Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What tools do you install on Windows systems on a regular basis - the 'can't live without' tools?

(Edit : I mean to focus on more client tools for usage rather than sysadmin tools - as pointed out does a good job of that)

share|improve this question

closed as too broad by masegaloeh, kasperd, BillThor , BigHomie, mdpc Apr 14 '15 at 4:08

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

11 Answers 11

up vote 2 down vote accepted

here a non exhaustive list of the tools i keep on my usb stick for windows work:

  • truecrypt
  • Password Generator
  • AccessEnum
  • ADexplorer
  • ADinsight
  • Autologon
  • blat
  • changepw
  • chwinpw
  • Cover your tracks
  • diskmon
  • Fpipe
  • LogonSessions.exe
  • LSASecretDump
  • NetSpeed
  • newsid
  • ntfsinfo
  • ofl
  • portmon
  • Sysinternals suite
  • putty
  • user2sid
  • sid2user
  • Wireshark
  • cdrtools
  • stunnel
  • killbox
  • tcpxd
  • tftpd

Some of them are probably outdated now, hope this helps anyway.

share|improve this answer

might want to check out
but to summarise; SysInternals, WinDirStat and Powershell

share|improve this answer

I really like having a copy of UnxUtils handy.

For those of us most comfortable with tools like gawk, sed, grep, tail, less, etc having native ports (read: not dependent on cygwin) of these is a life savor.

I know you can get a lot of the same functionality from PowerShell, but when you've been doing something one way for 10+ years, familiar is just easier.

You can easily copy a needed .exe to a server w/o installing anything.

share|improve this answer
UnxUtils is new to me, I usually just use Cygwin. Neat! – Rizwan Kassim Jun 5 '09 at 18:00

Most of this has been covered with other questions here but:

-Windows server 2003 resource kit tools and management tools -viruscanning -enable remote administration

Beyond that I don't put anything else on unless needed by the apps being "served".

share|improve this answer

None. Though I do have a large number of tools and utilities that I keep in a directory, mapping to it and using them when needed.

By doing this, you don't have to reinstall them on all your servers, then be sad when you have to work on some server where the tools have not yet been installed.

share|improve this answer

If I read your question correctly, I think you are asking about which tools you should include in your client image (or install on all client boxes).

I've found many tools over the years and mainly keep them all on a server for when I need them.

However, I almost always include the i386 directory off of the WinXP/Vista installation media. I usually put it in the root of the client machine - very useful when you have to install/remove a windows component and don't have the original media.

Sure you could put it on the network - but sometimes the problem is no network!

share|improve this answer
Great idea! I've done this in the past but never on all machines. – Rizwan Kassim Jun 5 '09 at 18:00
  • UNIX subsystem aka Interix (Services for UNIX 3.5 or Subsystem for Unix Application + Utilities)
    • pkg bootsrapper from Interopsystems SUA community
    • OpenSSH (includes OpenSSL)
    • curl (unix version)
    • md5
    • zip/unzip
    • whois
  • PowerShell
  • info-zip (zip.exe, unzip.exe)
  • curl with ssl
  • ncftp
  • 7-zip
  • MagicISO
  • inSSIDer
  • Network Monitor
  • On Vista:
    • Windows telnet client
    • PuTTYtel
share|improve this answer

The "basic" pack:

  • List item
  • Firefox (web browser)
  • Filezilla (ftp client)
  • VLC
  • Concept Draw Office ( visio & Project like)

On Windows computers, I add:

  • notepad++ (text editor)
  • PDF Creator
  • Winrar (or winace, or other)
  • and WinMine of course ;-)

On Mac computers:

  • Flip4Mac (codecs)
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop client
  • TextWrangler (text editor)
share|improve this answer
I like the "List item" tool g – Xn0vv3r Jun 5 '09 at 10:31

I usually install the following on a new (Windows) workstation:

  • Firefox
  • Open Command Window Here (from MS Powertoys for Windows collection)
  • GnuWin32 (*ix command line tools for windows)
  • WinZip
  • Pidgin (IM Client)
  • Putty (ssh Client)

On a Ubuntu Linux box I install:

  • OpenSSL
  • Samba (Windows file sharing)
  • NFS
  • Various Nautilus scripts

I also install the following if I'll be doing "work" on the machine:

  • VirtualBox (Virtualization Server)
  • Java SDK
  • Eclipse
  • Tortoise (Subversion Client)
  • Maven
  • ANT
share|improve this answer

All the PS utilities from Sysinternals...and many of the other ones as well.

If you are using PowerShell, you can use this function to download all the Sysinternal programs from a PowerShell prompt. I did not write this. I would supply the original link, but I can't find it.

Change the path in line 3 (counting blanks) to specify the folder to copy the programs to.

Function Get-SysInternals {

   param ( $sysIntDir="d:\console\" )

   if( !$sysIntDir.endsWith("\")) { $sysIntDir+="\" }
   $log = join-path $sysIntDir "changes.log"
   add-content -force $log -value "`n`n[$(get-date)]SysInternals sync has started"

      dir \\\tools -recurse | foreach {

         $fileName = $
         $localFile = join-path $sysIntDir $
         $exist = test-path $localFile

         $msgNew = "new utility found: $fileName , downloading..."
         $msgUpdate = "file : $fileName  is newer, updating..."
         $msgNoChange = "nothing changed for: $fileName"


            if($_.lastWriteTime -gt (get-item $localFile).lastWriteTime){
               copy-item $_.fullname $sysIntDir -force
               write-host $msgUpdate -fore yellow
               add-content -force $log -value $msgUpdate
            } else {
               add-content $log -force -value $msgNoChange
               write-host $msgNoChange

          } else {

               if($_.extension -eq ".exe") {
                  write-host $msgNew -fore green
                  add-content -force $log -value $msgNew

               copy-item $_.fullname $sysIntDir -force
share|improve this answer
Very cool! Love the script. – Rizwan Kassim Jun 10 '09 at 2:01

My base client install has Firefox, Adobe Acrobat Reader, 7-Zip, Java Runtime, and putty.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.