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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

up vote 134 down vote accepted

These are the utilities I have on my drive:

  • CurrPorts displays the list of all currently opened TCP/IP and UDP ports on your local computer.
  • ftpserver3lite is an FTP server
  • ftpwanderer2 is an FTP client
  • ipnetinfo answers questions about an IP address: owner, country/state, range, contact info, etc.
  • miranda general messaging solution (supports most P2P messaging networks)
  • omziff encryption decryption tool.
  • FoxitReader wonderful alternative to adobe's PDF reader. light and fast and portable.
  • Qm (The Quick Mailer) if you just want to send an Email the old pasion way with no installation.
  • Restoration quick and basic undelete utility.
  • smsniff basic TCP sniffer.
  • torpark a Firefox-based browser for completely discrete browsing.
  • treepad just a nice utility to organize your data in, much like freemind and other mind maps.
  • cpicture a picture viewer
  • DriveMan for managing hard drives on the local computer.
  • FollowMeIPLite very much like only much quicker.
  • hfs opens a small HTTP file server from desired folder, for instant file sharing.
  • angry ip scanner scans IP's
  • kill.exe - needs no introduction :)
  • putty a telnet utility every system administrator has got to be familiar with.
  • startup control panel, StartupList, regcleaner - really there are many registry cleaners/managers out there, lots of them fits nicely in a thumb-drive.
  • Revealer reveals passwords from password fields. It is very useful in many situations.
  • vncviewer client for the VNC remote desktop protocol
  • WinAudit audits a Windows machine. Lots of useful information.
  • xcopy.exe - it is still useful to have around.
  • TcpView shows all all TCP and UDP endpoints on your system.

Beyond Compare is fantastic, btw. Also, you might want to check out portable freeware.


For constantly updated info on this, check out


I would probably find windows boxes unusable with FAR manager, or any OFM.


Win7 install/PE and ghost32 for PE.


I got these from some time ago and I really love them.

  1. TrueCrypt – encrypt your thumb drive to protect your information

  2. ToDoList – A task management tool that allows you to repeatedly sub-divide your tasks into more manageable pieces whilst still presenting a clean and intuitive user experience. (Windows Only)

  3. Portable Firefox – Leaves no personal information behind on the machine - you can take along your browser/extensions/bookmarks anywhere

  4. Pidgin Portable – All-in-one instant messaging (supports AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo, G-Chat, etc)

  5. WS FTP32 – ftp client

  6. FileZilla – yet another ftp client

  7. Notepad2 – a fast light-weight advanced text editor with syntax highlighting

  8. Notepad++ - this is one of my favorite text editors – now made portable

  9. Color Cop – this is one of my favorite freeware apps – includes an eyedropper you can drag over any window to grab the color value. It then offers a palette of 42 complimentary colors to the one you've picked.

  10. Ifranview – a light little graphics viewer/editor that packs a big punch. You can use it to work with screen captures, create slideshows and more

  11. GIMP – the popular open source image editor packaged as a portable app – very robust

  12. 7-Zip Portable – handles zip, gzip, tar, rar etc

  13. Allway Sync – syncs files between your thumb drive and PC

  14. Unknown Devices – helps you find out what the unknown devices in the device manager are

  15. TestDisk – data recovery software that can recover lost partitions or make drives bootable again

  16. UTorrent – my preferred bit torrent client – I love having this with me wherever I go

  17. Roeder's .NET Reflector – recently purchased by Red Gate, this still-free app can be used to explore .NET assemblies, understand relationships between classes and methods, find where types are instantiated and exposed or check that code has been correctly obfuscated before release. There are also over 30 add-ins available.

  18. Process Explorer – formerly Filemon and Regmon, this is an invaluable sleuthing tool

  19. TightVNC – based on the popular VNC remote control software, this version can live on a thumb drive

  20. WinMerge – compares differences between files and merges changes. It has the same features as the desktop version

  21. Text2Html – a text to HTML converter – converts text files into HTML format

  22. Portable Apps Suite – this is the mac-daddy of them all – it includes Firefox, Thunderbird(email), Sunbird(calendar),ClamWin (antivirus), Pidgin(see above), Sumatra PDF Readable, KeePass Password Safe, OpenOffice, CoolPlayer (audio Player) and even a couple of games

  23. Restoration – Recover accidentally deleted files – even after they were deleted from the recycle bin

  24. Infra Recorder Portable – cd and dvd burning

  25. RockXP – allows you to recover windows passwords or keys, change keys, display system password, and more – sneaky!


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


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


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.


Pendrivelinux: make your thumb drive bootable!

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


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


I would add the following:

  1. Tunnelier
  2. KeePass

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.


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.


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 like this USB software package --


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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 ;)


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.


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]

VPC 2007 and Two VHD's:

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

Installer for AVG anti-virus.


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.


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

protected by Iain Jul 20 '12 at 15:14

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