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: