HIDECALC allows you to define the drives to hide or prevent access to. HIDECALC does not apply the change on the system itself, but provides various options for exporting the settings into the following formats:
So here’s how this works.
After hiding the Drive
After just preventing access to the Drive
HIDECALC is FREE and can be downloaded from here
TestDisk allows you to repair boot sectors, recover deleted partitions, fix damaged partition tables, and recover deleted data, as well as copy files from deleted/inaccessible partitions. It works on a number of different file systems including FAT/NTFS/exFAT/ext2.
Note: Bundled with TestDisk is a companion application called PhotoRec. PhotoRec recovers photos, videos and documents from different storage media by going beyond the file system and looking for specific data blocks (i.e. clusters) belonging to the missing file(s).
When you first run TestDisk you are asked to choose whether you want a log file to be created. You are then given a list of partition table types to choose from (this will allow the application to use the correct signature when reading the partitions on all available disks), before being presented with a list of available hard drive partitions to perform a selected action on. The choice of actions you can perform on each partition include:
(1) analysing the partition for the correct structure (and repairing it accordingly if a problem is found)
(2) changing the disk geometry
(3) deleting all data in the partition table
(4) recovering the boot sector
(5) listing and copying files
(6) recovering deleted files
(7) creating an image of the partition
EaseUS Partition Master Free is a partition manager that allows you to resize, move, merge or split paritions, convert disks, recover deleted or lost partitions, check the partition for errors, migrate the OS to another HDD/SSD, perform disk defragmentation, and more.
When you launch EaseUS Partition Master Free, use the operations listed on the left hand pane or the top menu to perform an action against the selected partition(s).
WinDirStat is a disk usage and clean-up utility that allows you to visualize how data is distributed across a disk and what types of data or which locations are hogging up most space.
Once you’ve loaded WinDirStat and chosen which drives you’d like to analyse, you are presented with a tree view of the files and folders contained on each drive as well as a graphical representation showing which files are taking up most space. Clicking on a box within the graphic will display the file in question within the tree view on the left hand pane of the window.
CloneZilla is a disk imaging and cloning tool that is also packaged with Parted Magic but originally available as a standalone tool in two versions; CloneZilla Live and CloneZilla SE (Server Edition). CloneZilla Live is a bootable Linux distribution that allows you to clone individual machines and CloneZilla SE is a package that you install and configure on a Linux distribution that allows you to push images to multiple clients simultaneously over the network.
Using this utility you can mount image files as drive letters and then browse the data directly. OSFMount supports image files such as DD, ISO, BIN, as well as VMWare Images (*.VMDK) and Nero Burning ROM Images (*.NRG). A neat additional feature of OSFMount is its ability to create RAM disks, useful if you want additional security (since everything within RAM will be flushed when the machine is shutdown) or need to store data that requires fast access times (such as browser cache, database files, etc.).
After you run OSFMount, go to File > Mount new virtual disk… to get started. Remember to leave “Read-only drive” checked, otherwise you risk overwriting data within the image you’ve just mounted.
Defraggler is a lightweight yet powerful defragmentation tool that allows you to defrag whole drives or selected files/folders. It has an intuitive interface that helps you to quickly visualize how much of the drive is fragmented and which files are causing most fragmentation.
Once you’ve performed an Analysis of the drive, you can use the Drive map to see which files are fragmented. Hover your mouse over a particular square on the map and click on it to display the files associated with that particular colour (e.g. fragmented, not fragmented, etc.).
SSDLife displays information about your SSD drive, its health status and estimated lifetime – all useful for helping you to plan ahead and take action accordingly.
SSDLife automatically detects the model of your SSD drive and displays information about it instantly upon loading the application.
Tip: Each SSD manufacturer should have their own SSD drive management software which gives information similar to SSDLife Free. For example, the “Intel SSD Toolbox” can be used with the SSD shown in the screenshot above to display health status, detailed device information, and estimated life remaining.
DBAN is a bootable application that forensically wipes hard drives to prevent identity theft. This tool is useful when you are recycling or decommissioning a server/workstation.
The two main options in DBAN are Interactive mode and Automatic mode. Interactive mode allows you to select which drives to wipe and which options to use when wiping them. Automatic mode will automatically wipe all discovered drives – no questions asked!
HD Tune can measure the read/write performance of your HDD/SSD, scan for errors, check the health status and display drive information.
Once you start the application, select the drive from the drop down list and navigate to the appropriate tab to view the information you need or start a scan accordingly.
