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Tool Time: 175 Free Tools for the Taking

You probably know that the "Tool Time" column highlights free tools, but did you know that you can also find information about freebies in other articles on the Windows IT Pro network? In case you missed them, here are some of those articles. (If you want to see a list of the Tool Time columns we've featured so far, go to "The Reader to Reader 'Tool Time' Reference".)

29 Freebies for Virtualization
If you work with virtual machines (VMs), check out the following 29 tools:

"Virtualization on the Cheap"

  1. Catbird Compliance Enforcer. Analyzes existing virtual infrastructures, then highlights rogue VMs, quarantines suspect VMs, and generates compliance and security reports.
  2. Citrix XenServer. Is a virtualization platform.
  3. ConfigCheck. Evaluates an ESX Server installation to see whether it's configured properly and in accordance with VMware's best practices, particularly with regard to security guidelines.
  4. EasyVMX. Lets you create web-based VMs.
  5. Hyper-V. Is a virtualization platform.
  6. Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit. Searches out computers in a network, then generates a detailed inventory using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), SNMP, or Remote Registry Service.
  7. Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. Is a virtualization platform.
  8. OpsCheck. Troubleshoots configuration problems that might cause VMware VMotion to encounter problems.
  9. PlateSpin Recon Inventory Edition. Profiles and analyzes data centers, then gathers information about traffic, workload, asset inventory, and application services.
  10. Veeam Monitor Free Edition. Monitors VMware ESX and ESXi environments in real-time.
  11. Virtual Iron Single Server Edition. Is a virtualization platform.
  12. VirtualBox. Is a virtualization platform.
  13. Vizioncore vOptimizer FreeWare. Squeezes Microsoft and VMware VMs into more manageable sizes.
  14. VMware ESXi. Is a virtualization platform.
  15. VMware Player. Loads and run VMs created by other virtualization products.
  16. V-Scout. Aggregates and organizes information from up to two VMware VirtualCenter installations.

"More Free Virtualization Tools"

  1. PHD website. Offers several free VMware utilities (e.g., VMNetBac, SnapHunter).
  2. VM Explorer (VMX). Powers VMs on or off as well as backs up and restores VMs.
  3. website. Offers several free virtualization utilities (e.g., GetVMwareDocs, Visio Action Pack).

"Free Virtualization Utilities"

  1. ISO Recorder. Creates and burns ISO images.
  2. Ultimate-P2V. Converts physical systems to VMs.
  3. VHD Resizer. Expands and shrinks .vhd files.
  4. VHDMount. Mounts a .vhd file as a local drive.
  5. Virtual Floppy Drive. Mounts a virtual floppy drive from a VM.
  6. Virtual Machine Remote Control Client Plus (VMRCplus). Manages, configures, and connects to Microsoft VMs.
  7. VMDK to VHD Converter. Converts VMware images to Microsoft images.
  8. VMmark. Benchmarks applications running in VMware VMs.
  9. VMware Converter. Converts physical machines or Microsoft VMs to VMware VMs.
  10. VMware Workstation 5.5 Disk Mount Utility. Mounts a VMware.vhd file on a Windows host.

Note that you can find more information about Hyper-V, VMware ESXi, and Citrix XenServer in "Free Hypervisors Extend Your IT Resources".

34 Freebies for Windows Administration
If you're responsible for managing, monitoring, securing, or documenting Windows systems, the following 34 freebies might be of interest:

"Cool Free Tools for Windows Admins"

  1. Desktop Restore. Records the position of desktop icons and restores desktop layouts.
  2. InfraRecorder. Burns ISO images and creates data and audio CDs and DVDs.
  3. Lansweeper. Is a network inventory tool that performs hardware scanning, software scanning, and Active Directory (AD) reporting.
  4. Notepad++. Is a text and code editor.
  5. NTFS Undelete. Recovers deleted files that are no longer in the recycle bin.
  6. Paint.NET. Manipulates images.
  7. PING. Makes a sector-based image copy of a disk partition.
  8. Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE). Lets you make a Windows command-line boot recovery DVD.
  9. XML Notepad. Is a specialized XML editor.
  10. ZoomIt. Magnifies portions of a screen and lets you draw on and annotate the screen.

"8 Absolutely Cool, Totally Free Utilities"

  1. BareTail. Monitors log files in real time.
  2. Ethereal. Is a protocol analyzer.
  3. FileZilla. Is a GUI FTP client.
  4. Ngrep. Is a packet sniffer based on finding matching text strings.
  5. NeWT. Is a vulnerability scanner. (If you're interested in obtaining this software after reading about it, go to
  6. OpenSSH. Creates secure, encrypted shell sessions.
  7. WinDump. Is a command-line packet sniffer. (If you're interested in obtaining this software after reading about it, go to
  8. Winfingerprint. Is a network scanner.

