Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs, and More...
Hello IT Pro,
Are you concerned you’ve missed an installment of IT Pro Tuesday? Then buckle up, this post is for you! It’s an amalgamation of every tip we’ve featured so far. It’s a longer post than you’re used to, but stick with it – there is a lot of good information here.
As always, we’re not affiliated with any of these brands unless we state otherwise.
MailFlow Monitor is our gift to you. It’s a useful tool that will alert you when it picks up issues with your email flow. You can customize the program so you see only the bounce alerts you’re interested in and set your own acceptable level of delay. It will help you get issues sorted out before most others have even realized there is a problem.
If you enjoy using mRemote, you’re going to love the updated version, mRemoteNG. Our reader, Olivasmcc, raved about it and said that as long as you get the credentials hierarchy right, it’s going to save you a lot of time and effort.
If you’re wondering what’s cluttering up your hard drive, you’ll want to check out TreeSize Free. This software lets you see exactly what’s using up your disk space. That makes it simple to decide which areas need the biggest cleanout.
PDQ Inventory and Deploy
PDQ Inventory and Deploy is a useful tool for keeping any PC running Windows up to date—without being a pain for the user. The tool has a lot of features that allow you to track and organize your hardware, Windows config data and software. It's both a software deployment tool for keeping Windows PCs up-to-date without bothering end-users and a systems management tool for tracking and organizing hardware, software and configuration data.
If you’re a Mac user, you’ll appreciate Clean—a simple tool to automate organizing your files. With it, I just save any file or folder to my Desktop, and the software moves each item in the correct folder. The downside? It doesn’t work on Windows PC,s and I haven’t found anything similar for Windows. Do you know of a program that would work in Windows? Let us know!
Trace32.exe. This is an oldie but goodie. It is part of Microsoft’s SCCM Suite and is one of the most useful. With it, your bigger log files can be opened and displayed in real-time while they’re being updated. At the very least, it will save you a good deal of time.
ISPConfig 3.1 is an updated version of your ISPConfig hosting control panel. What’s different with this model? The user interface has been revamped entirely, and you’ll get a whole lot of extra features.
BlueScreenView is helpful when the dreaded blue screen of death strikes. It will scan any mini-dump files that are created when your system crashes. This information is collated and presented to you in a simple-to-read table.
Windows System Control Center
The Windows System Control Center makes it simple to work with utilities. You can easily view and launch your utilities and organize them using the dashboard. You also have the option to install a wide range of troubleshooting tools.
Monitor Active Directory Group Membership Change
Monitor Active Directory Group Membership Change is a PowerShell script designed to monitor any active directory groups. If it detects a change, it will email an alert to you.
If you need a way to simplify bulk user attribute mods, then you’ll want to check out ADModify.NET. This is one tool that every Active Directory and Exchange Administrator should have in their arsenal.
If you never want to have to RDP into a server again, install RSAT tools. These make it possible to manage every section of the Windows infrastructure. If you need to log in as a different user, just click on the tools and “RunAs.”
Attack Surface Analyzer
The Attack Surface Analyzer will take a screenshot of the system state just before you install a new product. It then does the same after the install, compares the two and alerts you to changes made to the Windows attack surfaces.
It’s not something that Amazon advertises a lot, but AWS Free is a free level you can try out. You’re not going to get all the features that the paid levels provide, but there’s more than enough utility for you to create a practice environment where you can recreate problematic scenarios and look for ways to solve them.
The Dell Warranty Checker
Matt Fry, our Head of Support, suggests that anyone working with Dells should download the Dell Warranty Checker. With it, all you need to do is to create a list of the computers you want to check, place each service tag on a separate line and save it as a text document. Once you upload it to the tool, you’ll get a list of all the pertinent warranty information that you can export as a CSV file.
You’ll get more than ten free tools from NetCrunch Tools 2.0. If you’re an administrator, you’ll use this time and time again. AdRem.12 is freeware that’s undergone a recent update to provide some of the most useful tools you’ll come across for Windows.
You’ll get, amongst others:
- DNS Audit
- Port Scanner
- Ping Scanner
- Network Services Scanner
If you want to test your database online, SQL Fiddle makes it easy. The system allows you to build and test your schema. If you’re not getting it right, you can reference the online database or request help in the forum.
