Category Archives: Network Tools

NetSpeedMonitor – A Double Duty Network Monitoring Tool

https://i1.wp.com/technabob.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/usb_typing_wpm_speedometer.jpgRegular readers here will remember, that I’m an advocate of utilities which provide users with the capability to double check which of their applications are connecting to the Internet – including the capability to monitor open ports and Internet connections.

CurrPorts is my tool of choice, since it allows me to view a list of ports that are currently in use, and the application (keep in mind, that malware, for all practical purposes – is an application) that is using those ports.

Recently, I came across a neat little application (free – but donations are encouraged), which duplicates some of the features of CurrPorts but in addition, includes a number of secondary capabilities which should be of interest to those users who need to monitor their data consumption on a session, daily, or monthly basis.

Directly after installation, NetSpeedMonitor sits in the system tray and displays data on current upload/download speeds – as shown in the following screen capture.

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Hovering over the the NetSpeedMonitor icon generates addition data – Month/Day/Session.

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Better yet, right clicking on the icon allows a user access to supplementary data from an expandable fly-out menu.

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In the following example, I’ve selected “Network Connections” and its submenu, for illustrative purposes.

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Again, from the fly-out menu, I’ve selected “Connections” and……..

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…. the data displayed includes – TCP and UDP connections (established, listening, or closed), remote address, process ID for each connection, and the application/s using the connection/s.

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Overall assessment – a cool little application that generates data which should prove valuable for those users who have a need to keep an eye on data caps or, users who have a need to monitor ports and connections.

System requirements: Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista, Win 7 (with a little finagling I ran the application on Win 8).

Languages: NetSpeedMonitor is available in multiple languages including, English, German, Spanish, Italian, and Russian.

Download at: Developer’s site.

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, Network Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Simple Network Scanning With Free Wireless Network Watcher

imageIn this age of connected devices, and the proliferation of Wi-Fi, the number of “open networks” has jumped considerably.

While it’s true that wireless routers are supplied with encryption software –  working through the manual is often a frustrating experience for less technically inclined users. As a result, it’s not unusual for users to continue to use (widely known) default network names and passwords.

In a study commissioned by  the Wi-Fi Alliance in August of last year, it was discovered that only 59 percent of users have implemented wireless passwords, or encryption methods, that meet the basic criteria for strength and privacy.

In addition, the survey revealed that while “eighty-five percent of survey respondents understood that their Wi-Fi devices should not be set for automatic sharing, …. only 62 percent actually had auto-sharing turned off.” It’s easy to conclude then, that piggybacking on an unprotected wireless access point is perhaps more common than many might imagine.

So, how would you know if your wireless signal is piggyback capable, and is perhaps being used as the neighborhood access point? You could of course, install any one of the comprehensive open source network monitoring packages widely available for download. Provided, that is, you’re prepared to dig into a host of complex instructions and procedures.

A much simpler, but very basic solution, is offered by NirSoft’s Wireless Network Watcher. This free utility “scans your wireless network and displays the list of all computers and devices that are currently connected to your network.”

As you can see in the following screen capture (click to expand)  – the following connected device information is displayed: IP address, MAC address, the network card manufacturer, and optionally, the computer name.

Wireless Network Watcher

Better yet, you can set the utility to continuously monitor so that it will notify you of any new devices connecting to your network (with an audible signal if you like) – as illustrated in the following screen shot.

Wireless Network Watcher 2

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Server 2008, Win 7.

Download at: NirSoft (you’ll need to skip down the page to locate the download link).

Bonus feature – you can also use Wireless Network Watcher to scan a small wired network.

Wireless Network Watcher may not be jam packed with features – but, it does what it’s designed to do, and it does it very well. Additionally, the advanced options menu will allow you to scan selected IP address ranges, choose which adapter to scan from, and save the results to html.

More information about Wi-Fi security, including innovations that make setting up security easier, is available at www.wi-fi.org/security. Users can test their own security knowledge with a quick online quiz, watch animations about home Wi-Fi security, and download white papers with detailed information.

