IT Pro Tuesday

The Full List

Dear IT Pro,

I created IT Pro Tuesday for the same reason we created EveryCloud 10 years ago—to help IT Pros do their jobs better. The same logic shapes the way we serve the 8,000+ global organizations and MSPs who use EveryCloud Email Security and have voted it number 1 on Spiceworks with over 250 five-star reviews. Whether you're an End User or Potential Partner, I'd really appreciate it if you'd check us out by requesting a quote or starting a trial of our service. We won't let you down...

Please browse, bookmark and enjoy this ever-evolving list (6+ new items per week). If you have any comments or suggestions, the easiest way to share them with us is to subscribe to our subreddit r/ITProTuesday, where you can also get the weekly editions. If you want them in your inbox, just sign up to IT Pro Tuesday here.

Graham O'Reilly | CEO | EveryCloud

P.S. If you found this list helpful, then please share it. It helps us make IT Pro Tuesday better and better. (Share by Email | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin)

 

New This Week (IT Pro Tuesday #46)

(Join Thousands of IT Pro's and Subscribe by Email | Redditupdated Apr. 22, 2019

Free Tools

PCmover Profile Migrator migrates applications, files and settings between any two user profiles on the same computer to help set up PCs with O365 Business. User profile apps, data and settings are quickly and easily transferred from the old local AD users to new Azure AD users. Can be good for migrating data from a user profile associated with a former domain to a new profile on a new domain. Suggested by a_pojke, who found it useful "to help migrate profiles to 0365/AAD, it's been a life saver with some recent onboards." 

GNU Guix is a Linux package manager that is based on the Nix package manager, with Guile Scheme APIs. It is an advanced distribution of the GNU OS that specializes in providing exclusively free software. Supports transactional upgrades and roll-backs, unprivileged package management and more. When used as a standalone distribution, Guix supports declarative system configuration for transparent and reproducible operating systems. Comes with thousands of packages, which include applications, system tools, documentation, fonts and more. Recommended by necrophcodr.

Parted Magic is a hard disk management solution that includes tools for disk partitioning and cloning, data rescue, disk erasing and benchmarking with Bonnie++, IOzone, Hard Info, System Stability Tester, mprime and stress. This standalone Linux operating system runs from a CD or USB drive, so nothing need be installed on the target machine. While not actually free, it is quite low cost. Recommended by Aggietallboy.

TruePing is exactly the same as the standard ping program of Windows 9x, NT and 2000—except that it does a better job calculating the timing. It uses a random buffer (that changes at every ping) to improve performance. Thanks to bcahill for this one, who says, it "... can send pings very fast (hundreds per second). This is very helpful when trying to diagnose packet loss. It very quickly shows if packet loss is occurring, so I can make changes and quickly see the effect.".


A Website

Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.

A Book

Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.

A Slack Channel

Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.

 

The Full List

If you found this list helpful, then please share it. It helps us make IT Pro Tuesday better and better.

(Share by Email | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin)

(Report Outdated Items)

 

IT Pro Cheatsheets

Ultimate List of Cheatsheets for a Sysadmin. ServersAustralia put together this list of cheat sheets containing everything from Apache to Drupal.

GeekFlares Cheatsheets List. Last weeks cheatsheets were extremely popular, so following the same theme we searched for an additional list and this is the best we could find.

OverAPI.com is a site collecting all the cheatsheets, all!

Regular Expressions Cheat Sheet by DaveChild. Our Email Protection Service allows the use of regex to manage inbound and outbound mailflow. Our support team passed us this handy cheatsheet which includes symbols, ranges, grouping, assertions and some sample patterns to get you started.

Sans Digital Forensics and Incident Response Cheat Sheets provide a collection of assorted, handy incident response cheat sheets. It's a helpful reference for commands, process, tactics, tips, tools and techniques that was compiled by Sans DFIR, the experts in incident-response training.

Powershell (and more) Cheatsheet Compilation. Thanks for Prateeksingh1590 who put together this cheatsheet compilation, with over 14 specific Powershell Cheatsheets. A few examples include:

Information Security Policy Templates is a set of templates originally compiled to help the people attending SANS training programs that are now available to all. According to the recommendation by bfrd9k, this is "a good, reasonable, collection. I've only needed to make minor adjustments to their templates."

 

Free Tools

MailFlow Monitor is EveryCloud's free, cloud-based, round-trip tool that sends you an alert as soon as there is an issue with your email flow. Settings are adjustable to allow you to choose how much of a delay is acceptable and which types of bounce alerts you want to see. Helps you get to the bottom of a problem before users have even noticed it.

mRemoteNG is the next generation of mRemote, open source, tabbed, multi-protocol, remote connections manager. This was recommended to us by 'Oliviamcc’ who firmly believes "it is much better than Putty (SSH), Citrix, VNC, RDC, etc. "Make sure you figure out the credentials hierarchy, it works a treat and saves time every day".

TreeSize Free. Find and free up your or your user's free space. TreeSize Free tells you where precious disk space has gone. I've seen this recommended in too many places to mention. 

PDQ Inventory and Deploy. A software deployment tool used to keep Windows PCs up-to-date without bothering end users and a systems management tool for tracking and organizing hardware, software, and Windows configuration data.

Clean. I use this on my Mac to automatically move my desktop files into monthly folders each day. It saves a load of time because I just save all files to my desktop and they're then processed later that day. I appreciate a lot of people will want windows equivalent but I can't find anything, so please leave comments on the blog post or reply to this email and I'll include the best one next week.

trace32.exe | cmtrace.exe"It's part of Microsofts SCCM suite from a few years ago, can open very large log files and display them as they update in real time. Has saved me an insane amount of time over the years. Also looks cool and is portable." Thank you for the recommendation local_admin_user.

ISPConfig 3.1 is the next generation of the ISPConfig hosting control panel with a completely renovated UI and a lot of new features.

BlueScreenView scans all your minidump files created during 'blue screen of death' crashes, and displays the information about all crashes in one table.

Windows System Control Center (WSCC) helps to view, organize and launch utilities. It acts as a repository for various utility suites. When installing WSCC for the first time, there is an option to download and install 270 troubleshooting tools.

Check out Spiceworks Free HelpDesk and Networking Monitoring software. We've been recommended these by countless IT Pros over the years.

Monitor Active Directory Group Membership Change. This PowerShell script will monitor the Active Directory groups and notify you by email if a change occurred since the last time it checked.

ADModify.NET is a tool primarily utilized by Exchange and Active Directory administrators to facilitate bulk user attribute modifications. 

There is no reason to RDP into a server once you have the RSAT tools installed. You can manage any aspect of your Windows infrastructure using these tools, and use RunAs if you need to log on as a different user.

Attack Surface Analyzer. Attack Surface Analyzer takes a snapshot of your system state before and after the installation of product(s) and displays the changes to a number of key elements of the Windows attack surface.

AWS Free. Many people aren't aware that AWS offer a free tier. Here you can create your own practice environment, replicate problems and generally learn a lot.

The Dell Warranty Checker. Thank you to Matt Fry, EveryCloud's Head of Support for this suggestion. The Dell Warranty Checker allows you to check the warranty on Dell systems. It allows you to enter the service tag to check the warranty or import them via a text file (Checks line by line). You can also export the warranty data to a CSV file to use in other applications.

NetCrunch Tools 2.0. 10+ Essential IP tools for administrators including DNS Audit, Ping Scanner, Port Scanner, Network Services Scanner. Thanks mrojek who explained  "Recently updated freeware from AdRem.12 useful network tools and scanners that runs on Windows".

SQL Fiddle. A tool for easy online testing and sharing of database problems and their solutions. Thanks for the recommendation rosslib who said "You can build schema and run queries. Good for running a quick test".

Regexr. After last weeks regex cheat sheet and number of people recommended RegExr which is an online tool to learn, build, & test Regular Expressions.

Switch Miner. Ever have trouble figuring out what's connected where? Switch Miner is a port-discovery tool that can help locate all the devices connected to any switch. This handy utility can also discover and scan neighboring switches via CDP. And best of all, it's free!

LetsMonitor.org is a free service that alerts you when your site certificates are misconfigured or nearing expiration. Notifications can be sent to multiple contacts.

RBLmon helps you proactively solve mail-delivery issues. This fully automated online service tracks your IP addresses against the most-popular real-time blacklists (RBLs). The moment any of your IP addresses are found in a monitored RBL, RBLmon will send an immediate email notification to alert you, so you can get busy solving the problem.

