Best Port Scanners for Windows and Linux

Port scanners are a crucial tool in the investigation of any remote or local network’s security.

They are used by cybersecurity experts and network admins in order to deduce what port is being used by what app. This helps them figure out which programs are malicious and what might be causing network malfunctions.

They also have a purpose in figuring out how good your security policies are.

With the field of cybersecurity booming in the last few years, there are more and more port scanners swamping the market. In this article, we’ll help you wade through the dirt in order to find the diamonds in the rough.

Here’s Our List of The Top 8 Port Scanners Out There:

  1. SolarWinds Port Scanner – FREE TOOL The best port scanner on the market. It is made by a reputable company in the area of network security. Furthermore, it is cram-packed with useful features all nicely packed up in an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. The tool is easily scalable, so a network of any size can make use of it.
  2. Nmap One of the more advanced tools on the list. Free and open-source- great for large networks with complex needs.
  3. Angry IP Scanner The most simple port scanner on this list. If you don’t have a dedicated network professional, or your needs simply aren’t that complex, this is the tool for you.
  4. Advanced IP Scanner Lan-network exclusive port scanner loved for its ease of use and simplicity.
  5. NetCat A complex tool supporting a variety of operating systems with optional RFC854 telnet codes.
  6. LanSweeper IP Scanner A simple and effective tool with an excellent user interface, a paid version with more features is available.
  7. Slitheris Network Discovery Premium, agentless tool which makes sure to give you as much information as you need at all times.
  8. MyLanViewer Network/IP Scanner A Windows-exclusive multitool, giving you access to a variety of different ways to monitor your network.

Why Do I Need A Port Scanner?

A port scanner is a program that checks the ports in your network for one of three statuses: Closed, filtered, or open.

This is extremely valuable when it comes to diagnosing network issues. Malicious agents have been known to use port scanners on occasion in order to find points of access on your network. Furthermore, they can also find out whether you’ve got a firewall, CPN, or proxy server as well. Because of this, you’ll need to exercise some caution.

The easiest way to prevent your port scanners from being used by attackers is to run scans before there’s any chance of attack. By detecting and patching up and vulnerabilities, you ensure attackers won’t be able to use your port scanner to find out more about your network. Furthermore, you should be regularly auditing your open ports in order to detect if any of them are being used maliciously.

By doing this, you protect yourself from a variety of attacks. Scanning during or after an attack can also bring you valuable information so you can ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The Top 8 Port Scanners

Read on to take a closer look at every one of these tools, and how they set themselves apart from the crowd.

1. SolarWinds Port Scanner – Editor’s Choice

Image result for SolarWinds Port Scanner

The SolarWinds Port Scanner, made by the SolarWinds company has shown itself to be a cut above the rest. With SolarWinds’ trusted track record manufacturing software monitoring tools, this port scanner is extremely efficient, and will flawlessly come up with a comprehensive list of closed, filtered, and open ports for every IP address in your network.

Not only is this port scanner completely free, but it also uses advanced adaptive timing behavior in order to expedite its scan time. Furthermore, once it is done scanning you can have the results exported into an XML, CSV, or XLSX format.

The SolarWinds port scanner is extremely user-friendly to use and to start scanning all you need to do is configure the scan profile. The way you do this is by entering the necessary information like IP range or a hostname. It can also be set up so that it looks for a layer 4 port.

Main Features:

  • You can save any scan configuration to be loaded later. This means you’ll have access to it without needing to change any of the configuration settings.
  • You can write up a batch script to be executed at any time.
  • The interface is sleek and clever, making using this tool a breeze.
  • You can troubleshoot by using a simple, CMD-like interface.
  • Scans through this tool can be paused or canceled at any time, meaning if you really need to access a port currently scanned, you can stop the scan immediately.
  • Your OS will be determined while scanning, as long as it’s one of the supported installations of Windows.

The main downside of the SolarWinds Port Scanner, if it can be called that, is that it supports a pretty narrow range of exclusively Windows installations. This means that if you’re sporting Linux devices, the SolarWinds Port Scanner won’t be of much help. Download SolarWinds Port scanner – a Free Tool and Scan available IP addresses and their corresponding TCP and UDP ports to identify network vulnerabilities!

Operating Systems Supported:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

Download the FREE Tool

https://www.solarwinds.com/free-tools/port-scanner

2. Nmap

Image result for nmap

Nmap refers to an open-source scanner that takes a rather peculiar approach to its task. This free tool will scan your network’s device in order to build a “map” of them. This requires it to send out packets to the devices and analyze their responses.