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Filed under Connected Devices, downloads, Freeware, Network Tools, Software, Utilities

What Do You Know About Your Internet Connection And Home Network Security? – Free ICSI Netalyzr Fills In The Blanks

No matter how much one might want to keep up with all the available tech resources on the Internet – it’s a battle that just can’t be won. The sheer volume of information is simply overwhelming.

Regular reader Christopher A. (thank you Christopher), recently directed my attention to a superb free application (which, I was unaware of) – designed for those you have a need to checkout network performance and security – all of us, I should think.

ICSI Netalyzr is a small Java based application developed by The International Computer Science Institute – a leading center for research in computer science and one of the few independent, non-profit research institutes in the United States. Since its inauguration in 1988, ICSI has maintained an affiliation with the University of California at Berkeley.

ICSI Netalyzr can be run directly from the applications home page, which is hosted by USC.

A brief walkthrough.

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Following the “Start analysis” command, the service jumps right into the testing process. You’ll notice the advisory – “the test may take several minutes”. It does indeed – even on a very fast connection. So, be patient – it’s worth the wait.

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In the following screen capture, you’ll see a very small portion of the test results. The report is extensive and  chock full of confidential information – which you will not see here – for obvious reasons.

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I highly recommend that all users run this test from time to time.

There’s still more to come   Smile.

HomeNet Profiler:

HomeNet Profiler ( a downloadable application rather than a browser driven applet), is an additional service which collects performance, configuration, and security data related to your home network.

A quick walkthrough –

Download the executable from the homepage.

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Following the application launch, you will have the option to select various measurements – as shown in the following screen capture.

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Once the application has developed the relevant information, you may choose to go directly to the report by following the link provided………..

Home Profile 2

Alternatively, you may chose to have the report delivered by email.

Home Profiler

The following graphic references only a small portion of the full report. I’d like to share but, confidential information in the report will not allow this. Sorry  Smile.

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A full sample report is available here. I recommend that you take a peek at this.

Note: In addition, a HomeNet Profiler execution – includes a Netalyzr run as well.

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Filed under Connected Devices, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Network Tools, System Utilities

Auslogics Internet Optimizer – Seriously NOT Ready For Prime Time

imageWhile not first amongst the “snake oil” applications available for download – Internet optimizers do hold a prominent place. Still, when I heard that Auslogics had recently released its version of an Internet optimizer, I thought I’d take it for a test drive.

After all (my logic went), I’m a fan of Auslogics which has a reputation for high quality applications – many of which are free – so, maybe this Internet optimizer actually works. Besides, what actually harm could it do.

As it turned out, it didn’t take very long to see the harm it could do.

The installation begins with the usual offer to install the convenient (NOT!) Ask Toolbar.

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First, I took advantage of the application’s offer to test my current connection speed…

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which outputted the following.

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Next, I scanned for suggested improvements. Scanning for optimized settings produces a comprehensive report which suggests settings you should consider changing. For this test, I accepted all of the recommended new parameters. 

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Accepting the recommendations is one click simple.

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Following a reboot, I retested my connection speed – which produced the following report. You’ll notice a marginal decrease in connection speed. In a real sense however, the difference is meaningless. Except as an indication, that despite the application’s promise, it simply didn’t meet my expectations.

That’s fair enough – this application is hardly the first I’ve tested that under delivered.

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In the following screen capture you’ll notice the application includes a built-in Rescue Center. I should point out though, that I never install an application without creating a restore point first. You’ll see shortly, why this is necessary.

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Following a restart of Firefox, I was shocked to discover that the application had reset the browser to its default settings. Some of which, in my view, are unsafe. And, effectively wiping out all of my personal customizations – which were considerable.

The following screen shot captures the new home page.

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Worse, the application had caused the reinstallation of ALL of my Firefox add-ons and reset ALL of the add-ons back to the default settings. I’ll repeat – some of which, in my view, are unsafe.

Totally unacceptable!!! The following screen capture shows the open connections to a number of the add-ons home pages.

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As I noted earlier, thankfully the application provides a recovery feature as indicated by the following graphic.

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The backup did, in fact, work flawlessly, but…..

Closing points:

This test was not a one shot deal. I reinstalled and retested this application four times and the results, as reported here, were more or less, identical.

Following the test, I read a number of reviews of this application elsewhere, and it was more than evident, that despite the strong recommendations in these pseudo reviews, the reviewers had not actually tested the application. Shame on them!

