What are your favorite SysAdmin tools for Windows?

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    • #1089407
      Paolo Maffezzoli
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      Hello all,

      many sysadmin have a favorite list of must-have tools that you could not live without.
      I wonder what are your favorite tools ?

      The basic idea about this post is make a list of helpful tool that can be shared in the community.

       

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    • #1089409
      Paolo Maffezzoli
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      And here a short list of my favorites tools :

      • Notepad++
      • RSAT (Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10)
      • Tools from the Sysinternals Suite, AccessChk, Autoruns, Process Explorer, Process Monitor and others.
      • PingInfoView (Nirsoft), a small utility that allows you to easily ping multiple host names and IP addresses, and watch the result in one table
        TreeSize
      • USB Disk Ejector, allows you to quickly remove USB (and firewire) drives in Windows.
        DeviceTool, a Device Manager for administrators. DeviceTool can enable and disable devices remotely – and run on Windows 10.
      • Rufus, a small portable tool to create bootable USB Flash drives, includes an option to download the Windows.
      • Microsoft WSUS Client Diagnostic Tool, designed to aid the WSUS administrator in troubleshooting client machines which may be failing to report back to the WSUS Server.
      • Putty
      • RVTools, windows .NET 4.6.1 application which uses the VI SDK to display information about your virtual environments. Interacting with VirtualCenter.
      • vCenter Converter, quickly converts local and remote physical machines into virtual machines without any downtime.
      • Starwind V2V Converter, makes VM and virtual disk migration between different hardware sets easier by booting the migrated VM in Windows Repair Mode.

       

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      • #1091940
        Paul Tower
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        mRemoteNG – Free tabbed remote desktop management tool.  Allows you to save different credentials for various machines.  I just wish they had a search.

        SecureCRT – paid ssh management tool – remote into switches, routers, etc.

        PDQ Deploy/Inventory – paid application management software, scan machines to see what’s out there, update install or remove software on a schedule

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        • #1128242
          Surendra
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          I love PDQ Inventory & PDQ Deploy, make my work easier.

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    • #1089423
      Luc Fullenwarth
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      That really depends on the context of your work.

      For example, someone working with VMware will not have the same tools as someone working with Microsoft HyperV

      But basically:

      • PowerShell
      • Notepad++
      •  VS Code
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    • #1089602
      Leos Marek
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      • ASG Remote Desktop – best RDP tool I know – free for max 3 connections, unlimited connections + option to have connections/credentials in SQL database in paid version
      • Powershell ISE
      • ISE-Steroids – paid plugin to ISE
      • Keepass – ultimate tool for password management, amazing auto-type feature
      • Greenshot – really nice, rich, easy and free print screen tool
      • f.lux – adapts screen color temperature based on day time – eye saver
      • Ditto  – easy clipboard manager
      • Filezilla – FTP client/server
      • WinSCP – transfer files over SSH
      • PAL 2.0 – performance log analyzer
      • Regshot – capture Registry snapshot allowing to compare the Registry before and after some changes
      • TreeSizePortable – disk space info
      • BlueScreenView – BSOD dump analyzer

      + tools you already mentioned like RVTools, Putty,Notepad++, RSAT

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by Leos Marek.
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    • #1089609
      Luc Fullenwarth
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      Yeah! Forgot KeePass!!!
      Thanks Leos!

      And also forgot RDP, because sometimes you have to execute your PowerShell cmdlets directly on the server instead inside a remote PS session.
      However, because I am going from customer to customer, I prefer to stick to free products instead of having every time to change my habits for each customer. Therefore Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Manager is my choice. Otherwise Royal TS could also be a could alternative.

      Thus my list is:

      • PowerShell
      • Notepad++
      • VS Code
      • KeePass
      • Remote Desktop Connection Manager
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      • #1089629
        Leos Marek
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        Hey Luc,

        check out invoke-commandAs module for powershell, it allows to execute commands remotely under the target system account 🙂

        I was using ASG Remote in free version for years until we purchased it. Even with 3RDP connection limit I love the credentials management there.

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        • #1090451
          Paolo Maffezzoli
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          @Leos, I didn’t know ASG Remote, I’d like to test this program. Do you have info if VNC protol support is supported ?
          BTW, in my case I use he Remote Desktop Manager for server management through the WAN , here the interesting 4SYSOPS post : FREE: Remote Desktop Manager – A powerful RDP client .

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        • #1091907
          Leos Marek
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          List of supported protocols 🙂

          What I like the most is that you can save as many credentials as you want for different domains/customers and then you can either create a connection database for each server/customer and assign those credentials. Or you can use Quick connect where you simply type hostname/IP and select credentials from the popup menu. Really powerful!

           

          • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by Leos Marek.
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        • #1091937
          Paolo Maffezzoli
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          Thanks Leos !

