The (Windows) Admin’s Toolkit

From time to time, we’ll be adding stories to a series on the software tools and utilities we use regularly to help us get our jobs done. We do this on the theory that if they help us, they might help you, too. We also request that you share your faves with us through comments on these posts, so we can keep expanding the pool of tools we use to rule our desktops, networks, and working lives. Remember: cool tools rule! Most of the tools we cover will be free (or include a no-cost version), though some do cost money. We promise not to recommend anything that’s not worth the price of admission — to us, anyway.

The series kicks off with a pair of Ed’s personal favorites:
1. The Sysinternals Suite: based on work from Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell back as far as the 1990s, these utilities help shed more light on Windows inner workings than just about any other collection I know about. I had the pleasure of writing for Winternals in the early 2000s, the company that created this stuff. Microsoft liked this company so much, in fact, that they bought the company back in 2006 (here’s the MSDN blog post announcing that buy).
NirSoft NirLauncher: a console for launching some 200 or so utilities from the incredibly fertile mind and fingers of Israeli developer Nir Sofer and his nearly-eponymous company, There are more utilities here than you could play with in a working month’s worth of weekdays. Lots of incredibly useful tools, of which I mention my most favorite in the discussion. AFAIK, Microsoft hasn’t bought NirSoft yet, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

As I look at other tools I use all the time, here are some I plan to add to this series looking further out:
1. Josh Cell Software Uncleaner {Added on Jan 11’18}
2. HomeDev PatchCleaner {Added on Mar 21’18]
3. Macrium Reflect Free
DriverStore Explorer (aka RAPR.exe) {Added on Jan 12’18}
Kyhi’s Rescue Disk {Added Mar 29’18}
6. Uwe Sieber’s 
Device Cleanup Tool {Added on Mar 22’18}
7. voidtools (Search) Everything {Added on Mar 23’18}
[NEW added Dec 24’17]
8. Windows Update MiniTool (WUMT) {Added on Apr 14’18} See Windows Update Manager (WUMgr) instead (added November 12, 2018)
9. MiniTool Partition Wizard (MTPW) {Added on Apr 17’18}
10. MiniTool Power Data Recovery (MTPDR) ($) {Added on Sep 13’18}
11. Gabe Topala’s Software Information for Windows (SIW Home$) {Updated October 23’19}
12. WinDirStat {Added October 23’19} [New Added Jan 11’18] [Deprecated August 26, 2020]
13. 8GadgetPack {Recreated on October 10, 2019}
14. Start10($)
15. Filezilla
16. Chocolatey (replaced Ninite at Kari’s suggestion, added on June 3, 2019)
17. Treesize Free
[New Added Jan 17’18]
18. KLS Software’s Windows System Control Center (WSCC) [Thanks to mystery site member John Galt]
19. Crystal Dew World’s CrystalDiskMark and CrystalDiskInfo (watch out for adware add-ins!)
[New Added Aug 3’19]
20. ShowKeyPlus (added on August 3, 2019)
[New Added Jul 29’19]
21. Resplendence Software Project’s LatencyMon (Added July 29, 2019)
[New Added Apr 28’19]
22. Longpanda’s Ventoy bootable installer tool (Added April 28, 2020: download from maker’s site is unbelievably underprovisioned; now available from GitHub)
23. Antibody Software’s WizTree (Added August 26, 2020)

[Note: items with a dollar sign, $, cost money to use.]

This list will expand over time, so please: stay tuned! I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, and I’m hopeful that my partner Kari, and our budding reader base will have more to suggest, too.


Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.