Curiously (or maybe not so curious), Auslogics does not provide a download link on their web site for this application. That’s a bloody good move in my estimation. This application should suffer a quick death.

Regular readers will know, that I generally do not post on applications that don’t meet what I consider to be reasonable standards. But, this application (despite its recovery feature), has the potential to seriously screw up a typical user’s browser – and so the posted review.

It’s not often that an application being tested will annoy me (consternation is part of the testing game) – but, this one seriously pissed me off.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Auslogics, Communication, Computer Tools, downloads, Firefox, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Network Tools, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Keep An Eye On Your Internet Ports With Free TCPEye

botnet computersA network monitor will allow you to analyze  activity on your ports, and it’s a great way to  for you to double check which applications are connecting to the Internet – that’s a prudent practice.

If an application or process is opening ports on your machine, you need to be sure it’s doing so for legitimate reasons – that it’s not malware.

TCPEye is a particularly easy-to-use multi-language freeware network monitoring application, with a host of features. The application allows you to view a list of TCP/IP and UDP ports that are currently in use – including the process name, full path of the process, version information of the process (product name, file description, and so on), the time that the process was created, and the user that created it.

If necessary, you can close a selected connection, and terminate the process using it.

Click on graphic to expand.

TCPEye

You can use the integrated VirusTotal Uploader to check if a process is legitimate, or malware.

Click on graphic to expand.

TCPEye2

Additional features include – integrated Whois lookup, GeoIP Tool, country flag icons, and more.

Click on graphic to expand.

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Fast facts:

TCPEye displays the list of all currently opened TCP/IP and UDP ports on your local computer.

For each port in the list, information about the process that opened the port is also displayed, including the process name, full path of the process, version information of the process (product name, file description, and so on), the time that the process was created, and the user that created it.

TCPEye allows you to close unwanted TCP connections, kill the process that opened the ports, and save the TCP/UDP ports information to HTML file , XML file, or to tab-delimited text file.

TCPEye also automatically marks suspicious TCP/UDP ports owned by unidentified applications (Applications without version information and icons).

System requirements:  Windows 7, Vista, NT, XP, Server 2008

Download at: Download.com

For additional information on port monitoring applications, as well as how to use the Windows Netstat command, checkout – Who’s Using Your Ports? Find Out With These Free Port Analyzers, on this site.

Note: Steve Gibson’s website, Shields Up, is a terrific source of information where you can test all the ports on your machine, as well as testing the efficiency of your Firewall. Take the Firewall test; you may be surprised at the results!

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Filed under Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Malware Protection, Network Tools, Software, System Security, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

The Importance of Real-Time Server Monitoring

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to access information online and being met with that annoying little Error 404 page. Think back to the times you’ve experienced this frustration, and now imagine your customers or consumers having to experience it because of your website. This, in itself, is reason enough to invest in real time server monitoring, something any good IT support company should offer.

What Is It?

Real time server monitoring is software that allows you or your IT department to monitor in real time any glitches or problems that may arise with your server. As soon as something goes wrong or a site begins experiencing problems, you can address the problem then and there.

Benefits:

Feedback

Especially if your site is in its infancy or beta testing stage, feedback on the way your site runs is crucial to making those tweaks and changes that turn a good website into a great website. Real time server monitoring is a means by which you can receive and analyze this feedback before it has a chance to harm your business.

Sales

If you are operating an e-commerce website, where you offer people the option of buying your products online, it is of the utmost important that your server is running and healthy at all times, and that any downtime it may experience is rectified immediately as it happens. Imagine your store is not online, but is in a shopping mall, and you left it unattended and shut up for half a day. Do you think customers would hang around until you finally returned to open the store, or do you think they’d go and find their products elsewhere? I know which one I’d choose!

Mail

Another reason that real time monitoring is so important is that you need immediate and full access to any correspondence you may receive or need to send. In a professional environment, emails are the number one form of communication, and what’s more, with the advent of Smartphones and wireless technology, we expect our emails to be answered in as short a time as possible. If your server has problems that prevent emails from being properly delivered, you are virtually missing out on business meetings and opportunities, which in this fast paced world, will not wait around for you.

