Best Practice Ezine #11 – Utilities

Best Practice Ezine.  Computer Performance. Advertise

Guy’s Best Practice & Litmus Tests Ezine #11

Contents for ezine #11 � Utilities Round-up


This week has been one of those weeks where everything has gone wrong.  It started badly on Monday when I chipped my tooth, then it got worse.  Actually, I am now welcoming things going wrong, I figure it like this, get all the bad news over this week, then next week I’ll be back on a winning roll. 

Andrew H pointed out a mistake in last weeks ezine, he spotted that MSCONFIG is not available in Windows 2000.  XP yes, Server 2003 yes, but W2K – no.  So, far from being indignant, I thank Andrew H for drawing attention to the error.  When one can hang on in there one always learn more by ones mistakes.

DCDiag and NetDiag

On closer inspection there are other utilities that only work on certain of the Microsoft Family.  For example, DCDiag and NetDiag appear to only work on the Server products W2K3, and W2K.  I use DCDiag and NetDiag when I am out of ideas and temporarily, the problem has the upper hand.

This pair are great utilities for running diagnostics and reporting back on subsystems that are not working.  On one occasion the Default Gateway had accidentally been removed, NetDiag pinpointed the fault.  Another problem was solved when DCDiag showed up an Active Directory replication error.  Where do these utilities come from?  Why, on the server CD, support tools.  How do you DCDiag or NetDiag, once you have installed them from the support tools, then go to the command prompt and type the name of the executable. E.g. DCDiag.

See more on DCDiag here                        See more on NetDiag here

Guy Recommends: The Free IP Address Tracker (IPAT) IP Tracker

Calculating IP Address ranges is a black art, which many network managers solve by creating custom Excel spreadsheets.  IPAT cracks this problem of allocating IP addresses in networks in two ways:

For Mr Organized there is a nifty subnet calculator, you enter the network address and the subnet mask, then IPAT works out the usable addresses and their ranges. 

For Mr Lazy IPAT discovers and then displays the IP addresses of existing computers. Download the Free IP Address Tracker

Conf – Netmeeting

There are several possible uses of Netmeeting, firstly one machine could host a video or PowerPoint presentation which other machines could tune into.  For brainstorming, I would choose a more interactive mode, for example, the whiteboard.   If you have not used Conf before, give it a try, its one of those tools that one day could help you if you want to link a group of people dispersed around your network.

When you are ready to conference, just go to the Start button, Run, conf.  The menus are moderately intuitive.  To get started, on the first machine (Host), go to the Call Menu, and select, Host meeting.  My next tip is to share out your desktop so that you can ‘project’ your machine to the other computers.  Select the Tools menu, Sharing and choose, Desktop.  Meanwhile, those who wish to join your conference, launch Conf then select Call, New call, and type the machine name of the first (Host) machine.  Finally, on the host machine, I prefer the option, Call Menu, automatically accept calls.

Conf is a utility built-in to XP, Server 2003.  I do believe that it is also available on Windows 2000!

SpyBot – Freeware

Even though I have expertise on operating systems, I had been naive about what cookies I was collecting.  When I was visiting what I thought to be honourable websites, they were pumping me full of Adware cookies. 

I had been aware of the term Adware and Spyware and avoided obvious candidates, but SpyBot, put me right on how many parasites I was hosting.  The point is that browsing with Adware slows you down.  All that baggage of cookies keeps on checking what you are doing and then interrupts your browsing, while the Adware reports back their master.

SpyBot turned out be a joy to use, what I mean is it has lots of interesting configuration settings, the sort I love to learn from and to tweak the setting to my preferences.  Naturally this is a third party utility, get it for free from

TSH – a great web host.

For those following my nightmare with the ‘Cowboy’ web host, the latest news is they have taken away my Cpanel; then they sent me a notification saying my disk utilization is over the limit.  This episode would not be out of place in Catch 22.  Until I reduce the free space they will not give me back my Cpanel, in order to reduce my free space I need my Cpanel!  The lesson is, beware when you choose your web host, my recommendation remains Third Sphere Hosting. 

See more about TSH here

Guy’s Litmus Test

  • A Professional has a tool kit full of useful gadgets
  •  An Amateur’s tool kit is only half full and has mostly Windows 98 utilities.

For each utility ask the question: ‘Where does this program come from?’  Is it :

a) Built-in to the operating system

b) In the support folder on the system CD

c) Microsoft supply it in the Resource Kit

e) A third party utility

Lots of useful computer tools

Windows 8 App Store   • How to Shut Down Win8   •Metro UI   • Win8 Sleep  • Ezines

E 173 Handy Utilities  •E 146 Tips  •E 95 Tips   • E 87 Tips  •E 86 Tips  •E 48 Cost Nothing  •E 41 Tips

E 30 General Tips   • E 28 Tools  • E 14 Reskit  • E 11 Utilities  • Kiwi Syslog Server  • IP Tracker