Info Tech Toolbox

Late in August and early in September, I was back in the classroom again teaching a great bunch of beginning IT technicians the finer points of networking so they can pass the CompTIA Network+ certification exam.  They asked me for a list of the tools that I use on the job.  Once I had put the list together for them, it looked like a great article for the blog, so here it is.


Basic Computer Repair Kit with Zippered Case

Get a basic computer tool kit

Screwdriver Fastener Bits

You will need a complete set of flat bladed, phillips, torx, and other special bits for Apple and other manufacturers who do not want you inside their toys.  Like Precision Screwdriver Set, Apsung 110 in 1 Professional Screwdriver Set, Multi-function Magnetic Repair Computer Tool Kit Compatible with iPhone/Ipad/Android/Laptop/PC etc (Blue)

Wire Pliers

  • Angle cutter type
  • Wire insulation stripper for wire gauges 12 to 24
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Lineman’s pliers

USB to SATA drive external HDD and SSD connector

Like the Unitek USB 3.0 to SATA I/II/III Dual Bay External Hard Drive Docking Station for 2.5/3.5-Inch HDD SSD, Hard Drive Duplicator, Offline Clone Function, Support UASP and 10TB.  Makes copying, recovering, and transferring files easy.  Also great for drive cloning.

Power Supply Tester

For testing computer power supplies.  Get one with a digital readout.  Computer PC Power Supply Tester, ATX/ITX/IDE/HDD/SATA/BYI Connectors Power Supply Tester, 1.8” LCD Screen (Aluminum Alloy Enclosure)

Motherboard POST Tester

New Latest PCIe USB Complete Pc Laptop Computer Android Smartphone Motherboard Quick Repair Diagnostic Analyzer Post Test Cards Kit

Multimeter

I don’t use my multimeter much, but I still have on.  Get a digital display instead of analog.  Can be used to test for continuity, and test for voltage, amperage, wattage, resistance.

Plug in electric circuit tester

This is for testing in your electric wall outlet has power and is wired correctly.  Can also help you find the circuit breaker.  Socket Tester GFCI Outlet Tester 48-250V Automatic Electric Power Circuit Polarity Voltage Detector Wall Plug Breaker Finder Leakage Test With LED voltage display TA106B

Kill-a-Watt

For monitoring a problem electric source.  P3 International P4400-VP Monitor, Electricity Usage, Kill-A-Watt, 8 Measures, 2.4″ W x 1.7″ D x 5.1″ H

Sheep Dip

This is a PC for “delousing” a hard drive.  Windows or Linux OS, plus some anti-malware tools such as Malwarebytes (Windows) or Clam AV (Linux).  Buy a refurbished system or use an old system of your own.  When you mount the infected computer in the external hard drive connector, the operating system in the infected drive is not being used and this prevents the malware from fighting back.

Punch Down Tool with both 110 (Data) and 66 (Telco) blades

Used for punching down twisted pair cable on a patch panel or 110 block on a RJ-45 wall plate.

RJ-45 and RJ-11 Cut and Crimp Tool

Use this tool to cut and crimp on (terminate) RJ-45 patch cables and UTP/STP cable

UTP/STP and Coax cable jacket stripper

For removing just the outer insulation jacket from UTP cable, and correctly stripping the 4 of coax cable so you can crimp on a terminator.  WESTONETEK Universal Cable Stripper Cutter for Flat or Round UTP Cat5 Cat6 Wire Coax Coaxial Stripping Tool

Tone and Trace Kit

Like this one.  Make sure it has an RJ-45 connection.  Multi-function Network Cable Tester RJ45 RJ11 Wire Ethernet Tracer Remote Toner Tool Kit with Bag Probe Audio Tone for LAN CAT5 CAT6 Tracker Underground Telephone Line Finder Speed Check

RJ-45 Patch Cable and Cable Run Tester

This tool ensures that patch cables and cable runs conform to the TIA-EIA T568A or B specification.  Will display shorts and crossovers.  TRENDnet Network Cable Tester, Tests Ethernet/USB & BNC Cables, Accurately Test Pin Configurations up to 300M (984 ft), TC-NT2

Bootable Rescue Disk or Bootable Rescue USB

When a computer won’t boot, you will need a Windows 10 recuse boot disk to get into the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) to perform bootrec commands or restore the O/S.

USB Stick with Useful Utilities

Buy a USB stick with at least 16 GB of space.  Bigger is better.  The download the following utilities.  These you can install in a system you are working on.  Most of these are free, open source, or at least give you a trial period

  • Teracopy – replaces Windows copy/paste, and will continue to copy even over problem files that Windows will hang on.
  • CCleaner – the only utility of its kind worth using. Clears temporary files and creates clean space on drives nearing capacity
  • Malwarebytes – This anti-malware product will install on a heavily inflected system that will disable the on-board AV product and repel other attempts to install an anti-malware scanner and remover
  • Disk Cloning Software – I like Acronis Tru-Image
  • Uninstaller Program – Sometimes programs do not uninstall cleanly using the programs own uninstaller, or the Control Panel/Programs and Features utility, I like IObit Uninstaller
  • Device Drivers – If there are device drivers you need frequently, add them to your USB stick.
  • Printer Installation Software – Sure Windows Update usually installs printer drivers automatically, but you may need the full software package to provide features such as document scanning. Add the ones you need frequently.
  • Windows 10 installation media ISO
  • Linux (Ubuntu) ISO
  • Terminal Emulator Program – If you need a terminal connection with a switch, router, or server via Secure Shell (SSH) you will need a terminal emulator like TeraTerm Pro

Randy the Tech Professor

While researching this article, I came across Randy’s website.  Here is a much more comprehensive list.

In this series he’s describing the very repair tools that he uses daily. If you would like, you can see the entire series by following these links: part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6part 7part 8part 9part 10part 10.1part 10.2part 10.3, part 10.4 and part 10.5.

Professor Randy’s article is from 2012, so all of these utilities will have updated versions.

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About the Author:

Cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. Owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, Bob also conducts security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. Bob also teaches Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. Bob works as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. Bob has worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments Bob is a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. Bob has been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at http://wyzguyscybersecurity.com

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