10 Must-Have Apps for IT Administrators

Smart Admins' Smartphones

Who needs a laptop when there are smartphones? For IT field technicians, the smartphone and its powerful apps have greatly reduced the amount of time and equipment required for field work. They allow administrators to be effective and solve problems at a moment's notice, particularly for routine administrative tasks.

Here are 10 smartphone apps that the CRN Test Center and The Daily App have identified that no IT administrator's smartphone or tablet should be without.

Net Scan For Android

You'll never walk blindly into a customer site as long as you have Net Scan for Android. This handy tool by developer Nick Circelli is a free app for Android phones and tablets that explores the network around them and discovers and reports device names, IP addresses, MAC addresses, open ports and other network resources and vulnerabilities.

Net Scan on first launch shows its own IP and MAC address as well as the MAC address and SSID of the access point to which it's attached. A complete scan displays IP and MAC addresses of all network devices along with names and NIC manufacturer. Drilling into some devices lists the device's open ports, with further links. For example, when port 80 is in use, tapping here will point a browser to the device's Web page or login screen. Net Scan runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as well as GoogleTV and Kindle Fire devices.


Looking for an easy and uniform way to track the location of field workers or salespeople? Glympse is a free app and service that gives IT admins a simple way of letting peers communicate their whereabouts with the main office.

When setting out for a job site, for example, field workers can "send a Glympse" to their boss and the customer. Both recipients can track their location in realtime and log their time of arrival. Glympse messages can be sent to individuals or groups via e-mail, Facebook, SMS or Twitter. Recipients get a Web link to a Google Map with the field worker's location that updates his or her course of travel in realtime. This mature app and service is a must-have for organizations seeking to track and/or communicate locations. Glympse clients are available for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and Windows Phone 7.

PocketCloud For Android

PocketCloud for Android is a useful and stable tool for controlling compute assets near and far. Within minutes of downloading the free app, Android devices can attach to and control systems running Linux, Mac OS X (10.6) and Windows (7, XP, Vista), and to view files, launch apps and access any resource available to the host machine.

PocketCloud for Android works over Wi-Fi and 3G/4G mobile networks and is compatible with tablets running Android 3.0 Honeycomb or higher. There also are versions for the iPhone and iPad. Computers to be controlled must have the PocketCloud Companion agent (also free). PocketCloud also can connect to machines running RDP or VNC remote protocols using their IP address or hostname. In addition to the normal interface of the system being controlled, PocketCloud automatically activates the soft keyboard when needed and employs a circular multifunction touch pointer for quick access to host OS functions.

NCP Secure Client

For remotely connecting with sites at which security is paramount, you might consider NCP Secure Client, a VPN client for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (only) that's available for free through June 30. According to developer NCP Engineering, NCP Secure Client is the first third-party IPsec VPN of its kind.

The tool can be centrally managed for enterprise installations and has been certified to work with IPsec VPN gateways and other equipment from Cisco, Check Point, Fortinet, Juniper/NetScreen Screen OS, NCP and SonicWall, as well as Microsoft Server 2008 R2 and others. It supports XAUTH, preshared key or PKCS#12 certificates, Internet Key Exchange IKEv1 (main or aggressive modes) and IKEv2 (with local or IKE IP address assignment), and split or full tunneling.

mSecure Password Manager For Android

These days, remembering all of your own passwords might be challenging enough. But for administrators managing the systems of numerous customers, the credentials they're responsible for can easily number in the hundreds. Addressing the problem is mobile software developer mSeven Software and its mSecure Password Manager for Android, a management and digital wallet tool for Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows that not only stores and manages website logins and passwords, bank and credit card account numbers and other personal information, but also can generate new passwords based on customized length and complexity parameters.

Data is automatically locked within the app, secured using 256-bit blowfish encryption and automatically backed up to Dropbox or other cloud storage systems. If a device is lost or stolen, data is inaccessible and can be set to self-destruct after failed attempts at access. Encrypted data can be backed up to multiple destinations, attached to an e-mail or saved to an SD card.

