Thursday, July 28th, 2011 at 3:46pm

The system administrator tools you can’t live without

Posted by Jordan Erickson

ToolsLet’s face it – like any other practice, there are certain “tools” you simply cannot live without when you’re a sysadmin.

I was taught early on by an old boss that you shouldn’t EVER go anywhere without your tools. At the time, I was working as one of two I.T. people at a local bank with 5 branches. A couple of the banks were in town, the others were about 45-60 minutes away. If you drove out to help someone, and realized you left a certain tool back at the office (usually because you didn’t anticipate needing it), it wouldn’t be a very fun visit.

Over the years I’ve fine-tuned my technician toolset. It’s perfect for me. I won’t go as far to say that these are all absolute essentials for *any* sysadmin/technician, but anyone in this field will undoubtedly nod their heads at least a few times when looking at most of my tools.

Here’s my little, off-the-top-of-my-head list:

+ Phillips screwdriver (battery-powered electric, preferably!)
+ small screw/jumper set
+ Label maker
+ Zip-ties (and a diagonal cutter!)
+ RJ-45 crimpers (and ends, and a nice big spool of cable)
+ Flashlight
+ Electrical tape
+ Bent paperclip (for ejecting those stubborn CD/DVD-ROM trays! …or if you turn the system off and forgot 😉 )
+ “Grabber” (those little syringe-looking deals with the three ‘fingers’ that grab screws from hard to reach places)
+ A large capacity USB flash drive (and, if needed, a higher capacity USB external hard disk)
+ A laptop (or at least a smartphone for accessing the net / testing things from a separate network)

And, of course, we can’t forget our software tools…

+ A Linux rescue CD (I usually use a normal Debian install disc, or Knoppix)
+ VNC!!!
+ CCleaner (and Defraggler!)
+ Spybot SD (and HiJackThis!)
+ Avast! Free Antivirus install
+ PuTTY (and WinSCP!)
+ Various OS Install CDs (for replacing those pesky corrupted system files, or booting to a recovery console)
+ nt_pass

There ya go! I’m sure I’m missing a few things…

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