Microsoft Technical Fellow, Sysinternals co-founder, frequent tech conference keynote speaker, and published fiction author Mark Russinovich has been diligently updating his popular Sysinternals suite of free Windows tools over the last few months, fixing bugs, adding new features (including Windows 8 support) and generally giving many of these popular utilities a fresh coat of paint.
If you’ve never used the Sysinternals tools, you’re missing out on some of the best free tools and utilities available for Windows IT professionals. Sysinternals used to be a separate company — founded by Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell in the early 1990s — that focused on providing handy system utilities that helped admins troubleshoot their servers and clients. The suite of Sysinternals tools and applications expanded over the years, eventually resulting in a bumper crop of more than five dozen individual system utilities. Microsoft acquired Sysinternals in 2006, and all the Sysinternals tools moved with Russinovich to Microsoft.
Many of the Sysinternals tools hadn’t been updated in some time, with some incompatible with Windows 8 and others not taking advantage of some new Windows 8-specific features. So over the last few months Russinovich has been steadily improving and updating several of the existing Sysinternals utilities to be compatible with Windows 8, among other improvements. I won’t list all of them, but here’s a brief description of some of the more popular Sysinternals tools that Russinovich has either updated to be compatible with Windows 8 or added noteworthy fixes and improvements to over the last few months, along with a brief description of each.
Need to know the security settings of registry keys and other important system files? AccessChk is your tool of choice for that, and this latest update includes bug fixes, new features, and adds support for Windows 8 features like capabilities and claims.
Tired of troubleshooting bloated PCs that start with dozens of preloaded bloatware? Autoruns is a handy utility that displays all of the drivers, applets, and other detritus that gets loaded when a Windows PC starts. This latest updates fixes some bugs and adds support for additional host executables (among other things).
DebugView has long been used by system administrators to collect and review debug output messages, and this latest update adds logging support for Windows 8 Metro applications.
Process Explorer v15.2
Process Explorer is one of the most popular and widely-used Sysinternals utilities, and this latest release is one of the most significant updates yet. This new version adds support for new Windows 8 logging options, adds .NET stacking support, and has new display options in the process and DLL view modes.
Process Monitor v3.0
Keeping real-time tabs on your network, processes, registry, and other files can often be a chore, but Process Monitor makes those tasks much easier. This latest update can now display Windows 8 file system control codes, but also features new bookmark support, records process environment variables, and has a number of other improvements and bug fixes.
Troubleshooting PCs with defective RAM or excessive RAM usage can be one of the more onerous tasks of a system administrator. That’s where RAMMap comes in: It’s a utility that outlines all the memory usage of the reviewed PC, telling you how much memory is being used by drivers, programs, and system processes. This latest update adds support for Windows 8, PCs with more than 16GB of RAM, bug fixes and other improvements.
Easily my favorite Sysinternal utility, Zoomit is a godsend for anyone who regularly does training videos, screencasts, presents at conferences, or generally needs to display the contents of a computer screen to an audience. Zoomit allows you to use a system of keyboard shortcuts and other commands to zoom, scroll, and highlight elements of a computer screen — think of it as the IT industry equivalent of the Madden football telestrator. This version adds some support for additional startup configuration.
Are you an active user of Sysinternal utilities? Tell me what your favorite utility is by adding a comment to this blog post or reaching out to me on Twitter.