What To Look For

If you’re choosing a real time monitoring service or software you should look for a program that is able to check your site using HTTP, HTTPS, FSTP, FTP and FTPS protocols. It’s also highly advisable to go for a program that offers data recording and statistics, so that you can analyze the efficiency of the server and how often it is down—this can be helpful in deciding whether or not you’re with the right hosting service. Your IT support service will be able to advise you as to which programs are better suited to your needs, and in consultation with them you can find a solution that protects your business and website.

Guest article from Sachin.

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Filed under Cloud Computing, Integrated Solutions, Network Tools, Networking

NetWrix Offers An Extensive List Of Freeware Tools For IT Professionals

imageAward winning NetWrix Corporation (13 industry awards in 2010), offers a surprising number of free tools for IT Professionals, which may be less powerful than the commercial editions, but nevertheless, are efficient and effective – and the price is hard to beat.

If you’re involved in systems management, NetWrix’s extensive freeware collection is sure to pique your interest. In fact, a number of these free applications are suitable for individual users as well.

This article is posted for informational purposes only. I have not tested these  applications  for functionality, reliability, or any other “ility”. However, in a quick scan of user comments, NetWrix’s applications generally receive top marks.

From the site:

1) Active Directory Change Reporter: This is a simple auditing tool that keeps tabs on what’s going on inside your Active Directory. The tool tracks changes to users, groups, OUs, and all other types of AD objects, sending detailed daily reports with lists of changes.

Learn more»

Download»


 

2) USB Blocker: The increasing mobility of flash drives, MP3 players, cell phones and iPods makes the threat of data theft greater than ever, and with a couple clicks of the mouse, this aptly-named tool blocks unauthorized usage of removable media via USB ports. USB Blocker hardens end point security by preventing the spread of harmful malware and restricting the transfer of confidential information.

Learn more»

Download»


 

3) Password Expiration Notifier: This tool automatically reminds users to change their passwords before they expire, helping keep busy helpdesk administrators safe from password reset calls. It works nicely for users who don’t log on interactively and, thus, never receive standard password change reminders at log on time (e.g., VPN and OWA users).

Learn more»

Download»


 

4) Inactive Users Tracker: This tool tracks inactive user accounts (e.g., terminated employees, graduated students) so you can easily disable or remove them to eliminate potential security holes. The tool sends reports on a regular schedule, showing what accounts have been inactive for a configurable period of time (e.g., 2 months).

Learn more»

Download»


 

5) File Server Change Reporter: The File Server Change Reporter detects changes made to files, folders and permissions, and tracks newly created and deleted files. The tool is useful for detecting mistakenly deleted files and it allows quick backup recovery in case of accidental changes to important files.

Learn more»

Download»


 

6) Active Directory Object Restore Wizard: A part of the Active Directory Change Reporter, the Active Directory Object Restore Wizard provides granular object-level and attribute-level restore capabilities that allow administrators to rollback unwanted changes (e.g., mistakenly deleted users and OUs, modified group memberships, etc).

Learn more»

Download»


 

7) VMware Change Reporter: Tracks and reports configuration changes in VMware Virtual Center settings and permissions, such as newly created virtual machines, containers, alerts, ESX servers, etc.

Learn more»

Download»


 

8) Service Monitor: This simple monitoring tool alerts administrators when one or more Windows services suddenly stop working on the specified servers. The tool also detects services that fail to start at boot time, which sometimes happens, for example, with Exchange Server.

Learn more»

Download»


9) Virtual Machine Sprawl Tracker: Uncontrolled creation of virtual machines that are rarely, if ever used, consumes physical resources and diminishes the value of virtualization. This common drawback is typically called “virtual machine sprawl”. NetWrix VM Sprawl Tracker is designed to address the issue of VM sprawl via tracking of VM activity over time and reporting of VMs that have been inactive for too long, allowing administrators to decommission them.

Learn more»

Download»


10) Disk Space Monitor: Even with today’s terabyte-large hard drives, server disk space tends to run out quickly and unexpectedly. This monitoring tool will send you daily summary reports regarding all servers that are running low on disk space.

Additional free applications, for both companies and individuals, are available at NetWrix’s Freeware Products page.

