Looking for useful new Windows utilities for tech support. What do you use?

I thought I'd try to expand upon my collection of utilities, or replace some. What do you use often to help with repairing Windows based PCs? What are your must-haves?

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a screwdriver ;-)
I have a LOT of Windows utilities of all sorts but my Must Haves are:


What is the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows?
UBCD4Win is a bootable CD which contains software that allows you to repair, restore, or diagnose almost any computer problem. Our goal is to be the ultimate free hardware and software diagnostic tool. All software included in UBCD4Win are freeware utilities for Windows®. UBCD4Win is based on Bart's PE©. Bart's PE© builds a Windows® "pre-install" environment CD, basically Windows® booted from CD. We include many free hardware and software diagnostic tools that allow you to fix almost any problem you will face with your computer. With network support, the ability to modify NTFS volumes, recover deleted files, create new NTFS volumes, scan hard drives for viruses, etc. this project includes almost everything you need to repair your system problems. This project has been put together to be the ultimate recovery cd and not a replacement OS (Operating System). Please visit the "List of Tools" page for a complete list of what is included in the latest version of the project.


You need the Ultimate Boot CD if you want to:

Run floppy-based diagnostic tools from CDROM drives. More and more PCs are shipped without floppy drives these days, and it is such a royal pain when you need to run diagnostic tools on them.

Free yourself from the slow loading speed of the floppy drive. Even if you do have a floppy drive, it is still much much faster to run your diagnostic tools from the CDROM drive, rather than wait for the tool to load from the floppy drive.

Consolidate as many diagnostic tools as possible into one bootable CD. Wouldn't you like to avoid digging into the dusty box to look for the right floppy disk, but simply run them all from a single CD? Then the Ultimate Boot CD is for you!

When you boot up from the CD, a text-based menu will be displayed, and you will be able to select the tool you want to run. The selected tool actually boots off a virtual floppy disk created in memory.

Ultimate Boot CD has tools in the following categories:
Hard Disk Installation, Hard Disk Diagnosis, Hard Disk Device Management, Hard Disk Wiping, Hard Disk Cloning, Hard Disk Sector Editing, Partition Tools, Boot Managers, File Tools, NTFS Tools, System Burn-in Test, CPU Test, Memory Test, Peripherals Test, CPU Information, System Information, Benchmark Applications, BIOS Utilities, DOS Boot Disks, Antivirus Tools, Network Tools.


What is BartPE and PE Builder?

Bart's PE Builder helps you build a "BartPE" (Bart Preinstalled Environment) bootable Windows CD-Rom or DVD from the original Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 installation/setup CD, very suitable for PC maintenance tasks.

It will give you a complete Win32 environment with network support, a graphical user interface (800x600) and FAT/NTFS/CDFS filesystem support. Very handy for burn-in testing systems with no OS, rescuing files to a network share, virus scan and so on.
This will replace any Dos bootdisk in no time!

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A good freebie is http://spiceworks.com/ 

HW and SW Inventory, knowledge base, Help Desk, Alerts, Triggers etc. etc.  No agent.
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Sysinternals products. Mostly filemon and regmon and their new process mon which combines the two. Also process explorer.

If you work on the same machines regularly, a remote control app is nice. pcanywhere, or VNC.

The Mike Tech Show podcast recently did a show on this topic. Go have a listen to it.
(show #156)
SpeedFan - Access temperature sensor in your computer

Memory problems

Memtest86.com - Memory Diagnostic

Microsoft Online Crash Analysis

For Blue Screen problems....

The Offline Crash Diagnostic tool for Windows XP is available

BSOD Hell & How to Fix it

If you get Dumps, then the Windows Debugger is usually adequate to read the crash dumps...Takes a little practice though....


Use the Microsoft Symbol Server to obtain debug symbol files
(so you dont need the full symbol packages for each OS, and SP....)

Some of the most basic commands....

!analyze -v

Should be enough to get you started....Use the built in help feature of WinDbg, its a great resource...

sorry to say, I use none of the above.  The way you get yourself proficient with all the MS OSs that have come out since DOS 2.11 is to manually and intellectually debug the problems in them.  The more you use utilities, the less you learn about the true underpinnings of the OS, from an operational standpoint.

Sure, utilities can sometimes spot and fix problems, but for example, my experience with the "venerable"  Norton Utilities is that they more often trashed a disk than saved it, so I spent 3x -10x longer trying to repair the damage that Norton did, just from myopic programming.  IF you want spotty, supposedly quick results, rely on utilities to do your thinking for you.  IF you want to learn the root of the problems, debug it yourself.

Sure that's a hard nuts approach, but if you want to be a guru with PCs 10 years from now, consider it!!
Ennergidsk, any feedback?
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System Utilities

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