Anyone know of any good Networking/Communications Diagnostic Tools (software based) for my laptop? I need something to diagnose LANs & maybe even see the data or type of data being transmitted.
being able to see *all* the packets might require some network trickery, but it can be done. The tool I've used to monitor packets is actually free. It's called Wireshark. Because of how some network traffic is routed, your laptop may or may not see all network traffic while it's sitting on a given LAN. If it doesn't, then you're going to need to setup what's called a "promiscuous" port on your router that would mirror all traffic on that port. Come to think of it, I've never tried this wireless. Sinces wireless is slower than wired, I wouldn't recommend this anyway. Especially not if you're troubleshooting.
MAJOR, MAJOR, caution. This is very powerful stuff, "sniffing" packets. You can see all kinds of stuff people may not intend you to see, or that you have no right to access. DO NOT USE THIS WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION. I cannot stress that enough. You can get in serious legal and civil trouble. 6, 7 figures civil trouble. Do you understand?
There's a lot of stuff like Wireshark, open source and pretty much all free. And most of it has a version for Windows as well as for Linux. Here's a free book, a few years old, but all the software still exists and still works.
I cannot stress this enough: when you start working on the actual network traffic, you are a hacker. That's not actually true, but you're safer thinking of it that way. You could find information on your screen that does not belong there. You had BETTER have the authority to look at it AND make sure that your bosses know that this lets you see that stuff.
Storm, I keep an old fast 4 port hub around for sniffing. Hubs by nature echo everything out every port. This is a little simpler than programming a router or switch to echo all traffic out a port. Put the hub in the middle (connected between the two devices where you want to see the traffice) with one extra port going to the sniffer.
Obviously this only works for ethernet traffic, but that sounds like what you are after. If you don't have a fast hub you can pick one up very cheap. Remember though that a hub echos everything out every port and a switch does not. They look the same.