In this blog I will talk about free tools that every system administrator should know about.

Microsoft Network Monitor

Microsoft Network Monitor is a network protocol analysis tool that allows you to capture, view, and analyze network traffic. Version 3.3 of Network Monitor is available in 32- and 64-bit versions.

Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer

Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) is an easy-to-use tool designed to help administrators of small and medium-sized enterprises to keep their Windows-based computers safe. You can use MBSA to determine the security of your computer in accordance with Microsoft security recommendations. MBSA also offers specific recommendations on security issues that it detects, such as incorrect and missing security updates.

At the time of this writing, the current version was MBSA 2.1. This version is available in 32- and 64-bit versions, but this is not an installation on Windows 7. A new version that supports Windows 7 should be released sometime in the future. You can download the current version and get the version information for Windows 7 on microsoft.com/MBSA/.

Microsoft IPsec Diagnostic Tool

The Microsoft IPsec Diagnostic Tool allows network administrators to troubleshoot network-related issues, primarily with Internet Protocol Security (IPSec). The tool is used to check the network malfunction on the PC and, if it finds any problems, it offers the commands to fix them. The tool also collects system information in IPSec policies and parses IPsec logs to try to determine the cause of the failure that is likely. The tool also provides information gathering for virtual private networks (VPNs), NAP clients, Windows Firewall, update group policy, and wireless networks and system events.

Windows Sysinternals Suite

The Windows Sysinternals Suite is an advanced toolkit for troubleshooting issues with Windows computers. These tools were originally developed by Winternals Software LP, which Microsoft acquired in 2006. Some of the useful and popular tools included in this suite are:

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