When working with computers and attempting to diagnose and troubleshoot problems you never know what tools you might need. I always carry a memory stick on my keys for that exact reason – and have filled it with useful applications and tools. Some of those tools are invaluable and I use them almost every day. In no particular order, here is a list of my favourite portable, free tech support tools and utilities.
Some of these applications will be from PortableApps.com. You don’t need to use their PortableApps Platform/Launcher to use them though – simply point the portable app installer to a directory on your USB stick and click install. It will then copy the application files to that folder, ready for you to use.
Windows’ built in zip function is fine, but when you need a bit more power and the ability to open .rar, .7z and .iso files, the portable version of 7-zip is invaluable. Plus it’s Open-Source!
Download here: 7-Zip Portable
Everyone knows CCleaner and it’s even more useful in portable form. Just stay away from the Registry Cleaner tool unless you really know what you’re doing!
Download here: CCleaner – Builds
This tool allows you to quickly read the SMART data from any HDD or SSD and monitor the temperatures. Great for knowing if a HDD is about to die
Download here: Crystal Disk Info – MajorGeeks
An invaluable tool for Sysadmins, DelProf2 allows you to delete inactive user profile folders in one click. Great for troubleshooting issues with roaming profiles, freeing up disk space and more. It can be run on the local computer or a remote machine.
Downlaod here: DelProf2
A Microsoft tool that is very useful for understanding hexadecimal error codes. Even wondered what 0x800B0100 or 0x8024200D error codes actually mean? Open Err and find out. It’s a little old now, so not all error codes are supported, but most of them are so it’s always useful to keep on hand.
Download link and more info available here: Looking up error codes with Err.exe
A portable search tool that is vastly faster than the built in Microsoft search facility. As of the time of this post, be sure to download the beta version since the stable version hasn’t been updated in 2 years and is missing some nice features. The beta is perfectly stable (at least for me), so don’t worry about using it.
Download here: Everything Search Engine
My personal favourite FTP and SFTP client, but now with more portableness!
Download here: FileZilla Portable
A fantastic free screenshot utility with build in integration with common programs such as Office and Photoshop as well as auto upload to popular online services such as Imgur and Dropbox. I use this every day, and the portable version is very handy.
Download here: Greenshot
Temperature monitoring software that I often use to make sure that overheating is not the cause of system instability and crashes.
Download here: HWMonitor
A very reliable and fast image burning program. Whilst Windows can burn ISOs natively nowadays, it doesn’t always work perfectly. ImgBurn has never let me down so far.
Download here: ImgBurn
It’s Notepad++. It’s awesome. It’s portable. What more is there to say?
Download here: Notepad++ Downloads
By the same people that make CCleaner, Speccy is a handy tool to find out more about the hardware inside the computer.
Download here: Speccy – Builds
If VLC can’t play your video, then nothing can. Never be stuck with a video file you cannot play again.
Download here: VLC Media Player Portable
If you’ve not heard of Sysinternals, you’re missing out! My most used tools are ProcExp, ProcMon and AutoRuns, although the other tools can be useful from time to time.
Download here: Sysinternals Suite
Similar to the Sysinternals suite, a collection of tools you think you’ll never use but turn out to be very helpful!
Download here: NirLauncher
Find out what’s taking up your precious HDD/SDD space with the portable version of WinDirStatWinDirStat Portable
An insanely helpful tool for Web Development, Fiddler2 allows you to debug and monitor web requests, spoof POST forms and decrypt HTTPS traffic.
Fiddler does not offer a native portable version – however if you install Fiddler2 normally on your PC, you can then copy the contents of the Fiddler folder from Program Files to your USB stick. You can then launch Fiddler from your USB stick without needing to install it.
Download: Fiddler Web Proxy
My favourite lightweight Telnet/SSH client.
Download here: PuTTY Portable
A very powerful but still easy to use Adware Removal program. It can remove Adware, Toolbars, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), and browser Hijackers.
AdwCleaner is updated often, so you’ll want to update the .exe file on your memory stick regularly.
Download here: AdwCleaner Download
ESET AV Remover
The awesome folks over at ESET have created a single tool that can help you remove most common Anti-Virus and Internet Security programs. It can help remove left over remnants of Anti-Virus programs or help detect Anti-Virus programs that need to be removed before installing another AV. ESET have published a handy list of dedicated removal tools for popular AV programs.
A more powerful version of Windows Explorer with tabbed browsing!
Download here: Explorer++
Recently acquired by MalwareBytes, the Junkware Removal Tool is commonly used in conjunction with AdwCleaner to help remove stubborn Adware and toolbars. It’s quick and effective.
Download here: Junkware Removal Tool
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Installer
Ok, so not really a portable app, but I keep the installer for MBAM on my USB stick for quick installation.
Download here: Malwarebytes
Norton Removal Tool
It’s always Norton isn’t it… I’ve needed to remove Norton so many times now I just keep the removal tool close to hand.
Download here: Norton Removal Tool
This literally does what it says on the tin – removes crapware automatically. Also makes a handy bulk uninstaller – just check the items to uninstall and it’ll launch the uninstallers automatically.
Download here: The PC Decrapifier
Clears out temporary files from the most common locations. Similar to CCleaner, but faster, lighter weight and sometimes more effective.
Download here: TFC Download
When working on a client PC, the installed browser may be full of toolbars and other adware. Or sometimes it may just not be working right. Keeping Firefox portable on a USB stick means you’ve always got a clean browser to use. Mozilla Firefox Portable Edition
A quick shoutout to the TRON tool. Tron is a collection of software and scripts designed to automate the mundane process of cleaning and optimising a PC. It takes a while (3-10 hours!) but it’s fully automated meaning you can set it off, go to lunch, do the other work you’ve been procrastinating and Tron will do the work for you!
The official Tron subreddit is here: www.reddit.com/r/tronscript
Make sure to read the GitHub Readme before using it: https://github.com/bmrf/tron/blob/master/README.md#use