Normally in a local area network, most of the workstations or remote computers use dynamic IP addresses assigned by the DHCP service. It is possible but very tedious work to check which computer is up and running on the network by using the PING command from command prompt. Lots of computers connected to a network could be sharing resources such as printers or files and folders, and it’s sometimes useful to get a list of what is being shared across the network.
There are literally hundreds of networking tools available, but what you’re looking for is a network scanner which is able to automatically scan the whole network for computers that are connected to the network, and show you what shares are in use. Just because your own computer might be sharing only what’s required, other networked machines could be unwittingly leaving security holes by unnecessarily leaving shares open which aren’t in use or required.
To make things easier, we’ve tried several networking tools and come up with 5 free programs that can show all the shared resources on your network, and help you identify what’s not a problem and what you could do without and remove.
1. SoftPerfect Network Scanner
SoftPerfect Network Scanner is a feature packed and multi-threaded network scanner with the ability to display a wealth of information and perform a number of operations. It can ping computers, scan listening TCP and UDP ports, display the resources shared on the network including those which are system and hidden, and perform a whole host of other related functions. In addition, it allows you to mount shared folders as network drives, browse through Windows Explorer, send messages over LAN and create batch files. There is also support remote shutdown, suspend, hibernate and Wake-On-LAN.
It is very easy to use the Network Scanner. Just enter a range of IP addresses, or you can use the Auto Detect IP Range and click Start Scanning then expand the tree to view the shares. Other than being able to scan local area networks for shared folders, it can even search for shares over the internet. SoftPerfect Network Scanner has a portable version, 32-bit and 64-bit separate versions and is constantly updated.
2. Advanced IP Scanner
Although it doesn’t produce results with as much detail as a tool like LanSpy, Advanced IP Scanner has an easy to use interface while providing enough useful information for most users. The program is able to get MAC address and manufacturer information about most network devices including wireless network routers and adapters, smartphones, tablets, media devices etc. Shared folders from all the connected network devices are also scanned and displayed in the window by expanding the computer name or address tree, admin and hidden shares are not displayed.
Advanced IP Scanner supports importing IP range lists and any detected device or address can be added to a list of favorites. Ranges or individual addresses can be typed into the box, and the results in the window are savable to an XML/HTML file. Wake-on-LAN and remote shutdown are also supported.
3. Find Shared Folders
Find Shared Folders is a very simple and very small program that can display a list of other shared folders on the network. All you have to do is enter the start IP range and the end IP range and press the Scan button. The list of connected addresses will show in the window and just press the expand tree icon to see the list of shares coming from that address. If you want to hide the special admin shares with a $ next to them, then tick the box before a scan. You can also scan a single host by using the appropriate tick box.
We did encounter an error box while running the tool which appears to be a bug, but it doesn’t affect the goal of the program to gather network shares. For some odd reason, Find Shared Folders comes with a 400K+ installer when the tool itself is only a standalone 36K executable. For that reason, we’re hosting just the executable.
LanSpy is a useful network scanning tool that can accumulate a great deal of information about remote computers on the network, such as TCP/UDP ports, opened processes, files and services, MAC address, network adapter and domain information etc. Any of these operations can be turned off from within the Options. Of course, it can also display all the shared folders on the network under the Shared Resources tree for each remote IP address. Right clicking on the folder will allow you to open the share from the context menu.
To scan the network click the Plus button to add a new range or single address to the list, or there’s a few selections already in the drop down menu. Alternatively, type into the box what you want to scan. When the search has completed, simply click on the tree icons to expand the relevant section. You can export the gathered details to an XML or HTML report.
NetResView is one of NirSoft’s useful little portable tools, and it performs the simple task of showing all network and resource shares on your LAN, including disk, printer, hidden and admin shares. Because it only scans for shares, NetResView is almost instant in finding the resources. When you run the tool it will ask what you want to search for and display; computers, shared resources, IP addresses and MAC addresses. Besides those, the window will also display other useful details such as workgroup/domain, comments, local path, active connections and remote o/s. A TXT, XML, HTML or CSV report file can be saved.