More great tools you can carry with you!

You may or may not remember my post on May 6: Three great IT tools you can carry with you. In that post I spoke about tools that admins can carry on a USB thumb drive, some kind of flash drive or a portable hard drive. The great thing about my blog is that there is no shortage of things to help us make a Better Windows World. Therefore, here are a few more great portable tools for admins to help make your world a Better Windows World -- nope, not going to stop using it. I'm taking the Snapple approach (I guess working there for five years rubbed off). Like their commercials, it may be annoying, but you will definitely not forget us. OK! So, in no particular order, here are some great portable tools: ClamWin Portable ClamWin has fast become the popular choice for free antivirus solutions. Now ClamWin is open source and free, which means that there is no centralized management available for this antivirus tool. Here’s the deal: If you have a very tight IT budget, free is good. Usually in these situations, protection is more important than centralized management. That being said, if your boss does not see antivirus as being a necessity, get out of that job -- it is a disaster waiting to happen. Now that I've got that off my chest, let me tell how I see this tool being useful. When I think back to my time as IT director, I cannot remember how many times I have had partners, managers, staff and even outside presenters try to put a system on my network. Problem is, these often have their own antivirus solution. And what happens when we let users be responsible for their own antivirus solutions? Yes, madness usually ensues. So of course, my staff spent countless hours updating virus patterns on a DMZ we kept set up for such machines, and running virus scans. I love the idea of being able to plug ClamWin Portable into a machine off your network or DMZ completely, and run a complete scan before granting access. Now, I know we have enterprise-level tools with NAC. However, not everyone can purchase these tools. So, for the rest of us, ClamWin Portable is a great tool. Just install the files to your portable drive. Plug into the machine you want to test and double-click the executable. I have to say that scanning seemed incredibly quick when I tested it on my system. ClamWin Portable is made available by Portableapps.com, which provides another great portable app I want to talk about. It is another popular open source product called Open Office. You can download ClamWin Portable at http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/clamwin_portable Open Office Portable Have you ever found yourself at a client site using their machines, needing to open an Excel spreadsheet, Word document or PowerPoint file, only to find they are still running Office 95, or worse, they don’t have Microsoft Office at all? I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m making this stuff up, right? I have been to a number of client sites, though, that were nonprofit organizations, and the latest version of Office was just not in the budget. I have also been to a number of places that just simply preferred Corel’s WordPerfect or Quattro Pro. Once again Portableapps.com comes to the rescue, providing OpenOffice portable. OpenOffice, as you know, is a complete productivity suite that includes word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and database tools. OpenOffice even has a drawing tool included. Best of all it is compatible with Microsoft Office, Word Perfect and Lotus files. For the IT pro who needs to be ready for all situations, or the technology partner (I hate the word consultant ) who needs to support anything that exists in IT -- here is the perfect portable application. I am writing this blog post on OpenOffice Writer, running it off my 1GB USB thumb drive. You can download OpenOffice portable at http://portableapps.com/apps/office/openoffice_portable Skype Here is a great program for being able to communicate with people easily and cheaply all over the world, yet you may not have realized you can make Skype portable. It is a fantastic idea when you think about it. Install Skype on one system, then follow these steps: 1. Make a directory called SKYPE on the portable device 2. Make a subdirectory called SKYPEDATA 3. From a command prompt type /datapath:Skypedata /removable Then run Skype from any machine you like; none of your information is left behind and neither is the software. I like the idea of being able to run tools I may need at a client site or perhaps a friend's house without going through the hassle of installing the software and adding or adding my user account to that machine just for a quick one-time use. You can download the latest version of Skype at http://www.skype.com/download/skype/windows/ WinAudit I have already blogged about commercial, free and open source tools for auditing users' machines. Well, just when you thought I had “beaten” that subject to death, in comes WinAudit. Now, WinAudit is unique from the other auditing tools I have spoken about since it is not only a free tool but completely portable. I must admit I was very impressed with the amount of information that WinAudit gathered about my system. It captured everything you could imagine about the system, applications, hardware and devices attached to my computer. Again if you are in an IT department that has a tiny budget or perhaps you have branch offices that are connected by a slow Internet link, WinAudit can be a tremendous help. Along with auditing the system, you can print and even save the information on the system. WinAudit lets you save the results in HTML, CSV, TXT (formatted, tab delimited or Unicode), XML, PDF and even CHM. Options exist to also print and e-mail the reports or export into a database. So, like I said, although I have broached the subject on system audits many times, you can see why I find WinAudit to be unique. You can find WinAudit here http://www.pxserver.com/WinAudit.htm All of these tools are a great way to remain productive and mobile at the same time. In fact, perhaps next time we can talk about some mobile IT tools to help you make your world -- go ahead, say it with me -- a Better Windows World!  

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