Troubleshooting Tools: Best of the Best
Readers weigh in on their favorite admin tools.
Over the last few weeks, I have been conducting a poll of administrators'
favorite troubleshooting tools. While many of the tools I found may not
surprise you, there may be a few that are new to you.
Here are the tools that your fellow administrators loved most:
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When you need to see exactly what's happening with network traffic, no
tool is better. I have been using Ethereal over the last couple of weeks
to nail down the cause of Cisco VoIP phone disconnects over a VPN connection.
-- This tool was described in my article "Bottleneck
Battle." Netperf can give you an instant network throughput value
in Mbps between two points on your network. It's ideal for determining
if a network bottleneck is application-related or network-related.
Boot CD -- It's hard to beat a free bootable repair CD, and the
Ultimate Boot CD has just about everything you need to repair a system.
It includes several bootable antivirus scanners, hard disk diagnostic
tools from nearly all major disk vendors, disk cloning and partitioning
tools, CPU and memory testing, benchmarking tools, and system information
-- These have long been your go anywhere, find anything Windows diagnostic
tools. Filemon and Regmon are great at finding file and Registry access
related hangs. For examples on how these tools are used, read "The
Case of the Mysterious Driver" or "The
Case of the Intermittent (And Annoying) Explorer Hangs" from
the Sysinternals blogs. [Editor's note: Microsoft recently announced
that they acquired Sysinternals. Click here
to read the story.]
-- This is a great place to go when you need to track down the cause
of a mysterious event in the Windows event logs. From the site, all you
need is the event ID number associated with a particular event and you're
on your way.
Top 100 Network Security
Tools -- For security auditing and troubleshooting, this site
provides links to most of the best tools out there. I would go ahead and
list every tool on this site in this article, but that would cause my
editor to have to put in more overtime than he already does.
-- This is a very simple remote desktop control tool, which requires
no software installation. I recently wrote about this one in the article
Control with Gencontrol."
-- This tool shows all inbound and outbound port connections in real
time. It also lets you terminate a process that's executing an outbound
connection and can perform DNS lookups of remote IP addresses.
-- Look@LAN is an easy-to-use network monitoring tool with a nice
-- This tool lets you monitor the status of up to 3 servers for free
and more if you purchase additional licensing. With ServerCheck, you can
monitor and report on OS status and performance, mail or web server status,
and database server status. The tool also supports email and IM alerts.
Tools -- To be fair, I can't ignore the troubleshooting tools
that are provided by Microsoft. This link includes information on the
free supporting tools for Windows Server 2003.
For me, the more tools that I have or know about, the better off I am.
You never know what you're going to need on any given day to fix a problem.
My brother-in-law seems to get by on duct tape as his only tool. One day
when I told him that his RAM was broken, he replied "Can't we just
duct tape it back together?" While I may never convince him to use
any of these tools, hopefully you'll find some of them helpful.
I'm sure I probably left a couple off the list, so if I missed your favorite,
post a link to it as a comment to this article.