Occam's razor states that, among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected. In other words, the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable. I often apply this theory when troubleshooting computers. One way to do that is to have one tool that can tackle numerous tasks. Helge's Switchblade, a portable application that can be run from a USB, a CD, or a hard drive, fits the bill.
Helgel's Switchblade contains these tools and more to help you diagnose and resolve IT issues:
- Windows Log Grabber
- RAM & IP Info Viewer
- Ipconfig tools
- Driver Backup Tool
- Process Monitor
- Software Updater
- Clean Junk Files
- Process Hacker
- Driver Restore
- Driver Backup
- Media player
- Resource Hacker
- Error Lookup
- K-Lite Codec Pack
No installation or live distribution that you must boot into is necessary. Before you can use Helge's Switchblade, you need to follow these steps:
- Download the latest compressed file.
- Uncompress the downloaded file (the file is an .exe file, but it is compressed) by double-clicking.
- Relocate the newly decompressed file (HelgesSwitchblade.exe) to where you want to store it.
Features and usageThe tool has a very intuitive user interface. When you double-click the executable file, the main window will appear (Figure A). From this main window, you can access each tool and gain access to Tech Support Chat.
There are four tabs in the interface:
- Security Tools are tools that apply to security apps.
- System Tools include Revo Uninstaller, RegShot, Error Lookup, SUMo, Driver Restore/Backup, etc.
- Networking includes these tools: ipconfig, Fix Route, FileZilla FTP Client, PuTTY, HyperTrace, etc.
- Other features useful links and Log Grabber.
The IP information you get isn't your machine IP but your WAN IP. (Click the image to enlarge.)The one tool you might not be familiar with is Log Grabber. It allows you to gain quick access to these logs: application, system, Windows Update, and security. To use Log Grabber, check the log you want to see and click Grab Information (Figure B). The log will be saved in a \logs directory, which can be found in the same location that stores the Helge's executable. So if you have Helge's running from a USB device that shows up as F:\, the log files will be in F:\logs. Go into that directory, double-click the log you want to see, and the Windows Event Logger will open to that particular log in the viewer. Figure B
If you need to see recent events, be sure to select the event and click Grab Information; otherwise, the old log will remain. (Click the image to enlarge.)In the right navigation you will notice the Tech Support Chat (Figure B); this isn't an actual real-time chat application, but the ability to submit questions that will be answered by the developer/community. The chat doesn't auto refresh, so you have to hit the Refresh button to see the latest comments. You can also open this chat in a popup window by clicking the Popup link in the upper right corner of the Tech Support Chat section. The Popup version of the chat (Figure C) works exactly the same as the docked version.
- Enter a name.
- Type in your question/message.
- Hit the Go button.
This is an example of a Tech Support Chat session. (Click the image to enlarge.)
Although Helge's Switchbalde is not the be-all-end-all tool, it will get you out of many jams that some tools won't. Even if you only use Helge's Switchblade for a few of the offered tools, it's still worth the price of entry — free.
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 getjackd.net.