Net Tools 5 offers a huge collection of network, file and Windows system tools, all entirely free.

Some of the utilities are quite substantial. So you get both an FTP server, and a client, for instance. There are system information tools here, a website ripper, web gallery and website creator, amongst many others.

There are variations on just about every network utility you can imagine: Ping, NetState and TraceRoute, for instance; port scanners, Whois and MX lookups, packet sniffers, HTTP scanners, bandwidth monitors, MAC address tools, and the list goes on.

And the suite includes a huge array of file-related tools. It can rename an entire folder of files to suit your rules; split files, compare them, and encrypt confidential documents in various ways, amongst other things.

Finding these functions can take a while, as they're only available through menus, and these aren't always organised as you'd expect. So, for example, the suite includes a Create Virtual Drives tool that creates a virtual drive on your system, which actually points to a folder instead (so double-clicking Z:, say, would take you to some commonly-used folder). We'd expect that to appear under System Tools, but it actually appears in the File Tools section.

And it seems there are bugs here, too. A few of the utilities failed to start, locked up or otherwise misbehaved during our tests. While others are past their best (there's a substantial tweaking tool, for instance, but it's targeted at Windows XP). And the author doesn't claim the programs run under Windows 7; many do, but you'll run into problems with others.

Still, as the suite is free, and includes hundreds of other functions that work perfectly, it seems unreasonable to complain too much. If you're the geeky type who loves to explore this kind of suite, then take a look - there's hours of entertainment here just in looking around, discovering everything that Net Tools can do.

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A complete library of Windows tools in a single download. Some are less than reliable, a few don't work at all, but most are useful, and the suite is worth a look if you're the technical type