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Tools a Windows administrator cannot live without

I just joined a small computer lab which basically uses all Windows boxes and a few Windows Sever 2003. Coming from a *nix background I am missing all the nice tools that we have for diagnosis and troubleshooting. My question is what are the safe, free (not terribly concerned if it is like beer or freedom -both acceptable) tools out there that Windows system admins use for their day to day troubleshooting (network, applications, servers etc).

I am aware of the tools that come with Windows (and their limited capabilites) - so my query is with what do you fill in your arsenal? (may be a list of win versions of tools that come in standard linux distros)

  • 3
    Pose a few example troubleshooting scenarios where the standard tools are inadequate? Jan 6 '11 at 20:41
  • The vagueness was totally intentional to maximize suggestions, and @l0c0b0x your observation is spot on. I was actually looking for such a discussion and finally summarize the contextually what tools are available for the two platforms.
    – Tathagata
    Jan 7 '11 at 0:21

They are semi-developer-oriented, but the sysinternals tools are among the best and most useful tools available.

  • 1
    I don't think that I would characterize them as developer-oriented, to be honest. I'm an admin, and I've been using them for about 8-9 years. Helpful all the time.
    – mfinni
    Jan 6 '11 at 21:07
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    :) fair enough. let's just call them awesome for everyone Jan 6 '11 at 21:23
  • +1 Given the vagueness of the question, the Sysinternals Suite is probably the best answer. Jan 6 '11 at 22:01
  • I use those tools regularly as an admin but can't recall ever having used them as a developer. Perhaps because that's not what they're for. Jan 6 '11 at 23:56
  • @Jeff: vagueness was totally intentional to maximize suggestions. But coming to think of it, I'll try to edit the question and make it less vague.
    – Tathagata
    Jan 7 '11 at 0:10

Besides sysinternals, I would also add Wireshark, Spinrite (not free but worth it), and a live boot CD with various recovery and imaging tools.

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