WizTree helps you quickly find the files and folders using the most disk space on your hard drive. Rather than searching the drive and checking each file to determine size, WizTree gets its information straight from the NTFS Master File Table—which means it happens almost instantaneously. While this approach makes WizTree faster than any other type of program in this category, it only works with NTFS filesystems.

JuiceSSH is a simple, intuitive Terminal client for Android with SSH, Local Shell, Mosh, and Telnet support. Features a full-color Terminal with adjustable font size, keyboard including special characters, plugins, and key import/export/generation.

Postman is a popular, free app to make API development faster and easier. It offers a powerful GUI, saved history of requests, flexible monitoring, automated testing with collection runner, mock servers, and unlimited collections, environments, tests, and sharing. It also provides detailed documentation.

Microsoft Sysinternals Suite is all their utilities in one convenient file. Contains the all the individual troubleshooting tools as well as help files, but not non-troubleshooting tools like the BSOD Screen Saver or NotMyFault. A shout out to azers for recommending this one.

RichCopy is a simple tool written by a Microsoft engineer named Derk Benisch. It provides a much-appreciated graphical interface for the very popular Robocopy command-line utility.

Windows Update MiniTool is an alternative to the standard (and sometimes overbearing) Windows Update. It allows you to control updates by giving you the power to search, install, and block Windows updates in any way you like.

MailFlow Monitor. Rejection / Delay Text Alerts, Group Policies, Alerts By SMTP Code, Trouble Shooting Tools including header analysis. MailFlow Monitor is EveryCloud’s free, cloud-based, round-trip tool that sends you an alert as soon as there is an issue with your email flow. Settings are adjustable to allow you to choose how much of a delay is acceptable and which types of bounce alerts you want to see. Helps you get to the bottom of a problem before users (or your boss) have even noticed it.

Space Monger gives you a graphical image of your whole disk, where large files and folders are easily identified. This handy tool can be run from a USB drive, so you don't even need to install it. Thanks for this one and Windows Update MiniTool go to mikedopp.

UNetbootin is a terrific, cross-platform utility for creating bootable live USB drives for Ubuntu and other Linux distributions without burning a CD. Thanks go to Gianks for this one.

CopyQ is a clipboard manager that adds some advanced editing and scripting capabilities. It monitors the system clipboard and saves text, HTML, images and more into customized tabs. From there, the saved content can be copied and pasted directly into any application. Clipboard history is easily searchable and can be filtered. Suggested by majkinetor.

Desktop Info provides a quick view of every kind of metric about your Windows system right on your desktop. The display looks like wallpaper but stays resident in memory and updates in real time. Gives you a quick way to monitor what any system is up to, while using very little memory and requiring almost nothing from the CPU. This one was recommended by mikedopp.

Healthstone is a lightweight, self-hosted, agent-based system-monitoring solution that runs lots of customizable health checks. The dashboard runs on a Windows or Linux server, and it has agents for the Windows and Linux hosts you want to monitor. You can customize the dashboard to send notifications via email, Pushbullet, or NodePoint tickets whenever a client stops checking in or any of the configured checks fail. Configuration is retrieved from the dashboard by all agents in the form of templates, which are stored in the templates folder and can be customized for your needs. Thanks to mikedopp for this one!

Rufus is another utility for formatting and creating bootable USB flash drives. This one works with MRB/GPT and BIOS/UEFI. Rufus is about twice as fast as UNetbootin, Universal USB Installer, or Windows 7 USB download tool when creating a Windows 7 USB installation drive from an ISO. It is also marginally faster for creating a Linux bootable USB from ISOs. We first heard of this one from Gianks, but there were quite a few others who shared the recommendation as well.

Axence netTools is a set of ten free tools for network scanning and monitoring. Includes: Netwatch (multiple host availability and response-time monitoring); Network port and service scanner; Wintools (view of launched processes/services, remote register editor and Windows event log view, HDD/RAM/CPU details, custom queries based on WMI protocol); TCP/IP workshop and SNMP browser; Traceroute; NetStat (list of inbound and outbound connections and open ports); Local info (tables with local configuration details, TCP/UDP stats); Lookup (DNS and WHOIS records); Bandwidth test; and NetCheck (LAN hardware and wiring quality check). This was recommended by DollarMindy as an "easy ping monitor with email alerts."

MediCat USB is a a bootable troubleshooting environment with Linux and Windows boot environments and troubleshooting tools. A complete Hiren's Boot Disk replacement for modern hardware that follows the Ubuntu release cycle with a new update released every 6 months. The DVD version was originally recommended to us by Spikerman "for when you need to helpdesk warrior."

MobaXterm is an enhanced terminal for remote computing. It brings all the key remote network tools (SSH, X11, RDP, VNC, FTP, MOSH) and Unix commands (bash, ls, cat, sed, grep, awk, rsync) to Windows desktop in a single, portable .exe file that works out of the box. The free version includes full X server and SSH support, remote desktop (RDP, VNC, Xdmcp), remote terminal (SSH, telnet, rlogin, Mosh), X11-Forwarding, automatic SFTP browser, plugins support, portable and installer versions but only 12 sessions, 2 SSH tunnels, 4 macros, and 360 seconds for Tftp/Nfs/Cron. Thanks go out to lazylion_ca for suggesting this one.

WinDirStat provides free, open-source graphical disk-usage analysis for MS Windows. You'll get a sub-tree view with disk-use percent and a list of file extensions ordered by usage. This tool was recommended by ohyeahwell, who likes to use it "for freespace as it can be deployed via ninite pro." 

IIS Crypto allows administrators to enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows Server 2008, 2012 and 2016. You can also reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions. EOTFOFFTW tells us, “This tool has been very helpful in configuring SSL settings for Windows IIS servers.”

Ditto saves all your clipboard items so you can access them later. It works with anything that can be put on the clipboard—images, text, html and custom formats. The simple interface includes search and sync functions for ease of finding what you need. Thanks go to Arkiteck for suggesting this one!

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware should be your first stop if you suspect a malware infection. It is the most-effective malware remover—featuring deep scans and daily updates—and blocks malware, hacker, viruses, ransomware and malicious websites that slip through your traditional antivirus. Also available as a full AV program that you can buy if you wish to do so.

Termius is a complete command-line solution providing portable server management for UNIX and Linux systems—whether a local machine, a remote service, Docker Container, VM, Raspberry Pi, or AWS instance (similar to Putty for Android). This cross-platform Telnet, Mosh-compatible and SSH client. Securely access Linux or IoT devices to quickly fix issues from your laptop or phone. Thanks for this one go to blendelabor.

WSUS Offline Update lets you safely patch any computer running Microsoft Windows and Office—even when there's no connection to the Internet or a network of any sort. More specifically, you first run WSUS Offline Update on a machine that has Internet connectivity to download the updates you need and copy the resulting update media to a USB drive. You then use the USB drive to run the update on the target computers. Recommended by mikedopp.

SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk that allows you to administer or repair your system and data after a crash. It can be booted via CD/DVD, USB or installed directly on the hard disk. Many system utilities like GParted, fsarchiver, filesystem tools and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools) are included, and it works on Linux and Windows computers, desktops and servers. Supports ext3/ext4, xfs, btrfs, reiserfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs—as well as network filesystems such as Samba and NFS.

KiTTY is a fork of PuTTY, the popular Telnet and SSH client. It runs on Windows and can perform all the tasks of PuTTY plus many more. Features include portability, predefined command shortcuts, sessions filter, session launcher, automatic log-on script, URL hyperlinks, automatic command and password, running locally saved scripts in remote sessions, ZModem integration, icons for each session, transparency, unfortunate keyboard input protection, roll-up, quick start of duplicate sessions, configuration box, automatic saving, Internet Explorer integration for SSH Handler, binary compression, clipboard printing, PuTTYCyg patch, background images/transparency and organizing sessions you save in a folder hierarchy.

WinMTR is a free, open-source Windows application that integrates the functions of the traceroute and ping utilities into a single, convenient network diagnostic tool. Many thanks to generalmx for suggesting both this and SystemRescueCd!

Clonezilla is free, open-source software for disk cloning, disk imaging, data recovery, and deployment—helping with system deployment, bare metal backup, and recovery. Cloning efficiency is optimized by the program's approach of saving/restoring only used blocks in the hard disk.

