52
votes

As a Windows administrator, what tools do you feel you cannot live without?

50 Answers 50

40
votes

3rd party tools are great, but before I start there, the basic ones you get with the system:

  • Computer Management
  • Event Viewer
  • Services Console
  • Perfmon
  • Active Directory Users and Computers
  • Active Directory Domains and Trusts
  • Active Directory Sites and Services
  • Group Policy Management Console (okay, so you download this one)
  • The command line itself with
    • netstat
    • nbtstat
    • ipconfig
    • net
    • findstr
    • netsh
  • Internet Explorer/Firefox
  • Scripting tool like VBScript/PowerShell/Perl
  • Notepad

Other Tools:

2
  • 2
    I love OneNote. I'm astonished that MS only made it available in Office Enterprise; it should be in every downlevel edition!
    – dmoisan
    Jun 3, 2009 at 3:20
  • Notepad itself isn't worth much. Notepad2 or Notepad++ offer greater options and much more possibilities, even for everyday users.
    – KdgDev
    Oct 20, 2009 at 0:54
16
votes

I can't live without PowerShell.

14
votes

WinDirStat is great for finding out how all your disk space it getting used.

10
votes

I always post this one, but it remains true. Beyond Compare is the best folder & file diff program. It is so ridiculously useful for maintenance work and updating, plus it does built-in FTP

2
  • I held out against the move to Beyond Compare, sticking with WinMerge for years. Recently I tried an old copy of BC and have been kicking myself for weeks that I didn't change sooner. BC is hands-down the best merging/compare tool I've ever seen. May 5, 2009 at 2:58
  • Try Araxis Merge. Costs more, but if you can afford it, it's worth its weight in gold.. or it's filesize in gold, at least
    – Mikeage
    May 31, 2009 at 10:42
10
votes

Robocopy.

Recursive copying with solid reporting and allows you to update changed only. Used to be part of the windows resource kit, but i think it's distributed with Vista now.

2
  • Just confirming that it is distributed with Vista. May 15, 2009 at 3:01
  • Try RichCopy, also from Microsoft, but GUI-based and more options than RoboCopy. I've used the fcopy tool on a number of occasions as well to good effect when copying ridiculously large files over the WAN. Jun 12, 2009 at 0:29
10
votes

Never underestimate the power of a really good text editor. I've used UltraEdit for years and couldn't live without it. I've tried moving to Notepad++, Editplus, and a few other text editors and I always end up frustrated and back using UltraEdit. You can also get a U3 version that lives on a flash drive.

2
  • UE is a great text editor plus it includes syntax highlighting, hex editing and diff tools...
    – Mark Nold
    May 5, 2009 at 3:32
  • The UE developer is also extremely responsive to requests to add features. Definitely on my list of apps I can't live without.
    – Helvick
    Apr 5, 2010 at 11:43
7
votes
  • ProcessExplorer
  • PS Tools
  • Perl
  • Perfmon
  • TextPad/Notepad++
  • Terminal Services
  • Cygwin
7
votes

A Linux LiveCD (Knoppix preferably)

And processexplorer

6
votes

The SysInternals suite, live edition:

http://live.sysinternals.com/

hexedit or another hex editor.

6
votes

WMIC lets you do pretty much anything to any networked windows computer.

Some fun things to try:

wmic computersystem get name

What user is currently logged into the system:

wmic netlogin get name,lastlogon

Users who have logged into a system, and when they last logged in:

wmic os get lastbootuptime

When was the last time the machine booted; (do you have a machine not getting updates?)

wmic product get name,verion

Finds applications installed with a specific name:

wmic product where 'name = "%Product Name%"' get name

Also remember you can run these on networked systems:

wmic /node:"computername1" os list brief
5
votes

I'd throw 7-zip into the pool. Free/Open source and opens most compression formats. I use it often for moving files from one server to another (updates and/or images).

