10 great free downloads for your network

They're useful, easy to learn ... and you certainly can't beat free

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Network Notepad

Designing a network, or keeping a clear record of one you already have, can be an exceedingly frustrating task. Most drawing programs don't have adequate tools for creating network diagrams. And as for pencil and paper, the less said about them, the better.

If you're looking for a tool to help you design your network or keep visual track of one you already have, you'll want to get Network Notepad. With it, you can design your network and draw schematics that are more than flat documents -- they're live and include links so that you could, for example, Telnet into any device on your network just by clicking on a button on the diagram.

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Designing a network with Network Notepad.

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It comes with a palette of icons for routers, servers, printers, boxes, hubs, modems and other network devices. To design your network, choose graphics from the palette and drag them onto your diagram, and connect the devices using a set of drawing tools. You then define the properties of each device such as giving them names and IP addresses. You can also import a host file, and Network Notepad will automatically populate the devices with the right IP addresses.

You can also program five buttons to launch programs when a device is clicked upon that will then act on the device. So you could click on a device to ping it, for example. Your diagram becomes a live, interactive drawing.

Advanced IP Scanner

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Advanced IP Scanner, providing information about all devices on a network.

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This little free utility is a great way to get a quick list of all the devices connected to your network, listed by IP address, along with information about each. It does a lightning-fast scan of all IP addresses in a range that you specify, then specifies whether a device is present at each address. For each device, it lists the status, the machine name, NetBIOS information, ping information and MAC address.

The program will do more than just scan your network. It also gives you a set of tools that lets you shut down PCs remotely, use the "Wake on LAN" feature for any PC whose network card supports that capability, and connect to remote PCs via Radmin, if it's installed. You can also apply some operations, such as shutting down remote PCs, to a group of computers, not just individual ones.

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