SPF Record Testing Tools is a query tool designed to help you deploy SPF records for your domain. It validates if an SPF record exists and whether it is formatted correctly and entered into your DNS as a proper TXT record.

PS Remote Registry module contains functions to create, modify, or delete registry subkeys and values on local or remote computers. This one was recommended to us by IhaveGin.

PowerCopy GUI was recommended by Elementix, who described it as "similar to RichCopy, but it uses .Net, PowerShell, and Robocopy. A good (non-install) alternative." The tool allows you to set up predefined options, one-click access to help and log file, and instant error analysis.

Gitbash is a package containing bash and a collection of other, separate *nix utilities like ssh, scp, cat, find and others—compiled for Windows—and a new command-line interface terminal window called mintty. Recommended by sysacc who tells us he's been "dealing with log files lately and I've been using...Gitbash a LOT... It's part of the Git tools, I love having access to Linux commands on Windows."

Easy2Boot is a collection of grub4dos scripts to be copied onto a grub4dos-bootable USB drive. Each time you boot, the E2B scripts automatically find all the payload files (.ISO, .IMA, .BIN, .IMG, etc.) on the USB drive and dynamically generate the menus. Thanks to Phx86 who says it "creates a very versatile USB drive. It checks a lot of marks other various tools did not. Formats NTFS, your ISO boot disks doubles as standard NTFS storage. Drag and drop .ISO files to the correct folder, then boot directly to them. Boot menu reads the .ISO files and builds a menu based on what is loaded on the drive. No fiddling around with custom boot menus when you add a new .ISO."

CCleaner is the fastest way to eliminate temporary files and Windows Registry problems. Our own Matt Frye says, "When a machine is having problems, this is almost always the tool I use first. It also helps to ensure privacy by getting rid of traces left behind (such as cookies) by web browsers."

Netwrix Auditor Free Community Edition is a great auditing/monitoring tool for the Windows sysadmin. It lets you see changes and access events in your hybrid cloud IT environment, so you can stop worrying you'll miss critical changes to AD objects, file server permissions, Windows Server configuration or other security incidents.

WinSCP is an SFTP client and FTP client for Windows with a GUI, integrated text editor, scripting and task automation. It allows you to copy files between a local computer and remote servers via FTP, FTPS, SCP, SFTP, WebDAV or S3 file transfer protocols.

PortableApps.com is an open-source platform that lets you take your favorite software with you. It works from any synced cloud folder (DropBox, Google Drive, Box, etc.), your local PC on an internal or external drive, or any portable storage device (USB flash drive, memory card, portable hard drive, etc.) moved between PCs. The platform offers a full collection of open source and freeware software as well as compatible commercial software

Netcat is a Linux networking utility for reading/writing across network connections, via TCP or UDP, that can help with monitoring, testing, and sending data. This feature-rich network debugging and exploration tool can create virtually any type of connection and is designed to be a dependable back-end for direct use or easily driven by other programs and scripts. Features include port scanning, file transfer, port listening, and use as a backdoor. Suggested by Necrowerx

Virustotal allows you to analyze suspicious files and URLs to detect types of malware and automatically share them with the security community. This great tool was suggested by dmen91, who likes it because "you can upload suspicious files and they are checked by just around 60 virus scanners.

Sharex is a screen capture, file sharing and productivity tool. According to the recommendation of stesha83, there is no question of the value of this productivity booster: "Sharex sharex sharex sharex sharex. Sharex. Also sharex. Capture desktop or region to any image or video format and process through any workflow before uploading it or saving anywhere you like. Lifechanging.

Keypirinha is a fast launcher for Windows that is described as an alternative to Launchy and a cousin of Alfred. Recommended by DrnXz, who considers it "basically Spotlight for Windows but really nicely customisable.

Greenshot is a free, open-source screenshot software tool for Windows that is easy to understand and quite configurable. This lightweight tool allows you to quickly create screenshots of a selected region, window or fullscreen; capture complete (scrolling) web pages from Internet Explorer; annotate, highlight or obfuscate parts of the screenshot; export; and more

Cuckoo Sandbox is an advanced, modular, automated malware analysis system. This open-source solution can: analyze malicious files (executables, office documents, pdf files, emails etc.) and websites under Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Android virtualized environments; trace API calls and general behavior of a file and distill it into high-level information and signatures that are easily understood; dump and analyze network traffic, even when encrypted with SSL/TLS—with native network routing support; and perform advanced memory analysis of the infected virtualized system. Because of its modular design, any aspect of the analysis environment can be customized. Thanks for this one go to NerdBlender, who likes it as a "sandbox for malware analysis.

Censys allows you to find and monitor any server on the Internet. It shows what servers and devices are exposed on your network, so you can find vulnerabilities. Suggested by videoflyguy because the site "constantly updates their results, basically just keeps port scanning the internet and reports the results. You get 10 free searches per day, and it has helped me find several weak points in the network.

UltraSearch is tool for incredibly fast file searching that works directly on the Master File Table of the NTFS partitions instead of keeping an index on your hard disk. UltraSearch even identifies NTFS hardlinks. It supports regular expressions, can search file content, and enables you to exclude folders, files or file types from searches. Results can be sorted, printed or exported as text, RTF, HTML, CSV and Excel file. Recommended by poshftw who finds it "especially useful when builtin OS search is broken at birth.

This tool from The Lazy Administrator automates the new user creation process for AD and Office 365 to make it quicker and easier. The tool can easily be used across multiple clients, is incredibly easy to use and offers the option of creating just an Active Directory user, just an Office 365 user—or both. The blog post explains how it works and provides download links

Netwrix Account Lockout Examiner provides notifications of Active Directory account lockouts and help in identifying the root cause when an account keeps locking out. User accounts can be unlocked from the tool’s console or a mobile device. Recommended by tGasMaskt "as a free tool for monitoring accounts that frequently lockout.

CyberChef is web app for encryption, encoding, compression and data analysis to convert, parse or carry out over 100 different operations. Everything is provided as a plain HTML page that can be accessed online or downloaded for use without an internet connection. This one was recommended by glockfreak, who likes it because "you can download and audit it yourself since it is made by GCHQ, but incredibly useful."

Security Onion is an open-source Linux distribution for intrusion detection, enterprise security monitoring, and log management. It includes an easy-to-use setup wizard that helps you easily build a set of distributed sensors for your enterprise. It includes Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana, Snort, Suricata, Bro, Wazuh, Sguil, Squert, CyberChef, NetworkMiner, and many other security tools. Thanks to NameThatIMadeUp for the suggestion!

PuTTY is an open-source SSH and telnet client. While it was originally developed for the Windows platform, the software is available with source code and is developed and supported by a group of volunteers.

YUMI (Your Universal Multiboot Installer) is a tool for creating a Multiboot Bootable USB Flash Drive containing multiple operating systems, antivirus utilities, disc cloning, diagnostic tools, and more. Unlike MultiBootISOs that use grub to boot ISO files directly from USB, YUMI uses syslinux to boot extracted distributions stored on the USB device, and reverts to using grub to Boot Multiple ISO files from USB, if necessary. This recommendation was compliments of videoflyguy, who tells us he likes it because "it can install multiple ISOs to one drive and even remove specific ISOs if you want to update them."

Snappy Driver Installer Origin makes it quick and easy to install and update Windows device drivers for XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. Snappy features a state-of-the-art driver matching algorithm, built-in application and driver pack updates, full portability to run from a USB flash drive, and it can be fully automated using the built-in scripting engine. Best of all, Snappy is free and open-source.

DKIM Core lets you attach a token to an email telling the recipient who is responsible for the message in order to improve delivery rates. The token helps spam filters recognize that a message isn't spam based on a history of the token's acceptance by recipients or whitelists. It allows senders to keep the same token even when they change their “From” address, the IP address of their mailserver or their email service provider. It can also be used as a basis for feedback loops with a consumer's ISP that enable the sender to stop sending email to recipients who do not want it. This one was recommended by egxi, who like it "for DKIM ... [because it] feels very closely implemented to the RFC."

NirSoft offers a massive assortment of small, portable utilities for Windows. The collection was created by developer Nir Sofer, mostly using C++. Includes tools for password recovery, network monitoring, web browsers, internet, MS Outlook, command line, desktop and system. Everything is free with no registration required. Thanks to mintlou for the recommendation!

