When it comes to system utilities, tools and diagnostics, savvy system admins know that the good ones are worth...
finding and using. Nir Sofer, a solo programmer, is behind the excellent NirSoft website and the 100-plus tools and utilities he's created since 2001.
The NirLauncher utility is a program that bundles up all of Sofer's super tools and utilities within a single package. It forms a console to run the utilities, as shown here in this truncated view of the top of that application:
Each button at the top of the NirLauncher package shows a different set of tools. For instance, clicking Password Recovery Utilities brings up options like recovering passwords from router config files and Google Chrome (Figure 2).
The column headings ("Name," "Description," "Version," and so forth) can sort the listings: for Figure 2, I sorted by Name (alphabetical order).
I recommend the Wi-Fi items from the Network Monitoring category, and the various sniffing utilities, all of which are informative, easy to use and understand. There are many treasures in the System Utilities category, particularly AppCrashView, BatteryInfoView, BlueScreenView, DriverView, ProduKey, ShellExView and USBDeview, all of which I use regularly, especially when troubleshooting.
Interestingly, Sofer seems aware of his place in the grand scheme of all things Windows, and provides a way to add the SysInternals utilities into NirLauncher. You can find instructions under the "Additional Downloads" sections on the NirLauncher download page for doing just that, along with information on how to add the Joeware free tools, various PiriForm tools (e.g., CCleaner, Defraggler), and more.
NirLauncher comes in the form of a zip file that is just over 2 MB in size. If you unpack the archive onto a USB flash drive, you can use it as a portable installation that you carry with you on the go in any machine into which you insert the flash drive. Most of the utilities also work well if you run them from your console PC, if you remote into other PCs for maintenance and troubleshooting as I often like to do myself. Your mileage may vary on workability, though, so be prepared to have some of the tools refuse to load, and others occasionally hang, when running them remotely. Some experimentation will be needed to figure out which ones work that way, and which ones don't.
As you have time, it makes sense to conduct ongoing experiments with 100-plus tools in the NirLauncher package. If your experience is anything like mine, you'll find such experiments are nearly always fun and interesting, that some will become part of your regular toolbox, and others key elements in your diagnostic and troubleshooting repertoire.
Ed Tittel is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in IT Certification, Windows operating systems, information security, and markup languages, who also occasionally works as a consultant and expert witness. He blogs three times a week for TechTarget at Windows Enterprise Desktop, and also blogs weekly for PearsonITCertification.com (IT Certification Success), Tom's IT Pro and GoCertify.
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