Tech & Work

What's in your desktop support toolbox?

Joe Rosberg is looking for the perfect support desk toolkit. He lists some of his favorite items for everyday tasks and is open to suggestions from TechRepublic members. What are the tools that you can't live without?

What are your most vital tools for providing desktop support? And I mean any kind of tool - literal, figurative, hardware, software, etc.

Hand Tools: Of course, we all have the typical tool pouch with the screwdrivers, nut drivers, and those chip pullers - you know, the ones that make lousy tweezers. I've never pulled a chip in my life, but I suppose some people do. (Well, I have pulled some chips - the ones of the potato variety, out of a keyboard!) My favorite hand tool: that Phillips screwdriver with a perfect sized head, which is slightly magnetized so it will hold onto a screw; it has a rubber-wrapped handle that's perfect in both size and feel. (I never loan this one out, by the way.) Software tools: Other than the normal defrag-type flavor of software tools, I don't really use very many (if any) software diagnostic tools. If I have to run diagnostic tests or software fixes to a problem, it's probably easier for me to simply recreate the computer configuration from scratch.

However, a TechRepublic peer did send me information about one that I might start using. It's called ProcessQuickLink. It puts an icon next to each process listed in Task Manager, and by clicking on that icon, it takes you to a Web site that will give you a detailed explanation of what the process is. I installed it on my home computer, and it seems pretty slick. (Many thanks to the peer who sent me that tip!)

Disclaimer: I am neither recommending nor vouching for this particular product.

Diagnostic tools: Well, other than my Ethernet Cable Tester, I don't have any that I use. And in this case, I usually use it to figure out the origin of a stray cable that's been unplugged from the switch and left dangling for a while. But I'm also going to throw in various DOS commands as good diagnostic tools. For example, what would we do without the Ping command? Protective Tools: An antivirus tool, of course, is a must. I know they'll be detractors, but I love Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition (I use version 10.0.1). The boxed versions of Norton products take a lot of heat (and, in some cases, rightfully so), but the Corporate Edition isn't plagued with the same issues we hear about with the boxed versions. Research Tools: TechRepublic, of course, is my favorite. But keeping in-line with my occasion to use DOS as a command-line diagnostic tool, I still have (and actually reference on occasion) a couple of old DOS books - DOS Power Tools is one of them. It's amazing to consider how relevant and useful the old DOS commands can still be today. Communication Tools: E-mail, of course, is a tool. And I suppose most support people couldn't get by without their cell phone. (Well, I could sure get by without mine, but the people I support couldn't!)

This isn't a complete list by any means, but rather something to get the discussion ball rolling. Vital desktop support tools will probably run the gamut from a few to many, and will vary depending of the size and scope of your support obligations.

But what are your favorites? What do you depend on more than any other? The sky's the limit.

What's mine? Without a doubt, it's the Internet - The World Wide Web. I don't think I could get by without it. What a great tool!

What's in your toolbox?

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