Lansweeper is an easy-to-use agentless IT asset management and network inventory tool that answers the question: 'Who is using what?' Features include a built-in helpdesk ticketing system, an inventory system, remote connection management, and in-depth information on each device. The company offers a free 20-day trial period so you can try it out before investing anything. Recommended by Chess_Not_Checkers as one of the "two things that I couldn't live without."

Listary is an incredibly fast Windows search utility for finding/moving files and launching applications. Its lightweight interface doesn’t strain system resources, and it integrates with Total Commander, Directory Opus, XYplorer, Xplorer2, WinRAR, FileZilla and other tools. Thanks go to jelloeater85 for the suggestion.

Shutter is a free screenshot program for Linux-based operating systems. From the main window, you can take a screenshot of a specific area, window, the whole screen or website and apply effects, draw on it, and upload to an image hosting site. Thanks to tracehunt for the suggestion!

Cockpit is Red Hat's easy-to-use, integrated, open web-based interface that helps you understand the health of your server at a glance. The GUI simplifies tasks like storage administration, journal inspection, starting/stopping services and monitoring multiple servers. Cockpit runs on Fedora Server, Arch Linux, CentOS Atomic, Fedora Atomic and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

WinSSHTerm lets you use keyboard shortcuts and intelligent navigation tools to quickly switch between or start new SSH sessions—even if you have to manage multiple systems. It has built-in support for copying files and running X applications and is ready for production use. The software works with the original PuTTY/KiTTY executable and includes multiple tabs and windows, master password, shareable connections and template variables. Supports file transfer (WinSCP), X (VcXsrv), SSH jump servers/bastion hosts and has a portable version available. Easy migration can be made from PuTTY, PuTTY Session Manager, MobaXterm, SuperPuTTY, mRemoteNG and MTPuTTY. Suggested by Specific_West as a "way better terminal than mobaxterm if all you do is command-line Linux stuff."

GifCam lets you easily create animated gifs. It works like a camera that stays atop all your windows, so you can move and resize it to record whatever area you like. When you’re ready, just click record to start filming or click “Frame” to grab a single shot. To keep file sizes small, GifCam automatically compares frames to record only the changed pixels and replaces unchanged frames with delays. Includes frame editing features that allow you to delete frames and add/remove delays. Credit goes to mikedopp for this one.

SuperPuTTY is a GUI for PuTTY that supports SSH, SSH2, Telnet, Rlogin, Raw, Serial, Cygerm, Mintty and SCP along with numerous configuration settings. It allows you to launch PuTTY in multiple tabs and helps you easily manage multiple sessions of PuTTY with a single, comprehensive GUI. Recommended by karlvonheinz who appreciates its "Session manager in sidebar, tabs [and] command multiplexer."

sysadmin-util is a collection of scripts for Linux/Unix sysadmins. Examples include:

  • ago—Show how long ago a file/directory was modified in a human-readable fashion.
  • chronic—Run a command, hiding STDOUT and STDERR if it completes successfully (for cron-jobs, where output is generally ignored in the case of success)
  • mk-passwd-hash—This spits out a hash that can be used with `usermod -p` on Linux (or similar tools on openbsd, solaris) to set a password.

Thanks to steve_in_finland for sharing these tools!

Agent Ransack is a professional, efficient file-search utility. Features include the ability to search using regular expressions that allow complex, rule-based searches; immediate contents results view without having to open files; and wizards that facilitate the search process. Suggested by nickcardwell for its speed and portability.

AD Tidy is a tool for cleaning up orphaned user and computer accounts in your Active Directory domain. You first configure your search parameters, then select accounts from the results to disable, delete, move, remove from all groups, set a password and more. Thanks to nachomountain for the recommendation.
 
AD FastReporter is a fast, easy way to generate, store, schedule and share AD reports. Intuitive enough for those who aren't scripting or LDAP experts. Offers a range of built-in forms to generate reports. Thanks to sysit92 for the recommendation.
 

PingCastle is a free AD audit tool for detecting critical security issues—offering an overview and guidance on how to address those issues. Recommended by SysAdmineral "for getting a grip on how well the environment is hardened and what other, less visible, things may be lurking around. Also has some analysis of nested groups."

Advanced IP Scanner is an easy-to-use, portable network scanner. It shows all devices on your LAN, providing access to shared folders and remote control of computers (via RDP and Radmin). Recommended by dRaidon as really "useful [because] you don't always have access to nmap."

AD Fast Reporter is a fast, easy way to generate, store, schedule and share AD reports. Intuitive enough for those who aren't scripting or LDAP experts. Offers a range of built-in forms to generate reports. Thanks to sysit92 for the recommendation.

T-Pot is a multi-honeypot platform based on well-established honeypot daemons, IDS and tools for attack submission (specifically glastopf, kippo, honeytrap and dionaea, the network IDS/IPS suricata, elasticsearch-logstash-kibana, ewsposter and docker). It is intended to make some of the best honeypot technologies that are available both easy to deploy and simple to use. Thanks to itsbentheboy for the suggestion!
 
16 Powershell Modules shares some of the great tools created by System Architect Przemyslaw Klys in 2018. Example modules include: 
  • PSWriteWord – creates Microsoft Word documents without Word being installed.
  • PSWinReporting – scans Domain Controller Security Events providing reports about who, when and what changed in Active Directory.  
  • PSWinDocumentation – automates creating infrastructure documentation straight to Word, Excel and MS SQL. Currently supports generating documentation for AD and in smaller portions for AWS and Office 365.

Wifi Analyzer lets you use your android phone to see all the wifi channels around you. It can help you locate a less-crowded channel for your router, and thenewimprovedhankp tells us it's useful to show "dead spots, conflicting wifi networks, and [because it] works for 2.4 and 5 Ghz signals."

FreshPing is an uptime monitoring suite through which you can monitor up to 50 URLs with 1-minute intervals. They offer 10 locations around the world and public status pages. Thanks to CeralEnt for the suggestion!

wiseTools Authentication Tool is an online tool for working with email authentication, put together by Steve Atkins of Word to the Wise. While there are other good options available for checking your authentication setup, egxi tells us this one is becoming a real favorite over time.

Jarun Terminal Utilities is a repository of useful open-source Terminal utilities that blend Terminal functions with a GUI world. The collection is the handiwork of developer Arun Prakash Jana, who wanted to help sysadmins working on remote Terminals to accomplish tasks more easily. Tools include: 

  • nnn—a tiny file manager for navigation, file movement, (un)archiving, remote transfers, editing text files & more
  • googler/ddgr—performs google search from the Terminal.
  • buku—Terminal bookmark manager (with a web interface if required)
  • bcal—helps with storage-specific calculations (does regular calculations by invoking bc)

Our thanks to sablal, the developer, for sharing these great tools!

Speccy is a fast, lightweight, advanced system info tool that tells you what’s inside a PC. It can offer a quick summary or detailed information on every piece of hardware in the computer. Scan results can be saved as a snapshot, XML or text file for easy sharing. Suggested by NoelSlevin as a convenient tool to keep handy for occasional use.

GNU Midnight Commander is a feature-rich visual file manager. This full-screen, text-mode application allows you to copy, move and delete files and whole directory trees; search for files and run commands in the subshell. An internal viewer and editor are included. BorgClown likes it because "it’s much faster navigating a complex directory structure than typing directory names, even with tab completion. You can customize the F2 menu, which passes the selected item to your chosen command. Arrows, Enter and Functions accomplish a lot of work by themselves."

ttyplot is a simple, realtime plotting utility for Terminal with data input from STDIN. It takes data from standard input, usually unix pipeline, and plots in text mode on a Terminal or Console. Supports rate calculation for counters and up to two graphs on a single display using reverse video for second line. phils_lab finds it useful to "pipe in any numeric STDOUT ... to make it into a ascii graph. [And because it] also supports two seperated metrics."

Netwrix Lockout Examiner is a free tool that alerts you to account lockouts in real time and helps to quickly troubleshoot and resolve them. bUSHwACKEr85 says "I found this tool to be really valuable. I have it running on a DC so that it can send an email alert to me and a colleague, I also have it on my desktop where I can unlock the account. You can also interrogate the machine where the lockout occurs for its cause."

Rainmeter is an open-source desktop customization tool that allows you to display customizable skins on your desktop—from hardware usage meters to fully functional audio visualizers. It comes with a few simple starter skins, and a thriving community shares their creations and support.

