The IT Toolkit

Anyone in the systems support business has a “toolkit” of some sort - the tools of the trade, if you will. In order to effectively and efficiently solve problems you have to have the right tools on hand at all times. What these tools are varies from tech to tech, but essentially, we all face the same type of issues and have to provide solutions for our clients.

Each technician works and troubleshoots differently and the tools used are generally subjective and based on personal experience and successes. Over the years, I have added and changed up my tool set based on necessity as well as what others use or recommend.  

The following is my standard “Crash Cart” - the rolling toolbox I have on hand at all times. I am able to address the majority of issues with this kit.  

Two patch cables, currently CAT5e.
One crossover cable. You never know when you need it.
RJ 11 and 45 crimp tool and a handful of ends.
Coax stripper and crimp tool with a handful of ends.
Cable test and tone equipment.
Punch tool.
4G USB flash drive.
500G (small profile SATA) external drive.

2G USB flash drive with PortableApps (KeePass, OOo Writer and Calc, ClamWin)

I use my Mac PowerBook for everything. I have VMWare Fusion installed with three VM’s: Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Debian Lenny. Adding a Win7 soon and replacing Debian with Linux Mint (Isadora). With this combination of operating systems I can work in just about any environment.

Misc. Other
Blank CDR’s
Blank DVDR’s
Candy and Peanuts. A must have. You never know how long you’re going to be working an issue. It’s nice to have a little snack on hand. And no, I don’t keep them in the bag forever, I pickup new supplies frequently.

Being prepared for just about anything is crucial in the systems support trade and the tools you have on hand are crucial to get you through. What’s in your tool kit?

Comments (4)


"RJ 11 and 45 crimp tool and a handful of ends."

Unless you include CAT5 cable on your list as well, you should mention to bring ends for both stranded and solid wire cable, since they are *not* interchangeable and crimping the wrong end will result in an unreliable cable.

I personally prefer female RJ45 jacks (recycled from old patch panels), the re-usable kind you can pry apart with a screwdriver, and press together again with the heel of your hand.  Those allow me to ditch the crimpers, and the crossover cable.  Feel free to add them to your list.
I also use a short Straight Through or "standard" cat5 cable for testing issues with older cables made by the IT before me.
I'd also add a 10/100/1000 five-port switch. I've found them to be very useful on sites where there's a shortage of network drops and I need a connection.

The USB stick I have is 8GB and has PortableApps installed with Wireshark. Very handy.

I have two kits; one with tools and one with these office supplies:

CD spindle
Three sharpies
Two pens
Stapler (with a small box of staples)
Staple remover
Zip ties
3m extension cord (grounded) with three plug capacity
2m USB cable
... in addition to the folio I have in which all my notes go.
I also carry some sticky labels, so that I can label ports/cables if necessary

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