Apps

Build an IT toolkit fit for almost any occasion

Whether you're removing a stubborn screw from an insufferable Packard-Bell case or troubleshooting a PC that won't boot, using the right tool will make the job go much faster and produce a more professional result. Here 30+ hardware, software, and spare items that TechRepublic members, writers, and editors think should be in every IT toolkit.

During my years in IT, my time at TechRepublic, and even my personal life, I've built, disassembled, and cracked open more computers than I can remember. Whether you're removing a stubborn screw from an insufferable Packard-Bell case or troubleshooting a PC that won't boot, using the right tool will make the job go much faster and produce a more professional result. To ensure you always have a suitable tool or necessary spare part at your fingertips, here are some of the items that our members, writers, and editors think should be in every IT toolkit.

Hardware:
  • Multibit screwdriver with nut drivers
  • Needle nose pliers/cutters (straight and curved)
  • Hemostats
  • Crimping tool
  • Parts claw/retriever
  • Small flashlight
  • Small mirror on a telescoping handle
  • Anti-static wrist strap or band
  • External hard drive
  • Encrypted USB flash drive
  • Multimeter
  • Cable tester
  • Phone and AC line testers
  • Multi-plug power adapter
  • Serial to USB adapter
  • USB hub
  • Pen and paper
  • Portable labeler
Software:
  • Original disc media for various versions of the software you support (Windows, Microsoft Office, etc.)
  • Bootable environments with diagnostic and recovery tools (Windows Sysinternals, BartPE, UBCD4Win, EBCD, WinPE)
  • Latest versions of ubiquitous programs (Acrobat Reader, VPN and communication software, various Web browsers, etc.)
  • Password recovery tools (Magical Jelly Bean's Keyfinder, ViewKeyXP, etc.)
  • Computer information gathering tools (Belarc Advisor, SIW, etc.)
  • Drivers for commonly supported hardware (NICs, video cards, printers, etc.)
  • Antivirus and Spyware software
  • Remote support utilities (CrossLoop, TightVNC, etc.)
Spare parts:
  • Keyboards
  • Mice
  • Assorted case screws and motherboard jumpers
  • NICs
  • Hard drives
  • RAM
  • Power Supplies
  • Drives (3.5" floppy or CD/DVD ROM)
  • Surge protectors
  • Miscellaneous cables (including patch and crossover cables)

You can get more advice on building an IT toolkit that would make James Bond envious from the following TechRepublic resources:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

18 comments
pgit
pgit

Tape. I carry several colors of electrical tape. Color coding people's wires is always a good idea. Of course if you ever need to tape anything... I also have colored velcro strips for organizing wiring. I got about 80 of them for a buck at a flea market.

Rondil
Rondil

You can get several varieties for different buses. Basically they display the Power On Self Test hex codes which are availible all over the net.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

A Leatherman—the original, not one of the newer ones—and the UBCD. No question at all.

cd_wilson
cd_wilson

You have omitted the axe under hardware :)

Mycah Mason
Mycah Mason

The links don't seem to work under: You can get more advice on building an IT toolkit that would make James Bond envious from the following TechRepublic resources:

blue9999
blue9999

The links on the bottom of article aren't working.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In a recent IT Dojo post, I suggested more than 30 hardware and software tools and spare parts that every IT pro should consider adding to his or her toolkit. Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=109 Instead of everyone just adding to this list, I thought it would be interesting for people to name the one support tool that they couldn't live without. What one piece of software has saved your bacon more than once? What piece of hardware would you never give up?

sylvain.drapeau
sylvain.drapeau

I refrain from using my sledgehammer because its sooo messy... never thought of an axe. Thanks! :)

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Thanks for the feedback. There appears to be a problem with all our old "article" links. We're investigating the issue and hope to have a resolution soon.

brian
brian

Every time I leave it at home I kick myself. I've got my software install key list(encrypted), SSH client, VPN Client, printer drivers (PC & MAC) for every printer at the company - All of these are a simple download from the Internet, but the sheer convenience of having them in your pocket is a day-to-day timesaver. WinUndelete has come through for me time and again, recovering whatever people have done to themselves, accidentally or intentionally. The USB stick has enough room left to receive most data, so I don't overwrite what is to be recovered. I have to say that Internet connectivity should be "included" as part of the toolkit as well. Few people have the luxury of having the exact driver for that oddball controller or motherboard, and some people don't consider a computer "fixed" if it only runs 640x480 VGA mode.... ;)

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I apologize for the broken links. Late Friday, we discovered a problem with a large portion of our old article pages--not just those in this post. The problem has been resolved, and all the links should now work.

Reduce, Reuse, Reboot
Reduce, Reuse, Reboot

I can stumble through most PC stuff with the tools in Windows, but Wireshark (a packet sniffer) lets me see who's eating the bandwidth, server or workstation.

sylvain.drapeau
sylvain.drapeau

I wouldn't part with my Sysinternals suite for obvious reasons... I have a hard time deciding what I need the most; PsTools or Filemon/Regmon? Can I keep them all... please?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The axe, however, requires that you be accurate.

pgit
pgit

I laughed so hard the first time I saw that I had tears in my eyes, my wife thought I'd had an "event" with several blown disks in my back. You've seen videos where when they're done there's a selection of 4-5 'suggestions' in the window below the "replay" button. That's where I found this. A co-worker of my wife sent a link to a cutesy dog video. I watched it and saw in one of the panes afterward what looked like a man with a hat pulled down over his face. Don't know what made me click on it other than fate. Who knows how much other great stuff is out there waiting to be discovered? And who made that video? The creativity of my fellow man is a perpetual wonderment. There's been a few times I've wanted to use that "perfect tool for the job" myself... usually on my own systems 8(

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Thanks for that! Especially for the NSFW warning! :^0

mike
mike

Oh man thank you thank you, that was to f___ funny!

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