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Home networks aren't easy to maintain. If you have a home network, and you need help managing and troubleshooting it, you'll want to give Cisco Network Magic Essentials ($30, 7-day free trial) a try. It's got just about every tool home network users need to solve most of problems that pop up.
Cisco Network Magic Essentials crawls through your network to find attached PCs and devices (including printers), and reports on what it finds. It's designed for those with no network experience, so you don't need to be an IT pro to use it.
Among Network Magic Essentials's most useful tools is a network map that shows all devices on your network, and gives you plenty of details about each, such as device name, hardware and software configuration, IP information, security software used, and more. However, if you want to get information about network-attached storage, you'll have to use the Pro version of the software.
Other helpful tools in Network Magic Essentials are troubleshooters for fixing broken network connections and setting up wireless security. Of particular note to those with home networks is the ease with which the software lets you share files and printers. You'll also get alerts if there are any issues with the network that need to be fixed--and troubleshooters to help you do the fixing.
Note: There is also a $50 version of the program, Cisco Network Magic Pro, designed for small business networks, that supports more PCs and network-attached storage devices, offers Internet access controls, and has other network management features. Cisco Network Magic Pro and Cisco Network Magic Essentials are the same download, which times out after seven days. During that seven-day period, you get all the features of Cisco Network Magic Pro. To use the program after that, you'll have to pay the registration fee for either version. Also note that if you have a Linksys router if after seven days you don't register, you can use the software as Cisco Network Magic Basic, which includes the network map, some security features, and several other useful tools, but not nearly as many as for Cisco Network Magic Pro and Cisco Network Magic Essentials.
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