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Cool ideas for your utilities: Can I pick your brain?

Please share with me your utility favorites.

Here's the deal:
I want to make sure, I get the best utilities to make my job easier. So, I am going to evaluate your utility favorites and may/may not impliment them on my domain. I am making this a 500 pt question because I am hoping to share points between the comments.

I have two domain controllers (either 2003 or 2008 server Std edition) that service a site. Then there is one (2003 server) security server/backup server, and about 50 computers on that site with a mixture of XP Pro and Vista. But, I have 22 sites.

These are my favorites so far:
--I use Symmtime on each PDCe to synch my servers to an outside time source. Then I set up flags to make the PDCe the authoritative time server for the domains.
-- on the same site I have domain time check. that monitors my time servers and how the domain is syncrhonized to them.
--I use Event Sentry to monitor event logs. I am just getting my feet wet on this utility, and I like what I see so far.
--I use the server's services for group policy and GPMC, WSUS, AD, DNS, DHCP, and like centralizing it under MMC console.
--I love this free utility called Angry IPscan that will check IPs and ports to those IPs on a IP space or on an individual computer.
--I use Harris Stat scan to scan my system for security vulnerabilities and *really* like it.
--I use Acronis enterprise addition to backup my datar and have experienced very good luck with it. This one I won't sway from.
--I love sysinternals "process monitor" to check for CPU usage, but would like a domain-based utility for monitoring CPU usage.
--I also like "speedfan" for monitoring CPU core temperatures, but would like a domain tool for warning me if the core temp on one computer is a bit high.

This is what I need most of all: (in order)
1) I need the ability to scan the network for network inventory of software and hardware, while also looking at MS product keys for the possibility of duplicate keys that are not my volume licenses. I know Belar advisor does this, but they want a fortune to cover us on this utility.

2) I need ideas for network troubleshooting:
Currently I rely upon the server support utilities. with netdom, dcdiag, netdiag, ping, portquery, browstat, nbtstat, ect...... But there is a limit to their capabilities. Have any ideas on this?

3) I would like something that looks at the domain shares and tells me the permissions on them. I saw one called tree. I am looking for something similar.

4) Is ther any cool utilities I missed?

So, let me pick your brain.

Please help me keep within the tiny budget and focus more on site or domain utilities if you can.

Thanks!
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Brian PiercePhotographer
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Awarded 2007
Top Expert 2008
Commented:
for your inentory requirements try Spiceworks http://www.spiceworks.com/?gclid=CJ34udWF2pUCFRMmQgodwxM7YA or lansweeper http://www.lansweeper.com/

Author

Commented:
Thank you KCTS:

I heard a lot of good word on spiceworks. That is one of the first I am going to try out.

Looking for more ideas and will assign poinks.
Brian PiercePhotographer
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Awarded 2007
Top Expert 2008
Commented:
I assume you are familiar with the other sysinternals tools http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/default.aspx

ShareEnum and  AccessChk especilally could be useful

And there is always SystemTools especially DumpSec  http://www.systemtools.com/free.htm
Commented:
-for comprehensive inventory try the integration of open source software OCS inventory (http://www.ocsinventory-ng.org/) with GLPL(http://www.glpi-project.org/spip.php?lang=en)

- for troublshooting you will admire ultravnc single click (http://www.uvnc.com/addons/singleclick.html) it will let you show off and amaze users. it bypasses firewalls and NAT and the user is the one who will connect to u.
Most Valuable Expert 2014
Commented:
The one absolutely fantastic tool for moving, synchronizing and comparing files is Beyond Compare from http://scootersoftware.com/. At $30-50 depending on version, it has been a priceless tool for server and workstation migrations. It has a 30 day free trial.

Angry IPScan is great as you've mentioned.

Grab the Context editor for writing up your wsf files. http://www.contexteditor.org/

A great open source for PDF is the PDFCreator:  http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/ It puts out the files as text, not some strange characters so it is searchable.

Author

Commented:
@KCTS:
I am familiar with sysinternals. BUT, I have never really looked at them as I should have done. These sound great:
ShareEnum and  AccessChk

@Khaledf:
I am not familiar with UVNC. I am looking at it, now.
I looked at the OCS and GLPL software, and I do think this is something to compare with spiceworks. One feature it seems to have it the ability to deploy software. Rather than deploy it through GPOs, I am digging that idea. I wonder if either will spit this data out to excell spreadsheets?

Still looking for a CPU usage monitor for domain computers. I really like sysinternals process monitor, just wish it had domain capabilities. And now that it was brought up, anything for software deployment?

Good Ideas so far:

Here is a couple of my favorites for you:
On the same site: http://www.ntp-systems.com/product_software.asp
Symtime: (synchronizes a machine system clock to the outside world) Free download
Domain time check: (checks how synchronized you are) Free download
(They will ask for your info, but will not spam you or share your info)

Unlocker: http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/Unlocker-Download-68439.html
helps you delete locked folders or files






tigermattSite Reliability Engineer
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Most Valuable Expert 2011
Commented:
For Software Deployment, I'd recommend that you make use of pushing MSI files through Group Policies, or if you need more functionality, you would need to buy into something like Microsoft's SCCM (Systems Center Configuration Manager) product, which has reporting capabilities and more features than pushing through GPO.

I'd highly recommend that you keep and make use of Unlocker. In those situations where a process did not shut down cleanly, or whatever, Unlocker has often saved the day without a need to restart a server or a client workstation. A big time saver, if anything.

Thirdly, I'd recommend you take a look at Ycopy. This program allows you to copy files and folders around, but unlike Windows, if it encounters a problem copying a particular file, it won't crash the whole procedure. Instead it will simply log file(s) which failed to copy and continue copying, so you can later investigate the few files which errored. Free download from http://www.ruahine.com/download.html - if you scroll to the bottom of that page, you can also download the individual files (you want ycopy.exe), and if you have that, the program doesn't even need installing.

-tigermatt
Commented:
have you also tried KeePass Password Safe (http://keepass.info/) to organise your password. I like it and it is quite secure. it has a portable version as well.

Author

Commented:
@ khaledf: LOL

You brought up a good point. The IT sec. folks are starting to require a mandatory 16 alpha/numeric/special charactor complex password. I am already starting to loose it, when it comes to remembering my passwords.

LMAO: the funny thing is I am seeing more and more sticky post-it notes on folks machines with username and passwords on them. Isn't that defeating the purpose? WHY DON'T POLICY MAKERS THINK OF SUCH THINGS?
KeePass Password Safe (http://keepass.info/)

_________________________________________________________________________

@Tigermatt

I am definately going to look @ Y-copy. Sounds better than x-copy and SCCM, that I never heard of.

_________________________________________________________________
@jimpen

I am definately going to look at Beyond compare: And, how did you know I needed a PDF creator?

Excellent stuff:
_________________________________________________________________________________
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Here is a few more of my favorites:
Open office:
I have a volume license disk for office, but periodically someone comes in and asks for office when they can't afford the $400 dollar retail value. That's where I point them to open office and tell them to purchase office when they get a chance. Open office will do just about anything MS office will do. It is an open source program. I am sure you all heard of it.

Hijackthis:
You probably all heard about it. The cool thing is it's an executable and I haven't found it interfering with othe spyware programs. So, you can run two spyware programs at once.

UPHclean:(Universal Profile Hive Cleanup, I think is what that stands for)
Cleans up profiles on a machine. I wish it was capable of cleaning computers domain wide.

Stinger: (from McAfee)
A utility that checks your computers from the most common viruses. I haven't used this in a while, you could run this on a group of computers, if I remember right.
________________________________________________________________________________
I am looking for one last thing:
Anything to detect and maybe remove peer to peer sharing programs, like limewire, skype, and itunes?
And I use to have a $10k program that was called snifferpro that monitored and checked bandwidth usage on the entire network. Anything like that for all of my sites?
-AllwaySync:  a good (free) file/folder/ftp sync program  (http://www.allwaysync.com)
-LookAtLan:  free network scanning program that will give you a lot of info (http://www.lookatlan.com)
-WireShark:  free (open source) packet sniffer (http://www.wireshark.org)
-Password Safe:  another good free password program (http://passwordsafe.sourceforge.net)
-Synergy:  great free program if you have two or more computers side-by-side and want to control all from one kb & mouse - without buying a kvm switch (http://synergy2.sourceforge.net)
-PuTTY:  a must-have if you support Linux/Unix/anything else you access with telnet, ssh, etc.  (http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html)
-Remote Administrator (http://www.radmin.com) and/or TeamViewer (http://www.teamviewer.com): two good remote access programs; RAdmin has good speed and "phonebook" capability, but requires open ports (router modifications) for access from outside LAN.  Teamviewer works similar to WebEx & GoToMyPC, i.e. no router setup (uses TeamViewer's internet servers to broker connections; good for laptops or temporary access)
-CCleaner (Crap Cleaner):  good free program to clean out the junk (http://www.ccleaner.com)
-Alex Nolan has a number of cool utilities, including "DisableXPFirewall", which is a simple little executable (no install) to turn on/off the XP Firewall (http://www.alexnolan.net/software/disable_xp_firewall.htm)

This is just a small sample of the tools in our "cocktail".  You may also want to look into a bootable CD suite of tools, such as Hiren's BootCD (http://www.hiren.info/pages/bootcd).

For bandwidth monitoring, we have in the past used PRTG:  http://www.paessler.com/prtg

Hope you find something you like in there.

:)
Commented:
forgot to mention (http://www.autoitscript.com/autoit3/) for automating the Windows GUI and general scripting

Author

Commented:
Very excellent, everyone!

I am going to close this out before points get too thin.

I think I might revisit this one to get some more pointers. I found a bunch of new tools that show promise!

On a question like this, where there are no wrong aswers, I divided up the poinks evenly. Five different folks, 500 points, 100 for each of you. (If you posted more than once I divided your points between your posts for a total of 100 points for you.)

Thanks again and look for this posting: (I am narrowing down the possibilities. So, it will get harder. You all took care of my #1 priority, and a couple others I didnt' think about asking for.)

Very nice!

Look for: Cool ideas for your utilities: Can I pick your brain #2?

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