5 free Windows Server tools you should know about

These hidden gems can be real life-savers for IT admins

Windows Server includes a cornucopia of solid tools. But sometimes you have specific needs, and the default tools won't cover them well. IT admins are already aware of the standard free go-to tools like Sysinternals, but every once in a while, an option you haven't heard of can be a real life-saver.

I've found five such tools that many IT admins don't know about but probably should.

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Crucial.com's System Scanner Tool: I recently needed to purchase memory for a server, but I couldn't get a clear answer on how many memory slots it had. Rather than waste time going to the server and opening it to see, I went to crucial.com and used its System Scanner tool. The tool quickly told me how many slots I had and recommended the appropriate memory for the server -- a real time-saver.

Unitrends Enterprise Backup: Unitrends offers a free, on-premises backup tool for as many as eight virtual machines for both VMware and Hyper-V. If you have a small environment and want to make sure you have backups of your VMs, this is a nice option. It installs another VM from which you manage your backup.

Wireshark Network Analyzer: You might use a sniffer for any number of reasons. In my case, I had a problem last week setting up unified messaging in Exchange 2013: The UM server wasn't picking up calls -- or so it seemed. After checking event logs and running UM-specific PowerShell testing cmdlets, I still didn't know where the process was failing. Running Wireshark showed which port calls were being attempted, so I could make adjustments to the setup and fix the issue.

Spiceworks Virtual Server Discovery Tool: Spiceworks is well known for its bevy of tools, but this is one you may not have tried. It can discover servers running virtualization, along with all Microsoft and VMware VMs, letting you view hardware configurations and get detailed information on each VM. It's great for locating rogue virtualization hosts and VMs, as well as providing at-a-glance information about your virtual environment.

MagicDisc ISO Mount: This is a must-have tool when you are working with legacy Windows Servers that do not automatically mount ISO files. When you're using VMs, you can typically mount the ISO file through your settings for a drive. But if you have the files directly in the system, the easiest way to mount the VMs is through MagicDisc.

You may have your own favorite tools, whether well-known or obscure. Please share your recommendations (sorry, no links allowed) in the comments section below.

This story, "5 free Windows Server tools you should know about," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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