What's in your virtual toolbox?
June 1, 2011 7:56 AM   Subscribe

System/network/desktop admins, what tools and utilities do you keep in your virtual toolbox?

I had to un-retire an old desktop last night for a temp coming in this week, and as I was burning a fresh copy of my "Misc Stuff" CD to clean the nasty thing up I started wondering if there was a curated list of those sorts of tools maintained somewhere, or failing that what the IT Persons of Metafilter keep on hand for workstation and server utilities.

For example, I've got the obvious: Malwarebytes, Firefox, CCleaner, the contents of Bootdisk.com, Hijack This, several free anti-virus and anti-spyware products, UnHide, Wise Disk Cleaner, WinRAR (because our Chinese colleagues always .rar things, so I install it on all new workstations), and several Sysinternals tools.

What do you consider the best and most useful tools in network/Windows (we have a few MacBooks, including my personal one, but they don't cause much trouble aside from needing an FTP client to use our weird FTP site) administration and support? Help me build a better Misc Stuff CD.
posted by Lyn Never to Technology (16 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Wireshark, winscp, securecrt or putty, vnc
posted by empath at 7:57 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: WinDirStat is eminently useful
posted by merocet at 8:00 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: WinSCP and PuTTY are absolutely indispensable.

TextPad and Large Text Viewer are also quite handy. LTF especially for logfiles that are several gigs in size.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:01 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: You've got sysinternals, wireshark was mentioned.

Learn windbg, if only to figure out what driver is causing a blue screen so you can update the driver. (You do set your machines up to record at least a minidump, right ?)
posted by k5.user at 8:02 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: Logparser is super useful for running ad-hoc queries against any sort of structured text file, registry hive or windows event log.
posted by mmascolino at 8:06 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: Drop WinRAR if you don't need to make RAR files, and use 7-zip.

I also use Ninite for a lot of the stuff you mention, because they do all the remembering for updates, and handling all that business.
posted by deezil at 8:20 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and I forgot to say, along with SysInternals suite, I keep a copy of everything from NirSoft. Just be advised, since some of these tools can be used nefariously, some virus scanning programs flag these things as viruses and trojans because they CAN be used that way.
posted by deezil at 8:33 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: Not really applicable to your CD, but for my current admin swiss army knife I use a USB thumbdrive. Get a one with a few gigs of space on it, they are dirt cheap and if nothing else you can use it to transfer files. Then download YUMI and install a few utility live cd images to it, so you can boot into MemTest86, a partition manager, or a virus scanner even if the host OS isn't working. Then go to PortableApps and grab anything that you need but don't want to install and configure on the host machine.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:58 AM on June 1, 2011

Response by poster: burnmp3s: good point. These things do go on a flash drive when it's safe (like building a new machine or just doing housekeeping), because it's a whole lot easier. And it's actually stored in my Dropbox so I can download at will from whenever. I just use CDs on infested workstations, or until I'm sure it's safe. I'm not married to the technology otherwise.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:05 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: Make a windows pe cd with al lthis stuff on it alone with ghost for windows pe if you have a license for it.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:07 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: You've got most of what I carry around already, but on the "CD vs. flash drive" front, you might try a flash drive with a physical write-disable switch, or perhaps a USB SD reader, so you can flip the switch on the SD card. Things go so much faster when you're not reading them off a CD.
posted by aaronbeekay at 9:08 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: WinSCP, PuTTY, and Notepad++
posted by jillithd at 9:27 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: N'thing 7-zip over WinRAR.

Otherwise, you've got a solid list here.
posted by PsuDab93 at 10:00 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: As a 7-zip user, I found certain weird situations that I needed to use WinRAR for. If all you need to open are straight .rars with no parts and nested compression, 7-zip is fine.
posted by Obscure Reference at 1:16 PM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: For reading text files/logs, Cygwin because I need grep and perl, PuTTYcyg (Modified PuTTY that can act as a Cygwin console), and BareTail.

Also Wireshark and WinSCP as others have mentioned.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:27 PM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: I don't know how much remote Unix administration you do, so I'm not sure if this will apply to you: I also install X support in Cygwin, and enable X11 forwarding in PuTTY. The Cygwin XWin Server is pretty fantastic.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:31 PM on June 1, 2011

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