Network professionals often find themselves on call. All too often, something simple pops up during these on-call periods that could be quickly resolved with the right tools. As a result, many network professionals find themselves lugging around a laptop “just in case”. However, Android phones are now capable of running a number of network applications that can greatly simplify those quick fixes. While they won’t replace the PC versions and they won’t always solve your problem, these 7 applications are indispensable to a network professional and may even save you from dragging out your laptop.
This handy little application does exactly what its name suggests. Need to quickly see if a host if up? Ping will let you ping by IP or DNS name. Ping is a pretty basic network tools so this application is as useful as the PC version.
Ever find yourself needing to go beyond a basic ping to see if a host is running properly? For example, maybe you need to see if a web page is actually down or not? HTTPing will send a number of HTTP Head requests to the web server you specify to see if the web server is up and serving pages. This is a great tool if your responsible for one or more web servers.
Ever wish you could just quickly secure shell into a box to restart a service or make some other quick fix? Thanks to ConnectBot, you can with your Android phone! The thing I found trickiest about ConnectBot was figuring out how to send an ESC key in VI. (Touch the screen during your session and a touch ESC key will appear). ConnectBot is an incredibly capable ssh client. I personally use this tool regularly.
Network Discovery is a handy little application with a really nice interface. It will scan the network for devices and show you the IP addresses and names of any devices it finds. It’s also pretty accurate at detecting the type of device. On my network it correctly labeled my AT&T router as a router but saw my network printer as a PC. A nice extra to this program is that if you touch an entry, it will move to a new screen and do a port scan on that device. It scans the most commonly used ports and this scan isn’t configurable but it’s still a handy feature.
If you need to configure a port scan or scan a particular range of ports, Port Scandroid is the tool you need. You enter an IP or DNS name and a start and stop port range and this tool will perform a port scan, showing you any open ports. While this tools is very handy and free, it does have one annoying characteristic—the phone has to be held in a portrait alignment to start a scan and if you flip the phone horizontal during a scan, the scan stops running.
This app simply amazed me the first time I saw it. If you use VNC to remotely control a machine, this application is for you. This is an Android implementation of the VNC viewer which allows you to remotely run a machine that is running the VNC server. It takes some getting used to on Android as the screen is so small and the control-alt-delete sequence is a little tricky at first on the touch screen. However, if you just need to do something quick, this tool will be invaluable.
This is one of my favorite tools for finding open Wifi networks when I’m out and about but it’s also very useful as a troubleshooting tool. Wifi Analyzer draws a chart of all the wifi networks in range showing their relative signal strength and what channel they are configured on. It also denotes closed and open networks. It will also recommend a channel to reduce interference based on what channels are in use.
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