Regexr is a helpful tool that allows you to build and then test regular expressions. It also has a number of useful resources you can learn from.
It’s not always easy to remember what device is connected to which switch. That’s where Switch Miner can be a lifesaver. It will search for ports that are connected to a particular switch. It can also check the switches nearby.
LetsMonitor.org is an extremely useful free resource. It will check your site certificates and send an alert if they’re about to expire or are misconfigured. You can have the messages forwarded to several different people within your organization—or outside of it, if you’re managing a site for a client.
Do mail-delivery issues leave you wanting to pull out your hair? RBLmon is a service that keeps track of your IP address and whether or not it's appeared on the major blacklists. If your address comes up on one of the lists, the service will email you to let you know. It’s quick and gives you a head start on rectifying the issue.
There are a few ways to find out which folders or files are taking up the most space on your drive. WizTree is hands down the easiest and quickest. It draws the information directly from the NTFS Master File Table, so it takes seconds at most. There is a downside, though – it only operates with NTFS systems.
The JuiceSSH Terminal client for Android is an incredibly useful tool. It is extremely user-friendly and has Local Shell, Telnet, Mosh, and SSH support. Your dashboard is in full color, and you’re able to adjust the font size. You also get access to a full keyboard and plugins. Keys can be imported, exported, or created on the system.
“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.
“Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker
Efficiency and effectiveness seem similar but are very different. If you’re efficient, you’re doing everything right. If you’re being effective, you’ll be doing the right things. Whether you’re a SysAdmin, MSP or CTO, this book is going to ring true for you. If you’re serious about making your goals a reality and becoming more organized, you’ll want this book.
“Rework” by Jason Fried
Fried is one of the founders of Basecamp. One of the most important things he raises in Rework is that ASAP is a dangerous term. Why? It implies that everything is urgent. Where do you go from there if you have something that is actually urgent?
The Practice of Cloud System Administration: DevOps and SRE Practices for Web Services, Volume 2
This book tells you all you need to know about cloud computing and a lot more besides. Instead of being a straightforward textbook-style book, it draws on real-world examples to show the practical applications of the concepts discussed. There are some great examples from Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Netflix that make this a useful and fascinating read.
You’ll learn more about:
- How to put the most up-to-date DevOps/SRE strategies into place
- How to design contemporary web and distributed systems
- Effective evaluation of your team and how effective they are
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
If you want to outgeek everyone at the next IT event you attend, then The Innovators is a book to read now. It shows how the IT world has progressed throughout the centuries to get to where it is at now. Centuries? Yes, believe it or not, our ancestors were a little more forward-thinking than you realize. Go back to the 19th century, and you’ll learn that was when the first programming language was written.
Taming Information Technology: Lessons from Studies of System Administrators
Taming Information Technology is a book that all sysadmins can learn from. The research for the book was painstakingly compiled through hours of study of professional sysadmins doing what they do best. The result? A breakdown of some of the most interesting dilemmas those individuals came across and how they were resolved. There’s a lot to learn here.
The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
Could the sysadmin working next to you be a spy? You never know—even the most unassuming person might surprise you. This was certainly the case with the real-life events that inspired The Cuckoo’s Egg. The author, a qualified astronomer, makes an unlikely hero, but we have all the elements of a Hollywood blockbuster here. It’s set back in the eighties when the internet was all shiny and new. Thanks to an accountancy issue, our hero realizes that the net was perfect for communicating incognito.
He relates how he chased down terrorist groups and a KGB spy ring. Unix users will love the familiarity of some of the terms used—some are still used today. Even if you don’t use Unix, this book is a fascinating read.
Time Management for System Administrators: Stop Working Late and Start Working Smart
If there’s one common complaint among most sysadmins, it’s that there’s never enough time in a day. This Time Management book aims to change that by teaching you to be effective rather than simply efficient. It was created specifically for sysadmins, so it is more relevant than the average fare in this category.
The Practice of System and Network Administration: Volume 1: DevOps and other Best Practices for Enterprise IT (3rd Edition)
This printing has made it to the 3rd Edition for good reason. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in sysadmin for five minutes or fifty years, you’ll learn a lot. It's one to keep on the bookshelf for sure.
Ghost in the Wires
If you’re interested in how Kevin Mitnick pulled off some of the most spectacular hacks in history and forever changed the way we view data security, you’ll want to check out Ghost in the Wires. The book is Mitnick’s first-hand account of how he executed some serious hacks and still managed to evade the authorities.