"8 More Absolutely Cool, Totally Free Utilities"

  1. LocatePC. Emails you whenever any private or public IP address in your system changes.
  2. Open Computers and Software Inventory (OCS Inventory NG). Provides detailed inventory data for an entire network of computers as well as deploys packages. (If you're interested in obtaining this software after reading about it, go to
  3. PRTG Traffic Grapher. Is a network monitor.
  4. SyncBack. Backs up or synchronizes files to another location.
  5. System Information for Windows (SIW). Gathers detailed information about a computer's system properties, settings, and displays.
  6. TrueCrypt. Is disk encryption software. (You can find more information about TrueCrypt in "Tool Time: Encrypt Files with AxCrypt".)
  7. WinDirStat. Determines how space is being utilized across disks and visually represents the results in multiple ways.
  8. Wink. Builds screencast recordings. (The write-up for this tool isn't in the main article but rather its sidebar "Screencasting with Wink". If you're interested in obtaining this software after reading about it, go to

"Yet Another 8 Absolutely Cool, Totally Free Utilities"

  1. CamStudio. Builds screencast recordings.
  2. CDBurnerXP. Burns CD-ROMs, DVDs, audio CDs, and ISO images.
  3. Comodo Firewall Pro. Is a firewall and antivirus application.
  4. DriveImage XML. Is a program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives.
  5. GParted LiveCD. Manages partitions on systems. (You can also find information about GParted in "Tool Time: Repartition Windows Servers with GParted".)
  6. PageDefrag. Determines how fragmented your paging files and registry hives are, and defragments them.
  7. JkDefrag. Defragments and optimizes disks.
  8. TestDisk. Recovers damaged partitions, makes non-bootable disks bootable again, and repairs damaged boot sectors.

13 Scripting Freebies
No matter whether you write scripts or not, you'll likely find many of the 13 recommendations in "Script Writers' Favorite Free Utilities" helpful:

  1. Blat. A command-line utility that uses SMTP to send email or uses Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) to post to Usenet.
  2. AutoIt v3 and SciTE Is a scripting language (AutoIt) and editor (SciTE).
  3. CodeKeep Add-In. Is a code snippet manager for Visual Studio (VS).
  4. DumpSec. Is a Windows security auditing program.
  5. Joeware website. Offers many command-line utilities to automate AD tasks (e.g., AdQueueLoop, Unlock) and other tasks (e.g., DNSSrvRec, SidToName).
  6. MD5WIN. Computes and compares Message-Digest algorithm 5 (MD5) digest strings.
  7. NirSoft website. Offers numerous utilities for monitoring networks, managing passwords, retrieving Internet-related data, and performing other system-management tasks.
  8. Notepad++. Is a text and code editor.
  9. PSPad. Is a text and code editor.
  10. Python. Is a programming/scripting language that you can use to automate tasks.
  11. Regular Expression Laboratory. Lets you create regular expressions and test them against arbitrary text.
  12. VIM. Is a text and code editor.
  13. WinZip Command Line Support Add-On. Lets you use WinZip directly from the command line and from scripts.

7 Freebies for SharePoint
Freebies that might be of interest to SharePoint administrators include the following:

"SharePoint Freebies Someone You Might Know Might Want"

  1. Document Connection for Mac. Aids in accessing and browsing Mac documents in SharePoint.
  2. Free Technology for Microsoft SharePoint User Groups. Is a program to provide free add-ons and other products to community-organized SharePoint user groups.
  3. Persian Language Pack for Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0.

"More SharePoint Freebies Someone You Might Know Might Want"

  1. Discovery Wizard for SharePoint. Gathers SharePoint inventory data and displays it in HTML reports.
  2. DocAve SQL Restore Controller. Provides item-level, site-level, and site collection-level restores from active SQL Server databases and from SQL Server backups.
  3. Idera SharePoint performance monitor. Monitors SharePoint performance counters and sends email alerts when problems arise.

"Free SharePoint Archiving Tool Aims to Cut Bloat"

  1. Metalogix Archiving Express for SharePoint. Archives SharePoint content.

12 Freebies for Exchange
Some helpful freebies when working with Microsoft Exchange include:

"Top 10 Exchange Server 2007 Troubleshooting Tools"

  1. Database Recovery Management Tool. Analyzes a database store and specifies the steps needed to mount it.
  2. Database Troubleshooter. Analyzes database and transaction logs and their entries and reports on problems that might prevent you from recovering the database.
  3. Dcdiag. Analyzes the state of domain controllers in a forest or enterprise and reports any problems.
  4. Event Viewer. Lets you view Exchange-related events.
  5. Mail Flow Troubleshooter. Identifies and repairs mail flow holdups.
  6. Message Tracking. Reveals a message’s path through the Exchange Server organization when messages get lost in mail flow transit.
  7. Nslookup. Helps troubleshoot DNS problems.
  8. Performance Monitor. Analyzes counters associated with various aspects of system performance to see whether those counters fall within a designated range.
  9. Performance Troubleshooter. Analyzes three RPC performance problems.
  10. Queue Viewer. Lets you view and interact with mail flow queues.

"Two Exchange Server Tools You Should Know About"

  1. Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL). Analyzes a performance monitor counter log analyzes and puts its findings in an HTML report.
  2. 'Rough and Tough' Guide to Identifying Patterns in Transaction Logs. Provides a set of tools and associated processes for figuring out what's happening on an Exchange server given a set of transaction log files.

80 Freebies for SQL Server
If your IT duties include working with SQL Server, check out "The Mega Guide to Free SQL Server Tools". This guide includes 80 tools, so the list is too long to print here. You can find out what those tools are at

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