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        • #1091974
          Luc Fullenwarth
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          @gibon

          Yes I discovered the invoke-commandAs module lately.
          However, usually it’s a double-hop problem and I am too lazy to handle it with alternate credentials.
          But thanks for the reminder, I problably should use it more often than I currently do… 🙂

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    • #1089624
      Paolo Maffezzoli
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      Thank you Leos and Luc!

      Here other tools for network and remote control.

      Remote Desktop and Remote Control Tools

      • TightVNC
      • Remote Desktop Manager (Devolutions)

      Network Monitoring Tools

      • Angry IP Scanner
      • Wireshark
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      • #1091983
        Luc Fullenwarth
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        Oh yeah Paolo,
        You reminded me that I also use Microsoft Message Analyzer (instead of Wireshark).

        My updated list is:

        • PowerShell
        • Notepad++
        • VS Code
        • KeePass
        • Remote Desktop Connection Manager
        • Microsoft Message Analyzer

        My goal is to keep this list :

        • as short as possible
        • portable (I can use all tools to whichever customer I go) which means they downloadable from anywhere and must also be free

        I remember a promise from ‘Jeffrey Snover’ the inventor of PowerShell:

        “If you learn PowerShell, this is the only and last thing you need to learn because you will be able to do everything with it”.

        Not completely true because configuring GPOs with PowerShell is not really feasable…
        However, thanks to PowerShell I don’t need too many tools as a SysAdmin.

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    • #1269795
      Carlos Montoya
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      Some of the tools that make my life easier at work are:

      WIRESHARK: Wireshark is a free and open-source packet analyzer. It is used for network troubleshooting, analysis, software and communications protocol development, and education. (Careful, must have written consent from CEO before using)

      Kali-Linux: Kali Linux is a Debian-derived Linux distribution designed for digital forensics and penetration testing. It is maintained and funded by Offensive Security Ltd  (Careful, must have written consent from CEO before using)

      Angry IP Scanner: Angry IP scanner simply pings each IP address to check if it’s alive, then optionally it is resolving its hostname, determines the MAC address, scans ports, etc. The amount of gathered data about each host can be extended with plugins.

      Recuva: Recuva is an undeletion program for Windows, developed by Piriform. It is able to undelete files that have been marked as deleted; the operating system marks the areas of the disk in which they were stored as free.

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    • #1282484
      Paolo Maffezzoli
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      Other helpful tools :

      • Wipe 18.01 , powerful security tool, it allows to clear browser history and cache, cleaning index.dat files, etc.
      • DOSBox 0.74-3 , an open source DOS emulator to run old DOS programs. Not for a daily activity but helpful in case you need.
      • Spotlight , a nice System Information Viewer
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    • #1285077
      Swapnil Kambli
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      Two tools commonly used for storage performance troubleshooting:
      -Windows Performance Analyzer
      -SQLIO

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    • #1554647
      Paolo Maffezzoli
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      Some additional tools:

      • FreeFileSync- Synchronize Files and Folders
      • XnShell, extension for Windows Explorer, it allows to resize, convert, rotate images from the context menu
      • Rufus, USB Formatting Utility
      • Ultimate Boot CD, Live Rescue CD based on Debian
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    • #1555034
      Ian Melton
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      PDQ Deploy / Inventory #1 – Auto deploys everything 😉

      Meraki Systems Manager – we know all with this!

      RSAT

      Wireshark

      PRTG Network Monitor – not a tool but sure speeds up detection time when you have issues 🙂

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    • #1555272
      Paolo Maffezzoli
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      PropertySystemView view and modify the properties of file from GUI and command-line.

      TaskSchedulerView, displays in a single table the list of all tasks from the Task Scheduler of Windows.

      Shutter, free task scheduler tool.

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    • #1556125
      Paolo Maffezzoli
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      Here some recent additions:

      Sysmon v11.0 –  a Windows system service and device driver that, once installed on a system, remains resident across system reboots to monitor and log system activity to the Windows event log. It provides detailed information about process creations, network connections, and changes to file creation time.
      NTFSLinksView – this tool shows you a list of all symbolic links and junctions in the specified folder, and their target paths.

      Ventoy – open source tool to create bootable USB drive for ISO files. With ventoy, you don’t need to format the disk again and again, you just need to copy the iso file to the USB drive and boot it.

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    • #1557685
      Brian Murphy
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      There’s so many, not sure where to begin.

      Wireshark – few things trump Wireshark (more particular when you have it on both end-points or port-mirroring).  Generally, my first go-to tool.  I like Angry IP but prefer the NMAP option – and other useful tools on Kali although there is a Windows iteration of NMAP as well.

