Toolbox : New Products for IT Professionals
You can manage and control network bandwidth usage and your Exchange repositories with the tools in this month’s toolbox.
Do you have a bandwidth hog in your company? Are you losing bandwidth to some unknown factor? Perhaps you know which process is monopolizing your network resources, and you need to limit the amount of bandwidth to which that process has access? One utility can help you both monitor and control your network connections: NetLimiter 3 Pro from Locktime Software s.r.o.
NetLimiter gives you granular control over how various processes can use bandwidth. The default view is split into four sections. At the top, you get an overview of current upload and download speeds. You can also see the number of applications, processes and network connections on the system at that time.
The next section is the “Node View.” This is a detailed tree view of the applications and processes on your system, as well as their respective network connections. For each item in the tree view, you can see the upload and download speeds, enable or disable limits on upload and download speed, and block either or both inbound and outbound connections from the application, process or connection.
When you click on an item, you can see the next section of the interface—the “Info View”—for more detail on that item. If you click on an application node in the tree view, the Info View shows you the application executable, path, description, version and manufacturer. Click on a process, and you’ll see the process ID and the application that instantiated the process. Click on a connection, and you’ll see the port to which it’s bound, the protocol (such as TCP or UDP), the executing user context and current connection state (such as “listening”).
In the same Info View for each application, process or connection, you’ll also see a Rules List and Toolbox. For applications, the Toolbox lets you kill connections or view stats on network utilization. The stats view will also show you the amount of data transferred over a specific period of time. You can set the units, type of graph (2D or 3D), choose a sort, and count and then save the graph as a JPG or export the data as a CSV. The Toolbox view for a process also lets you kill a connection to only that process.
The Rules List shows you any current NetLimiter rules applied to a process. It also gives you links to add, edit and delete rules. A network rule can either be a Limit rule or a Firewall rule. For a Limit rule, you set the direction (either In or Out) and the applicable bandwidth limit. For a Firewall rule, you set the direction. You must also choose a firewall action—the choices are Deny, Ask or Allow.
You can enable rules immediately or save them for later. You can also use the built-in scheduler to add multiple start and stop times for rules. This is helpful for limiting traffic during business hours or ensuring a quality of service for your backup window late at night.
Besides single process or application rules, you can use the Traffic Filter Editor to create rules for groups of applications. You can also use filters to limit rules to specific IP address ranges, port ranges, network adapters, Internet zones, protocols or even users. This gives you granular control over resource utilization.
The chart view at the bottom gives you a real-time view of current network utilization. You can opt to see only download or upload use or both simultaneously. You can create new zones with default firewall actions for those zones. You can also define IP ranges for local zones. This is helpful for actions like ensuring that local subnets aren’t impacted by Internet rules.
NetLimiter 3 Pro keeps stats on your network-connection history in a local database. The application Options screen lets you change the location of that database, as well as remove history for specific time ranges. If you want to grant specific users (such as your Network Operations Center team or help desk) access to NetLimiter rules, you can add them to an authorization list to Monitor or Control (or both).
NetLimiter 3 Pro is $29.95 for a single-user license, with discounts for volume purchases (for example, two to five licenses drops to $24.95); 64- and 32-bit versions are available. There’s a 30-day trial you can download from the company’s Web site. If you’re just looking to monitor network traffic, you may be able to get by with the free version. If you just need basic traffic limiting, you may get by with the Lite version for $19.95.
NetLimiter 3 Pro
Microsoft Exchange Server is a complex platform. Sometimes having a third-party tool to help perform tasks outside the purview of the standard management cycle can be useful. One such tool is DigiScope for Exchange from Lucid8, which can help with eDiscovery and recovery for Microsoft Exchange documents and messages.
DigiScope for Exchange works with all flavors of Exchange Server, from version 5.5 through Exchange Server 2010. It lets you connect to both online and offline Exchange mailbox or public folder information stores, as well as open and manage PST files. You just have to browse to the store and mount it within the DigiScope application.
The interface is similar to Outlook, so once you’ve connected to your mailbox or public folder, it’s easy to navigate and manage. Browse to and open any mail item, public folder, calendar item or task. There’s a quick search tool to help you find items by keyword and phrase. You can also search by related conversations, attachments, regular expressions, date and time filters, addresses, or even size. You can export mailboxes to PST, XML or MSG formats, as well.
There’s an undelete feature that lets you recover hard and soft recycle bin items. Another nice recovery feature is the EDB repair tool, which is a simple three-step process to fix corrupted stores. Select the information store, request an EDB repair from the context menu, and then mount the store to verify or retrieve items.
Other restore options let you import multiple mailboxes into a live Exchange Server, bring mailboxes back from users that are no longer in Active Directory, move items from one store to another, or create a “Dial Tone Recovery Database.” This is an empty exchange store that lets end users immediately start sending and receiving mail if your primary Exchange store becomes corrupted. As you fix your corrupted store, you can use the Restore Wizard to bring back histories when they’re recovered. You have drag-and-drop transfer and recovery, which makes it much easier than command-line transfers.
Pricing for DigiScope for Exchange is generally based on the size of the Exchange Information Store. A “Perpetual Per-Store” license starts at $995, with additional support levels available. The per-store rate is pro-rated as you go up in store volume. There are also “project based” and unlimited store-licensing options. There’s a limited demo version available from the Web site. If you’re looking for a product to give you a bit more peace of mind with your Exchange recovery options, you might want to consider adding Lucid8 DigiScope for Exchange to your toolbox.
DigiScope for Exchange
Greg Steen* is a technology professional, entrepreneur and enthusiast. He’s always on the hunt for new tools to help make operations, QA and development easier for the IT professional.*