7 Essential Apps for the Small Business IT Professional

By Ron Pacchiano | Posted February 27, 2012

Small business IT professionals need the capability to respond to issues from anywhere and at a moment’s notice. Fortunately, mobile apps for both the Android and iOS platforms let you manage computer and network issues from your smartphone or tablet.

These dedicated apps address a broad range of IT issues, including remote desktop managers, active directory utilities and even some simple networking tools. Here are a seven of our favorite free apps.

Speedtest.net

Platform: Available for iOS and Android devices.

For years, small business IT professionals have relied on Speedtest.net to test the speed of a broadband connection. The Speedtest.net app is powerful and incredibly simple to use. When the app starts, it automatically locates the nearest test server.


Once you establish a connection, begin the test by pressing the Begin Test button. The app will report your ping response speed, as well as the broadband upload and download performance. A history log maintains all test results for later analysis and comparison. Speedtest.net is without questions one of the most useful and indispensable tools I own.

AD Helpdesk Lite

Platform: Available for iOS devices only.

If your company's network policy forces employees to update their passwords, you know that at least a few users will lock their accounts. Easy enough to fix, but if you're not always sitting in front of your PC, it could take some time to remote into the server to correct the situation.

Enter AD Helpdesk Lite. This app lets you reset a user's password, lock or unlock the account, or even completely disable it right from your smartphone or tablet. You can resolve the issue from anywhere in the office, quickly and efficiently. AD Helpdesk Lite's speed and ease of use earned it a place in my mobile IT arsenal.

Teamviewer

Platform: Available for iOS and Android devices.

This simple, yet elegant remote desktop app lets you access your desktop systems from practically anywhere using a mobile device, and it gives you the same level of control you would have if you were actually sitting in front of your desktop.

Like its PC counterpart, the Teamviewer app is very simple to setup and use, requiring nothing more than the User ID and password of the PC you're trying to access. And unlike some other apps, there are virtually no configuration hassles.

This app just works, and works well. The Teamviewer software and the app are both free for personal use. However, if you plan on using it in a support environment you'll need to purchase a license.

Spiceworks

Platform: Available for iOS and Android devices.

More than a million small businesses use Spiceworks, a free network management and help desk software suite, to manage their network environments. The reason for this is simple. Although free, this package offers an abundance of features.

In fact, feature rich doesn't even begin to describe everything that Spiceworks offers. Some of these features include the capability to manage inventory, monitor bandwidth, track volume licenses and warranty renewals, and it even includes a robust helpdesk ticket management system.

And if that isn't enough, Spiceworks also offers a companion app (for both iOS and Android devices) that administrators and technicians can use to manage their helpdesk tickets, view hardware and software inventories, monitor the network, view and update user details and even access the Spiceworks community for assistance, right on their mobile devices.

This is a truly great app for an already impressive product. If your business relies on Spiceworks for its day-to-day operations, then this is a must-have app.

Fing

Platform: Available for iOS and Android devices.

Quickly identifying any unauthorized devices makes it much easier to keep your network secured. Depending on the size of the network though, that can be extremely difficult. To make this job easier, mobile users can take advantage of the Fing Network Scanner.

This app quickly performs a complete scan of the network, identifying each and every device connected to it. Returned results display the MAC and IP addresses for each discovered device. You can customize found devices with representative icons, names and notes to help assist in identification.

Using the port scanner, Fing can also detect all of the services running on each host system. The simplified interface makes navigation effortless, and you can share all results and device information via email. Overall, this is a great app that no small business IT pro should be without.

Network Ping Lite

Platform: Available for iOS devices only.

One of the most useful networking tools available to a technician is called Ping. And a little app called Network Ping Lite lets you ping either individual IP addresses or an entire subnet a mobile device.It also includes a Traceroute utility and a Telnet console, which makes it a handy tool to have should you need to check a router's configuration files while you're on the road.

Although there are many ping apps available, I'm partial to Network Ping Lite for its clean and easy-to-read design. It's not overly flashy or sophisticated, but it gets the job done.

GoDaddy.com Mobile Domain Manager

Platform: Available for iOS and Android devices.

You can't always be in front of your computer, but apps like the GoDaddy.com Mobile Domain Manager, make it possible to stay productive, even if you're out of the office. This app lets you manage all of your domains; make changes to your company's host and DNS settings, update contact information and more.

Integrated WHOIS service lets you search for and register new domains, as well as other services right from a smartphone. An updated Mobile Mail client gives you greater access to your Go Daddy email accounts, while an Online File Folder provides 2GB of space for storing or backing up data.

Personally speaking, I find it much easy to navigate my Go Daddy domains, renew services or make changes to my account via this app then I do when using their website. If you're a Go Daddy customer, you should really give this app a try.

Ronald V. Pacchiano is a systems integrator and technology specialist with expertise in Windows server management, desktop support and network administration. He is also an accomplished technology journalist and a contributing writer for Small Business Computing.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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