Windows Tip Sheet

Get the Support You Need

Windows Support tools -- the Swiss Army knife of your network toolbox.

When I was consulting and building servers for clients, I tried to use automated and unattended builds wherever possible. That’s a nice tip, but not the one I want to talk about.

No, my tip this week is to install Windows Support tools on your servers. These tools are included on the installation CD and are often invaluable when troubleshooting a problem. Especially when setting up new domain controllers, having ready access to NLTEST.EXE, NETDIAG.EXE and DNSCMD.EXE was critical.

If you want to go back and install the files, find your install CD and navigate to the Support\Tools folder. Install SUPTOOLS.MSI. For my unattended installs I added a command under the GUIRunOnce section to execute SUPTOOLS.MSI –Q, which performs a quiet install. Because the file that's created is an MSI file, you should be able to deploy it to your servers using Group Policy. But obviously, test that deployment like you would any GPO.

Once installed, the server has the tools it needs when a problem arises and we don’t have to go looking for the CD or try to download files. When I’m in a bind, I like having everything I might need at my fingertips.

When Support Tools is installed, it is added to your path so you can access the utilities from anywhere. I strongly encourage you to become familiar with at least these commands:

  • Netdom
  • Netdiag
  • NLTest
  • WhoAmI
  • XCacls
Tech Help—Just An
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Got a Windows, Exchange or virtualization question or need troubleshooting help? Or maybe you want a better explanation than provided in the manuals? Describe your dilemma in an e-mail to the MCPmag.com editors at editor@mcpmag.com; the best questions get answered in this column and garner the questioner with a nifty Redmond T-shirt.

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You can see help for all of these command by running the program and /? from a command prompt. You should also be able to find instruction under Help & Support.

I have found that many server and networking problems can be quickly diagnosed and sometimes fixed, with these tools. Think of the support tools as your server’s Swiss Army knife; carefully pocketed until needed.

About the Author

Jeffery Hicks is an IT veteran with over 25 years of experience, much of it spent as an IT infrastructure consultant specializing in Microsoft server technologies with an emphasis in automation and efficiency. He is a multi-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP Award in Windows PowerShell. He works today as an independent author, trainer and consultant. Jeff has written for numerous online sites and print publications, is a contributing editor at Petri.com, and a frequent speaker at technology conferences and user groups.

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