IT Tool Kit

Software, Web Sites and Documents

Updated on August 31, 2012. Most of the information is still valid, but some links have changed and, wow, a reference to Xmarks. Loved it, but has since moved on to Google Chrome and bookmark syncing.

Over time I visit various web sites for documents, references, or software as needed. Using Google Chrome as my primary browser and the bookmark sync capability, my bookmarks follow me from system to system, and a plethora of USB sticks provide access to boot disks and other software. For my colleagues and others, here’s a breakdown of the tools I use.

Top 10

What I consider, at this time, to be the top 10 most referenced, used, or critical items:

  1. Microsoft Security Essentials – Virus, spyware and malware for Windows use, no spam, no toolbars installed (I’m looking at you AVG). The first piece of software installed on a new or cleaned system.
  2. KeePass – Combined with Dropbox, where the password database resides and a very strong 20+ character password, this is where all my login credentials are stored and managed.
  3. TeamViewer – Multi-platform remote view and control tool
  4. DBAN  (Darik’s Boot and Nuke ) – Hard disk eraser which  allows for wiping drives prior to resell and disposal
  5. UBCD (Ultimate Boot CD) – 100+ tools on a CD or USB bootable media
  6. PuttyThe free SSH/Telnet Client for Windows
  7. VirtualBox – Free x86 virtualization for Windows, OS X, and Linux
  8. HijackThis – Quick spyware tool #2, used to catch things the others don’t
  9. DropBox – Synced storage across multiple systems and via the web
  10. FireFox or Google Chrome – Alternate browsers when Internet Explorer or Safari don’t quite cut it

Microsoft Windows

Let’s face it. Microsoft Windows has the largest install base, and with that comes a whole bunch of tools needed to debug and troubleshoot. In no particular order:

  1. ImgBurn – Lightweight tool to burn ISO images and data to CD and DVDs. Much less overhead than others (I’m looking at you Nero).
  2. KeePass (Portable KeePass) – I store the portable version on DropBox, making it available to all of my DropBox enabled Windows systems.

Apple OS X

With it’s UNIX underpinnings, OS X actually comes with a bunch of tools by default. Most of these are simply ones I use to enhance the OS X experience:

  1. Growl – On-screen and network based notification utility
  2. KeePassX – The client for accessing and managing the KeePass database under OS X. I had been using the Mono client to run the portable version of KeePass, but performance and lack of cut-paste was an issue.


With a couple scripting languages and an IDE, even if a tool doesn’t exist, you can create it yourself!

  1. Eclipse – I know, it’s Java-based. However, being cross-platform it suites my infrequent development tasks. Plugins for PHP, Pythin, Perl, etc. beyond the fully featured Java development environment.

Networking & Security

These tools are the core for troubleshooting or protecting networks:

  1. Wireshark – Packet capture and protocol analyzer. I’m still amazed at how powerful this free tool is compared to the expensive offerings out there.
  2. pfSense – My favorite free embedded, virtual or PC firewall.
  3. GNS3 – The best tool to mock up Cisco networks. Also a great tool for certification study.

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