While Nmap isn’t very intuitive and certainly doesn’t keep up with graphic design trends, it’s still one of the most widely renowned port scanners.

Main Features:

  • It supports a variety of different techniques to map out devices.
  • It’s capable of scanning TCP and UDP ports alike
  • It interacts with devices through scrips that use Lua and the Nmap Scripting Engine.
  • It’s excellent in enterprise-size networks with thousands of devices
  • The tool can help you identify hosts on a network, in addition to listing out their open ports
  • It is open-source, meaning you can customize it however you see fit and ensure that it fits your needs
  • As one of the most widely used port scanners, it has a huge community working on improving it day in and day out
  • It supports pretty much any operating system you can think of

While Nmap is one of the most loved port scanners out there, that is not to say it is without weakness. Although pretty much any weakness of the tool could be compensated for by customizing it, its biggest weakness natively is the lack of any progress meter. This means that you won’t have any indicator of when exactly your port scan is going to finish.

Operating Systems Supported:

  • Windows
  • Linux
  • Free BSD
  • OpenBSD
  • macOS
  • Solaris
  • Sun OS
  • HP-UX
  • Sun OS
  • And a variety of others

3. Angry IP Scanner

Image result for Angry IP Scanner

The Angry IP Scanner is a cross-network scanner famous for its efficiency and simplicity. The open-source tool is capable of saving all of your favorite IP ranges and hostnames without requiring an online sign-in. Being able to save all information locally can be a lifesaver if your network connectivity is disrupted.

Furthermore, the scanning of your web servers or an external IP can be done within its simple interface. Once you’re done with it, you can quickly export the results into TXT, XML, IP-Port list, or CSV.

Main Features:

  • Angry IP Scanner is open-source, meaning you can easily customize it to fit your exact needs
  • You don’t need to make an external account
  • There is little to no installation involved in making it operational
  • It boasts a simple and easy to use interface
  • It makes use of a multithreaded approach to scanning, every scanning thread is made for an individual IP address

With that being said, some might find that the tool is too simple. While the open-source nature of it helps with this, you might prefer something that comes with everything you need in-built.

Operating Systems Supported:

  • macOS
  • Windows 8 to 10
  • Most Linux distros

4. Advanced IP Scanner

Image result for Advanced IP Scanner

The Advanced IP Scanner is an excellent port scanner usually used to account for LAN networks. As another free port scanner, its main draw is its simplicity and user-friendliness. If you’ve just recently started up a business and are looking for a port scanner to use on your LAN network- the Advanced IP Scanner might just be the one for you.

Main Features:

  • You can access and control the tool remotely through Radmin and RDP
  • It’s easy to access any shared folders within the network
  • The tool allows you to turn devices on and off remotely
  • There’s almost no installation involved in setting it up
  • It’s an easy tool to use, extremely suitable for beginners
  • It is available on Linux, Mac, and Windows

The main downsides of the Advanced IP Scanner are that it’s hard to scale up to an enterprise-sized network and that it can only export results into the CSV format.

Operating Systems Supported:

  • Windows 10
  • Most Linux distros
  • macOS

5. NetCat

Image result for netcat

NetCat is a tool capable of reading and writing data throughout different connections by taking advantage of the TCP and IP protocols.

It’s an excellent tool for more experienced networking experts, as it offers a variety of extensive and in-depth applications that will knock most other tools out of the water. With that being said, a smaller company has little use for advanced features like its hexdump capabilities or the buffered send mode.

Main Features:

  • A wide tool with built-in port scanning options
  • Has a tunneling mode capable of allowing special tunneling like UDP to TCP
  • It’ll give you access to both inbound and outbound connections, as well as UDP and TCP ports
  • It has an abundance of options for advanced users, such as its buffered send mode or hexdump
  • The tool can be configured to use a locally configured network source access, or any local source port you have
  • It is capable of reading and executing command line input
  • It is packed with optional RFC854 telnet codes

By far the biggest downside of this tool is its interface. If you’re someone that rolls their eyes every time they have to use a command line, then this is not the tool for you.

