10 (FREE) Windows Utilities Every Tech Professional Must Have

Adam Shattuck (adam@technicall.us)

I'm not much for intros. The title pretty much speaks for itself, so let's get to it:

Son of Snoop on Steroids - Think Microsoft SMS/SCCM (and more, actually) for the low low price of free. Well, at least the inventorying components. Get a list of all the local security information (user accounts, group membership, share info) as well as hardware information for the local or remote PC. In additon, write it to a database for reporting purposes. All unquestionably for free, no doubt about it. Thanks, Emmet Gray!


TCPView - you could really make the point that ANY Mark Russinovich/Sysinternals provided utility could comprise this list entirely ... but TCPView is the chief "must have" amongst their utilities. There's simply no easier way to cull the info a netstat -a provides in a real time updating form. Observe all the connections your computer establishes both incoming and outgoing while they happen ... be amazed (and scared) at how chatty your all in one printer software and other memory resident apps are!


AutoRuns - .... and here we go again with the Sysinternals love. Wanna know what's running before you run anything interactively? No, not just what's under HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Run ... we mean, everything .... Drivers, Shell extensions, Services, etc. Annnd...you can remove the MS provided entries in order to hone in on the 3rd party stuff which might be causing issues at startup.


NMap - If you're just wanting to know what's hiding (or in plain sight) behind an IP address or a range of IP addresses, there's nothing better, quicker, or freer than nMap. Comes preloaded with a bunch of port ranges for easy scanning of IP for research or vulnerability testing purposes.


psTools - OK, last Sysinternals entry, I promise. You ever run into a remote PC so bogged down by a process that you can't even remote into it with anything graphical or interactive? You ever have no clue what's causing that? psView followed by psKill will take care of that situation with a quickness. Need to run a little something on a remote PC without bothering the current user? psExec is your ticket to that action. No bothersome client install required.


BartPE - Boot "behind the scenes" of your Windows install and run a variety of utilities. These could be used to recover passwords, scan/fix corrupted files, remove viruses, ghost Windows installs, whatever.

Or, don't boot into a (local) Windows install at all. Use it to boot into a remote desktop as someone (me) describes here :-)


Agent Ransack - Ever been asked to find every document or text file that contains a certain string of text? See, in unix, they have this thing called grep, but we in the Windows world have neither the time or inclination for such command line silliness. Use Agent Ransack to find any instance of the string "this could come back to bite us" on all text and Office documents on the corporate file server.


ccProxy - ever find yourself in a room with a few machines that can't or shouldn't connect to the web, but can connect to another PC that can connect to the web? Use this free simple proxy to get `em all going. Invaluable in a VM environment in which you don't want to give your VM's "production" IP's. Free for 3 computers:


Recuva - makes recovering accidentally deleted files easy.


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