Save yourself the embarrassment and aggravation of discovering you don't have the tools you need when you arrive at a job site. With these basic items, you'll be ready for almost anything.
When you're out on a troubleshooting call, the last thing you want is to be unprepared. Not only does it make you look bad, it's unprofessional and reflects poorly on your company. Because you can't always know what you are getting into, it's best to travel with more than enough. Luckily,
Here's a list of the items I have with me on every run out. With these items, I am rarely unprepared.
Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.
Ccleaner is a freeware utility for system optimization, privacy, and cleaning. This tool will remove unused files from a hard drive and clean up online history. But more important, it includes an outstanding registry cleaner. Just be sure you use this tool with caution so you don't delete files that are actually important.
AVG Antivirus is one of the first lines of defense I suggest to clients. And although AVG Free is fine for household use, make sure you are suggesting the Pro version for your commercial clients. The Pro version adds many features, including the ability to scan for rootkits.
3: Puppy Linux (or Knoppix)
I don't leave the house without Puppy Linux. You never know when you are going to require a tool that can run checks on hardware that a running operating system can't do. With either Puppy or Knoppix, you can reboot your machine into a live system and do maintenance that Windows simply can't do while running.
4: Extra flash drives
How many times have you done backups or needed to save log files and had nothing to save to? I always carry numerous flash drives of various sizes. I even carry empty flash drives in case a client needs one. Those items can always be billed.
Combofix can really save your hide. This tool will scan for known malware and/or spyware and safely remove it. When Combofix completes its scan/removal, it will generate a report you can save and reference later (when billing or when a similar behavior strikes.)
6: Paper and pen
Paper and pen will always win. You never know when you need to jot down notes. And although most consultants are never too far away from their trusty laptops, you can't leave your laptop with the client so they can read your recommendations. Being able to quickly jot down an error message or thought is so much easier with your trusty pad and writing utensil.
Malware Bytes Anti-Malware is one of the best tools for removing malware from a PC. Unlike a lot of its competition, Malware Bytes Anti-Malware can safely remove even advanced malware.
8: MiFi-like device
There are times when you need your good old friend Google. But what happens when your client's network is down or when you can't join their wireless network? You need to be able to have a connection with you at all times. Most mobile providers offer portable wireless access points (like the Verizon MiFi). These tools can get you wireless access where ever you have a cellular signal.
9: Ethernet cable
How many times have you had to scramble for another Ethernet cable? Whether it's to hook up a printer or that other machine that's just "sitting around doing nothing," most clients won't be prepared with spare cables. Having a spare can also provide your own laptop with connectivity when you can't get on your client's wireless network.
You've been tirelessly working on an issue and lunch time comes and goes. You're trying to track down that virus and your stomach is growling. If you're like me, you start getting a bit grouchy once that hunger really sets in. Do yourself a favor and carry around a snack to avoid this problem. You and your clients will be happy you did.
Do you travel with the items on this list? What other favorite tools and supplies do you always take to your onsite jobs?
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.