Pageant is an SSH authentication agent that makes it easier to connect to Unix or Linux machines via PuTTY. Appreciated by plazman30 who says, "It took me WAY TOO LONG to discover this one. Pageant is a component of Putty. It sits in your system tray and will let you load SSH keys into it and pass them through to putty, WinSCP, and number of other apps that support it."

NCurses Disk Usage is a disk usage analyzer with an ncurses interface. It is fast, simple and easy and should run in any minimal POSIX-like environment with ncurses installed. Recommended by durgadas as "something I install on all my Linuxes... Makes finding out sizes semi-graphical, [with] super easy nav. Good for places without monitoring—lightweight and fast; works on nearly all flavors of Unix I've needed."

BookStack is a simple, self-hosted wiki tool that can be a great way to organize your tech information. All content is fully searchable, with cross-book sorting, page revisions and image management. Includes a full role and permission system to lock down content and actions as needed. Thanks to codywarmbo for the suggestion.

AutoHotkey is an open-source scripting language for Windows that helps you easily create small to complex scripts for all sorts of tasks (form fillers, auto-clicking, macros, etc.) Automate any desktop task with this small, fast tool that runs out-of-the-box. Recommended by plazman30 as a "pretty robust Windows scripting language. I use it mostly for on-the-fly pattern substitution. It's nice to be able to type 'bl1' and have it auto-replace it my bridge line phone number."

PingInfoView lets you easily ping multiple host names and IP addresses, with the results compiled in a single table. Automatically pings all hosts at the interval you specify, and displays the number of successful and failed pings, as well as average ping time. Results can be saved as a text/html/xml file or copied to the clipboard. Thanks go to sliced_BR3AD for this one.

Microsoft Safety Scanner helps you find and remove malware from computers running Windows 10, Windows 10 Tech Preview, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server Tech Preview, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2008. Only scans when manually triggered, and it is recommended you download a new version prior to each scan to make sure it is updated for the latest threats. 

Spiceworks Network Monitor and Helpdesk allows you to launch a fully-loaded help desk in minutes. This all-in-one solution includes inventory, network monitor and helpdesk. 

DriveDroid simulates a USB thumbdrive or CD-drive via the mass storage capabilities in the Android/Linux kernel. Any ISO/IMG files on the phone can be exposed to a PC, as well as any other USB thumbdrive capabilities, including booting from the drive. Can be a quick and easy option for OS installations, rescues or occasions when it helps to have a portable OS handy. Suggested by codywarmbo, who likes it because of the ability to "Boot a PC using ISO files stored on your Android phone... Having a 256GB SD full of any OS you want is super handy!"

FreeIPA is an integrated identity and authentication solution for Linux/UNIX networked environments. It combines Linux (Fedora), 389 Directory Server, MIT Kerberos, NTP, DNS and Dogtag (Certificate System). Provides centralized authentication, authorization and account information by storing data about user, groups, hosts and other objects necessary to manage the security of a network. Thanks to skarsol, who recommends it as an open-source solution for cross-system, cross-platform, multi-user authentication.

Desktop Info displays system information on your desktop, like wallpaper, but stays in memory and updates in real time. Can be great for walk-by monitoring. Recommended by w1llynilly, who says, "It has 2 pages by default for metrics about the OS and the network/hardware. It is very lightweight and was recommended to me when I was looking for BGInfo alternatives."

CLCL is a free, clipboard caching utility that supports all clipboard formats. Features a customizable menu. According to JediMasterSeamus, this clipboard manager "saves so much time. And you can save templates for quick responses or frequently typed stuff."

 

Free Services

SSL Labs SSL Server Test is a free online service that will run a deep analysis on the configuration for any SSL web server. Simply enter the hostname, and you'll get a detailed report highlighting any problems found on each server.

Draw.io is a free, browser-based diagramming application that's terrific for creating flowcharts and org charts. It's available as an online application with optional integration to various cloud storage options.

ImmuniWeb® SSLScan allows you to test SSL/TLS security and implementation for compliance with PCI DSS requirements, HIPAA guidance and NIST guidelines. Checks SSL certificate expiration for subdomains, insecure third-party content, and email servers’ SPF, DKIM, and DMARC implementation. Credit for this one goes to pixl_graphix.

BadSSL.com offers a simple, free way to test a browser's security setup. This helpful service was suggested by Already__Taken who advises you to "test what your MITM proxy will happily re-sign and present to you as a valid site."

Testssl.sh is a free command line tool that checks a server's service on any port for the support of TLS/SSL ciphers, protocols, recent cryptographic flaws and more. Recommended by stuck_in_the_tubes who likes it "for when you need to assess protocol encryption without the use of external services."

UptimeRobot is a service that alerts you whenever your monitored websites are down. Sites are checked every 5 minutes (or more depending on settings), and alerts can go out via e-mail, SMS, voice calls, Telegram, Slack, Microsoft Teams, push or web-hooks. It allows you to check HTTP(s), ping, port and keywords; view uptime, downtime and response times; verify downtime from multiple locations; and adjust settings to ignore minor downtimes or maintenance windows. Thanks go to orgitnized for suggesting this one!

Blacklist Monitor is an RBL monitoring service that can monitor all your IP addresses and domain names and notify you should anything get blacklisted. Helps you quickly find the source of the spam or malware that's affecting you and immediately begin the delisting process. The service is free for up to 32 IPv4 and domain monitors.

Wetransfer is a simple, easy-to-use cloud-based file transfer service that allows you to send files up to 2 GB anywhere in the world free of charge.

Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."

Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.

Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a server/router with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."

 

Quotes

"Passwords are like underwear. You shouldn't leave them out where people can see them. You should change them regularly. And you shouldn't loan them out to strangers." Source Unknown

"Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks."  An Unknown SysAdmin.

"If you want immediate feedback, always make changes in production" Source: Unknown.

"It's easy to forget that the ultimate goal of systems administration is to make systems, applications and services available to people who use them to get their jobs done. A good systems administrator must be able to communicate and get along well with others." Source article here

"A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history—with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila." Mitch Ratcliffe

 

Tips

Are you being effective or just efficient? “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” This can make all the difference whether you're a SysAdmin, CTO or MSP. The way I think about this is essentially; are you being very organized (effective) working towards your specific goals (effective), or just being organized, feeling good about it, but achieving little. Read more about this in the "Effective Executive" by Peter Drucker.

Speed up your mouse pointer. Mine is at max. Try it. It's strange for the first hour, then you get used to it and get everything done faster. 

Windows Key + directional arrows will move and resize windows. (I.e., Windows Key + Up will maximize the window, windows key + left will snap it to the left of the screen and make it full height, WK + right will do the same but on the right side of the screen, WK + down will minimize the window.)

From greatshittywifi: "For Windows desktop cleanup I just wrote a simple batch script. Make yourself a folder called "sorted" or something and in it a subfolder for common file types "jpg", "png", "gif", etc. Then open up notepad, and paste this in:

move *.jpg "F:\sorted\jpg\"
move *.png "F:\sorted\png\"
move *.gif "F:\sorted\gif\"

Save it with a .bat extension, and voila! I'm sure you could modify this approach to detect file extensions, then mkdirs and move everything from a for loop if you want to go that far."

Quickly Find a MAC Address. Rather than going through network dialog windows or scrolling through long lists via ipconfig, simply open up a command prompt and type getmac. It’s quick, and easy, especially if you have multiple NIC interfaces.

Import PST files to Office 365 Exchange. For all of you Office 365 users, this is an option you need in your armory. 

Here's a simple trick for physically tracing unlabeled server-room cables: Slide a velcro loop or binder clip along the cable until you reach the other end. 

Use a mobile app barcode scanner to input IT hardware inventory. Just scan, then copy and paste instead of entering manually. You'll save a little time and eliminate the possibility of introducing typos.

For access to all of the sysinternals tools on any Windows box with internet, just Win+R and open \\live.sysinternals.com\tools. It's a public SMB share with all of the tools that Microsoft hosts. Thanks to jedieaston for the tip.

BASH keyboard shortcut: 'Control + r' initiates a name/command lookup from the bash history. As you type, this 'reverse incremental search' will autocomplete with the most-recent match from your history.

Here are some helpful, lesser-known keyboard shortcuts for Windows, pulled together by sysadmin brother_bean.

Press the Windows Key + ...

