are connected to your wireless network. Unlimited devices can be detected on an unlimited number of wireless networks. Fing will report IP address, name, and MAC address of each device found. But it doesn't stop with just reporting the discovered devices. You can also run pings and traceroutes, perform DNS lookups, run a TCP connection tester, and even use Wake on LAN.
With Fing you can search attached devices by name, IP address, MAC address, Name, Vendor, and Notes. Once a network has been discovered, it is saved and can even be backed up to an SD card. Fing is free, but it does allow you to connect to a Fingbox account, where you can view your discovered networks anywhere.
2: Net Scan
Net Scan (Figure B) is another network mapping and port scanning tool. The discovery will report name, IP address, MAC address, and device vendor (if available). Once a network is discovered, you can issue a port scan on any listed device with just a couple of taps. You can do either a quick port scan or a regular port scan (which allows you to specify ports to scan on a device).
Net Scan doesn't include any other tools, but for a quick network and port scan, this app is hard to beat. Net Scan is free, doesn't have any ads, and the only in-app purchase is for donations to the developer.
3: Network Scanner
Network Scanner (Figure C) doesn't offer the best looking interface, but it makes up for that in ease of use. You can switch between ping and DNS request scan modes, set a custom IP scan range, specify an IP address for scanning, share the results of your scan (via the built-in Android share system), and change nicknames of devices.
A quick scan will reveal IP address, hostname, vendor name, and MAC address. Once the scan is complete, tap on a host and then select Scan Opened Ports to run a quick port scan on the device. Network Scanner is free and offers an in-app purchase to remove the unobtrusive ads.
4: IP Tools
IP Tools (Figure D) is a powerhouse toolkit for any network administrator having to work on a mobile device. Features include detailed information about network and devices, detect by IP, port/network scanning, ping/traceroute/whois tools, an IP calculator, Wake on LAN, and DNS lookup. You can also gain quick access to device web pages (such as routers and servers) with a quick tap of the menu button.
The only caveat is that IP Tools is a bit slower than some of the other apps. But if you need an all-in-one toolbox for testing your LAN, you would be remiss in not trying IP Tools. IP Tools is free but you can purchase to remove ads or purchase the Premium version of the app (which removes the ads and gains you access to their development program). The premium version is $2.99 USD.
ezNetScan (Figure E) offers a fantastic set of tools, a near-perfect interface, and a premium version that will blow you away (considering it exists on a mobile device). The ezNetScan free app includes features like ping and traceroute, service scan, Wake on LAN, DNS lookup, NetBIOS name, TCP scan, and installed software and hardware details.
Once a scan is complete, ezNetScan allows you to email the results of the scan as well as the results from any commands run. You will be hard-pressed to find a better network scanner for Android than ezNetScan. And if the free version doesn't offer enough features, the plus version adds configurable network parameters, widgets, and the ability to export data in .csv format, manage/filter results, and view easy-to-read graphs. The plus version will set you back $1.99 USD.
Working with your network doesn't mean you have to be chained to a desk. With any one of these Android scanners, you can quickly troubleshoot a network while running back and forth within your LAN. Give them a try and see if they don't make your network troubleshooting a bit easier.
Do you have a go-to Android net scanner that belongs on this list? Share your picks with fellow TechRepublic members.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.