10 great free downloads for your network

They're useful, easy to learn ... and don't cost a thing.

DreamSys Server Monitor

Want to know if your servers are up and running? Then get this utility that will monitor whether your servers are alive and, if they're not, take a variety of actions that you can choose. At a specified interval, it will check your servers to see if they're still running. You can also check the servers manually at any time.

You can also tell the program to take a variety of actions when it identifies a problem server, including sending an e-mail, rebooting the machine, starting a service, playing a sound or running a command. It can also play a sound or run a command when the server is running.

Be aware that it can be a bit confusing setting up the program to monitor a server. If you're going to monitor a server via TCP/IP, when you add a new server to monitor, make sure to click the Options tab and type in the TCP port you want to monitor. If you don't, you'll get an error message.

NetBrute Scanner

A network is only as secure as its weakest link -- or, in many cases, shared folders or mistakenly open ports. Trying to find all the shared folders and open ports on a network -- even a small one -- can be a difficult, time-consuming task.

This free suite of three simple security tools will put your network through a basic security check, looking for shared resources and open ports. As a bonus, you can also use it to test the security of any Web servers on your network.

You can check for shared folders and resources, as well as open ports, on any individual PC on the network by using its network name or IP address. You can also scan an entire range of IP addresses, although I found that feature to be somewhat flaky; it didn't find all the PCs on my network. However, scanning individual PCs worked fine.

The program lists all shared resources and, better yet, lets you connect to those resources and browse them from the program as well. The program also scans the PCs on the network for open TCP ports, so you'll be able to find out what Web servers, FTP servers, Telnet resources and the like are installed. More important, it will show you where your port vulnerabilities are.

The final utility in the suite checks the Web servers on your network and sees whether it can break into them using a "dictionary attack" by trying combinations of usernames and passwords to gain access to the webmaster's account.

There are a variety of technical limitations to this program; before using it, it's a good idea to check out its details. Still, it's free, it's simple, and it's fast, and because of that, more than worth a try.

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Preston Gralla

Computerworld

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