The best home network with these 15 free tools

Are you or do you feel responsible for the proper functioning of your home network, then you probably appreciate all the help. You will receive these in this article in the form of 15 free, diverse network tools. Whether you want to optimize, monitor or troubleshoot your network: you will undoubtedly find something to your liking here.

1 Switchover

You commute with your laptop back and forth between your work, your home and perhaps also with acquaintances. Then you may have to adjust all kinds of settings, such as IP address, gateway, workgroup, default printer, etc. A tedious job that you can largely automate with the help of Eusing Free IP Switcher.

For each environment you fill in the desired options on a separate tab or you retrieve the current settings via the button Load Current. To switch quickly, open the desired tab and click Activate.

2 Handyman

If your network is not running smoothly, this can sometimes be due to an incorrect network setting or a clunky network adapter. In that case, you can track down the problem yourself and try to repair it, or you can call in the help of Netadapter Repair All In One. That program contains fifteen buttons that allow you to perform a different recovery operation each time, such as refreshing the dhcp address, emptying the hosts file, cleaning the dns or the arp cache, switching to another dns, resetting your lan or wireless adapters etc.

3 PsTools Suite

If you are unable to solve the network problem with a tool such as Netadapter Repair All in One, then there is little else to do than to sort things out from the Command Prompt. You'd better do that right away with commands that are more powerful than those of Windows itself. For example, Sysinternals has collected a series of command-line tools in the PsTools Suite, for Windows 32 and 64 bits. On the website you will find links to each individual command, each with a parameter overview. Or you run a command with the parameter -? for such an overview.

4 Local DNS

The text file hosts (in the map %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc) acts as a kind of local DNS for your PC. For example, add the item here router To that end, from now on you only have to enter router in your browser to go to the corresponding IP address. Unfortunately, this text file is rather difficult to edit, unless you use Hostsman (run as administrator). In addition to an editor, this program also contains a backup function. You can also include a whole series of hostnames from rogue servers or trackers in your hosts file, linked to 127.0.0.1 or 0.0.0.0, so that your browser can no longer set up risky connections.

5 DNS Switch

Chances are you're using your ISP's external DNS servers. There are other DNS servers that can sometimes be more interesting: some automatically block sites of a dubious nature, for example, others turn out to be just a bit faster than those of your provider. Dns Jumper allows you to quickly switch dns server at any time. A 'turbo resolve' function also ensures that the fastest DNS of that moment is automatically selected at start-up.

6 Transfer Speed

Many routers are equipped with the Quality of Service (QoS) function, which allows you to prioritize network traffic, but to what extent does such a function help you forward? TamoSoft Throughput Test tells you. The tool continuously sends tcp and udp data streams through your network and in the meantime performs all kinds of measurements, such as the actual throughput values, the round trip times and any packet loss. For this you need to install two parts: a server part and a client part. Once the connection is established, traffic is sent in both directions. It is the client that performs the calculations and puts them on the screen.

7 Bandwidth Management

Do you sometimes have users on your network that consume too much bandwidth? NetBalancer gives you continuous feedback about which processes are uploading and downloading how much data. You can also assign a priority to a process. Or you can set up rules that determine which traffic is allowed when and with what bandwidth. Via the option Cloud Sync you can even have all NetBalancer information collected on various network PCs in an online dashboard to check and adjust (after a free trial of 30 days you have to pay for some functions).

8 Detective Nose

You want to configure your printer, NAS or network camera, but you have no idea what the IP address is. Advanced IP Scanner helps you quickly with this information. You only have to enter the intended IP range and after a while the scanner will show you the status of the devices, the host name, the IP address, MAC address and manufacturer. In many cases, you will also see the specific device model and the shared network folders of a Windows PC. A few other (management) options are also possible from the context menu.

9 Keep an eye out

You have some devices on your network that you like to always have online, such as a NAS, network printer or some server. Ping Monitor keeps an eye on it: the tool regularly sends ping requests to such a device (up to five in the free version) and once the connection is lost, you can send an email or have a sound, so you can do something about it. You can also request current and historical statistics at any time. It is also possible to have an application or script run as soon as a monitored connection is interrupted or reactivated.

10 Network Suite

Axence NetTools presents itself as a real network suite and not without reason. For starters, you can have your network equipment listed. This information is not limited to data such as IP and MAC address and host name. You will also find out which processes or services are running, which system errors have occurred or which hardware is connected. If that doesn't work, run the supplied file WmiEnable.exe as local administrator on the intended client. The tool does require registration with activation code. The program also contains tools such as ping, trace, dns lookup etc.

11 Public IP

When you want to connect to some device or service in your network from outside, you need the public IP address of your network. However, there is a very good chance that you have received a dynamic IP address from your provider. You will find out such a changing IP address if you visit a site such as www.whatismyip.com from your network, but the HazTek TrueIP tool continuously monitors this address and immediately forwards any change to you. If a remote connection suddenly no longer works, you will find the new address in your mailbox or on your FTP server. An alternative is that you use a ddns service such as Dynu.

12 Traffic Analysis

GlassWire is a tool that clearly shows your network traffic. You can request this data usage sorted by application, host and network protocol. You will also see a pop-up when a process connects to the outside for the first time. You can also request all this information from the other PCs in your network, provided that you also have GlassWire installed there. The paid variant also tells you when a device was added or removed, or what network activity was detected during your absence.

13 Diagram

Nowadays, a home network quickly consists of a router, a network printer, a NAS, an IP camera, switches and access points, a few computers and all kinds of other network and IoT devices. To maintain a good overview, it is a good idea to draw a network diagram. Network Notepad can help you with that. You select a picture of a particular object in a library and drag it to the diagram, after which you connect the objects with each other using a connecting line. All done? Your design can be exported neatly as a bitmap file (bmp, gif or png).

14 Sniffer

Sometimes you want to know exactly what is sent via your network adapter: not only the number of bytes, but also which data packets and with which protocols. Admittedly, the most powerful sniffer and packet analyzer is Wireshark, but if you think it's a bit too advanced, SmartSniff also goes a long way. To capture the data packets, it uses raw sockets or, if installed, WinPcap. You will then see the protocol, the local and external IP address and port, data size, etc. for each packet. You also get an ascii and hex representation of each selected data packet.

15 Wifi detector

If you want to know which other wireless networks are active in your area, for example because you suspect that they work on the same channels of your own network, run a tool such as NetSpot (free edition). It lists all wireless access points within range of your PC or laptop, along with the signal strength, (b)ssid, channel, authentication algorithm used, etc. You can also view a live view of the transmitted signal, on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. If you also want to conduct a real site survey with heatmap, you should go for a paid version of NetSpot (or use another tool like HeatMapper).

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