15 Essential Open Source Tools For Windows Admins

By J. Peter Bruzzese Apr 12th 2012
Microsoft offers great tools for enhancing your server-side experience, but open source has impressive options as well
  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 1: Wireshark

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 1: Wireshark

    There are a meaningful number of open source tools that go above and beyond what Microsoft has to offer in support of Windows Server, Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint -- and for free. We've compiled a list of the top open source tools for your Windows-based systems.

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 2: AMANDA

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 2: AMANDA

    Network troubleshooting is a real art, one that requires solid training and years of hands-on experience. This free software-based protocol helps ease traffic analysis. Its superior usability makes Wireshark a worthwhile tool for any Microsoft shop. Download: www.wireshark.org

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 3: MailArchiva

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 3: MailArchiva

    AMANDA, aka Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver, provides the ability for an administrator to set up a single master backup server that can support both Windows desktops and servers over the network to a variety of media. Download: www.amanda.org

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 4: Exchange 2010 RBAC Manager

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 4: Exchange 2010 RBAC Manager

    MailArchiva provides a worthwhile means for bringing compliance to Exchange 2000/2003 and other mail servers, such as Postfix, Sendmail, Qmail, iMail, and Lotus Notes. MailArchiva comes in both an open source and an enterprise flavor. Download: www.mailarchiva.com

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 5: Core Configurator 2.0 for Server Core

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 5: Core Configurator 2.0 for Server Core

    Exchange 2010 RBAC Manager is a great tool for admins working with role-based access control and Exchange. The tool is written in C# and uses PowerShell behind the scenes to allow you to create and manage roles in your Exchange 2010 environment. Download: rbac.codeplex.com

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 6: AutoSPInstaller for SharePoint 2010

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 6: AutoSPInstaller for SharePoint 2010

    Offering a command-line version of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 at installation was a great idea. This free tool provides a GUI method for managing tasks. Download: coreconfig.codeplex.com

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 7: OCS Inventory

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 7: OCS Inventory

    In SharePoint the SQL databases created are a mess in terms of naming. In contrast, AutoSPInstaller utilizes a variety of scripts to install SharePoint and makes sure database names remain clean in the process. Download: autospinstaller.codeplex.comm

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 8: UltraDefrag

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 8: UltraDefrag

    If you need a cool tool for locating all the devices connected to your network and what software and hardware you have installed on your systems, then OCS-NG is the one for you. It requires you install the OCS client inventory agent. Download: launchpad.net/ocsinventory

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 9: Nmap for Windows

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 9: Nmap for Windows

    UltraDefrag is a tool for Windows that can defrag system files, registry hives, and the paging file. It's continually updated to ensure improvements in performance. It's a valuable addition to any Windows environment. Download: ultradefrag.sourceforge.net

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 10: Zenmap

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 10: Zenmap

    This security scanner and network mapper can also be used to perform network inventory, manage service upgrade schedules, and monitor host or service uptime. Download: nmap.org/book/inst-windows.html

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 11: PowerGUI

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 11: PowerGUI

    It works off of Nmap, providing an interactive, animated visualization of hosts on a network, configured in rings. Click on a host and it moves to the center of your network topology, giving you the ability to easily trace the host's various connections. Download: nmap.org/zenmap

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 12: Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) Tool

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 12: Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) Tool

    PowerGUI is a free GUI and script editor for PowerShell. More valuable perhaps is the community built around PowerGUI, with its vast store of contributed scripts and libraries for administering your fleet. Download: powergui.org

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 13: ClamWin Antivirus

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 13: ClamWin Antivirus

    This open source tool helps read performance monitor counter logs and analyzes them for you, using built-in thresholds that relate to the majority of your Windows products. Download: pal.codeplex.com

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 14: Virtual Router

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 14: Virtual Router

    This open source antivirus solution tool includes a scanning scheduler that you can use to configure appropriate scan times but does not come with an on-access real-time scanner. Download: www.clamwin.com

  • Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 15: VirtualBox

    Essential open source Windows admin tool No. 15: VirtualBox

    Virtual Router is a nifty tool that turns any Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 system into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Using Virtual Router, users can wirelessly share any Internet connection with any Wi-Fi-enabled device. Download: virtualrouter.codeplex.com

  • VirtualBox is a must-have open source virtualization solution for any admin seeking to run guest OSes on Windows, Linux, Macintosh, or Solaris machines. Download: www.virtualbox.org

You might imagine that the best place to go for improving your Microsoft server-side experience is to the mothership itself. In many cases, you would be right. But the truth is there are a meaningful number of open source tools that go above and beyond what Microsoft has to offer in support of Windows Server, Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint -- and for free. From networking troubleshooting to security to performance analysis, we've compiled a list of the top open source tools for your Windows-based systems. Don't see a favorite? Feel free to highlight it in the comments below.

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