VeraCrypt is an open-source encryption application that can encrypt entire drives/partitions. It can also create an encrypted volume that appears as a normal file but is only accessible when mounted via VeraCrypt using the provided password. VeraCrypt is built upon the now defunct TrueCrypt but fixes many of the vulnerabilities and security concerns that plagued TrueCrypt.
When you launch VeraCrypt, start by selecting a drive letter and clicking the “Create Volume” button. This will launch the Volume Creation Wizard which walks you through the process of encrypting a partition or creating an encrypted container file.
CrystalDiskInfo is a hard drive health monitoring tool that displays drive information, disk temperature and monitors S.M.A.R.T attributes. CrystalDiskInfo can be configured to trigger an alert (i.e. write to the event log, send an e-mail or make a sound) when a certain threshold is reached, so it can be left to actively monitor the HDD and notify you automatically.
The bar at the top displays all active hard drives. Clicking on each one will display the information for that drive. The Health Status and Temperature icons change colour depending on their value.
In a few simple clicks, Recuva allows you to recover files from your computer that were accidentally deleted or that have become damaged or corrupt. The Quick-Start Wizard walks you through the recovery process by asking a couple of simple questions about what you want to recover and where you want to recover it from and then initiating a quick scan. You can skip the wizard and go straight to the application if you wish.
From the Recuva interface, select the drive to scan from the drop down box on the left hand side, choose a pre-defined file type filter from the drop down box on the right hand side and then click “Scan” to get started. The filters can be edited to add or remove file types by extension. The Options button allows you to modify options such as enabling a Deep Scan (instead of a Quick Scan), changing the viewing mode, as well as increasing the secure overwriting method (how many times to overwrite a block of data).
An alternative to WinDirStat is a lightweight application called TreeSize. TreeSize quickly scans drives or folders and displays the folder sizes in descending order (by default) to help you pinpoint which folders are taking up most space. The NTFS Compression flag can be enabled directly from within the application.
Once installed, TreeSize can also be started from the context menu by right clicking on a drive or folder and selecting “TreeSize Free” which will automatically open an instance of the application and display the details for that drive or folder.
Note: When you have Defraggler, Recuva and TreeSize installed at the same time, you can initiate the Defraggler and Recuva features directly from within TreeSize for a given folder – all three applications integrate seamlessly.
Using the menu bar or the icons across the taskbar you can select options such as sorting by size or name, showing values in GB/MB/KB, displaying the percentage/file size/file count of the listed folders, and choosing which drives you wish to display details for.
HDDScan is a hard drive diagnostic utility used to test for disk errors, show S.M.A.R.T attributes, monitor disk temperature and perform a read/write benchmark.
When you launch HDDScan, select the drive you wish to perform an action on from the drop down box on the left. Once selected, click the icon in the middle to get started.
Disk2vhd allows you to create a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) of a live machine for use with Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V. This is a great tool for simulating your live environment within a virtual environment for testing purposes or if you wish to have a virtualized backup of your live environment for redundancy purposes.
Use of this tool is simple. Choose a name and location for the VHD file to be stored, select which volumes to include and click “Create”. Disk2vhd also has some command line options, allowing you to script the creation of VHD files.
NTFSWalker allows you to perform a low-level analysis of all records (included deleted data) within the MFT table of an NTFS drive. You can examine the properties of each record and extract its contents out to a file.
When you load NTFSWalker, you are first asked to select a disk to scan. Once you select the disk and confirm which partition you wish to view, the MFT records are displayed on the left hand pane and the details are displayed on the right hand pane. From the right hand pane, you can view the record properties, preview the file or review the contents in raw format (Hex Data).
GParted is an open-source application for managing partitions. Using GParted you can manipulate partitions (i.e. create, delete, resize, move, copy) and attempt to recover data from lost partitions on a vast amount of file systems.
GParted comes as a bootable CD which loads a Linux distribution containing the GParted application. When you download the ISO file you will need to burn the image onto a CD or follow the instructions to install it onto a bootable USB drive. When you launch GParted, you are presented with a list of partitions to choose from. Select the desired partition and choose an option to perform by right clicking on it, pressing an icon on the taskbar or navigating to an option on the menu bar.
SpeedFan is a useful diagnostic utility that allows you to view details about the health of your machine, including hard disk temperatures and S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) attributes.
When you launch SpeedFan, the main tabs you will use for hard drive information are the Readings tab and the S.M.A.R.T tab. The Clocks tab can be used to compare temperature, voltage or fan speeds between two or more objects.
