If you’re in IT support, you’ve probably come across same issues over and over again. These three utilities can take some of the hard work off you and make your IT life a bit easier:
The Offline NT Password Editor – How many times have you gone to work on someone’s computer, only to find that they didn’t know their password because they had auto-login enabled? Or maybe they’ve logged in under their own account for so long that they’ve forgotten the local admin password? It’s not something that happens often, but when it does happen, this handy lil’ app is one of the few ways to reset a password. The Offline NT Password Editor comes as a bootable floppy or CD image; all you do is download the file, transfer it to a floppy or CD, then boot into the tiny Linux distribution that comes with the editor. Everything is driven by a command menu, so there’s no way you can screw this up… mostly. The editor doesn’t natively work on domain controllers (although it can be hacked to do so; I recommend this only at your own peril!). Also, follow the advice of the app’s author and only use the editor to reset the admin password to blank within the editor. Although the password editor has the ability to change a password to almost anything you choose, the author says that you will occasionally run into a problem with doing so. It’s much safer to simply change the password to nothing (i.e. blank) and change it from within Windows.
Darik’s Boot and Nuke – Most commonly known as “DBAN”, Darik’s Boot and Nuke does just what its name says: nukes the data on hard drives. Just download one of the disc images, burn it to CD, and you’re on your way to completely nuking any data on your hard drives. DBAN offers a “basic wipe, that should be good enough for most purposes, but it also offers several US Department of Defense (DoD) approved methods that will keep your data safe from all but the NSA. And if you’re worried about the NSA getting their hands on your data… what are you up to, exactly? One tip, though: make sure that only disks you want to nuke are attached to the computer booting off the DBAN disc; anything on the hard drives will be gone, gone, gone forever! Also, note that the more secure the “wipe” is the longer it will take; unlike the movies – where data can be permanently erased in seconds – securely wiping a modern hard drive can take hours. If you’re doing this in an office, you’ll probably want to set DBAN up to run overnight.
Ultimate Boot CD for Windows – This is one of the handiest “program” ever, mainly because it’s a bootable CD\DVD that contains dozens of tools (including the two mentioned above) for fixing and troubleshooting computer issues. It includes lots of tools, most of which you’re already familiar with: AdAware, CWShredder and Hijack This (anti-spyware tools), AVG and McAfee (anti-virus tools), Firefox, Opera (web browsers), NotePad++ (text editor), DeepBurner and Express Burn (CD\DVD burning programs), DriveImage (a disk cloning program like Ghost or Acronis), VNC and RDP (remote access clients), registry editors, system information tools, benchmarking tools, disk checking and defragging tools, key finders, and much, much more! And even better, UBCD4Win is built from WinPE, so you can do this all from within a 32-bit environment with a Windows Explorer-type shell. Honestly, if you don’t have this CD in your toolkit, you’re waaaaay behind the times!