Find My iPhone

Whether you're responsible for just a single phone or those of an entire company, there are likely to be times when you'll need help finding one. For such times there's Find My iPhone for iOS, a free app from Apple that instantly locates any iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Mac and can take steps to disable it or to erase its data. To find a device with Find My iPhone installed, simply install the app on another iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Mac and sign in with your Apple ID. The tool displays the whereabouts of devices on a Google Map and offers options for playing a sound, displaying a message, locking or remotely wiping the device.

It will play a sound at full volume for two minutes, even if the device was set to be silent. Find My iPhone requires an Internet connection and comes with a few additional limitations. To locate a Wi-Fi-enabled iPad, iPod Touch or Mac, it must be connected to a registered Wi-Fi network. Macs must not be asleep. An account with iCloud or MobileMe is required, and the tool requires iOS 5 or OS X Lion 10.7.2 for iCould users or iOS 3.1.3 for users of MobileMe.

Where's My Droid?

If you liked Apple's Find My iPhone, you might also like Where's My Droid, a free tool by Alienman Technologies that does many of the same things for Android devices but is a bit more flexible. Where's My Droid can remotely control lost devices to make them ring, vibrate or sound an alarm, display a message, lock app changes or wipe phone or SD card data.

What sets Alienman's app apart is Commander, a browser-based tool that links with a Gmail account and can perform many of those functions over the Internet. Commander can ring a device, display its status or GPS location and even lock or wipe it (Pro version). A free Lite version can be remotely installed and rung and can display its GPS info. Also free, the full version adds a passcode and protection for the SIM card. The $3.99 Pro version adds remote lock and wipe as well as other features. After a brief setup process that included linking the device with our Gmail account, Where's My Droid worked exactly as advertised. This one's a keeper.

VMware View For Android

For organizations virtualizing desktops with VMware, VMware View for Android is simply a must-have app. The latest version of the company's ubiquitous (and free) VDI client, VMware View for Android employs the PCoIP protocol and works with VMware View Server 4.6 or 5.0 and most devices running Android 2.2 or later.

The Android client supports smartphones and tablets, works over Wi-Fi or 3G and occupies about 6 MB of device space. The tool supports all native Android gestures and implements a trackpad right within the client environment, if preferred. VMware also hosts a related user community and discussion forum. VMware View clients also are available for iPad, Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

System Panel For Android

If you're familiar with Microsoft's PerfMon performance monitoring tool, you might appreciate System Panel, a free tool for Android by utility maker NextApp that provides similar realtime information about smartphones and tablets. The tool displays text-based and graphical readouts of processor and memory utilization over time, lists running tasks, and offers detailed information about the device itself.

SystemPanel does not run in the background; it consumes battery only when it's visible and goes away when it's not. The full version backs up old versions of all of a system's apps and can roll back. It also includes an optional monitoring service for generating long-term CPU usage reports that can help identify problem apps or tasks. For $2.99, the full version adds an app manager for installing, uninstalling and updating apps and a long-term performance monitor.

Android Booster

Like all humanoid beings, every Android can benefit from a good boost once in a while to improve sagging performance. Providing that help for Android devices is Android Booster, a free tool from NQ Mobile that reports running apps and memory usage in realtime, displays which resources they're accessing (including use of wireless communications to send and receive info) and allows tasks to be killed and apps installed with a single tap.

Compatible with Android 2.1 or higher, Android Booster also monitors battery usage to help optimize available battery time, and check each app install and update to guard against viruses and other intrusions. The tool's features are easy to find thanks to an intuitive interface with large buttons and controls. An included widget offers one-click toggling of Bluetooth mobile network and Wi-Fi radios.

We're only too happy to continue our coverage of all the great smartphone and tablet apps -- free and otherwise -- that land throughout the world to humbly serve all of humanity. Here's a list of some apps we've covered so far.

More From The Daily App

CRN's Daily App Blog:
LogMeIn for Android, iOS
Totes m' Notes for iPad
Astro File Manager for Android