Useful Tools

If you are looking at these tools and you have no idea what they might be for then they are clearly not for you. Don't install these unless you know what they do and you agree with their respective terms and conditions. This page is as much a useful reminder for me as anything else!

Microsoft

PortQuery - this is a great tool for testing if the machine you are running the utility on can connect to a port or range of ports an a specified server. You download PortQry from Description of the Portqry.exe command-line utility, there is also PortQryUI - User Interface for the PortQry Command Line Port Scanner. In addition New features and functionality in PortQry version 2.0 is a very good read.
PortQuery will give a number of possible results which are documented as follows:
LISTENING - all ok
NOT LISTENING - destination closed the connection
FILTERED - generaly means connection dropped, no response received - firewall dropped, or routing issue
 
See List of TCP and UDP port numbers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for details of port numbers etc.
I have found it useful testing 139 & 5900 to confirm a server is running for Windows authentication and VNC is up.

RoboCopy - the most reliable way to copy large files on Windows. This is built into Windows 7/Server 2008 and above, however you can download it for Windows XP as part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools, which does work on Windows XP. If you don't want to run the installer you can use 7-Zip to extract just robocopy.exe if you prefer. For a list of error codes see Return codes that are used by the Robocopy utility in Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 and Happy SysAdm: Robocopy error codes which I have found useful.
Doing a backup of a user's data, I found the following worked well:
robocopy C:\Users\username\Documents Y:\username *.* /z /e /xjd /xjf, which copies in restartable mode, includes subdirectories and even empty ones and then skips junction files and junction directories.
robocopy c:\testing d:\testing /e /zb /copyall /dcopy:t /move - this is useful for moving files from a c drive to a d drive, it copies the whole tree, with permissions, owner etc and preserves directory date/time stamps. Follow this up with icacls d:\testing /grant BUILTIN\Users:(OI)(CI)M /t which makes sure all users have permissions, not strictly necessary but helped in what I was doing.

SysInternals

These have to be the most useful collection of tools for Windows, however they are very technical. Whilst originally independent they are now hosted by Microsoft but still available at the usual SysInternals address. I do like all the tools, but here are some highlights.
Process Explorer - this is Task Manager but massively improved
Process Monitor - great tool for seeing what is really going on with your computer, very detailed but good filtering
PS Tools - command lines tools which are very handy
Sysmon - very useful diagnostic tool, logs a number of useful events to the Event Log, see Sysinternals new Sysmon tool looks for intruder traces | ZDNet, however be sure to check HTA-T09-How-to-Go-from-Responding-to-Hunting-with-Sysinternals-Sysmon.pptx - Microsoft PowerPoint Online by Mark Russinovich
PSPing - this is standard ping on steroids but works best when running on the client and server, extra info is available at Troubleshooting networks with PSPing
Autoruns - great tool for working out what starts up automatically when your computer does
TCPView - want to know what ports are in use by which process, great visual tool

The quick way to get all of the SysInternals tools is as follows:
net use x: \\http://live.sysinternals.com
xcopy /s x:\ c:\sysinternals
net use x: /d

It is also worth reading Using SysInternals Tools Like a Pro as a good introduction but also look on MSDN and Channel 9.

BareMetalSoft

For me BareMetalSoft have built two very useful and free tools, with no installers needed either, which is great.
BareTail - great for viewing a log files as it is written to
BareGrep - handy for searching for files

firstobject

I have only used firstobject's XML Editor, I believe their other products are targeted at C++ developers.
XML Editor - very good tool for parsing XML, as well as navigating and editing

UltraEdit

If you want a very powerful text/file editor then UltraEdit, is the tool for you. It is very good, with excellent support, also there is a Mac version and a Linux version.
Please see UltraEdit Hints & Tips for more info.

UltraCompare

Some might prefer other tools but I have come to trust and enjoy UltraCompare, also there is a Mac version and a Linux version. It works very well with Microsoft Word documents, directories and Zip archives and will go three way if needed.
Please see UltraCompare Hints & Tips for more info.

UltraFinder

There are lots of ways to find that elusive file but for me UltraFinder looks good and works well.
Please see UltraFinder Hints & Tips for more info.

ISO Tools

There are three tools that I have used or tried to use that seem good. Firstly there is The Official ImgBurn Website which is a great CD/DVD utility which uses or creates ISO files as well as Audio CDs. Secondly there is UNetbootin - Homepage and Downloads which will write an ISO to a USB drive, however it does drop it's own menu on rather than just ISO contents, I need to find a utility more suited to what I want. There is also Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool - Home, however this only works with Windows ISO files and will write them to USB or DVD.

IE Zone Analyzer

This looks interesting, must try it some time!
IEZoneAnalyzer v3.5 with Zone Map Viewer - Microsoft's USGCB Tech Blog - Site Home - TechNet Blogs

Secure Shell

If you want to access a Unix/Linux server via Secure Shell (SSH) then PuTTY: a free telnet/ssh client is the defacto, standard tool. However, I have seen ExtraPuTTY | Fork of PuTTY which might be worth a look. See Secure Shell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for information on SSH.

File Checksums

Sometimes you want to produce a checksum of a file to confirm that what you have downloaded is exactly the same as the author publishes. There are various tools for this, but Microsoft have made a File Checksum Validator command line tool, see Availability and description of the File Checksum Integrity Verifier utility which produces MD5 or SHA1 checksums. There is also a PowerShell version at TechNet PowerShell File Checksum Integrity Verifier (PsFCIV).

Nmap

I have used the ncat part of Nmap: the Network Mapper - Free Security Scanner to open ports on a Windows box to then test firewalls. I downloaded their Windows installer and used 7-Zip to extract ncat.exe, libeay32.dll, ssleay32.dll from the file. You might need to install the "Microsoft Visual C++ 2013 Redistributable" to get this working. Then I executed ncat -l --keep-open 2112 --recv-only which starts ncat listening on port 2112, see Emulating Diagnostic Services for more details.

Gnome

The Gnome suite of tools is always interesting, I am not going to list them all but just pull out any highlights I find.

Meld

In the past I have used WinMerge, which is still a good diff tool and it is native, so performs well. However it does not appear to be maintained any more and is dated. Having tried Meld briefly I can say it works nicely. It does look like a Linux application when you run it on Windows but that is easy enough to work with. It will also compare a directory to a Git repository, picking up the config from the .git directory, which is very nice. I believe it will also do a git commit etc, so almost works as a very basic Git tool.

Installers

I have used NSIS Wiki in the past which is a very capable install solution and has worked very well but Inno Setup is probably also worth a look, it is also available via GitHub.

Disk Utilities

Acronis

I have used Acronis tools for a while, specifically Disk Management Software - Acronis Disk Director 12 and The Best Backup Software - Acronis True Image 2017.

Others

Sticking with tools I have used GRC | Hard drive data recovery software is very good.

Alternatives

I have heard good things about a number of tools including CloneZilla and Recuva - Restore deleted files, even if you've emptied the Recycle bin! - Piriform.

Text/Code Editors

Atom

Atom is an Open Source text editor, led by GitHub.

Visual Studio Code

This is a Microsoft led, Open Source code editor, see Visual Studio Code for more details.