Essential System Administration
Essential System Administration offers practical advice for those sysadmins using Unix. It’s one of the most-comprehensive guides we’ve come across. In fact, if you can’t find the answers you’re looking for here, you probably won't find them at all. Aimed specifically at sysadmins, it covers everything you’ll need from the basics through to higher-level concepts. This version has all the goodness that made the first one a success, now updated for a modern age.
Speed Up Your Mouse Pointer
If you’d like to shave milliseconds off every sweep of the mouse, set it to its maximum setting. It’ll seem strange at first, but you’ll get used to it soon enough.
Easily Adjust Your Window Size
Hitting the Windows key and the directional buttons will make changing the size of your windows a lot quicker. Hit the Windows key and:
- Up Arrow to maximize the window
- Down Arrow to minimize the window
- Left Arrow to push the window to the left. It will go full height but won’t cover the whole screen.
- Right Arrow to push the window to the right.
Windows Desktop Cleanup
This simple batch script was created by greatshittywifi. Start out by creating a main folder titled whatever you like. Within that folder, create subfolders for each of the most commonly used file types, like gif, png, jpg, and so on.
Once that’s done, open Notepad and copy and paste the following:
move *.jpg “F:\sorted\jpg\”
move *.png “F:\sorted\png\”
move *.gif “F:\sorted\gif\”
Finally, save it as a .bat file and you’re done.
Find a MAC Address Fast
This hack makes it possible to sidestep cycling through lists or to open up dialog windows. Just type getmac into the command prompt. It’s a real timesaver when you’re working with more than one NIC interface.
Import PST Files Easily
If you’re working with Office 365, you’ll want to add this Import PST files to Office 365 Exchange tip to your arsenal. It’s never been easier to import PST files.
Trace Unlabelled Cables
There are IT pros that label their cables and those that don’t. If you’ve got a situation where you’re trying to sort out an unlabelled mess, a simple trick is to attach a Velcro loop or close a binder clip over the cord. Then run the clip/loop all the way along the length until you find out where it ends up.
We were featured on Sysadmin Today, so we had a good look at the content. We liked what we saw, and we’re now partnered with him. If you’re looking for practical advice on sysadmin from someone working in the industry, put this on your playlist.
Check out DevOpsCafe if you’re looking for the latest and best news in the sysadmin and DevOps world. Stakeholders in the industry and other industry experts are often interviewed. This makes for a really interesting podcast.
The Admin Admin Podcast
The Admin Admin Podcast is a podcast aimed at real-life IT situation. You’ll get helpful hints and tips. This is a great resource for sysadmins and servers.
Iron Sysadmin Podcast
The Iron Sysadmin Podcast involves interviews and talks by experienced sysadmins. The topics centre on industry news, strategies, ideas and some live chats.
The Geek Stuff
50 UNIX / Linux Sysadmin Tutorials. One of the best resources we’ve come across in a long time.
The library at TechNet is packed with all the technical information an IT professional might need when you’re working with Microsoft releases.
OmniSecu.com is a great source for networking, sysadmin and security tutorials.
There is already a wide range of tutorials on TechGenix, and they’re adding more all the time. You’ll find PowerShell tutorials, Azure tutorials and a lot more.
SysAdmin Tutorials is well-organized, outstanding resource. The site has been created by sysadmins and IT Pros for sysadmins and IT Pros. You’ll find video tutorials covering a range of subjects from Cisco to Microsoft.
Office Lures Presentation
John Lambert is a researcher at Microsoft, and it’s his job to identify security threats. Start off with John Lambert’s Office Lures Presentation to find out more about some of the more-subtle phishing attacks that are harder to spot. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter to get updates on the latest attack vectors.
My Favourite Travel Jacket
BAUBAX 2.0 was a jacket that Matt Baker, my business partner introduced me to. It’s quite useful for those who have to travel a lot. We dare you to fill all those pockets.
An Alternative Jacket
SCOTTeVEST. When we posted the pic of the travel jacket the first time, it was met with a lot of interest – it seems like most of you would like to do more traveling. Staven11 brought this alternative to our attention. We liked it, so we’re sharing it with you.
For Those Times a Box Cutter Won’t Do
The Maker Knife adds an element of comfort and style. Forget those bulky, ugly Stanley knives, this does the same job with a lot more style.
