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 Tools a Windows administrator cannot live without does a good job of that)

11 Answers 11


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Some of them are probably outdated now, hope this helps anyway.


might want to check out
Tools a Windows administrator cannot live without
but to summarise; SysInternals, WinDirStat and Powershell


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.

  • UnxUtils is new to me, I usually just use Cygwin. Neat! Jun 5, 2009 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".


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.


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!

  • Great idea! I've done this in the past but never on all machines. Jun 5, 2009 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

The "basic" pack:

  • List item
  • Firefox (web browser)
  • Filezilla (ftp client)
  • OpenOffice.org
  • 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)
  • I like the "List item" tool g
    – Xn0vv3r
    Jun 5, 2009 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

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 \\live.sysinternals.com\tools -recurse | foreach {

         $fileName = $_.name
         $localFile = join-path $sysIntDir $_.name
         $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
  • Very cool! Love the script. Jun 10, 2009 at 2:01

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

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