MyDefrag is a disk defragmentation and optimization utility that offers fast performance with little overhead and a number of actions tailored towards different disk uses (e.g. an action specifically for defragging the system disk, an action specifically for defragging flash memory drives, or the ability to only analyse the disk). MyDefrag also allows you to create or customize your own scripts and has a command line version so you can schedule the running of the application at given times.
When you launch MyDefrag, you are presented with a series of scripts to choose from. Each script performs a given action against the disk(s) chosen from the bottom pane. Once you’ve selected a script and checked the desired disk(s), hit “Run” to initiate the action.
An alternative to TrueCrypt is DiskCryptor. DiskCryptor is an easy-to-use open-source application that allows you to encrypt whole partitions using the TwoFish / AES / Serpent algorithms, or a combination of any of the three. DiskCryptor supports FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS and exFAT file systems, allowing encryption of internal or external drives.
When you launch DiskCryptor, select a partition and click “Encrypt” to get started. You will then need to select which encryption algorithm to use and will be asked to enter a password. The encryption process will begin as soon as you press “OK”.
Any free tools you know of that are missing from this list? Leave us a comment!
The following best tools for SysAdmins are not ranked in order of quality or importance. The numerical listing is provided for point of reference only.
Byobu is an open-source software project that enhances the GNU Screen for the Ubuntu server distribution. Developed and released as free software under the GPLv3, Byobu now is supported on many Linux and UNIX distributions. Byobu includes an enhanced profile, configuration utilities, and system status notifications, not just for the GNU screen, but also for the Tmux terminal multiplexer. Byobu works on most Linux, BSD, and Mac distributions.
Process Explorer helps you figure out which program has opened a particular file or directory, as it shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded. Process Explorer’s capabilities make it useful for determining DLL-version problems or handle leaks and providing insight into how Windows and applications work.
Microsoft offers its Sysinternals Troubleshooting Utilities in a single Suite of tools. While the downloadable file contains the individual troubleshooting tools and help files, it does not contain non-troubleshooting tools such as the BSOD Screen Saver or NotMyFault.
The Belarc Advisor v8.4 provides users with a simple, yet powerful report of what comprises their computer system, including software installation, video card, CPU(s), software update, network information, etc. Results of the scan display in your default browser, so you have quick and easy access to your audit, and that information is kept privately on your PC, rather than being sent to a web server.
Designed for server, desktop, and embedded use, VirtualBox is a “general purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware.” Rich in features, VirtualBox is fit for home users as well as enterprise customers. VirtualBox is a community effort, and Oracle ensures the product meets high-quality, professional criteria while encouraging everyone to contribute.
Started in 2008, Process Hacker was designed to be an open source alternative to programs such as Task Manager and Process Explorer, with the intended audience of advanced end users and developers. Now, it is recognized for its ability to help users monitor system resources, debug software, and detect malware; it truly is a multi-purpose tool that just so happens to be free.
To use the Windows Error Lookup Tool (WELT), simply type in an error code and it will display the Facility, Status, Code, Define, and Description for the error. While WELT is intended for developers, average users should also discover the usefulness of this program.
A live Linux ISO, PING is a smart choice to easily backup and restore whole partitions. Users have the option of burning PING on a CD and booting it or integrating it into a PXE/RIS environment. Based on the Linux from Scratch (LFS) documentation, PING is the perfect tool for rescuing a system.
phpMyAdmin supports a wide range of MySQL, MariaDB, and Drizzle operations, as it is intended to handle the administration of MySQL over the web. Its frequently used operations, such as managing databases, tables, columns, etc., can be performed via the user interface, and you still maintain the ability to directly execute any SQL statement. phpMyAdmin has received several awards and honors and continues to be used around the world; as such, it is being translated into 72 languages and supports both LTR and RTL languages.
NirLauncher is a bundle of more than 180 portable utilities for Windows, all of which have been developed for the NirSoft website during the last few years. NirLauncher is compatible with any version of Windows, from Windows 2000 to Windows 8, and also works on x64 systems.
WinAudit Freeware – PC Audit & Inventory Software is an easy to use PC and audit inventory of software, licenses, security configuration, and more. With no set up or fee of any kind, WinAudit Freeware has become one of the most popular SysAdmin Tools available.
Joeware Utilities’ mission is to provide free, powerful Windows utilities so administrators are able to more effectively manage their environments. Created by Joe, a Microsoft MVP (someone who is a knowledgeable technology expert who makes himself available to help the community as a whole and who is award by Microsoft for doing so) who has earned that award every year since 2001, Joeware is a variety of utilities intended to help solve technical issues.
