Top 10 Troubleshooting Tools for System Admins

sys admin tools

Some of the biggest and the most prominent fire-drills that arise for system admins are the issues associated with troubleshooting system. Without the right tools, it can be practically impossible to track down the origin of faults,  fix the problem and prevent problems in the future. Fortunately, there are some troubleshooting tools available that should help system admins to identify the cause and fix problems as quickly as possible. As admins, you can either use the tools yourselves or provide them to users who are experiencing an issue, so that they can gather the right data and triage the problems.

  1. Microsoft Solution Center (Fix It)

The solution center for Microsoft, Fix it, is an online tool that helps users to quickly identify and assess the most common issues in a system. You simply enter in symptoms, then you will be given the option to download an executable which will automatically fix the issue, or go to a relevant article that explains what the recommended workaround could be. To use the fix it center, simply open the tool in a web browser, and select your problem area from step one, choose the problem you’re trying to fix in step two, and the solution you want to implement in step three.

  1. Problem Steps Recorder

Hidden in Window7 (and above) is an amazing utility known as the Problem steps recorder, or PSR.exe. This tool can record the interactions that occur, step by step, while the user involved replicates a problem, taking screen shots of each action. After this, it simply bundles the information into a detailed report alongside error logs. This tool is incredibly useful if you have been experiencing issues that you would like to learn more about, or if you intend to make a report that you can send to a third-party vendor for your support case. To launch the recorder, all you need to do is type psr.exe into the start menu and then click “start record”.

  1. Monitor for Reliability

Windows  (Vista and above) come with a tool known as the Reliability Monitor, which allows for a complete overview of a system’s stability, and offers details about the events taking place that can have an impact on reliability. The idea is to pinpoint any challenging areas, and improve reliability based on what is learned.

To run the reliability monitor, simply type “reliability” into your start menu, which will provide you with an option to view the reliability history. Selecting this shortcut  launches the monitor directly. You can start by deciding whether you would like to view the information by weeks or days, then select a particular area in the graph where you can view information on the lower pane. The information that you have viewed can be saved to a file.

  1. Nirsoft NirLauncher

This application works by combining over one hundred and seventy different utilities into one package. The tools that are available here include various recovery tools for passwords, programming tools, internet tools and system tools. All of the different aspects of this application can be used to help improve information gathering and troubleshooting processes.

  1. Windows Error Lookup Tool

When you are troubleshooting certain problems, you might come across STOP, NTSTATUS, HRESULT, or Win32 error codes that could mean absolutely nothing to you at first. By using W-E-L-T you will be able to determine what that code means in Standard English, and the error that it refers to. To launch this program, all you need to do is execute the lookup tool from the folder where W-E-L-T has been extracted. Then, enter your error code into the textbox, and the details will start to appear automatically.

  1. PowerShell Packs for Troubleshooting

The PowerShell pack for troubleshooting that is bundled with Windows 7 and above can be great for helping you to diagnose and troubleshoot errors in a system. They consist of a number of PowerShell scripts that can help you to diagnose the various aspects of your clients, servers or network. It is possible to access different packages for use on networks, printers, power and performance.

  1. WinAudit

As key step in troubleshooting a system, you are likely to collect as much detail about the machine as possible since it provides valuable on programs installed, and recent activities, which could give some indication on where the problem may be taking place, so that you can find a solution faster. WinAudit can be used to scan the entirety of your computer and gather a wide range of information about the software that is installed, including error logs, drives, TCP/IP settings and more. To start an audit for your machine, just execute Win-Audit.exe and click on the “Audit” icon.

  1. Microsoft SysInternals Suite

The Microsoft SysInternals suite consists of over sixty different light-weight tools for troubleshooting tools that have all been combined and connected into a single package for downloading. Regardless of the issue that you may be attempting to deal with, you should be able to find a tool somewhere in this package that can help you to diagnose, manage and troubleshoot your applications and system.

  1. Joeware Utilities

Joeware utilities provide a free list of system information utilities and troubleshooting systems that are designed with the aim of making system administrator’s lives easier. These tools were created by a system admin out of his own experience struggling to find a tool that was currently available to do the job for what he was trying to solve. The tools include programs that dump user information out of active directory, perform IP/TCP port testing, and modify a user’s account.

  1. Windows System Control Center

The WSCC tool isn’t specially for troubleshooting, but it can facilitate problem troubleshooting by providing an inventory for a number of different tool suites, such as those from NirSoft and SysInternals. It gives you the tools that you need to update, install, execute and categorize all of your tools in a certain location. Once you launch WSCC for the first time, you will be given the opportunity to download the latest updates for nearly 300 different tools.

 Author: Rahul Sharma

 image courtesy: vectorolie/