Assemble the perfect system administrator's toolkit

A good system admin is like a boy scout: always prepared. Paul Mah puts together a list of items that belongs in every system administrator's survival toolkit.

The Job

Picture this: You've been in IT for the past 15 years. The IT manager of a big firm, you manage a team of 10 IT staff that serves the in-house needs of more than 500 employees, and you know you do a great job at it.

After another day hard at work planning the new PBX migration project, your mobile phone rings. It's your CEO on the line. There's a problem with his home PC, which refuses to boot. He needs to retrieve a critical document from it for a keynote presentation the next day. He lives down the road from you.

So what do you do now?

A) Tell him you're an IT manager, and you don't do PC servicing anymore.

B) Tell him that you're at as much of a loss as he is.

C) Tell him not to worry and show up at his house an hour later with the team leader.

D) Tell him not to worry and that you're be right over in 5 minutes yourself.

If your answer is option A, B, and maybe even option C, then I suggest you head down to Toni's excellent Career blog for some advice on getting a new job.

If your answer is D, then perhaps this Right Tool post is for you.

Sometimes, there's no other way but to rollup your sleeve and get your hands dirty. Nothing beats being prepared, however. To help you along, I have put together a list of items that you can assemble into your very own system administrator survival toolkit.

The list is presented in no particular order.

The Tools


As you might have noticed by now, today's Right Tool post is somewhat different. Instead of the tool, I'm presenting you with a list of 20 tools that you might want to consider throwing into your own system administrator's toolkit. (Come on, you know real IT pros builds their own kits.)

  1. Cable tester
  2. Portable labeler
  3. Bluetooth mouse
  4. Anti-static strap
  5. Releasable cable ties
  6. Portable hard disk drive
  7. Encrypted USB flash drive
  8. Crimping tools
  9. Hard disk wiper
  10. Hard disk to USB adapter
  11. USB hub
  12. RJ11 cable
  13. Patch cables
  14. Multimeter
  15. Screwdrivers
  16. Multi-plug adapter
  17. Original disc media
  18. Serial to USB adapter
  19. RJ-45 extender
  20. Wireless modem

Check out this gallery for a more detailed discussion of each tool.

The Right Tool for the Job?

How well does this lineup represent your needs? Please let us know what you would put in your toolkit. And yes, it should be something you can lug around relatively easily, so you can leave out that 42-U server rack and SAN array.