  • Left or Right arrow—to snap the active window to half of the screen. (You can also do this by clicking and dragging your active window and smashing it into the left or right side of the screen.)
  • Up arrow—to maximize active window.
  • D—takes you to your desktop again to go back to your active window.
  • M—to minimize everything.
  • Shift + Left or Right arrow—to send your active window to the next monitor over, left or right respectively.

More keyboard shortcuts for Windows. Thanks for these go to RegularAlicorn.

  • Win + Ctrl + D—New virtual desktop
  • Win + Ctrl + (Left Arrow|Right Arrow)—Switch virtual desktop backward/forward
  • Ctrl + Shift + Enter (from the Start Menu)—Open focus program with admin privilege
  • Win + X (Win8+)—Really neat menu (RegularAlicorn's most-used shortcut) 
  • Win + Pause—Open the system settings
  • Win + L—Lock your computer
  • Ctrl + Win + Shift + B—Reset the graphics driver (may help avoid a restart for docking issues)

Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:

  • Win + Shift + S: Captures a user-selectable area of the screen to the clipboard (on Windows 10 Ver 1703+)
  • WIN + CTRL + F4: Close a virtual desktop

 

Podcasts

Sysadmin Today. EveryCloud was featured on this podcast and it is hosted by a (now) partner of ours, but it's mostly about his experiences as a Sysadmin.

DevOpsCafe. The new Season is now live from this impressive podcast by John Willis & Damon Edwards, which includes interviews and stories from the world of DevOps & System Administration. 

The Admin Admin Podcast. A British IT Admin Podcast I stumbled across "for people who work in the Real world of IT. If you are a sysadmin or want to learn more about servers this podcast is for you."

Iron Sysadmin Podcast. This podcast features expert sysadmins covering all manner of topics of interest in their field. Since 2016, Iron Sysadmin has been covering the latest industry news, ideas, strategies, and chat—always with a focus on the practical needs of real-world sysadmins.

Darknet Diaries podcast relates the fascinating, true stories of hackers, defenders, threats, malware, botnets, breaches, and privacy. The show's producer, Jack Rhysider, is a security-world veteran who gained experience fighting such exploits at a Security Operations Center. Thanks to  unarj for suggesting this one.

StormCast is a daily 5-10 minute podcast from the Internet Storm Center covering the latest information security threat updates. New podcasts are released late in the day, so they're waiting for you to listen on your morning commute. While the format is compact, the information is very high-level and provides a real overview of the current state of affairs in the info-sec world.

Microsoft Cloud IT Pro podcast is hosted by Scott and Ben, two IT Pros with expertise in SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure. The podcast focuses primarily on Office 365 with some discussion on Azure, especially as it relates to Office 365 in areas such as Azure AD and Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management (MAM).

Datanauts podcast keeps you up to date on developments in data center and infrastructure related to cloud, storage, virtualization, containers, networking, and convergence. Discussions focus on data center compute, storage, networking and automation to explore the newest technologies, including hyperconvergence and cloud.

Cloud Architects is a podcast on best practices, the latest news, and cutting-edge Microsoft cloud technologies. Nicolas Blank, Warren du Toit and Chris Goosen host discussions with various experts in the cloud space to gather helpful guidance and ideas.

Risky Business is a weekly podcast that covers both the latest news and thoughtful, in-depth discussions with the top minds in the security industry. Hosted by award-winning journalist Patrick Gray, it is a terrific way to stay up to date on information security.

The rollBak is a podcast on systems engineering, DevOps, networking, and automation—along with the odd discussion on software development or information security. Conversation is casual with the intention of making complex topics approachable in a way that fosters learning.

Podnutz Tech Podcast Network offers assorted podcasts targeted toward end users of all different kinds of tech. Topics range from Windows residential and business support to computer repair to Linux (for regular people) to Android games. Because the hosts are also end users, conversation is always appropriately focused and interesting. Thanks to speel for the recommendation!

Smashing Security is a podcast featuring computer security industry veterans Graham Cluley and Carole Theriault. The hosts discuss cybercrime, hacking, and online privacy with assorted expert guests in an informative and entertaining style. Winner: "Best Security Podcast 2018."

Jupiter Broadcasting is a podcast network built on the initial success of "The Linux Action Show!" The network is currently home to a number of informed and entertaining shows on Linux, Open Source, Security, Privacy, Community, Development, News and Politics. Our thanks to speel for directing us to this one.

Security Now is a podcast where hosts Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte discuss hot topics in security. Gibson is about as expert in security as one can get—he's the man who literally invented the term spyware and he created the first anti-spyware program. Laporte is founder and owner of the TWiT Netcast Network and has a long history in tech and media. Records live every Tuesday.

RunAs Radio is a weekly podcast for the sysadmin who works with Microsoft products. A new 30-minute episode comes out every Wednesday, covering a specific topic in the field of IT from a Microsoft-centric viewpoint. Join host Richard Campbell in his informative discussions with a different guest expert each week. Thanks to johnjohnjohn87 for pointing us to this one.

Defrag Tools is a show in which MS experts explain how to make the best use of the tools from SysInternals. Each episode focuses on a specific tool in depth to cover features, appropriate uses, and how to get the most from it. New episodes appear each week. Our appreciation for this one goes to Phil4real.

The Case of the Unexplained is a webcast of Mark Russinovich's #1-rated TechEd sessions showing how to troubleshoot the toughest Windows and application problems using Sysinternals and other advanced tools. Each episode covers different techniques for troubleshooting using real-world examples. Appreciation to bagaudin for the recommendation.

Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.

This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon. 

Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.

 

Tutorials

50 UNIX / Linux Sysadmin Tutorials. Enjoy! 

TechNet for Microsoft. The TechNet Library contains technical documentation for IT professionals using Microsoft products, tools, and technologies. ​

OmniSecu.com. Free Networking Tutorials, Free System Administration Tutorials and Free Security Tutorials. So much here.

Techgenix. Azure, Powershell, Active Directory Tutorials and more. Tons to learn.

SysAdmin Tutorials. Organised neatly into subjects from Microsoft to Cisco, you'll find easy to follow videos for SysAdmins and IT Pros generally.

John Lambert's Office Lures Presentation. "Has some high-quality training material for common phish attacks that are a more subtle than the usual Nigerian prince. John is a security researcher at Microsoft and is a solid twitter follow as well if you like seeing emergent threats and nature hikes simultaneously." Thank you for the tip ReallyLongUserName01.

Get Started in PowerShell3 is a great jump start video series on starting out in PowerShell. According to sysadmin FireLucid, "It's a great broad overview of how it works and I found it extremely useful to have watched before starting on the book."

Sysinternals Video Library is a series of six videos on Windows troubleshooting topics. Recently, presenters Mark Russinovich (cofounder of Winternals and Sysinternals) and David Solomon (Windows internals expert and trainer) kindly agreed to make the videos available for free—and much of the information, while dated, is still useful. Shared by andyinv who says they're "13 years out of date now, but the basics still apply." ZAFJB adds that the "videos are still relevant. These tools are virtually unchanged since then... [because] they were properly written and damn good from the outset." 

 

Thoughts

 

ASAP is Poison. When everything is urgent, nothing is. Don't get a reputation as the ASAP gal / guy, or nobody will take you seriously when you really need them. Paraphrased from a great book on building a business. REWORK from the Founders of Basecamp
 

Travel Jackets

BAUBAX 2.0. This one was found by my business partner Matt Baker. If you have to travel a lot with your role, you'll love this. 

SCOTTeVEST. The last travel Jacket I included had the most clicks to date... Not sure what that say's about you guys... Secretly wanting to travel the world on a motorbike? Anyway, staven11 threw this one in the ring. 
 

IT Admin Knives

Maker Knife. This one came from our own team. It's very cool and now you'll look forward to cutting those cables! 
 

Websites

MS Exchange Guru. This is actually run by a friend of ours (you’ll note the MailFlow Monitor banner) who has helped us with a number of challenging exchange issues. It's amazing for all things exchange and email. 

LandScape by Alen Kremlj. This great overview lists the various vendors in each space.

explainshell.com. A website that explains shell commands. If you are unfamiliar with certain commands or switches this will give you a breakdown of that specific command.

Spiceworks.com. It's a bit of everything for IT. IT Pro forum, product reviews, free software and tutorials. Check it out, we've been using it for years.

