10 great free downloads for your network

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

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RogueScanner

Here's an even better way to find out whether your network has any intruders on it: Run this program. Before you run it, put together a list of every PC and device on your network. Once you have that in hand, run RogueScanner.

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RogueScanner detects all devices on your network and lists their MAC addresses, IP addresses and more.

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It lists every device on your network, including routers, printers, PCs and others. For each device, it lists the IP and MAC addresses. In addition, it peers deeper and tries to find other information, such as whether the device is a workstation, printer, server, router or PC, as well as the manufacturer and model number.

Compare what the program finds with the list of devices that you know are safe and secure. If you find a device on the network that's not on the list you drew up, you've got an intruder.

NetPeek

This one isn't free -- it's shareware, so it's free to try but costs $40 if you decide to keep it. It scans your network, identifies every device on it -- including computers, servers, printers and more -- and gives vital information about each.

For every device, it tries to identify the IP address, the DNS name, the Ethernet address, the server software, the manufacturer of its network card, the user who's currently logged on, ping response and more, such as open ports. For each device, it also includes useful Web links, such as a link to the network card manufacturer to get patches and firmware updates.

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NetPeek provides vital information about every device on your network, but it's shareware, so if you want to use it after 30 days, you'll have to pony up its registration fee.

Click to view larger image.

It's a pretty bare-bones program, and its best features aren't easy to access. For example, it's tough to know, at first, how you can scan a network range. To do it, you need to choose Scan Range from the File menu and fill in the form. Make sure you click "Log results to file" to create a log file so you always can refer back to the results. You can also use the program's Cache Manager tool to see information about all the devices on your network.

Be aware that this program takes its time going about its work, so if you have a lot of devices to scan, be prepared to wait. You'll be able to use NetPeek for free for 30 days or 500 scans, whichever comes first. After that, you'll have to pony up for the registration fee.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld.com, and the author of more than 35 books, including How the Internet Works.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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