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I have been on the lookout lately for some good tools to fill up my flash drive and I thought I would ask the Server Fault community for recommendations on good tools that will fit onto a thumb drive.

Some I use are Driver Packs, CCleaner and the portable apps suite.


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If this were SO I would say notepad++. But, alas, I am at a loss. –  jjnguy Apr 30 '09 at 9:48
A good text editor is critical for server admin too I think –  Glenn Slaven Apr 30 '09 at 10:18
Wish that people would add items individually to a question like this because otherwise everyone posts huge lists which everyone eventually just gives up reading. –  Rory Becker Apr 30 '09 at 12:22

61 Answers 61

To mention a few I don't yet see listed:

WhyReboot (reports restart queued operations)
CPUID's CPU-Z (hardware info)
CloneSpy (duplicate files)
Scanner (disk usage)

I also second @John's recommendation for the suite of tools by NirSoft in addition to SysInternals, too many to bother listing separately.


I work with a lot of MS-SQL installs so I always have a copy of the old (no longer shipped) odbcping.exe. Last Microsoft SQL version to ship it was SQL Server 2000 (afaicr).

Very useful to determine if there's a problem with a SQL Instance.

usage: odbcping [-S Server | -D DSN] [-U Login Id] [-P Password]

You can get UBCD4WIN on a thumbdrive


Installer for AVG anti-virus.


VPC 2007 and Two VHD's:

  • XP Clean & patched / template box
  • XP Loaded with tools and goodies

I just loaded up my thumb drive with:

  • 7-zip portable
  • Autoruns
  • Eraser portable
  • Filezilla portable
  • Firefox portable
  • JkDegrag portable
  • Process Explorer
  • Putty
  • Truecrypt
  • Vim
  • VLC portable
  • WinDirStat portable

I have another thumb drive that is a bootable live Linux which comes in handy for gparted, dd, etc.


sysinternals was already mentioned, but I wanted to point out Desktops explicitly. It's an awesome tool when it works.

Desktops allows you to organize your applications on up to four virtual desktops. Read email on one, browse the web on the second, and do work in your productivity software on the third, without the clutter of the windows you’re not using. After you configure hotkeys for switching desktops, you can create and switch desktops either by clicking on the tray icon to open a desktop preview and switching window, or by using the hotkeys.


I know linux has been mentioned, but DamnSmallLinux has a VM version > 50 Meg's it's pretty awesome.


For disk usage, I've seen utilities that use treemap visualization mentioned, but not the ancient, small, and unfortunately named Scanner (distributed as

I find Scanner's sunburst chart much easier to read than treemaps, even if it lacks some of the features and speed of things like WinDirStat and SequoiaView.


Use TiddlyWiki as a notebook:

Ideal for carrying all your system-administration notes around on a stick. A full-featured wiki with wiki markup, links and tags in a single self-modifying html file.


OpenOffice! It's not perfect, but darned handy. There's a portable version too.

This way if I get to a machine that has some budget version of Microsoft Office, or heaven forbid MS Works, installed I have tools that I am used to readily at hand.


Spacemonger v1.4 for tracking down large files/directories. Free, small and colourful.


Right now I have a 16GB OCZ Rally2 which I find dead handy. I keep lots of the tools mentioned above on it (in portable app form, mostly).

I've got the contents of some useful OSs on there: notably Windows XP, Server 2003, and also the Win 7 Beta. I created a partition that is compatible with W7 too so I can install directly without an optical disc. Dead handy for testing on laptops with varied hardware configurations.


Tor -- you never know when you're going to need Web access that is free from cookies, Java, and other plug-ins.


JkDefrag v3.36 - Better than the Native Windows disk degfragmenter. It can run from your USB drive. And best of all, it's FREE!


Look at the PC Repair/Toolkit

For reference:

  • DCoT Menu
  • Active@ ISO Burner
  • AutoCompress
  • Brute Benchmark
  • CCleaner
  • CDmage
  • DriveImage XML
  • Double Killer
  • DTaskManager
  • encopy
  • Eraser
  • explore2fs
  • File Assassin
  • Filemon
  • Hash
  • HDDScan
  • LC ISO Creator
  • LSASecretsView
  • Patcher
  • PMMon
  • ProcessExplorer
  • ProduKey
  • Regmon
  • Restoration
  • Roadkil’s CommTest
  • Roadkil’s Disk Image
  • Rootkit Revealer
  • SequoiaView
  • System Information for Windows
  • TweakUI
  • Universal Extract
  • Virtual CD Control Panel
  • What Changed?
  • Why Reboot?
  • WirelessKeyView

If you need to view/edit XML files of any type I highly recommend First Object XML Editor.

Lightweight, no install, tree-view/editor synchronisation, syntax highlighting, and best of all a customizable Indent option (F8) to make sense of crazy Microsoft config files ;)


Drive Snapshot disk imaging tool:

No installation necessary, so you can just run the EXE on any host (Windows) to create a disk image to an external drive or network location.


I have a bootable Ubuntu USB thumb drive(recently updated to 9.04), It has saved Data from many dead laptops and PCs.


I like this USB software package --


Just wondering... How big is that flash disk supposed to be? I myself have one that is 32 GB and there's a lot that you can fit on that. ;-) If you use it on a system that can boot from USB, you might even consider installing a complete operating system on it, to run from USB. (Most likely going to be Linux.)


I'm a fan of SIW (System Information for Windows). Lets you check a lot of computer information from a small exe file that fits on a thumb drive. It's got a free version as well which has always done everything I needed it to.


I would add the following:

  1. Tunnelier
  2. KeePass

Clonezilla Live, Knoppix and Trinity Rescue Kit are great for larger usb drives. I edit the syslinux.cfg file so all 3 are bootable.


Pendrivelinux: make your thumb drive bootable!

They also have persistent installs now: your-whole-pc-on-a-stick ;-)


I like to mention two old-school apps I use:

  1. Windows NT 3.5 File Manager (winfile.exe). A single file that gives me raw access to the file system. For 2000/XP use the version that came with NT4 Service 4. Under Vista/7 the original version doesn't run anymore, but there is a patched version at

  2. 4NT, a powerful command line interpreter, for the cases when Powershell is not installed. Sadly, the vendor discontinued it.


iperf and wireshark are good. Not sure why you'd use the other sniffer when Wireshark is around.


Win7 install/PE and ghost32 for PE.


protected by Iain Jul 20 '12 at 15:14

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