Free tools to quickly troubleshoot your way and stay on top of IT

Love them or hate them, but you cannot ignore them. Surprises, pleasant or otherwise, are a way of life for a sysadmin. The degree of surprise however determines how the rest of the day turns out for the sysadmin. With IT admin roles and responsibilities undergoing tremendous transformation, how do admins  stay focused on an IT problem even as  they never take their gaze off its business impact? While it is fine to expect and be prepared for the worst, most often, the issues are quite simple and can be resolved by using the right IT tools. Therefore, equipping yourself with the right tools helps keep your panic in check and your IT problems at bay.

Our survey conducted among the users of free tools showed us that users relied on these tools to perform their everyday IT management tasks. This information when mapped with the download pattern of our top free IT tools revealed the critical role our tools played in keeping IT available.

Let us see a few scenarios where admins typically spend a lot of time and how a few free tools help narrow down a management need rather quickly.

1. Ensuring higher bandwidth over your WiFi network

Slow network or inability to connect to WiFi on the mobile device is probably one of the top 5 IT help desk requests.  If it is not your inner awesomeness interfering with the WiFi signal, this irksome issue can be quickly assessed and averted. Simply download and install the free mobile app- ManageEngine WiFi Monitor Plus, which will scan and tell you the  available WiFi networks around you, the signal strength, and the channel interference. This handy tool helps admins identify the reasons for poor WiFi connectivity and decide whether to switch off a channel or add more access points to enhance signal strength.  The app also has a Surveyor mode that lets you survey different locations on a floor to assess the signal spread.

    2. Troubleshooting communication between a device and the management application

The IT teams of SMBs and large enterprises typically deploy one or more management solutions for different IT management needs.  Collaborating with people and solutions is an integral part of the sysadmin’s responsibilities.

The admins are often found to be spending more time on the layers that facilitate communication between the network resources and the solutions deployed to manage them. The most sought after tool therefore  is the free SNMP MIB Browser that lets you perform all the SNMP operations from a single GUI. Admins encounter several issues that might have something do with the agent implementation on the device when monitoring and managing devices using SNMP. This SNMP troubleshooting utility comes packaged with quite a few MIB files. Besides, you can load and query other MIB files present anywhere on the local machine. The ability to query the SNMP variables on remote devices to check for response, to verify the data reported by the management solutions at the time of query, to receive and view traps from the devices, etc., makes the SNMP MIBBrowser a very popular tool, irrespective of the management solution deployed on the network.  The tool is available for Windows, Linux, and MAC operating systems. There is also an Android app that lets you do the basic SNMP operations on the move.

3. Ensuring availability of devices on a network

A mid-night wake-up call because of a device-down alert is nothing new to sysadmins.  First in the series of a set of troubleshooting operations is the defacto ping to the device.   ‘Ping’ allows an admin to quickly determine the device availability.   The free iPhone Ping App and the desktop free Ping tool from ManageEngine, are light-weight standalone utilities that let you instantly check the device status. Both the tools are built with the capabilities to run all the basic checks to ascertain the availability. The critical parameters that you can monitor using the Ping tool include the basic ping request to the device,  measuring the Round Trip Time, the Time-to-Live for an IP packet, traceroute, and sending an email with the snapshot of the ping executed. This free Ping tool equips you with the real-time stats on the device availability and its response time and helps you meet the defined SLAs.

4. Managing day-to-day Windows administration tasks

This is a bunch of smaller tools helping you complete a lot of tasks on a day-to-day basis.  This set of tools actually packages 12 different Windows admin tasks, and what’s more, you can perform these tasks across multiple Windows devices simultaneously! Imagine a tool that lets you access process stats on remote machines and lets you even terminate a process or another utility in the kit that lets you retrieve the software inventory on remote machines, besides allowing you to export the details onto a CSV or a text file. These tasks are just a subset of a huge list of possibilities. To give you an idea, there are utilities to list the users currently logged on to a system, perform GPO updates, and monitor the battery power on a laptop and much more.

5. Managing the Active Directory environment

This is another power-packed set of utilities that lets you perform over a dozen Active Directory management tasks.  The utilities in this toolset are of immense value to the AD admins.  It is a value-pack for AD admins who  want to run a quick query on the Active Directory for objects using any of its attributes, find the last logon details of a user, manually replicate data across the Domain Controllers in a Domain or a Forest, manage the local user accounts, view or manage password policies across the Domain, avert security issues by tracking users with empty passwords, and so on. The free Active Directory tools install quickly and use up very little space. The AD tools work out-of-the-box and make it possible for the admins to attend to specific  issues in isolation.

Try the tools recommended here and check out the website for more free IT management tools.