I recently wrote an article describing four IT related forum I’ve turned to for help for many years. There’s a forum or site for nearly any topic you can imagine, but finding it to begin with can be challenging, especially those behind a password and/or paywall. Sites like Tom’s Hardware and Spiceworks do a great job of covering the basics across many topics. If you’re looking for specific information, there are some websites that work as gold mines in the world of IT. So here’s the short list of best IT sites you’ve probably never heard of, but should be on your boomarks list.
When I first started playing around on Usenet in college, I followed the rec.autos.makers.vw.watercooled group where I learned tips about caring for my Passat GLX. To anyone who wasn’t obsessed with their Volkswagen, the group would seem unnecessary and strange. But for those of us obsessed with our VWs, it was an amazing community of owners willing to share their knowledge about a beloved brand of car.
Best IT Sites: The Alternative List
The websites covered in this article might feel a bit niche, and that’s by intention. They aren’t meant to appeal to everyone, but like my VW newsgroup, they provide a lot of detailed information centered around a topic or two.
If you’ve been resisting Reddit for a while or abandoned it, I urge you to give it another shot. If you’re a busy MSP you won’t find hundreds of posts each day to cull through. What you will find are topics that every MSP can relate to. You’ll find questions and answers about Office CALs, recommendations for firewalls and how to find the best IT talent.
The channel has just over 4600 subscribers, and you’ll find between 30 and 60 readers on the site at any time. The channel describes itself as a resource for IT managed services providers and includes a jobs listing along with a chat room where you can ask questions. Moderators keep posts on topic and the number of posts each day is manageable, meaning a dozen or two rather than hundreds.
Answers here tend to be direct, but I doubt that comes as any surprise. Brevity is a virtue on his channel. My only tip is to do a search before you ask a question to determine if its been answered before. Reddit makes it easy to restrict your search to the channel.
DSLReports started in 1999 as site where people could review their ISP. It expanded over time to accept reviews for web hosting and VOIP. I began using the site to track broadband installation news in the Seattle area in the early 2000s. I came to appreciate the amount of knowledge on the site, especially for networking, so I list this among the best IT sites in my bookmarks.
Today DSLReports is home to over 200 forums, most of them networking and ISP related. Many people have heard about the site because DSLReports created the most popular speed test. Much of the content from the site comes from the ISP community or those once associated with that community which helps explain why you’ll find many detailed discussions about telcos.
DSLReports is still a great place to discover news about broadband issues, broadband expansion as well as the latest FCC controversy. You’ve probably heard of the website, but I’m including it here because it has two of the most helpful networking forums I’ve come across:
The general networking forum is where technicians discuss topics such as IPv6, cabling, routers and switches. Contributors are incredibly helpful and may provide expansive and detailed answers to questions. I also like the wireless forum which isn’t quite as active as the networking forum, but still includes a lot of interesting discussions about wireless protocols, equipment and security.
I’m surprised how few people have heard of the Wirecutter. At least once or twice a week I tell someone about it because I use it so often. I tell them the site is a Consumer Reports for gadgets but with personality! I love Consumer Reports, it’s one of the best IT sites, but their reviews are enough to put me to sleep after downing a Starbucks iced mocha.
The Wirecutter has personality. Of course they go into all the geeky details of say, the best smart thermostat, but they make it entertaining as well. Each review is researched and written by an expert, and they have no problem explaining why they like or dislike a specific product. Similar to Consumer Reports, they reward value and make that clear in each review.
I love how well organized the site is and how easy it is to jump into a review from the homepage. New reviews are added often so I check back almost daily. The site doesn’t feel like a forum although readers can leave comments. The site is uncluttered, search works really well and care is given to the photography included in the articles. You gain a feel for the person writing the review through both the writing and photography which I enjoy.
The Wirecutter is geeky enough for me, yet I’d have no problem telling my parents about it. This is why it makes my list as one of the best IT sites.
I feel like I’m giving away a competitive trade secret by mentioning this site that’s run by Horace Dediu. Dediu worked at Nokia for eight years as a business development manager. Before that he worked in software and IT management across a number of companies including startups. So why do I read his site and listen to his podcasts religiously?
Because he makes me a better business owner.
No matter what I read or listen to at Asymco, I come away with a new idea to improve my business, and I know those running an MSP will appreciate the tips Dediu provides. I should warn you that he talks A LOT about cars and mobile. That means he covers Tesla and Apple quite a bit, but there’s something to learn in every article or presentation he shares.
Few writers anymore make me think like Dedui. I told a friend about him last year, and now we discuss and debate and disagree about every article on the site. I can’t think of anyone else who knows more about the mobile market. His opinions are strong. Some might say they are arrogant (he’s a Harvard grad), but they always challenge me in some way. After reading this blog, I reconsidered pricing and marketing and positioning of my business. He might do the same for you.
These four sites are ones I’ve had bookmarked for a long time. I rely on all of them for different reasons, but they’ve earned their way into my life as some of the best IT sites. What sites do you visit that are lesser known?