Top 10 Tools for Windows Administrators

March 18th, 2014 by Rossy Guide

List of some interesting tools and their description

For most medium and small businesses, at least in the U.S. Windows is their operating system of choice, both as servers and workstations. Having a bit of experience managing Windows Networks, I found these to be my top ten choices:

1.   Process Explorer:

Process Explorer, developed by Sysinternals (who later on was bought by no other than Microsoft) is a very useful expansion of the Windows Task Manager. Finally, the Process Explorer is so simple that there is no need for installation.

2.   Cygwin:

Cygwin is essentially a port of the Linux command line environment to Windows. It blurs the Windows and Linux Universes to the point where you can run DOS and Bash commands on the same virtual console.

3.   Python/Visual Basic/Shell scripting:

OK, fine, this is not an application, but knowing Python, Visual Basic, and shell scripting has saved me hours in automated tasks that would have otherwise taken too long and killed too many braincells to perform manually.

4.   UltraVNC:

The best VNC Server/Client out there, period. If tried most of them, including RealVNC, TightVNC, or Remote Administrator. UltraVNC I found is the fastest, most complete, and easiest to use of the lot. They even have a standalone client and a standalone server that do not need to be installed.

5.   Partition Magic/Gparted:

Gparted is not technically a Windows application, but it saved my life when a user’s hard drive started to fail and I had to copy its content onto a new hard drive. Partition magic is Gparted’s commercial counterpart, and although it does offer a couple more tools, I like gparted better.

6.   Ultra-Edit:

Best text editor ever. It will open almost anything you throw at it.

7.   PsExec/BeyondExec:

Really nifty couple of programs. PsExec was developed by sysinternals, which, like I mentioned earlier, was bought by Microsoft. BeyondExec is based on PsExec. Beyond Exec have a few more utilities than PsExec has, including an interactive SSH-like DOS prompt, but I have found it to be slightly less robust than PsExec.

8.   Angry IP:

I first found Angry IP Scanner while looking for a tool that would help me track down a static IP conflict in the network. Angry IP will ping IP addresses in the range that you determine. Used properly you can determine IP/DNS conflicts, which IP addresses are in use.

9.   OpenVPN:

A fast, powerful, easy to use and install platform independent virtual private network server and client. Best of all, it’s open source, which means it is free. Now someone needs to figure out how to make it a portable client.

10.  VMware Server:

I want to mention VMware as a pose to other virtualization tools like Qemu or Parallels, because I’ve found that, regardless if VMware is not the fastest virtualization tool, regardless if it’s a closed source application, I have found it to be the most reliable and stable virtualization software out there, ideal both to deploy virtual servers on the fly when testing new/unstable software.

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