Free Networking Tools

Here is my list of great FREE NETWORKING TOOLS. More information each tool follows….

  1. MAC Scanner
  2. Ping Tool
  3. Packet Builder
  4. Packet Player

I will start off with free tools from Colasoft. If you haven’t heard of them, that’s okay, because it wasn’t too long ago that I first heard of their company. I have used their free tools and Capsa Network Analyzer for only a short time but have found them very helpful. I hope that you will find them helpful in solving your network issues too.

As we all love to get something free, let’s start with Colasoft’s 4 free network tools…

1. MAC Scanner – how to list MAC and IP addresses on your network

As a network admin, at some point, you will need to know the answer to questions like:

  • How do I get a list of all devices on my network and their Ethernet MAC Address?
  • What computer has MAC address 12:34:56:78:90:AB ?
  • What’s the MAC address for host XYZ?

In the past, you might use a variety of tools to try to accomplish this. Maybe you could ping a host then do an arp –a to see what the MAC is for that host. Maybe you could go to a switch or DHCP server to get a list of IPs and MACs. Still, none of those options are as easy as using the Colasoft MAC Scanner.

The MAC Scanner product page covers the difference between the free non-commercial version and the Professional version of MAC Scanner. Besides the option to download it in its standalone form, you will also receive MAC Scanner (and the other 3 free Colasoft tools I cover in this article), automatically if you download and install Colasoft Network Analzyer.

The Pro version of MAC Scanner will do things like keep a database of scan results and compare the new scan to the old scan, alerting you of any changes to the makeup devices on your LAN.

I ran the free version of MAC Scanner on my LAN and was impressed at how quickly it listed out all the IP addresses in use on my network and their corresponding MAC address. It even was able to do DNS lookups for the IP devices and report the names, and in some cases, the manufacturer of the hardware it found. I was expecting it to work slower, like the ping scanners I have used work. When I say that it was “fast”, it provides me a list of the 9 devices on my small test Class C IP network, in about 9 seconds.

Here is what the results looked like:

mac scanner

 

Figure 1 – Results from MAC Scanner

From this output, I can answer questions like the ones I asked at the start of this article. I can click the export all button and export the list of devices on my LAN. I can also use this information to find out who has MAC Address 12:34:56:78:90:AB or what the MAC address for “server1” is.

2. Ping Tool – graphical ping to multiple hosts

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a graphical ping application that can, graphically, compare the network response of one server to another server? Plus, the ability to save the graph to a file for your report to the CIO would be nice too, right? The free ping tool from Colasoft can do all this.

Like MAC Scanner, you can download it in its standalone version or it will be automatically installed when you install Network Analyzer.

To ping multiple IPs or domain names at the same time, just type them in the address bar in ping tool with a space or comma between them, then click Start Ping.

Here is what ping tool looks like while reporting performance of 3 web servers:

ping tool

 

Figure 2 – Ping Tool graphing performance of 3 web servers

3. Packet Builder – anyone can build their own custom IP packet

Yes, our computer sends millions of network packets every day, most of which, we request it to. Have you ever thought of building your own packet to send on the network? Likely, this isn’t something you are going to need to do every day but I suppose that depends on what your job role really is. If you were designing the code for a network device and you wanted to test its response to various types of network packets, you may very well use packet builder every day.

The free packet builder allows you to create your own IP/TCP/UDP packet. While it does allow you to do this by entering raw hex, more likely, you are going to want to use the canned IP, ARP, TCP, or UDP packet templates that come with packet builder. Besides the ability to create your own packet, you can also import packets from Colasoft’s Network Analzyer, Network General Sniffer, and Wildpacket’s Etherpeek.

Once the packets are created, you can have packet builder send one or all of them out on the live network.

Here is what my screen looks like after I built some packets…

packet builder

 

Figure 3 – Packet Builder

4. Packet Player – sending your recorded IP packets to the LAN

Finally, on the free tool list, Colasoft offers Packet Player. This is a simple tool that takes saved capture files from a variety of network analyzers / sniffers and plays them back on the network. Here’s what it looks like:

packet player softpedia

 

Figure 4 – Packet Player

Have a free networking tool you would like added to the list? Email me.

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