MS Exchange Guru
MS Exchange Guru is run by a friend. You’ll see this on the MailFlow Monitor Banner. He’s the guy we turn to when we hit a brick wall with exchange issues. His site is a good place to look for answers to exchange and email problems.
LandScape by Alen Kremlj provides an overview of the different vendors in the IT space.
explainshell.com is for you if you need some help with shell commands. It will help teach you more about the more uncommon commands and switches as well as the basic ones.
Krebs On Security
KrebsOnSecurity is a brilliant resource on security. We’ve been following the site for years and also had the pleasure of meeting Brian. He's forgotten more about security than most people ever learn.
GFI TechTalk is an excellent option for IT pros. You’ll get to learn about the latest advances and newest concepts in sysadmin; with interesting insights, tools and industry news.
Awesome Sysadmin is, to put it simply, a massive list of useful sysadmin resources. Even better, all of them are open source. ReallyLongUserName01, thanks for the great tip!
Experts Exchange is a site we visit often. It gives a ton of information on each topic, and it's great if you’re looking for a general overview. But there’s also plenty of information you can really sink your teeth into.
400+ Free Resources for Sysadmins
No points for guessing what you’ll find on the rather-obviously titled 400+ Free Resources for Sysadmins. The site will introduce you to a lot of resources for sysadmins and DevOps engineers.
Servers For Hackers
4sysops is another community of IT pros. They cover everything from DevOps and cloud computing to sysadmin. You’ll learn about the latest industry news and developments. Community members are encouraged to share their know-how and get rewarded for being active on the site.
Reddit SysAdmin Multi
Why follow three different reddit feeds when you can type in /r/netsec/r/networking /r/pwned /r/linuxadmin and get everything you need on one string?
The technical blog, Wahl Network focuses primarily on tech related to data-centers, new products, business challenges and solutions to common issues. Chris Wahl started the blog to help his fellow sysadmins find solutions to frustrating problems.
The Ultimate List of Cheatsheets for a Sysadmin was put together by Servers Australia. There’s a cheat sheet for almost everything from Apache through to Drupal.
The GeekFlares Cheatsheets List offers a range of cheat sheets that is another interesting resource.
OverAPI.com is a website with a massive collection of cheat sheets. If you can’t find it on here, there’s a good chance it doesn’t exist.
If you’re looking for cheat sheets that are more focused on regex, Regular Expressions Cheat Sheet by DaveChild is a site you'll want to check out. It contains groupings, ranges, assertions, symbols and also some patterns.
Spamresource.com is one that we refer to over and over again. The information is focused on the prevention of spam and easing deliverability issues.
LoneSysAdmin.net is run by Bob Plankers, who is something of a jack of all trades with experience as a sysadmin, network admin, developer and project manager.
10 Things is a blog that covers a lot of different aspects of the IT industry. You’ll find lists of technologies, techniques and strategies. Every post is restricted to a list with no more than ten points, so it's a quick reference guide.
All About Microsoft
Mary Jo Foley runs the All About Microsoft blog. In it, she covers a range of topics from movers and shakers in the industry, new Microsoft products as well as tips and techniques that will have Microsoft purring like a kitten.
The Daily WTF
The Daily WTF is what you’d get if there were Darwin Awards for bad development. From bad project management decisions to extremely poor choices in coding, you’ll be scratching your head and asking, "WTF were they thinking?" as you read some of the examples on this site.
If you’re looking for some comic relief, The Expert is going to get you chuckling. We’ve all been in this situation, on one side of the table or the other.
Some Bits and Bobs
The SwiftPOnSecurity Twitter channel is one you’ll want to follow. This channel is run by the author of http://GotPhish.com and https://DecentSecurity.com who has some interesting insights on security. He is pretty good at turning a phrase too and writes SciFi as well, though we haven’t checked that out yet.
If you use PowerShell, you’ll want to check out PowerShell Slack. The founders of this channel were forward thinkers—they started this group before PowerShell was in general use. You can get technical assistance from the other users on the channel.
Wow, that was a mammoth post! As always, please let us know if you have anything to add and what you thought of us doing a roundup of all our previous posts. Would you like us to do this in the future?
Graham | CEO | EveryCloud
P.S. Get Extras by signing up to the weekly email!