15 useful admin tools

15 useful Windows Admin Tools


The Windows OS has one big collection of programs and applications. These utilities provide many types of information on the functions and operations of the computer you are working with. Basically, these are very important computing processes that need supervision for various reasons.

As system administrator, you are given the authority in the control of these programs. This is to ensure the safety of the operations from inadvertent use or from harmful actions from users. Your responsibility can be a single computer with several users, perhaps your own unit, or several computer units network.

As Sysadmin, you are also expected to know the applications. The following are the useful Windows Tools that need your supervision and control.

1. Task Manager

Every system administrator must know the most common tool — the Task Manager. In the Processes tab you get to see a list of running processes, the paths of the executables, how much memory is allocated and more.

Task manager

The processes include apps, background processes and Windows system processes. The Performance tab has charts of CPU utilization, total memory, kernel memory and others.

The Task Manager also manages startup programs, displays the usage graphs, shows your IP address and more. Launching it is still done the old way (pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete or right clicking the taskbar and selecting it).

2. Resource Monitor

In a nutshell, the Resource monitor shows the real-time data feeds of the critical systems in your computer. This utility program comes bundled with Windows 7 and Vista and became available on later versions.

resource monitor

The Overview has a self-updating line graph for the CPU, Disk, Network, and Memory. The CPU in Windows 7 has 4 subsections. The Disk shows the activities in your hard disk drive. Diagnose the slow network action perhaps and check what’s using all your bandwidth. The Memory displays the processes that are using physical memory.

3. Performance Monitor

This utility shows the CPU, memory, disk and network utilization under the Windows NT platforms (Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Win 7 onwards). It has four small graphs that can be configured while the windows can be anchored anywhere.

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It also shows many other useful statistics like the HTTP and the active database connections, the time per disk read, the memory process and many others. As SysAdmin, you can change the program priority for the CPU.

4. Services

This is the app in the Administrator Tools that controls the service processes running on your computer. The two most important to SysAdmin are the start up type (manual or automatic) and the Log On As account.

windows services

The console, can be opened at the Control Panel (“Start> Control Panel> Administrative Tools>Services”) or from the Run dialog box (“Start > Run”) and typing “services.msc” and clicking “OK”.

5. Windows Event Log Viewer

These are the special files of significant events on the computer (logging in, committing an error, etc.) and are read by the Event Viewer. Troubleshooters are aided by these files when solving computer problems (hardware errors, server restarts, blue screen, server hangs, etc).

These events include application events, set-up events, events related to security, forwarded events, and system events. Opening the viewer requires permission and administrator password or confirmation.

6. PsExec

This application does not come with Windows but from Microsoft that allows users to do non-invasive troubleshooting by starting apps on remote computers. One sample could be using MS-DOS tools like IpConfig to view information on a remote Microsoft surface unit.

psexec

It starts an interactive command-prompt Windows and use the IpConfig to show the contents of a remote surface unit.

7. Process Monitor

The Process monitor is an advanced Windows monitoring tool showing real-time file system, the Registry and the process/thread activity. It brings in the features of Filemon and Regmon, two Sysinternals utilities.

Its enhancements include features such as non-destructive filtering, session IDs and user names, process information, thread stacks with operation symbol support, simultaneous logging to a file, and many more.

8. Task Scheduler

This utility enables you to do routine tasks automatically by monitoring the criteria you select to begin the task (triggers). When the criteria are met, you can execute the task.

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task scheduler

You can also create your own: compressing or moving log files, checking for updates, or a regularly-run database cleanup. It can also be used to start an application, send an email message, or displaying a message box.

9. Netstat

Netstat shows the active TCP connections, the ports where the computer is listening, the Ethernet statistics, the IP routing table, and more. When used without parameters, it displays active TCP connections.

If you want to see connections together with the process that created them, you need to run netstat –b. If you want to see current connections and the ports that are listening for incoming connections, run netstat –ab.

10. Wireshark

To view incoming and outgoing network packets, you use Wireshark. An analysis tool, it captures packets in real time and show them in human-readable format. The app includes filters and color-coding among other features.

These would help in inspecting network traffic and individual packets, breaking them down into correct protocol headers and content. You can spy on the entire applications on your computer, and see the servers and the information that are sent and received.

11. RegEdit

This is the utility where you can configure all the things in your computer. This is the place where most of the configuration data for most apps and the operating system still reside.

Registry editor

One of its features is the ability to export and import branches of the registry. (Unless you are very sure of what you’re doing, you do not just tamper the things inside.) The easier tasks include adding legal notices to logins and changing ownership of the computer.

12. Server Monitoring

When keeping track of multiple servers, the best way is to automate the monitoring so there would be no need to babysit them. There are third party utilities that can do the job.

The multiple tasks would include checking for low disk space, CPU usage, event logs, crashed services, Ping responses, alerting, customizable reporting, memory usage, and SNMP, traps and Syslog monitoring, among others.

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13. Password Management

With the utility, you can keep all the user names and passwords, secret notes and other sensitive information (serial numbers of documents, for one) in one database file that is secure. The data are stored as encrypted files and are not for public consumption.

Password manager

At present, the precautions for storing passwords are still the same reliable standards (make them long and insert non-alphanumeric characters). With such stringent measures, you’re bound to forget your password. This is where a good password manager is utilized.

14. Ping and tracert

Ping is the utility to use to determine whether a particular IP address is specific or not. It sends a packet to the address and waits for the reply. It is used to troubleshoot Internet connections. It is also used to check on the speed of the connection (in milliseconds) and how stable it is.

The tracert is a utility that traces a packet from your computer to the target server and shows how many hops it needs to reach the host, and also how long is each hop. It can figure out where the delays are coming from or what network is down.

15. Net.exe and sc.exe

Services carry short “service names” and a descriptive “display name”. They can be used with the net.exe command. These extensions are executable files and care must be taken in assessing whether they are a Trojan (a form of virus) that must be removed or from a trusted application.

The sc.exe (the Service Control command) allows the installation, removal or query services. Running “sc.exe query” lists down all the computer services and their status.

All in all, there are actually several tools not included in this list of 15. However, this compilation comprises some of the important utilities that a System administrator must be well versed of.


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