Operating Systems Supported:

  • DOS
  • Windows
  • Windows CE
  • Linux
  • macOS
  • And other UNIX-like operating systems

6. LanSweeper IP Scanner

Image result for LanSweeper IP Scanner

The LanSweeper IP scanner is one of the best port scanners for beginners. It’ll use the information present about currently available ports to give you a detailed outlook of your network.

Its biggest perk is its user-friendly interface, rivaled only by the SolarWind Port Scanner. It’s also very versatile when it comes to the protocols it uses, with the list containing the likes of HTTP, SSH, FTP, SNMP, and WMI.

Main Features:

  • Easily discovers scanned devices using their IP
  • It only takes a single click to rediscover a whole subnet
  • You can shut down devices remotely, in addition to a whole suite of other remote actions
  • The tool can scan through IP ranges on auto mode
  • Your network setup can be quickly uploaded through a CSV file
  • You can exclude certain devices from the scan

While the LanSweeper is a fully serviceable port scanner, its biggest downside is that the free version simply pales in comparison to the SolarWinds. Pretty much anything that it can do, the SolarWind can as well, in addition to them both having a similar interface quality.

The LanSweeper IP Scanner is free for a network with 100 or fewer devices, with 500 devices costing $495 per year, and anything more requiring contact with a support team. Although a network of that size might be better off with an advanced tool like Nmap.

Operating Systems Supported:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Linux

7. Slitheris Network Discovery

Image result for Slitheris Network Discovery

The Slitheris Network Discovery port scanner is an agentless network scanner. It can be quite an expensive piece of software, as anything past 50 devices will cost you. With that in mind, it does make that money worth your while with its assortment of advanced features.

Main Features:

  • It doesn’t require credentials nor agents in order to collect information
  • The tool gives a lot of info about every device or app it scans
  • It’s able to use an algorithm in order to determine the year of manufacturing for the device
  • It can recognize different types of devices through gathering a variety of attributes about each one of them, by comparing them to a device-type definition database
  • There is a portable version
  • It can determine whether SMBv1 or SMBv2 are enabled, and it allows you to disable SMBv1 at will.
  • The tool makes use of an ARP cache in order to find hidden devices
  • You can see all of the devices which have a GUI as well as access all of them through a browser interface
  • It has a great interface for a tool of its complexity

Now, the biggest downside of the Slitheris is obviously the cost. A network of 1000 devices will set you back over $2000. With that being said, if your company has the cash flow to invest in it, it is one of the best tools available for the job.

Its second weakness is that it is not easily scalable. The tool was made with large businesses in mind- and it shows. A small to medium business will likely never use most of the features it provides. Its narrow OS support also holds it back from taking a higher spot on this list.

Operating Systems Supported:

  • Windows

8. MyLanViewer Network/IP Scanner

MyLanViewer - Scanner network-ip-scanner

The MyLanViewer Network/IP Scanner is a NetBIOS, LAN, and Network IP scanner made exclusively for Windows. It is quite a versatile tool, boasting a variety of functions that let you have almost complete control over what is on your network.

Main Features:

  • It is capable of controlling your network remotely, letting you shut down, reboot, hibernate, sleep, or WOL your devices
  • The tool ensures you find every IP and MAC address, as well as shared folders on a network
  • It’ll monitor IP addresses on the network and show the states of the devices as they change
  • You can terminate user’s sessions, disable access to folders, detect DHCP rogue servers, and a lot more.

The main drawbacks of the MyLanViewer are its narrow OS support and lack of specialization. There are many network monitoring tools out there that combine a lot of different areas into one. With that being said, the MyLanViewer doesn’t combine enough of them for it to be your only network monitoring tool.

In the same vein, it boasts too many for it to be a simple and focused solution. It’s not a bad tool by any means, however, its optimal use-cases are quite niched.

Operating System Support:

  • Windows 2003 to Windows 10

Conclusion

Port scanners are a crucial tool in any network admin’s toolkit. They’ll help you gain information on the devices that you scan, which will help you better understand their functioning, and therefore, their security.

They’ll help you find any open ports and vulnerable systems that might be allowing intrusions into your network, as well as finding places where your infrastructure might be leaking.

Some of the tools above are free or have a free trial. If you’re on the fence about getting a port scanner, then just downloading one of them and trying it out for a few weeks can show you the benefits that a port scanner brings. You don’t have to take an overly complex, command-line-based tool like Nmap, take one with an intuitive interface!

Did we miss your favorite port scanner? Maybe you’d like to know a bit more about the technology? Let us know in the comments.

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