KrebsOnSecurity. I've had the pleasure of talking with Brian but even prior to this I was a fan of his honest, clear and informative site. It's a source I trust for all things security. 

GFI TechTalk is an online community for IT pros. Experts weigh in on the latest technologies and ideas in system administration. Features news, insights, and tools.

Awesome Sysadmin. "A curated list of amazingly awesome open source sysadmin resources." Thank you ReallyLongUserName01 for the suggestion. There is so much good stuff in here.

Experts Exchange. We've found this useful over the years to learn more about a particular topic, but also to dig deeper and get answers to tricker technical challenges.

400+ Free Resources for Sysadmins. Thanks DZone and Morpheus Data for this list of free resources for DevOps engineers and System Admins, or really anyone wanting to build something useful out of the internet.

Servers For Hackers. Teaching the server tech you need for development and production. Eliminating the frustration of server configuration. Start here.

4sysops is an online community for IT professionals. "In our weblog, experienced IT pros cover the latest technologies in system administration, cloud computing and DevOps. On our news page, you'll find updates about new developments in IT, in the wiki users can share their IT know-how, and in the forum, members can ask IT administration questions or discuss the latest hot IT topics. The most active members are rewarded with a monthly bonus."

Reddit SysAdmin Multi: /r/netsec /r/networking /r/pwned /r/linuxadmin all in one! I've just worked out you can string multiple subreddits together, so I thought I'd share.

/r/PowerShell. tattsumi pointed out this lesser known subreddit for Powershell. Check out this 'Sneaky PowerShell Trick' to run completely without a window. 

Wahl Network is a weekly technical blog with a focus on data-center technologies, business challenges, and new products and solutions. The site was founded by Chris Wahl in 2010, with a goal of providing technical solutions for SysAdmins.

Ask Woody is a no-nonsense news, tips, and help site for Windows, Office, and more. You can post questions about Windows 10, Win8.1, Win7, Surface, Office, or browse through their forums. Recommended to us by deeperdownunder.

Learn X in Y minutes is a community-driven site that provides quick syntax for many popular programming languages. Here are direct links for some common ones, kindly provided by ssebs:

WintelGuy offers a handy collection of useful links, calculators, resources, and tools for the sysadmin. Thanks LateralLimey for the recommendation!

How-To Geek is a website dedicated to explaining today's technology. Content is written to be useful for all audiences—from regular people to geeky technophiles—and the focus is to put the latest news and tech into context. 

EventSentry is a comprehensive, well-organized resource for Windows security events and auditing on the web. It allows you to see how events correlate using insertion strings and review the associated audit instructions. This was recommended by _deftoner_ as an “online DB where you can search for Windows Event Log by id, os, error code, etc. I do a lot of auditing on a big network thru event log ids, and sometimes I found rare errors—and there is not a good db with all of them. Not even Microsoft has one.”

NixCraft is an online community of new and experienced Linux and Unix sysadmins. Content includes research and discussion on various open-source software, including enterprise Linux distributions, traditional Unix operating systems like OpenBSD/AIX/HP-UX, cloud computing, building scalable and high availability infrastructure, networking/DNS/Web/Proxy/office servers, security and firewalls, automation and infrastructure deployment, Desktop Linux, Apple OS X Unix operating systems, best practices and easy-to-follow tutorials.

The Deployment Bunny offers a wealth of Information and resources on OS deployment, virtualization and Microsoft-based infrastructure. The website is the brainchild of deployment expert Mikael Nystrom, a Microsoft MVP and Senior Executive Consultant at TrueSec. Mikael has worked with all kinds of infrastructure tasks, in all kinds of environments, from enterprise to small business and is often selected by Microsoft for partner trainings or to speak at major conferences. His current area of interest is in building Private Cloud solutions based on Hyper-V, System Center and Windows Azure pack as well as building deployment solutions for client and Server OS.

Slipstick Systems Outlook and Exchange Solutions Center is the website of Diane Poremsky, an Outlook MVP and author of several books on the topic. The site offers help for Outlook users and Exchange Administrators. Resources include hints, utilities, apps, tutorials, updates and a forum.

PoshGUI is a very simple GUI designer for Powershell that provides a way to develop GUIs quickly without a paid application or manual coding. Suggested by quarky_uk and IT_2784628364, who says, "That site changed my life."

 

Books

The Practice of Cloud System Administration: DevOps and SRE Practices for Web Services, Volume 2 is a comprehensive guide to cloud computing. Using examples from Google, Etsy, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, and others, concepts are explained such that practical applications become clear. Major topics include designing modern web and distributed systems, using the latest DevOps/SRE strategies, and evaluating your team’s operational effectiveness.

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. A great read to geek out on, packed with tons of stories about how our modern IT world has come about, including how the first programming language was written by a woman during the 19th century.

Taming Information Technology: Lessons from Studies of System Administrators. "It is essentially an ethnographic study of system administrators. The authors videotaped and otherwise documented SA's over a period of time and were able to break down a number of fascinating incidents and how to improve the art. I'm disappointed this hasn't been recommended reading for all SA's and maybe more importantly, their bosses, who too often don't really know what SA's do." Thank you very much for point this out AngryMountainBiker.

The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage. As one review says: "A great read. If you're a Unix sysadmin, like me, you will recognize and empathize with a lot of the concepts. If you've been doing sysadmin work for more than a decade, like myself, then you'll remember the old technologies as described in this book - the modems, the bulletin boards, the days before "ssh" ... If you're a new-school sysadmin, then you will be surprised to see a lot of things haven't changed in the world of Unix: telnet is still around, the "root" account is still around. The foundations of Unix were laid in the early 1970s. The events of this book took place in the 1980s. And many of the command line tools are still in use today."

Time Management for System Administrators: Stop Working Late and Start Working Smart. I'm a big fan of time management or more specifically using the time we have to be as effective (not just efficient) as possible. This book had been recommended to the team as it tackles this subject specifically for SysAdmins. 

The Practice of System and Network Administration: Volume 1: DevOps and other Best Practices for Enterprise IT (3rd Edition). As a recent review puts it "This book is a crucial library item for any System or Network Administrator regardless of how many years you have under your belt. I picked up the second edition when I first became a sysadmin and it helped me a lot throughout my career. I was very excited when it was announced that this third edition was coming as the second edition has not aged well. The third edition is the perfect, much needed update to the second edition. This new version is definitely now up-to-date and should hopefully give us another decade of service. I definitely recommend this book for the sysadmin in your life or in your office. I always recommend it to my colleagues as it contains valuable information for your career. In fact, buy a few copies because if you loan this book out, I doubt you'll get it back!"

Ghost in the Wires. This is the intriguing true story of Kevin Mitnick, who was the most-elusive computer hacker in history. He broke into networks at the world's biggest companies, all the while being pursued by the Feds. The complex cat-and-mouse game that ensued ultimately inspired permanent changes in the way companies protect their sensitive data.

Essential System Administration is a practical, comprehensive guide for the Unix sysadmin, covering all the fundamentals required to run AIX, FreeBSD, HP-UX, Linux, Solaris, Tru64, and more. Organized to fit the system administrator's job, it discusses higher-level concepts and the procedural details to carry them out. This updated version covers: DHCP, USB devices, the latest automation tools, SNMP and network management, LDAP, PAM, and recent security tools and techniques.

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win tells the story of an IT manager's efforts to save his company's dysfunctional IT dept. The company's new IT initiative, code named Phoenix Project, is behind schedule and hugely over budget. Bill is given 90 days to resolve the entire mess—or have his entire department outsourced. An entertaining read, with elements that seem familiar to most system admins. Comes highly recommended by sp00n_b3nd3r.

UNIX® and Linux® System Administration Handbook, 5th Edition, is a comprehensive guide written by world-class, hands-on experts. It covers best practices for every area of system administration—including storage management, network design and administration, security, web hosting, automation, configuration management, performance analysis, virtualization, DNS, security, and management of IT service organizations. You'll learn all about installing, configuring, and maintaining any UNIX or Linux system, even those that supply core Internet and cloud infrastructure. A great resource for anyone responsible for running systems built on UNIX or Linux.

Taming Information Technology: Lessons from Studies of System Administrators (Human Technology Interaction Series) was suggested by AngryMountainBiker, who describes it as "essentially an ethnographic study of system administrators. The authors videotaped and otherwise documented SA's over a period of time and were able to break down a number of fascinating incidents and how to improve the art. I'm disappointed this hasn't been recommended reading for all SA's and maybe more importantly, their bosses, who too often don't really know what SA's do."

