Get a handle of what apps are on your company’s computers with WinAudit

Get a handle of what apps are on your company’s computers with this important Windows app.

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Networking is the heart of computing today. Most everyone that has a computer has internet access and most everyone with internet access in their home has a home network of some type. Everyone with a home network has computers on it, most likely, a number of computers, depending on the number of people living in the home and what they are doing with those computers. Keeping your PC safe from dodgy programs that are potentially malware ridden is important, and its why I like apps like WinAudit. It’s a security app for Windows networks.

WinAudit identifies the hardware and software installed on Windows based computers. The app identifies every aspect of your computer is examined. After the app examines the computers on your network, it generates an inventory report. The report is displayed as a web page, which can be saved or printed in a number of standard formats.

You can e-mail the inventory report to your technical support staff or even post the report to a database for archiving. When used in conjunction with its command line functionality, you can automate inventory administration at the network level. WinAudit supports the remote desktop and pre-installation environments.

This app is great at what it does, but its not for everyone. Most home networks aren’t going to be as restricted and monitored as a corporate network is. This app would be perfect for small businesses looking to get a handle on what is connected to the network that all of their proprietary data is accessed and stored. The price is certainly right; and if you do decide to use it at home, it will certainly do a good job for you, though at this stage of consumer computing development and use, while EXTREMELY beneficial, its likely overkill.

Download WinAudit

 

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Take control of your PC’s networking needs with HostsMan

Computing today is getting complicated. Having a secure, unhackable machine is something that everyone wants and needs; but isn’t likely realistic. However, you can take control of your computer and its networking needs with the right utilities and a little bit of knowledge. Since most PC’s are connected to some kind of LAN or WAN, it’s important to have some idea of where your PC goes for policy and naming directions. Utilities like HostsMan for Windows can be a help in areas like this.

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Most laptop or desktop computers using a “modern” operating system have a hosts file.  In most cases, end users won’t know what this is, or why it’s important to control.  The hosts file is one of several system objects that assist the user in addressing network nodes on a computer network. When things are working the way they should, most users won’t even think about their computer’s hosts file, though it is a common part of your PC’s operating system Internet Protocol (IP) implementation.  A hosts file translates human-friendly hostnames into IP addresses that identify and locate a host in an IP network. Simply put, it tells your computer where to go and what to do when it comes to networking.

In many cases, users that are aware of this type of need are often used to Domain Name System (DNS) protocols handling this need.  However, many systems customize this provision and implement name service switches. What’s important here is that unlike remote DNS servers that resolve names into IP numbers, the hosts file is located on the PC you’re using, and under your direct control, provided you have administrator rights to it.  This is where HostsMan comes in.

HostsMan is a freeware application that lets you manage your PC’s hosts file with ease. With it, you can update your hosts file.  You can enable/disable usage of the hosts file, or open it for editing with one click.  In many cases, it’s possible to have more than one hosts file on a single computer.  HostsMan allows you to merge two hosts files with its built-in hosts editor.

You can prevent other programs of writing to the file, scan it for errors, duplicates and possible hijacks; determine what host names you’re using and how many there are.  Before making modifications, you can easily create encrypted backups of your hosts file, resolve host names before they’re implemented, keep a log of the latest blocked sites, create an exclusions list and more.

Working with your computer’s hosts file isn’t always easy, and it’s not recommended unless you REALLY know what you’re doing and what your changes will do to your computer’s ability to connect to another computer, server or even to the internet.  The best rule here is that if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. PERIOD.

HOWEVER, provided you have some basic networking knowledge and have a real need to find, and update the hosts file that your computer is actually using (and not just the one you found in a directory you were running through, looking for your hosts file…), HostsMan is probably one of the best utilities you can use to make proper and appropriate edits to the file. Its error checking functions are probably something that you’ll make a lot of use of if you run the app.  Having an encrypted backup that you can fall back on just in case you make a mistake and cut your PC off the internet is also something that you’ll find valuable.

download HostsMan

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Identify and troubleshoot wireless networking connections with inSSIDer

inssider_iconMost everything that computes today is wireless.  There’s more wireless networks broadcasting signals near where you are right now than you might think. The problem is, connecting to a network you’re authorized to connect to isn’t always easy. Its for this reason that apps like insider are an important part of any Windows utility toolbox.

inSSIDer for Home helps you measure the signal strength of available Wi-Fi signals and networks and attempts to estimate their performance. The app can show you how walls, stairways, and doors affect your wireless network coverage, and can most likely help you choose the best place to put your wireless router, access point or signal repeater.

All Wi-Fi must share channels with other electronic devices, including other wireless networks and signals.  If there are too many networks sharing or overlapping a channel, your network speed and performance can suffer. inSSIDer helps you find the best channel for your Wi-Fi network.

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Many local governments and municipalities may require your Wi-Fi signal to be secured.  Running your wireless network wide open so that anyone can use it isn’t really a good idea.  If you have a bandwidth cap, it can easily be exceeded.  There have also been reports of people hacking corporate networks with unsecured Wi-Fi signals.  Securing your network is important, and inSSIDer can help you set and determine which security settings your Wi-Fi is using, reducing the risk of unauthorized access into your home network.

iSSIDer is an interesting app. I wish I had something like this on the Mac side of the world. Its displays are cool, and provide you with the information it needs to get your network running well. I had a great deal of trouble installing the software however, especially on my Windows 8 machines (I have two…) It failed to install on both of them. The app requires .NET Framework to run, but does not include the components as part of the installation file, and it needs to.

download inSSIDer

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Monitor network devices and services with NetGong

Nearly everyone with internet access today has their own network.  If you’ve got more than one computer hooked into a cable/DSL router at your house, you’ve got a home network. Many with a home network often share printers, share drive space and other devices. This is why I like NetGong. It’s a networking tool for Windows.

NetGong is a powerful, personal network monitoring tool. It allows users to tailor it to their particular area of responsibility, from a single server to a small-office LAN to hundreds of devices within a large corporate network. Corporate network managers can use NetGong to distribute responsibility among IS staffers and complement existing network management systems. Small businesses can employ NetGong for monitoring critical e-mail and Web servers.

Keeping your network resources up and running isn’t always easy. Having the right kind of monitoring tool is important to keeping running at peak efficiency. If things do go wrong, you’ll get the appropriate notifications.  This way, you’ll be able to get the right repair action done as quickly as possible.

In a home network environment, knowing if a shared printer or NAS is going bad is important.  Getting notification of the failure allows you to plan out the replacement cost so it doesn’t negatively impact your home budget.

download NetGong

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