June 18, 2021
What’s in your network administrator toolkit?
As a network admin, your workday is only as smooth as the tools you have available. A network admin’s workload is never set in stone — a day may be spent troubleshooting devices, pinging networks, and interacting with a variety of software and systems. Most network admins have to be ready to tackle issues and tasks as they come up, to support student learning, teacher success, and cybersecurity across the district.
Because you never know what will come up during an average day, you rely on your go-to set of tools to address common issues, questions, and needs for your school district’s systems. And with more students and teachers needing access to devices, software, and digital learning tools from home, it’s particularly valuable for network admins to have tools that enable remote access, management, and troubleshooting for school-owned devices and software.
Here are some of the top tools to keep in your digital pocket this school year, to help you manage your district’s tech stack.
The Sysinternals Suite is an essential part of any network administrator toolkit. It contains more than 40 tools that network admins can leverage to troubleshoot functionality problems on Windows. Even better, many of these tools can be used on a remote system.
A few of the top network admin tools in the Sysinternals Suite include:
Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) allow you to conduct Windows Server management remotely. These include tools like Microsoft Management Console, Windows PowerShell cmdlets, and command-line tools that make it easy for network admins to manage roles and features remotely.
This software provides network monitoring, infrastructure management, and application performance management. OpManager offers real-time network monitoring to keep you informed on the speed, health, packet loss, and latency of your district’s network. Network admins enjoy more than 200 performance widgets, making this tool customizable to your particular needs.
Uptime Robot is a free website monitoring tool that will keep you in-the-know regarding the status of your district websites. This tool checks your website every five minutes, sending out an immediate alert if your website goes down. Uptime Robot ensures network admins are kept updated about website functionality and can respond to any unexpected outages promptly.
PuTTy is a terminal emulator tool for connecting to your servers remotely. This tool is popular with network admins because it is an open-source Telnet and SSH client and offers command-line SCP and SFTP clients. It allows a network admin to transfer files securely, automate processes remotely, and more via the text-based interface.
A network admin has to create and keep track of a variety of passwords for systems, programs, and devices across their district. And a network admin knows better than most the importance of keeping passwords secure and private. A password manager tool allows you to create complex passwords that are unique to each account, with no memorization required. KeePass is one of the most popular password managers on the market. Its database files are encrypted with twofish or AES 256 algorithms, making it extremely difficult to hack.
When it comes to troubleshooting network issues like latency, packet drops, or malicious activity, WireShark is a go-to tool for network admins. This popular network protocol analyzer works across platforms including Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. With strong filtration and traffic monitoring capabilities, it makes it easier to monitor the state of a network and track issues over time.
SolarWinds makes a free network traffic analyzer for Windows Server. Network admins can use this tool to see detailed insights into traffic flows at the user, device, address, and protocol levels. It’s especially helpful for identifying high bandwidth consumption from users, apps, or devices. Use this for troubleshooting network latency issues, looking out for traffic spikes, and keeping tabs on what types of traffic are on your network.
Modern content filter capabilities go far beyond just blocking inappropriate web content. A robust content filtering solution can help ease a network admin’s workload, by helping to lock in compliance with safety and privacy requirements, manage traffic, control student VPN access, and provide deeper insight into student activity including providing smart alerts for dangerous or risky behavior. With the right content filtering solution can also benefit the relationship between network admins and teachers, by giving teachers more control in their classrooms and freeing up network admins from manual monitoring and filtering controls.
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