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Filed under Commercial Applications, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Network Tools, System Administration Tools

Who’s Using Your Ports? Find Out With These Free Port Analyzers

botnet computers

As a savvy Internet user you are well armed when it comes to ensuring your system is not open to compromise, or exploitation, by malware.

You have protected your machine with an appropriate defense system including a Firewall (either software or hardware), sound and effective antimalware applications (including anti-virus and antispyware), anti-keylogger, and an additional protection layer against zero-day threats with the installation of an application such as ThreatFire.

But, you can take your existing defense system to another level by installing a small application which will provide you with the tools you need to analyze the activity on your ports.

There are a number of free real-time port analyzers available for download, and the following is a brief description of two such applications.

If you are familiar and comfortable with using the Windows command structure, then you may want to try the command line utility Netstat, which displays protocol statistics and current TCP/IP connections. This utility and the process are covered later in this article.

But first:

Process and Port Analyzer 2

Process and Port Analyzer 2 is a real time process, port, and network connections analyzer, which will allow you to find which processes are using which ports. A good little utility that does what it says it will do.

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Quick Facts:

View currently running processes along with the full path and file which started it.

View the active TCP Listeners and the processes using them.

View the active TCP and UDP connections along with Process ID.

Double click on a process to view the list of DLL’s.

Download at: Download.com

CurrPorts

CurrPorts allows you to view a list of ports that are currently in use, and the application that is using it. You can close a selected connection and also terminate the process using it.

As well, you can export all, or selected items to an HTML or text report. Additional information includes the local port name, local/remote IP address, highlighted status changes and more.

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Quick Facts:

View current active ports and there starting applications

Close selected connections and processes

Save a text/ HTML report

Info on local port name, local/remote IP address, highlighted status changes

Download at: Download.com

Netstat:

Windows includes a command line utility which can help you determine if you have Spyware/Botware running on your system. Netstat displays protocol statistics and current TCP/IP connections.

I use this utility as a test, to ensure that the anti-malware tools and Firewall running on my systems are functioning correctly, and that there are no open outgoing connections to the Internet that I am not aware of.

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How to use Netstat:

You should close all open programs before you begin the following process, if you are unsure which ports/connections are normally open while you are connected to the Internet. On the other hand, if you are familiar with the ports/connections that are normally open, there is no need to close programs.

There are a number of methods that will take you to a command prompt, but the following works well.

Click Start>Run>type “cmd” – without the quotes>click OK> this will open a command box.

From the command prompt, type Netstat –a (be sure to leave a space), to display all connections and listening ports.

You can obtain additional information by using the following switches.

Type netstat -r to display the contents of the IP routing table, and any persistent routes.

The -n switch tells Netstat not to convert addresses and port numbers to names, which speeds up execution.

The netstat -s option shows all protocol statistics.

The netstat-p option can be used to show statistics for a specific protocol or together with the -s option to show connections only for the protocol specified.

The -e switch displays interface statistics.

Running Netstat occasionally is a prudent move, since it allows you to double check which applications are connecting to the Internet.

If you find there are application connections to the Internet, or open ports, that you are unfamiliar with, a Google search should provide answers. A very good source of information is Steve Gibson’s website, Shields Up, where you can test all the ports on your machine, as well as testing the efficiency of your Firewall. Take the Firewall test; you may be surprised at the results!

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Filed under Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Network Tools, Software, System Security, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Handy Backup Server Edition Contest – And the Winner is…

imageAs part of our ongoing “backup your data campaign”, we recently arranged with Novosoft, to give away one free license (retail value $599 U.S.), for Handy Backup Server Edition.

I’m now happy to announce the winner of a free license for Handy Backup Server Edition – a backup application designed for small and medium sized businesses, with simplicity and convenience in mind.

Congratulations to Leofelix, who entered the contest on May 17, whom we have notified by email.

If you weren’t one of the lucky winners, you can test drive this great application for 30 days by visiting Novosoft. If you prefer, you can test drive Handy Backup Standard 6.6, or Handy Backup Professional 6.6.

Thank you, to all those who participated.

