You’ve got your screwdriver and your pliers. Your flashlight has new batteries, and you arrive at the user’s desk ready to offer the top-notch support she needs. As you examine the machine, you realize that pliers and screwdrivers won’t fix the problem. It’s software that you need—and it’s software that you didn’t bring. It’s a mistake we’ve probably all made, but there is no denying that software belongs in every IT pro’s toolkit.

When we asked members to tell us their favorite tools in “What do you carry in your toolkit?”, a number of Support Republic readers said that software was a tool they couldn’t do without.

“Nothing worse than reinstalling a NIC driver only to find the user doesn’t have a Win98 CD, and the Wizard needs a copy of protman.dos to finish,” wrote Mektek69 during the discussion.

Software tool essentials
Software causes numerous problems in PCs, so you shouldn’t neglect your software tools when you pack up your toolkit, Mektek69 wrote. In his toolkit are operating system CDs, boot disks, driver disks, and utilities like Norton Utilities.

Gohyy created the following checklist for software that he considers a vital part of his toolkit:

Crispd works in a school district and covers a lot of ground. If the problem can’t be fixed with the tools and software he carries, the machine heads back to the bench with him.

Crispd limited his list. “The three must-haves are a copy of Microsoft’s freeware RegClean 4.1a, Norton Disk Doctor 3.x for command prompt (fits on a disk), and a copy of CD-ROM God 5.5.”

A few of those who contributed to the conversation noted that they carry hard drive images so that if all else fails, they can ghost a new image on the affected machine’s hard drive while they are at the scene.

Some members found that software tools helped them to avoid less-urgent follow-up visits to users’ desks.

“A utility CD with Windows CAB files, drivers, and some of the most-used utilities and programs was usually enough to handle most of the ‘Hey, while you’re up here, can you take a look at this’ requests I got,” wrote Tharrell.

Tell us what you carry!

What software would you recommend to other support technicians for their toolkits? What tools are superfluous?

Of all the software tools that you have carried, what has been the single-most important? What have you been caught without more times than you would have liked? Post a comment below or send us a note.