I know you’re always looking for utilities to help you maintain computers. Here’s a Web site that offers some of the best freeware and links to professional utilities you’ll find. The freeware site is called Sysinternals, and you’ll want to pass on the URL to all your IT pals.

All the utilities on the site were coded by two programmers, Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell. As they say in the “About Us” section of the site: “There is no anonymous team of programmers or writers behind Sysinternals.” The two have good credentials, including contributions to Dr. Dobb’s Journal. Both cofounded Winternals Software, their site for professional commercial software, but the utilities available at Sysinternals are more than carrots on a stick to make you go to the pay products. They’re useful tools in their own right.

Here’s just a partial list of what you can find at Sysinternals. You can read about more tools on the Web site. If you’re a programmer, you can even get the source code.

Windows NT/2000

  • Bluesave saves your Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) to a text file, so you don’t have to copy the information down.
  • CPUMon displays the performance counters of Pentium class processors. It’s an advanced tool that integrates with Performance Monitor.
  • Diskmon captures hard disk activity. When in the system tray, it acts like a software hard drive activity LED.
  • ERD Commander 2000 lets you boot into an NT command-prompt environment. Wish I had this one last week. It’s just like having a DOS boot disk for NT. Great recovery tool.
  • NTFSCHK: If you dual boot between NT and Windows 2000, the only way to check your NTFS file system is through Windows 2000. That’s because Win2K upgrades all mounted volumes to NTFS version 5.0. But with this tool, you can check NTFS drives from within NT 4.0.
  • NTFSFlp lets you actually create NTFS floppy disks.
  • NTFSinfo shows detailed information about NTFS volumes.
  • PageDefrag lets you defragment paging files and registry hives.
  • Portmon lets you monitor serial and parallel ports.
  • Regmon shows you all registry activity in a GUI interface.

Windows 9x, Me
Many of the tools for NT are also available in Windows 9x and Me versions. Here are a couple of extra tools you’ll want to have:

  • DLLView lists DLL information of loaded processes.
  • OpenList lets you see what files are open.
  • VxDMon lets you see how virtual devices interact and lets you monitor their performance.

Special drivers
I saved the best for last. These drivers will improve system recovery from errors or just make data exchange and dual booting much more useful.

  • FAT32.exe is a driver that lets you read FAT32 partitions. Great for dual-boot machines and for sharing data across systems. The professional version (i.e., you have to pay $39 US for it) of FAT32 lets you read as well as write to these partitions.
  • NTFS98 lets you read NTFS drives, both NT and 2000, from within Windows 9x. The professional version ($49 US) allows read/write access.
  • NTFSDOS Pro may be the priceless recovery utility. Small enough to fit on a DOS boot disk, it assigns drive letters to NTFS partitions and lets you read them. The professional version ($199 US—they must think it’s worth it!) has write capability.

At Sysinternals, you’ll be able to download powerful diagnostic and recovery tools. Some of these tools are unique or rare. Others usually cost quite a lot to purchase.

If you would like to recommend any utilities or Web sites, please let me know.
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