The Windows System Control Center is available in three free forms: WSCC Portable, WSCC Standard, and WSCC Portable Apps. With its latex version, 188.8.131.52 being made available July 23, 2014, WSCC is free for personal and commercial use. The program allows you to install, update, execute, and organize the utilities from various utility suites.
Everything is a search engine that locates files and folders by filename instantly for Windows. While Windows Search function limits the information that is displayed, Everything initially displays every file and folder on your computer but gives you the option of typing in a search filter to narrow your results.
WinDirStat is a program that allows you to view disk usage statistics and works as a cleanup tool for various versions of Microsoft Windows. Alternative programs also are available: KDirStat is an alternative for Linux, and Disk Inventory X is for MacOS X. When the program starts, it reads the entire directory tree once and then presents it in three useful views: the directory list, the treemap, and the extension list.
Wireshark is the leading protocol analyzer, allowing you to see what’s happening on your network at a microscopic level. The Wireshark project began in 1998 and has continued to be developed by contributions from networking experts across the world.
If you’re looking for a tool to automate Linux software raid conversion, Raider is for you. As a bash shell script, Raider deals with specific oddities of several Linux distros, including Ubuntu, Mandriva, LinuxOS, and more, and uses linux software raid (mdadm) to complete the conversion.
NeDi discovers your network on a regular basis, allowing you to locate and track all connected devices, monitor traffic or broadcasts, send mails or SMS when certain events occur, and backup the configuration of your switches and routers. Various views offer a customized look and feel, including dynamic maps that can be used to visualize traffic and errors between buildings or even cities.
Advanced IP Scanner gives you the ability to scan hundreds of IP addresses at high speed simultaneously. Deeply integrated with Radmin remote control software, Advanced IP Scanner lets you scan your network, find all computers running Radmin Server, and connect to any of them with one click.
An advanced network monitor, Look@LAN Network Monitor allows users to monitor their net in a few clicks. Benefits of Look@LAN include being extremely easy to use and fast in discovering your network’s active nodes, plus it is full of relevant features.
Steward integrates easily with nearly any scripting or development language with its easy to use RESTful API; as a result, Steward is able to support any operating system. Even if you are not tracking periodic job with Steward, you can use their API to monitor and graph the run times for any piece of code and get an alert when things are running at a less than optimal level.
With Yeller, you can discover and diagnose production exceptions. In fact, Yeller automatically analyzes all occurrences of an exception and tells you what is common between them. You no longer have to debug exceptions one at a time. *Please note: Yeller is free for a 30-day trial, with no credit card required.
A script written in Python, Blistd checks each DNS Blacklist to see whether your IP has been listed. Blistd is incredibly easy to download and use: simply download the tool, change the IP and email settings, execute, and you are finished.
A multi-threaded file watch utility, Fido can monitor a file or directory to see if its modification time changed, and it’s intuitive enough to recognize a change even if the daemon was down at the time of the change. Written for RedHat Enterprise Linux, Fido should run in all Linux flavors, and the source bundle contains RedHat init.d scripts for users’ convenience.
Created for Postfix, Postfix Admin is a web-based management tool. Postfix Admin, a PHP-based application, handles Postfix style virtual domains and users that are stored in MySQL or PostgreSQL.
Hashtab may be used as a simple MD5 checker as a more advanced file integrity check. Hashtab provides an easy way to verify the integrity and authenticity on both Windows and Mac machines. *Please note: Hashtab is free for people using it on their own home computer, student computer, or charitable organization. For people wishing to use Hashtab at work, it is $10 per person for a single copy use, or there may be discount options available for larger quantities.
WinMD5Free works with Windows 98, Me, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, and 7 to compute MD5 hash value or checksum for files, including those larger than 4 GB. A tiny and fast utility, it also is frequently used to check the integrity of a file and to download.
Calculate and verify checksums and hashes from Windows Explorer with the HashCheck Shell Extension. Users also have the capability of integrating file checksumming functionality into Windows and creating and verifying SFV files with the tool. Open-source with a very small memory and disk footprint, HashCheck helps anyone with a knowledge of C easily build their own customized version of this shell extension.
CyoHash is a simple shell extension intended for end users/desktop. The tool is used from within Windows Explorer to calculate hashes or checksums of a file. CyoHash is a project hosted by SourceForge.net.
A small utility that allows you to calculate the MD5 and SHA1 hashes of one or more files in your system, HashMyFiles works on Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8. The utility also allows you to copy the MD5/SHA1 hashes list into the clipboard or same them into a text/html/xml file.
ntopng offers high-speed web-based traffic analysis and flow collection as the next generation of the original ntop. Based on libpcap and written in a portable way, ntopng virtually will run on every Unix platform, including MacOSX and Win32.
Andrew S. Baker’s homebase is the UltraTech Zone, and he has compiled a “public technology repository” within The UltraTech Knowledgebase and The Brainwave Consulting Technical Archive. Both sites contain an abundance of free information on a broad spectrum of computing topics including Windows Operating Systems, Capacity Planning, Server Virtualization, and more.
BgInfo v4.20 helps you manage multiple computers because it automatically displays relevant information about a Windows computer on the desktop’s background. Get the computer name, IP address, service pack version, and more, plus enjoy the freedom to edit any field, font, and background color, all through BgInfo v4.20.
MobaXTerm, “the complete toolbox for remote computing” is a session manager with all the network clients you could possibly need: RDP, VNC, SSH, telnet, rsh, FTP, SFTP, and SCMCP. As an enhanced terminal for Windows with an X11 server, a tabbed SSH client and several other remote computing network tools, MobaXTerm brings the necessary Unix commands to Windows desktop.
35. TTY Plus
SysAdmins using PuTTY (the most popular SSH client for Windows) love it but hate having to start a new copy of it every time they open a new connection. TTY Plus’ MTPuTTY (Multi-Tabbed PuTTY) is a small utility that enables SysAdmins to use one tabbed GUI Interface for an unlimited number of PuTTY applications. Take the multiple windows out of your work and put them into separate tabs with MTPuTTY.
MessenPass is a password recovery tool that reveals the passwords of several instant messenger applications, including MSN Messenger, Windows Messenger (in Windows XP), Yahoo Messenger (Versions 5.x and 6.x), and more. MessenPass relies on a user being logged in and having one of the programs with which it works remember one of your passwords.
A Windows application meant to simplify the use of the PuTTY SSH Client, SuperPutty is a window manager that allows users to embed the PuTTY windows inside a Windows form to create a tabbed interface. Thus, SuperPutty helps SysAdmins handle multiple connections with PuTTY much more easily.
A free Android app, Rhybudd alerts you of Zenoss events as they happen. Even better, Rhybudd has the capability of being customized in a variety of ways to ensure that you get only the alerts you want.
OMD bundles Nagios with several important add ons and easily can installed on every major Linux distribution. The OMD team also provides prebuilt packages for all enterprise Linux distributions, as well as for some others, including Ubuntu.
The Apache HTTP Server Project, a collaborative software development effort, is aimed at creating a commercial-grade and freely available source code implementation of an HTTP server. The project is part of the Apache Software Foundation, and hundreds of users have contributed ideas, code, and documentation to the project. With all of the contributions, some tools have been created for the Apache HTTP Server, including ApacheBench.
Developed by Torsten Wittrock, WSUS Offline Update allows you to update any computer running Microsoft Windows and Office safely and quickly without an internet connection. While the open source project connected to the tool has changed names from “c’t offline update” and “DIY Service Pack,” it is being continued by Wittrock.
mRemoteNG is a utility to enhance mRemote, an open source, tabbed, multi-protocol, remote connections manager. View all of your remote connections in a simple, powerful tabbed interface with mRemoteNG.
A multi-protocol and multi-source command-line download utility, aria2 supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. aria2 is lightweight and has the ability to be manipulated with the built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces.
Spiceworks helps SysAdmins handle all of your IT with a single integrated app. With network inventory and mapping, network monitoring and alerting, troubleshooting, and more, Spiceworks gives you all of the tools you need to make IT management more manageable.
KeePass helps you manage your passwords securely as a free open source password manager. It allows users to put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key file; you simply have to remember one master password or select the key file to unlock the entire database, which is encrypted using AES and Twofish.
JiJi Self Service Password Reset gives end-users the capability of securely resetting their own Active Directory passwords without needing to involve tech help desk professionals. Because end-user downtime and help desk staff time spent resetting forgotten or last passwords is reduced, JiJi Self Service Password Reset essentially helps organizations lower costs, improve security, and increase productivity.
TeraCopy helps reduce the time spent copying several files over the network with newer versions of Windows. Designed to copy and move files at the highest maximum speed possible, TeraCopy skips bad files and then displays them at the end of the transfer, allowing users to see which files need attention. TeraCopy is free for non-commercial use only; commercial users need to purchase a license.
ADManager Plus is a Windows Active Directory Management and Reporting Solution that is simple and easy to use to AD Administrators and Help Desk Technicians with their daily activities. The software handles a broad range of complex tasks, with its centralized and intuitive web-based UI.