Thursday, September 8, 2011

Five gadgets that automate Windows troubleshooting commands

Takeaway: Avoid the hassle of using Windows command-line tools by putting these handy gadgets to work.

Windows provides various command-line tools designed to help you perform tasks such as troubleshooting problems related to running processes and TCP/IP connectivity issues. But using these tools — and remembering which switches to use where — can slow you down. The Vista/Windows 7 gadgets listed below will help you do the job without any command-line headaches.

1: The Tasklist Gadget

The Windows Task Manager provides detailed information about the programs and processes that are running on a system. However, Task Manager doesn’t really give you the full picture when it comes to the running processes. For instance, what if you suspect that a DLL is at the root of a problem and want to find out what DLL modules a particular process is using?

You can get the information you need by shelling out to a command prompt window and using the TaskList command-line utility, along with a couple of special parameters. But working from a command prompt can get pretty tedious, so we created the TaskList Gadget to automate the command.

2: The ARP Gadget

The Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is a key TCP/IP protocol that is used to determine the physical address of the network card that corresponds to an IP address. When you’re tracking down TCP/IP connectivity issues, you may need to investigate or modify the ARP cache as you look for problems.

Windows comes with a command-line utility called ARP, which lets you display or adjust the contents of the ARP cache of either a local or remote system. The ARP Gadget automates the ARP command to streamline the process.

3: The Netstat Gadget

Zeroing in on the cause of TCP/IP connectivity problems is complicated by the sheer number of connections and services on a particular system. Identifying the status of the connections and which services are running can help narrow down the search, but it takes time. However, an underused Windows command-line utility, Netstat, can shorten the time it takes to hunt down rogue connections by quickly providing information about client services and TCP/IP communications. The Netstat Gadget automates the Netstat command, making it much easier to use.

4: The Route Gadget

If your Windows network is having TCP/IP connectivity problems, you may need to investigate the current IP routing table and add or delete specific IP routes. Windows comes with a command-line tool called Route, which lets you reveal and edit this type of information. Unfortunately, the Route tool is stuck in the DOS-based world of the command line, so it’s often avoided when it’s time to look for problems that may be rooted in the routing table. To make the Route tool easier to use, we created the Route Gadget.

5: The PathPing Gadget

When you’re troubleshooting TCP/IP problems on your network, chances are you reach for the Ping utility and the Tracert utility. The results generated by these two tools provide a good view of the problem. But you can get all that information and more by using the PathPing command — a hybrid of the Ping and Tracert utilities. PathPing generates a detailed statistical report that can more precisely indicate the cause of the network problem. The PathPing Gadget automates the powerful PathPing utility, making it easier for you to isolate the cause of network problems.

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