3
votes

These are more for the desktop/laptop power users:

  • safarp: small and fast Add/Remove Programs
  • launchy: keystroke launchyer
  • console: multi-tabbed cmd.exe, (and then some)
  • jkdefrag (portable):lite-weight defragger
  • AnVir task manager: manager for running processes, services, and startup programs (commercial but has a lite free version).
  • Notepad++: Probably best text-editor available for windows.
  • WinMerge: visual diff/merge tool
3
votes

Batch files :-)

3
votes

shutdown - can shut down a non-responding host remotely

shutdown -r -t 0 -f -m <machine>

taskkill - kill processes from the commandline

taskkill /pid <pid>

psexec - the windows equivalent of ssh (from sysinternals, as previously noted)

2
  • Psexec is not the windows equivalent of ssh. It provides no encryption, no interactive session, no arbitrary port forwarding, etc. Useful but not ssh. Jul 6, 2009 at 22:12
  • eek, standing corrected...
    – user1804
    Jul 7, 2009 at 11:32
3
votes

Total Commander - Norton Commander look-a-like for Windows. I use this all the time, it's simply the best (!) file manager. Also it's shareware, so if you can live with a startup nag-screen it's free.

Ultraedit - Not free, but nothing beats this text editor. Once you go down the path of ultraedit, there's no turning back.

putty - It just works.

1
  • +1 for total commander and utraedit, first thing I install. Jun 5, 2009 at 10:58
3
votes

TreeSizeFree for figuring out what's using all your storage space.

http://www.jam-software.com/freeware/index.shtml

1
2
votes

Windows Installer Cleanup Utility - saved my bacon multiple times.

Visual C# Express - really! The .NET framework has a LOT of useful classes for automating admin tasks, and I've rolled my own small army of useful utilities.

2
votes

Ultra Vnc SC a free remote desktop tool. Some features: You only need one exe to pass to client, no install, Can be customized and You also can translate this tool, got a file transfer and chat.

1
  • You don't even need an exe. Just use your web browser. Jul 6, 2009 at 21:52
2
votes

I find Agent Ransack or its non-free version, File Locator Pro, to be much much more effective than the basic "Search" function of Windows (which was/is broken on XP)

1
  • Its broken on Vista, still, as well.
    – Taptronic
    Apr 17, 2010 at 3:15
2
votes

A new open source to alternative to ProcessExplorer is ProcessHacker.

You can install it or just run it off a thumb drive. If you install it you can take advantage of some of the special features. On such feature is a kernel mode driver that acts as a proxy to query process information. This is apparently to avoid UAC prompts in Vista. Another feature is the ability to launch ProcessHacker instead of task manager from the ctrl+alt+delete menu. Finally, you can set ProcessHacker to run at login.

2
votes

I have been testing Spiceworks for IT management (inventory, monitoring, reporting, tracking). So far, made my life easier, so let's toss it on the pile.

2
votes
0
1
vote

I live by TaskInfo, an integrated utility that beats Task Manager and Systems Information hands down.

1
vote

testdisk - saved my ass a when my raid screwed up, was able to copy the data off it to another drive even though it wasn't showing up in windows. now i can't live without it.

1
vote

Logparser is a must.

1
vote

Remote Desktop / Terminal Services

1
vote

RD tabs http://www.avianwaves.com/Tech/Tools/RDTabs/ is a great RDP replacement. It allows saving connections like bookmarks, tabs, pop-outs, screen capture! Works really well!

1
vote

Well I'd say http://ratsauce.sourceforge.net/ but then I would say that, wouldn't I :-)

1
  • Lots of those tools seem like reimplementations of consecrated tools. For example, how is httpgrabber different from wget -S? reconcile seems like a particular case of BeyondCompare. Etc. Dec 3, 2012 at 3:55
1
vote

A couple of things that make my life easier:

Terminals - multi tab terminal services/remote desktop client.

and

Nmap - network scanner extraordinaire

You must log in to answer this question.