List of 21 Vital (but Free) Systems Admin Utilities - Part I

Published by Shannon VanWagner at 16:23PM on 07/31/07

Want to un-Break some computer systems? Checkout my list of 21 powerful System Administration tools and be the Fix-It Master! I've used these tools quite often over the years as an IT Professional and so I thought I'd get a list of them posted out there for everyone to see (Houdini SysAdmin please forgive me) . Whether you are trying to recover from a forgotten system password, gleaning data from a dying hard drive, cloning systems for mass distribution, or simply testing your network for vulnerabilities, these tools will help put a smile on your(or your users/boss/etc.) face. All of the tools are free to download and most are free for personal use. If you see a tool that you like, checkout the website where it came from, you'll probably find more tools. Also, if you find a tool that really helps you out of a bind, consider making a donation to the author of the tool (if they take donations). My Thanks goes out to those that work extra hard to give us such awesome free utilities. Oh and of course many Thanks to Linux(The best idea for an OS on the Earth) and all those who make Linux what it is (Free as in Freedom that is). Try Linux today.. set yourself free!!

  1. Knoppix - Awesome Linux Operating System on a single bootable CD or DVD (LiveCD). This distro includes many disk/networking tools that can be used to recover data from a failing hard drive. Automounts Windows filesystems and provides network connectivity for many systems.

  2. nLite - So all you have is a Windows XP SP1 disk and you don't want to have to load SP2 and all the Hotfixes everytime you use it? Enter nLite... nLite lets you create a new customized .iso of your Windows installation disk with drivers(e.g., sata)/hotfixes/service packs slipstreamed into it. Also lets you highly customize(down to showing hidden files and showing extensions for known file types) a Windows XP/2003 disk that you create. This utility is awesome!!

  3. BartPE - Awesome bootable OS cd creation kit that enables you to access a computer without booting to the hard drive. Many utilities built into the BartPE OS, including a simple file management utility for navigating/editing the contents of your hard drive (ntfs partitions), partitioning util (diskpart), and networking components for connecting with other computers on the network (e.g., to copy files or image the hard drive). BartPE also has many great plugins for example: Password Renew for nt by sala, which enables you to reset any Windows user password on the local machine. Many more plugins here and here.

  4. Crossloop - Quickly and Easily connect to and share the desktop of any Internet-connected computer. Great for helping remote users. Compares to WebX but is much cheaper to use(as in free).

  5. Offline NT(XP) Password recovery Util- Reset that Windows XP Password and edit the registry of a hard disk containing Windows XP.

  6. GParted Linux LiveCD- Create/Expand/Shrink/Divide all popular types of partitions. I used this util to shrink my home computer Windows partition to make space for installing Kubuntu Linux. The GUI is great. Just burn the .iso to a cdrom then boot to it. Like Partition Magic but at a better price (as in free) and seems to work faster.

  7. DriveImageXML - Ghost-Like program to image your hard drive. Great utility to backup your whole system for easy recovery. Also comes as a plugin to the BartPE cdrom kit mentioned in #3 above.

  8. Advanced Port Scanner - Scan a single IP or group of IP addresses to see if there are ports open. Great testing util to see if your server is open for connections to a specific service.

  9. Angry IP Scanner - quickly scan your subnet for live IP addresses, hostnames, and mac addresses. Great util to see what's on your network.

  10. nmap - Linux based port scanner / security util, see open ports. Example: nmap -sP will scan the 10.10.10.x subnet for ICPM(PING) response and return active hosts. Comes with Knoppix and Knoppix-STD.

  11. ISO Recorder v 2 - Powertoy create iso, burn iso, and copy disks from the right-click in Windows XP/Server 2003 compliments of Alex Feinman.

  12. DeepBurner Free-Great Free Cd burning util for CD/DVD, burns iso files and can make bootable disks. Check the download section for the free version.

  13. bbie - BartPE util to extract boot(.ima) images from a cdrom. Use the .ima files to create bootable disks with DeepBurner.

  14. cdimage - util to create a bootable ISO image from a network copy of Windows.

  15. Wake-on-LAN - Free utility to send the "Magic Packet" to wake up a computer via the mac address on your LAN.

  16. Recuva - Recover deleted data that's beyond the reach of your trashbin from your hard drive.

  17. SecureDelete - Securely erase data from a directory permanently. Use this to permanently remove files you don't want others to retrieve from your hard drive.

  18. DeleteUnused - Erase data from your hard drive. Just because you delete something, doesn't mean it's gone from your hard drive. Use this utility to scrub a hard drive from sensitive information.

  19. Magic Jelly Bean - Displays your Windows/Office Product Key. Useful for identifying which Volume copy(or other installation type) of Windows a system is running. Hey, some people don't like to make the trip back to the file cabinet to see what their Volume License key is when they're building a new server.

  20. Knoppix STD Linux Security Distro - Tons of tools on this one from secure deletion to network monitoring to forensics to XP password changing capabilites.

  21. SystemRescueCD Linux LiveCD - Bootable Linux OS that contains many great tools including: partimage(disk imaging), sfdisk(partitition editor), ntfs3g(mount ntfs partitions read/write), testdisk(check and undelete partitions), networking tools, etc.

  22. UBCD4WIN "Ultimate Boot CD 4 Windows" - BartPE like, Windows-based, System Utils CD Compilation that will let you perform all types of repairs to your System. Includes, password renew by Sala, partition editors, utils for secure disk-wipe, partition editors, Antivirus utils, Data Recovery, the list goes on and on. Awesome Util!

  23. Kubuntu Linux - Ok so this isn't necessarily a Systems Admin utility. But actually most distros of Linux are Systems Admin utilities anyways. Besides, no good article is complete without mentioning a great operating system.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have some feedback or suggestions for some great Systems Admin utilities of your own.

Shannon VanWagner