What separates the end user from the IT super user? Tips and tricks, of course! Sysadmins, ubergeeks and other IT pros all know certain tricks, shortcuts, alternative menus and other arcane trivia that make the unenlightened stagger at their skills. Here are 25 tricks every support pro should know.
1. Enable QuickEdit Mode in your command prompt to make it easy to copy/paste. Right-click the title-bar, click Properties, and then check QuickEdit Mode. Now you can simply drag your mouse to highlight text in the command prompt.
2. While you are in there, adjust your Screen Buffer Size so that you have more lines of scroll-back. It’s on the Layout tab, and I recommend at least 3,000.
3. Use WIN+R to quickly bring up the Run dialog.
services.msc to launch the Services applet
eventvwr.msc to launch Event Viewer
compmgmt.msc to launch Computer Management
secpol.msc to launch the local Security Policy editor
dsa.msc to launch Active Directory Users and Computers
5. Use OneNote’s WIN+N to quickly and easily send pages to OneNote or launch OneNote’s screen clipping tool
6. Use WIN+# to quickly launch apps from your taskbar. Icons are automatically numbered and renumbered left to right.
7. Use System Restore to bring your computer to an earlier date in case an app install or update goes wrong. Just pick the last point where all was well, and Windows will return the operating system and drivers to that point, without changing any of your data.
8. Use the Steps Recorder to create a mini-screencast to show friends/relatives/coworkers how to do things. They can use it too to show you what they are doing when they get that nasty error they will ask you how to fix!
10. Use TELNET to grab a banner. You can identify server versions and troubleshoot connectivity simply by connecting to a port with TELNET.
11. Use the SET command to learn all sorts of things about a user and their session, including system architecture, path, logon server and more!
12. You can use SYSTEMINFO | MORE to get specific info about the computer too. This will dump a ton of detail, so you might output it to a text file with > details.txt instead of just using | more. One of the best things this will output is the list of installed hotfixes!
13. Use NETSH to take a network trace, specifying the capture file. You can then copy this to another machine and open it in Netmon or WireShark to analyze it further.
netsh trace start capture=yes tracefile=c:\capture.etl
netsh trace stop
14. Use NETSTAT to monitor network connections, like a poor man’s packet analyzer.
netstat –ano 1 will show you all the open connections, list which service has a particular port, and will refresh once per second.
15. Use TCPING to provide an audible alert on server or service bounce
tcping –t –b 2 fqdn will ping a host on TCP port 80 and beep when the service starts to respond, so you know that it has restarted.
16. Have you ever needed to bounce a server but don’t want to take the time to log onto it first? Remotely reboot a system
shutdown –r –t 0 –m \\servername
17. Don’t you hate it when someone has all the RDP sessions on a server tied up? Remotely close a stale RDP session without having to ask a fellow admin to log off.
regsvr32 query.dll [enter] (You only have to do this the first time)
query session /server:servername [enter]
reset session # /server:servername [enter]
18. Use the ERR command from Microsoft to translate all those hexadecimal error codes into something useful for troubleshooting.
19. Quickly check AD Replication with
20. Use WIN+arrowkey to maximize, minimize, snap left, or snap right the program with focus. It makes it much easier to arrange apps than using the mouse!
21. Send an email from the command line using TELNET to port 25. See http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa995718(v=EXCHG.65).aspx for the specific steps, then try to send yourself an email from Elvis!
22. Determine which domain controllers hold the FSMO roles by using the command
netdom /query fsmo
23. Launch IE in a separate memory space so that you can use separate credentials or establish a new session.
24. Launch IE in private mode to prevent keeping a history, using current creds, or storing cookies. This is especially helpful when troubleshooting sites that require authentication.
These 25 tips and tricks will come in handy at some point so they are worth memorizing. If you have other tips and tricks that your peers should know about, do leave a comment below.