Apart from all the endless possibilities of physical tools to fill up your toolbox, you will also need a plethora of software tools to do your job well. Whereas I cannot get into detail into every software tool (although I will try in later blog posts), these are my five major software tools you will want to keep on hand:
- First and foremost, you need a bootable comprehensive tool CD. My favorites include Hiren’s and NetTools. Each of these packages is a free download and is loaded with multiple cleaners, antivirus tools, partition tools, network monitors, recovery tools, security tools and more. These are the Swiss Army Knives of PC support. Whether you need to fix a corrupted hard drive or reset a password, these have tools for every situation.
- I highly recommend you have a very good disk imaging tool on a stand-alone bootable CD. Whether you prefer Acronis, Norton Ghost, Active@ Disk Image or another will be up to your own preferences, but it is definitely a necessity. There has been more than once occasion where I had a limited amount of time to recover data from a drive before it completely crashed; this is the fastest way to back up the entire drive. It is also useful for transferring data from one hard drive to another drive for cases of upgrades or replacements.
- You will want a decent collection of operating system install discs. Mainly for recovery and repair purposes, have a Windows XP, Vista, and Win7 disc on hand to troubleshoot and repair Windows issues can be a lifesaver. You may also want some Office install discs on hand as well if the client does not have a physical disc on hand for utility installs. Caution: Do not use your registration codes! Use the customer’s codes every time; if your disc does not work with that code, then find another version of the disc.
- Along the way, you will hopefully find a good collection of scripts, registry patches and mini-programs to help you do everything from optimize Windows to extracting inventory information. Keep these on a thumb drive with you and be sure to include adequate descriptions and documentation to remind you how to use them if they are not used frequently.
- If you take one of our Certified Ethical Hacker courses, you will know there are a few bootable Linux systems that you want to keep on hand for security purposes such as BackTrack or BlackBuntu. However, be careful with these! If you have not taken the class, do not try to use these tools as you can really mess up your system and/or get yourself in trouble for using them!