      Burp Suite Proxy and Fiddler 4 – between the two you have the ability to see higher up relative to the code, modify and forward – handy for code or websites coded by third-parties when the burden of proof is left to you.  Force browser traffic through the local proxy 127.0.0.1 and then combine this information with Wireshark.  Examples such as where you see spurious retransmit and RST in Wireshark that then translate to 404 and 503 errors at the browser level but you would not see otherwise without Burp Proxy.  I had one recently where a well known external website simply would not work if traffic originated on that customer LAN network.  Laptop/PC going out standard WiFi or any internet connection except for that network the website worked perfectly fine.  On that network, spurious retransmits and this occurred where the referrer from Site A to Site B (Content, media, and so forth) was the FQDN of a BigIP (per WireShark).  The combination of the tools is the greater power.  All of which are free – Burp Suite Community Edition.  Visual Studio Code Community (and extensions), Visual Studio Code, GitHub Bash, Desktop and GUI, with Atlassian SourceTree

      Kali Linux and smaller brother Tails (portable on USB – memory resident only and zero footprints) Kali Linux in-of-itself is just hardened Linux – it’s the toolsets, scripts, and plethora of options provided in Kali Linux.  Tor browser, of course.   Too much to go in with Kali.  You can download the VM’s today with all the tools installed.  Back when I first started using it you had to piece it together.   Same with WireShark / tshark – I was collecting pcap’s while others were collecting coins.

      Oracle Box – When you need Kali Linux on Windows without having to dual boot.  Or, to quickly spin up a Windows VM – create a sandbox while running Kali in parallel to test or validate a vulnerability.  Or, quick documentation of process or procedures.

      Nox & BlueStacks – Android emulators, handy for testing applications such as Citrix Workspace or Receiver, Citrix MDM, or playing games of course.

      Pretty much all the Sysinternals Tools (aka Mark Russinovich tools prior to Microsoft purchase in the 90’s) – Combined with the WinDBG tools installed in the Operating System and corresponding symbols so that you can view the stacks.  Process Monitor, Process Explorer, and the others I’ve used to port applications from one OS to the other (Citrix hosted applications) in scenarios where I had no documentation, no original installation files, and no internal development teams.  I had one scene where the entire development team resigned on the same day in the owner’s office.  I accepted the contract on the challenge alone.   And, PSTOOLs  – all portable, for example.

      Chrome Extensions – I’ve been a fan of the Firefox and Chrome extensions for a long time in several aspects from personal security to simply keeping up or organizing my research.  A majority of my time, these days, is research – whether for personal, work, blogging, writing and so forth.

      Research wise, I value several specific Chrome extensions such as:

      Evernote, OneTab, Mercury Reader, Instapaper, Kami PDF, and Document Annotation, Google Link to Text Fragment, Hypothesis Web, and PDF Annotation.  Session Buddy (Tab management) Better Chrome History. These have saved me much time.

      Grammarly – forces me to pay attention when writing emails or documentation.  Proper grammar and spelling can make a difference and when your in a rush or strict deadlines, too many emails to respond too and it does matter relative to perception.

      Security | Browser PerformanceBlur (Similar to LastPass but with anonymous proxy email addresses, phone numbers, credit cards so you can sign up for these sites that require signup but with a randomly generated email, phone #, and so forth)  and then their DeleteMe option (separate site) that focuses on removing any fingerprint or personal information you might have left behind).  uBlock and NoScript.  

      Extensity – if you have not tried this Chrome extension it provides a flip switch profile based Extensions tool to create profiles based on specific Chrome extensions and flip the profile to suit your need rather than having every extension enabled or having to turn one on and another off.  This allows you to create extension “profiles” and organize your extensions for Chrome by use-case.

      Notepad++ on its own but more so for the add-ins and bolt-on options.

      The Piriform Suite – CCleaner, Recuva.

      For the screenshots, videos – whether for training videos I’ve made for Tier 1, 2, and 3 or documentation – prefer the Techsmith SnagIT and Camtasia Studio and Screencast.   Also, Handbrake and Audacity, as well.

      PowerShell just goes without saying but have to mention Github and other repositories and the tools for collaboration.  The various SDK’s such as with Citrix, Azure, Office 365, Exchange Online, this list just keeps going – and then vSphere of course RV Tools as well.

      I find certain tools like IFTTT and Zapier useful relative to multitasking and automation – whether email or simplified document management to creating useful time-saving workflows.  Saves time, where time is the least of my assets.  It’s about getting more in a day than is possible sometimes.

      I’ve made good use of open-source tools such as Grafana and Zabbix (and Prometheus) in a quick fix and need for monitoring – phenomenal dashboards.  Great options when your customer is starting with no monitoring or alerting.

      Visio is a given but I actually prefer LucidCharts for quick high-level diagrams or process flows.

      Putty/WINSCP – Citrix NetScaler (OpenBSD Kernel) handy but most of this is rolled up in mRemoteNG and I did prefer Remote Desktop Manager until the vulnerability alert was released and Microsoft pulled it from their website.

      I suppose this is good for starters.

      Day to day the one I use or rely most heavily on administration, reporting, and automation is PowerShell – hands down.  And, it only get’s better each year that passes.  Although I do still have some CMD / Batch tools I still use such as taskkill, tasklist, takeown and so forth.

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