Like most information workers today, you most likely live on the Internet.
And that means you need help – help with your home or business network for accessing the Internet, help with troubleshooting, help with downloading, and with e-mail, instant messaging, and security.
We’ve got that help for you – in 14 great downloads. Whether you need a universal messenger, a way to troubleshoot e-mail problems, or programs to keep yourself safe, downloadable software can come to the rescue.
General Networking and Internet Tools
Need to troubleshoot your network, manage your downloads, get a free alternative to the bloated Adobe Reader? Here’s where to go. (And that’s just the beginning of these nifty downloads.)
The graphical interface of PingInfoView makes the ping command much more useful.
The simplest of all Internet tools is the humble ping command, which lets you use the command prompt to contact a Web site and see if it is alive and responds to your ping request. It also resolves host names to IP addresses – in other words, if you issue the command ping www.itbusiness.ca, it will tell you the site’s associated IP address.
And it also tells you the speed of the connection and response.
The free PingInfoView makes the simple ping command a lot more useful. It lets you ping multiple Web sites simultaneously, will ping the sites on any schedule you set, and displays the results in a graphical interface, rather than in a command prompt.
Is this an earth-shaking tool? Certainly not. But if you use ping at all, you’ll find it a useful, worthy alternative.
Download PingInfoView | Price: Free
VisualRoute 2008 Lite
VisualRoute 2008 Lite updates the venerable command-line Internet tool, tracert, visually displaying your route to a particular Web server or device.
Here’s another update of a venerable command line Internet tool, tracert. The command line tool displays the route you take to contact a Web server or other Internet device–every hop on every server or router along the way, plus the server’s or router’s IP address, and how long it takes to get to each one.
This program displays all that in a visually appealing way, not just through the command line. It shows a map of every hop, and graphs it against a background that shows response times. Highlight any hop, and you’ll see important details, such as packet loss and speed.
In addition, the program displays a narrative of the route, detailing whether the route has fast, average, or slow throughput, and highlighting any problems.
This version of VisualRoute is free, but a variety of for-pay versions is also available, with many extra features that display the network names of devices, test DNS services, and more.
Download VisualRoute 2008 Lite | Price: Free
Foxit Reader can be better than Adobe Reader for viewing PDF documents.
What’s the most annoying Internet-related application of all time? For many people, that question has a simple answer: Adobe Reader. Countless documents online are in the Acrobat format, so there’s no way around it: You need Adobe Reader. But it’s bloated and prone to crashes, nobody’s idea of a good time.
Foxit Reader is a far better solution. It’s small and loads much faster, so it doesn’t take up much memory when you use it. It also doesn’t seem to suffer from the same instability issues as does Adobe Reader.
The program has some nice extras as well, such as the ability to embed comments. (However, when you embed comments, the page you mark up will show that you’re using an evaluation version of the software. You can pay for the Pro pack to get rid of those marks, and get some other extras as well.)
Note that when I installed the program, it integrated directly into Internet Explorer as the default PDF reader, but it didn’t similarly integrate into Firefox.
To make it the default in Firefox, you’ll have to select Tools, Options, and then click the Manage button in the File Types area. Double-click each of the files that Adobe Reader opens, and tell Firefox to use Foxit Reader instead.
Download Foxit Reader | Price: Free
Advanced LAN Scanner
Advanced LAN Scanner offers surprisingly powerful scanning capabilities for your network.
If you’re a techie and have more than one PC at work or home on a network sharing a single Internet connection, you’ll welcome this freebie, which offers surprisingly powerful scanning capabilities. Use it for everything from troubleshooting Internet connections, to network configuration, to making sure your PCs are as safe as possible when they’re on the Internet.
When you first run the program, you may encounter an error message, saying that a default configuration is being used.
You can safely ignore that message. Simply click the scan button, and it goes to work. It looks across your network, finds all PCs on it, and then gives you quite a bit of detail about each. Besides the local IP address of each PC, you’ll also find which ports on each PC are open. Armed with that information, you can use a firewall to close them down.
In addition to open and closed ports, you’ll see lots more information, such as what services are running on each PC, the NetBIOS names (if any) associated with each, and even a list of users and groups on each system. If any machines have shared folders, you’ll see those as well.
All this data is immensely useful to those who want to keep their PCs secure, or need to troubleshoot networks or Internet connections.
Making the software all the more remarkable is that it’s free.
Download Advanced LAN Scanner | Price: Free
FlashGet is a download manager that offers many useful capabilities.
If you live to download, this freebie is for you. It’s a great download manager that will speed up the process, keep you safe, and help you organize everything that you’ve downloaded.
Flashget makes downloads faster by using multithreading, and it lets you find downloads via many different protocols, including HTTP, FTP, eMule, and others. It’s also terrific at file management, showing you all the files you’ve downloaded, including information about each. You’ll even be able to delete downloaded files from directly in the program.
Making it even more useful is that it integrates with your browser, so whenever you download, it jumps into action. It will also pause and resume downloads, and works with your antivirus software to scan for viruses as it downloads.
Download FlashGet | Price: Free
The FileZilla FTP client is great for transferring massive files, or groups of files, between PCs and servers.
One of the Internet’s oldest file-transfer protocols–FTP–still lives. Contrary to popular wisdom, not all files are downloaded from Web sites. Many are still downloaded from FTP servers. And many individuals and businesses continue to use FTP as a way to share files. Also, many ISPs block large files, so using FTP is a great way around that problem.
FileZilla is an excellent FTP client that combines simplicity with a robust feature set (it has just about every FTP feature you could need), and its interface is easy to use.
Download FileZilla | Price: Free
Bandwidth Monitor 2 Lite
Bandwidth Monitor 2 Lite can track your bandwidth usage both over time and in real time.
Here’s a simple, easy way to check on your current bandwidth use–both uploading and downloading–and also to track your usage over time. This freebie displays that usage in a constantly changing chart, so you can see the fluctuations in real time. It also shows you the current bandwidth use in a text display.
Bandwidth Monitor Lite is quite customizable–you can, for example, skin it, change the time span in which it measures bandwidth, and so on. Also very helpful is that it will keep logs of your bandwidth usage, so you can make comparisons over time.
Download Bandwidth Monitor 2 Lite | Price: Free