A quick look at the Windows 2003 support tools

by Andrew Z. Tabona [Published on 23 Dec. 2003 / Last Updated on 23 Dec. 2003]

The Windows 2003 support tools are a collection of resources with the aim of assisting administrators to simplify management tasks. These include: troubleshooting operating systems, configuring networking and security features, managing Active Directory, and automating application deployment. With the use of these tools, the user is able to pin-point problematic issues with the system and will therefore be able to find a solution more easily.

The Windows 2003 Support Tools consist of a number of command-line utilities, visual basic scripts, GUI based applications, and documents - all of which you must install from a seperate application. The Support Tools are not automatically installed when you install Windows 2003; their installation isn’t an option in the Windows 2003 setup. The installation program is located on the CD-ROM in the \support\tools folder and the setup file (suptools.msi) must be opened manually to initiate the installation wizard.

The setup program installs the Support Tools files onto your hard disk and requires approximately 24 MB of free space for a full installation. You must be logged on as the Administrator or have Administrator privileges to be able to install them. Setup creates a Windows 2003 Support Tools folder within the Programs folder on the Start menu. The setup also adds the \program files\support tools directory (or the directory name you choose for installing the tools) to your computer's path environment variable – this allows you to run the command line tools from any folder on your system.

Once the installation is complete, you can click on Start > Programs > Windows 2003 Support Tools to open the command prompt in the Program Files\Support Tools directory and start using them. All the GUI-based tools, along with the command line ones, can be found in the \Program Files\Support Tools folder (or whichever location you chose at installation).

Installing the support tools

As mentioned previously, the support tools are located in the \support\tools folder on the Windows 2003 CD-ROM. Navigate to that location and double click the "suptools.msi" file to start the installation wizard.

Press Next and browse through the screens, select "I Agree" when the license agreement screen comes up. You will be prompted to choose a location in which to install the tools. By default, the location is c:\program files\support tools\

Press the "Install Now" button and the installation will proceed. The installation will take a couple of minutes to be complete. Press "Finish" and close all windows to be able to start using the tools.

The support tools explained

This section will display the list of support tools found on the Windows Server 2003 CD-ROM in alphabetical order.

To use the command line format tools, open the command prompt and type the filename followed by the appropriate parameters. If you are unaware of the parameters of the tool you wish to use then type: filename /? to show the list of available parameters.

Tool Name: ACL Diagnostics
Filename: acldiag.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Detects and displays the permission problems found in the Access Control Lists of objects in Active Directory


Tool Name: Active Directory Replication Monitor
Filename: replmon.exe
Format: Graphical User Interface
Description: Allows the control of Active Directory replication information


Tool Name: Active Directory Search Tool
Filename: search.vbs
Format: Command Line
Description: A script used to search an LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) directory


Tool Name: Application Deployment Diagnostics
Filename: addiag.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Gives you a list of the software implemented on a local computer using group policy


Tool Name: ADSI Edit
Filename: adsiedit.msc
Format: Graphical User Interface
Description: Allows the editing of objects in Active Directory in a low-level style editor


Tool Name: Advanced Power Management Status
Filename: apmstat.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Gives information about advanced power management features in older notebook computers


Tool Name: Binary File Difference Finder
Filename: bindiff.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Allows you to compare two binary files and view their differences


Tool Name: BITS Administration Utility
Filename: bitsadmin.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Adminsters the Background Intelligent Transfer Service which controls background file transfers for Internet Information Services


Tool Name: Browser Status
Filename: browstat.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Displays network browser status


Tool Name: Cabinet Tool
Filename: cabarc.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Creates, views and extracts compressed .CAB files


Tool Name: Clone Principal
Filename: clonepr.dll
Format: Command Line
Description: This dynamic link library clones windows NT 4.0 users and groups to allow migration to a Windows Server 2003 forest


Tool Name: Dependancy Walker
Filename: depends.exe
Format: Graphical User Interface
Description: Allows you to view all the dependencies of a file. You are able to check which DLLs are dependant on others. This can be very useful when investigating a problem related to a missing file. The image below shows the GUI interface of the dependancy viewer. To demonstrate, I have loaded the twain_32.dll file - as you can see, this dll depends on three other dlls for it to work.