Learn Active Directory Management in a Month of Lunches is a practical, hands-on guide for those who are new to Active Directory. It covers the administration tasks that keep a network running smoothly and how to administer AD both from the GUI tools built into Windows and from PowerShell at the command line. Provides best practices for managing user access, setting group policies, automating backups, and more. All examples are based in Windows Server 2012.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World teaches the reader to foster the ability to focus without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks. Author and professor Cal Newport celebrates the power of such focus by demonstrating how a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits in virtually any profession. He then shares a series of four rules to adapt your thinking and habits to foster the deep work state. Suggested by wheres_my_toast, who sees it as "a nice little exploration of the psychology behind distraction free work [that] outlines some nice methods for building "deep work" sessions into your routine."

PowerShell in Depth, 2nd Edition is an invaluable reference guide for any Windows admin who already knows the basics of PowerShell. Written by PowerShell MVPs Don Jones, Jeffrey Hicks, and Richard Siddaway, the book covers in detail every major technique, technology, and tactic an admin would need to be able to work in PowerShell. Each technique has been developed and thoroughly tested, so you will be learning how to write production-quality, maintainable scripts—efficiently and easily. For PowerShell version 3 and later.

Pro SQL Server Internals, 2nd ed. is for developers and database admins who want to design, develop and maintain systems that best leverage SQL Server. The book fosters an understanding of how to get to the root causes of problems rather than slapping quick-fixes on the resulting symptoms. Explains how different components work in depth, how they communicate with each other and how different design and implementation decisions affect system performance. Recommended by become_taintless for learning "how SQL Server works on a deeply technical level."

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance. 

Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
 

Hardening Guides


CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."

 

SysAdmin Blogs

Spamresource.com. One close to our hearts. There is so much useful information in here on spam prevention and deliverability. 

LoneSysAdmin.net. "Hi, I’m Bob Plankers. I am a virtualization architect, system administrator, storage administrator, network administrator, end user, project manager, and developer."

Kevin Marquette's Blog about PowerShell is packed full of value. Kevin also recommends the PowerShell News Podcast, which you can check out here.

10 Things is a blog on assorted technologies, strategies, and techniques of interest to the IT professional. Content is broken down into informative 10-point lists, so it's always a quick, concise read. 

All About Microsoft. Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley's blog covers the products, people, and strategies that make Microsoft tick.

The Daily WTF. Founded in 2004 by Alex Papadimoulis, The Daily WTF is your how-not-to guide for developing software. We recount tales of disastrous development, from project management gone spectacularly bad to inexplicable coding choices.

Ned Pyle's blog from Microsoft's Directory Services Team contains a wealth of posts on best practices and solutions to common issues. While no longer actively maintained by Ned Pyle, the library of information already posted is incredibly valuable. Thanks to azers for bringing this to our attention.

Happy SysAdm has been providing resources, solutions and tips for system administrators since 2010. The blog is written by a Senior Systems Administrator with close to 15 years experience in designing, scripting, monitoring and performance-tuning Microsoft environments going all the way back to Windows 3.1/95/NT4.

Stephanos Constantinou's Blog shares the author's original scripts for PowerShell, Microsoft Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange On-Premise and Online (Office 365) and Microsoft Azure. His current focus is on retrieving data from systems, editing it and automating procedures. You'll also find a section with some PowerShell tutorials.

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Blog is written by Charles Parker, a Microsoft certified Deployment Specialist who has been working in systems deployment since 2005. The blog documents what the author has learned over time in the hope of making systems deployment projects easier for sysadmins and their end users. Topics covered are of interest for a breadth of different experience levels—from those new to deploying Windows with MDT or for intermediate MDT users.

Technology—The Missing Manual was recommended by ibay770 as another great resource for Windows software. The colleciton is divided into sections: video/music, Office, basics, browsers, antivirus/firewall, wifi stuff, mobile, miscellaneous and more. Includes links to lots of awesome tools and other software for Windows.

Vinfrastructure is Andrea Mauro's blog on virtualization, cloud and storage. The author shares his knowledge as a virtualization expert and architect, system administrator on Linux and Windows OS, network and storage specialist, and teacher (both for industry and university). It was voted among the top virtualization blogs in 2017.

TechBunny: Random Thoughts About Tech is a blog by Jennelle Crothers, who spent 15 years as a SysAdmin overseeing Windows domains, Exchange Server, desktops and other IT systems. As a Microsoft Technology Evangelist for IT Professionals, she writes about the latest news and hints for getting the most out of Microsoft technologies.

The Practical Sysadmin is where Josh Reichardt shares the interesting tidbits he discovers while designing and building simple, scalable systems. The blog covers a broad range of tech topics, with some recent areas of interest being building Docker, Rancher, Kubernetes and other distributed systems, as well as automating infrastructure with code.

Adam the Automator is the blog of Adam Bertram—founder of the tech startup TechSnips, Microsoft Powershell MVP, Pluralsight and Udemy training course author, and technology writer for both print and online tech publications. Posts are focused on automation via software, DevOps and scripting.

NT Weekly is a technology blog focused on Microsoft Azure Infrastructure. Posts go back to 2006, and there are over 1100 to date on topics related to Windows Server, Exchange, Office 365, Azure AD and Intune. All the approaches featured were tested and used in production and test environments. Recommended by ShyAwayFromLight, as a good resource.

 

IT Pro Comedy

The Expert. This one made me laugh, having been on both sides of the table. Ever been in a meeting like this? 

Shit Sales People Say is a humorous Twitter account lamenting the difficulties sales people tend to create for those who have to implement. A bit of fun to break up the day of any sysadmin who's stuck trying to deliver on all those promises. A shout out to kenelbow for the suggestion!

A joke, compliments of SonOfDadOfSam:

A programmer is going to the store.
His wife says, "Get a loaf of bread—and if they have eggs, get a dozen."
The guy comes back with 12 loaves of bread.
His wife says, "Why did you buy so much bread?"
He says, "They had eggs."

Thanks to CoilDomain, figfigworkwork and wagodago for these clever jokes that most people will never understand:

I'd tell you a joke about UDP, but you probably wouldn't get it.

A TCP packet walks into a bar and says, "I'd like a beer."
The bartender replies, "You want a beer?"
The TCP packet replies, "Yes, I'd like a beer."

An SQL statement walks into a bar and sees two tables.
It approaches and asks, "May I join you?"

 

Phishing Quiz

Jigsaw Google Phishing Quiz is a quick way to answer the question, "Can you recognize when you're being phished?" This 8-question quiz presents realistic examples that help you assess just how good your internal "phish detector" is at identifying warning signs in assorted scenarios. It's a nice assessment tool as well as providing a bit of training on whatever you might miss, since the quiz also reviews the tell-tale signs present in each scenario.

 

Good Twitter Follows

SwiftPOnSecurity. "I talk systems security, author https://DecentSecurity.com  + http://GotPhish.com, write Scifi, sysadmin, & use Oxford commas. Kinda prefer they/them."
 

Slack Channels

PowerShell Slack. "We have had a Virtual User Group on FreeNode IRC since before PowerShell was generally available, and we added a PowerShell Slack chapter years ago. Join the thousands of members getting real-time assistance!"
 

Local Hosting

Awesome Selfhosted is a large list of free software network services and web applications that can be hosted locally—with an eye toward self hosting (locally hosting and managing applications instead of renting from SaaS providers). Example list categories include:

  • Analytics
  • Archiving and Digital Preservation (DP)
  • Automation
  • Blogging Platforms

...and that just the tip of the iceberg!

 

Everything

The Book of Secret Knowledge is an extensive collection of helpful lists, manuals, blogs, hacks, one-liners, cli/web tools and more that can be useful in the daily life of a SysAdmin. For example:

  • Can I use provides up-to-date browser support tables for support of front-end web technologies.
  • ShellCheck finds bugs in your shell scripts.
  • Shell & Utilities describes the commands and utilities offered to application programs by POSIX-conformant

It is intended for everyone and anyone—especially for System and Network Administrators, DevOps, Pentesters or Security Researchers. Thanks to wheybee99 for sharing this one!

 

If you found this list helpful, then please share it. It helps us make IT Pro Tuesday better and better.

(Share by Email | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin)

(Report Outdated Items)