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Filed under Backup Applications, Backup Tools, Contests, downloads, Giveaways, Network Tools, Software, Software Giveaways, Software Trial Versions, Windows Tips and Tools

License Giveaway – SYNCING.NET Business Edition, 12 Free Licenses

image Continuing with Tech Thoughts occasional focus on business applications, we have arranged with SYNCING.NET to give away 12 licenses (retail value $225 U.S. each), for their flagship application SYNCING.NET – Business Edition, a file synchronization application designed to maintain the same version of files on multiple computing devices.

To enter the contest to win one of the licenses, simply add a comment at the end of this article. On June 7, 2010, all comments will be added to the online List Randomizer, and the first 6 names that appear, will win a free registration code. This week is already off the rails time wise, so I won’t necessarily acknowledge your comment. Once you see your comment in the comment column, you can be sure your entry has been noted.

Please note: Winners will need a separate key for each computer he/she is planning to sync, so we will draw 6 winners (2 licenses each).

Read the following review and I’m sure you’ll agree this is a contest worth entering.

In today’s rugged business environment, having a “competitive advantage”, over the competition, is not just a buzz phrase, it’s critical to success.

Controlling information in such a way, that all parties with access to that information access the same information, all of the time, can be a significant competitive advantage.

Roadblocks that inhibit the exchange of, or access to, the same data, will, unquestionably negatively impact a company’s profitability, and long term viability.

By synchronization data files on multiple computing devices – maintaining the same version of the relevant files, employees can manage their time more efficiently and productively. Enhanced productivity and efficiencies are an obvious competitive advantage, with direct impact on the bottom line.

SYNCING.NET – Business Edition is a premium enterprise grade application, designed for small and medium sized businesses with a difference. SYNCING.NET – Business Edition, has been created with one overriding consideration – simplicity and convenience.

With SYNCING.NET installed, an enterprise now has the ability to synchronize Outlook e-mails, contacts, calendars and tasks in real time, as well as Windows files of any size and type.

If you are in the market for a simple, safe, and complete solution to meet your company’s data synchronization needs then SYNCING.NET, with its  user-friendly interface, and low maintenance, should meet or exceed your expectations.

Sync net 1

Fast facts:

From the developer –

SYNCING.NET Business Edition allows administrators to define user rights. Administrators can allow read-access only, as well as other levels of access for particular users to add or change own content without restrictions.

As the administrator you can manage all of your PCs from any Outlook Group or Sync Folder. In your absence, you can also add up to three additional users as administrators. Even if you have to be away from the office you know your team will still be synchronized.

SYNCING.NET provides a Guest Role option within the Business Edition that allows read-access only, keeping crucial files and data safe from accidental changes.

When creating an Outlook Group or a Sync Folder, you can specify who you want to invite to join these groups. This allows for complete control over who has access to the shared data. Invite/removal privileges are for the Group originator and administrator only.

SYNCING.NET synchronization is automatic and silent. Complete background functionality means you are freed up to focus on the task at hand and nothing else.

If you’ve got an internet connection, then you’ve got real-time updates. SYNCING.NET is completely location independent, so you can easily work on files and Outlook from the road and synchronize that data with every PC in your Group – no server needed. Even working offline is no problem. The second you are back online the data changes you’ve made are automatically synchronized.

SYNCING.NET software only synchronizes the changes in the data – not the entire file. This results in extremely fast, real time synchronization.

When creating an Outlook Group or Sync Folder, you are given a prompt that allows you to individually choose which folders are to be synchronized between the computers in your Group or Folder.

Our simple, intuitive user interface helps you easily sync your Outlook and files. The software is powerful, yet easy to utilize – for any level of PC user.

SYNCING.NET uses military grade, highly secure 256-bit AES encryption for end-to-end transmission. This encryption complies with the 1024-bit RSA authentication to the highest safety standard (military grade).

The key products of the company include three major editions to meet every user’s need: Business Edition, Home Edition, for the home user, and the Professional Edition, for the professional user.

System requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7

Additional requirements: Microsoft .NET Framework

Download a free 30 day trial at: SYNCING.NET

Purchase price: $225 USD.

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Filed under Business Applications, Contests, downloads, Free Full Versions, Microsoft, Network Tools, Peer to Peer, Productivity Software, Software, Software Giveaways, Software Trial Versions, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP