My day to day job as IT Helpdesk Engineer requires a lot of fault finding on customer systems, especially Windows based. In this post I’ll run through some of the tools which I use the most to fault find these issues and to save time (which is always a good thing).

Microsoft SSL Diagnostics Tool
Can be downloaded here, it provides an easy way of fault finding SSL certificate issues in IIS and it provides human readable output.

Test Exchange Connectivity
Bundled as part of Microsoft Exchange 2007 and upwards this tool allows diagnostic of end-to-end scenarios, which goes through each and every step of incomming and outgoing mail. If you are still running Exchange 2003 then the same tool can be found here.

Microsoft Sys Internals
Created by Mark Russinovich this set of tools (which the list goes on for ever) will allow in depth fault finding, diagnostics and generally a whole lot of time saving. Docs and downloads can be found here.

Can be run from the command line. Gives you a whole load of information about the computer such as OS version, memory etc. Tip: Very very handy for finding the uptime of the machine.

Lets face it that Windows blue screens arn’t very human readable. Use this tool to read the minidump files. It can be downloaded from here.

When doing RDP sessions onto multiple servers during the day it can be difficult to find the correct server in your taskbar. This tool allows “tabbed” windows, much like firefox. Also it has a favourites section which allows you to create a list of customer servers and you can export it for another engineer to use. RDTabs can be found here.

Microsoft’s automation framework which allows you to do a number of automation tasks through the command line such as creating users in Active Directory. Powershell is bundled with Server 2008 upwards, but can be downloaded from here.

A free and better alternative to Windows Notepad. Can be downloaded here.

Free SSH client for Windows if you ever need to work on *nix boxes. Can be downloaded from here.

Can be run from the command line. Very usefull if you need to get serial numbers from Dell servers and computers. Official bumf can be found here.

PC Login Now
Is a bootable linux CD which can be used to “blank” a local user password on a computer if you need to get access if a user doesn’t know the password. ISO can be downloaded from here.

HFS Explorer
A free tool which can be installed onto Windows and be used to read Mac filesystems in Windows. Runs on Java, can be found here.

Linux Live CD
Such as Linux Mint or Damn Small Linux, can be used to read Windows Filesystems if you need to retrieve data from a Windows machine which isn’t booting.

Nirsoft Produkey
Sometimes product keys get lost and you need a way to retrieve them from a computer before re-installing Windows. Please note that sometimes Antivirus products can give a false positive reading. don’t be alarmed by this a unblock it. Product keys can then be saved to a text file for future use. It can be downloaded here.

Use this tool to get rid of any Malware which may be lurking on thre computer. Malwarebytes can be downloaded here.

Google – The most useful tool of all!