Tool Name: Device Console Utility
Filename: devcon.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: The command prompt version of the device manager in the hardware tab of system properties

Tool Name: DFS and SYSVOL Replication Topology Analysis Tool
Filename: topchk.cmd
Format: Command Line
Description: Shows the FRS replication topology

Tool Name: DHCP Server Locator Utility
Filename: dhcploc.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Shows a list of all DHCP servers on the subnet

Tool Name: Directory Disk Usage
Filename: diruse.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Displays directory sizes and compression information

Tool Name: Directory Services ACL Editor
Filename: dcaslc.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Manages access control lists for Active Directory objects

Tool Name: Directory Services Utility
Filename: dsastat.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Compare and contrast two directory trees in the same domain or across different domains

Tool Name: Distributed File System (DFS) Utility
Filename: dfsutil.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Manages DFS, limits clients to targets within the same site and enables windows server 2003 based DFS servers to select remote targets

Tool Name: Diskprobe
Filename: dskprobe.exe
Format: Graphical User Interface
Description: Allows you to edit the disk sector information directly (includes also the MBR)

Tool Name: Disk Manager Diagnostics
Filename: dmdiag.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Provides detailed diagnostic information about hard disk drives

Tool Name: DNS Server Troubleshooting Tool
Filename: dnscmd.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Administrators are able to view and modify DNS servers, zones and resources

Tool Name: Domain Controller Diagnostic Tool
Filename: dcdiag.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Analyzes and reports on the state of a domain controller

Tool Name: Encrypting File System Information
Filename: efsinfo.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Provides information about files that have been encrypted using EFS. This is a very helpful tool when you want to analyze which files and folders are encrypted. If I were to go to the C: drive in the command prompt and type "efsinfo", a list of all the files and their encryption related information will be displayed. This can be seen in the example below:

Tool Name: Extensible Perforamce Counter List
Filename: Exctrlst.exe
Format: Graphical User Interface
Description: Displays information about the programs that use the regsitry to provide performance counters

Tool Name: Fault Tolerance Disk Mounter
Filename: ftonline.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Mounts Windows NT 4.0 fault tolerance disk sets

Tool Name: File and Directory Comparison
Filename: windiff.exe
Format: Command Line, Graphical User Interface
Description: Compares ASCII text files or folders

Tool Name: File Replication Utility
Filename: ntfrsutil.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Displays the status of the NT file replication service onto the screen of dumps it in a file

Tool Name: FileVer
Filename: filever.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: States version information of a file or folder

Tool Name: FRS Connection Status Report
Filename: connstat.cmd
Format: Command Line
Description:

Tool Name: FRS Health Check
Filename: health_chk.cmd
Format: Command Line
Description: States the health of the FRS of a specified domain controller

Tool Name: FRS Inbound and Outbound Logs Report Tool
Filename: lologsum.cmd
Format: Command Line
Description: Displays information about FRS replication

Tool Name: Get Security ID
Filename: getsid.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Checks if a user account database is corrupt by comparing the SIDs of the account on two domain controllers

Tool Name: Global Flags Editor
Filename: gflags.exe
Format: Graphical User Interface
Description: Allows you to edit global registry settings or flags that are in use by the kernel

Tool Name: HTTP Configuration Utility
Filename: httpcfg.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Manages the HTTP Application Programming Interface

Tool Name: IAS Parse Tool
Filename: iasparse.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Parses RAS and IAS log files and displays the results in IAS or ODBC format

Tool Name: Kerberos Keytab Setup
Filename: ktpass.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Configures a non-windows 2003 kerberos service to be a security principle in Windows Server 2003

Tool Name: Kerberos Setup
Filename: ksetup.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Configures Windows Server 2003 clients to use an MIT Kerberos Server

Tool Name: LDP Tool
Filename: ldp.exe
Format: Graphical User Interface
Description: Performs Lightweight Directory Access Protocol operations

Tool Name: Manipulate Service Principle Names for Accounts
Filename: setspn.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Manipulates SPNs for active directory service accounts

Tool Name: Memory Pool Monitor
Filename: poolmon.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Shows information about the system's memory pool.

Tool Name: Memory Profiling Tool
Filename: memsnap.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Allows you to save a list of the memory resources being used by all processes

Tool Name: Move Users
Filename: movetree.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Moves objects between domains

Tool Name: Network Connectivity Tester
Filename: netdiag.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Troubleshoots network connectivity by running various tests on your configuration and displaying the results. This tool does not require any extra parameters, which allows the administrator to instruct a user to run this command, pass on the results and allow them to be analyzed. Thus, making it less complicated if say, a senior admin was at home instructing the junior admin to do this on the servers at the office. The image below only displays the first phase of the results.

Tool Name: Network Monitor Capture Utility
Filename: netcap.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Acts as a packet sniffer by using Network Monitor to capture packets and log them to a file

Tool Name: NItest
Filename: nitest.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Queries the status of trusts; lists primary domain controllers; forces a shutdown and forces a user database in syncronization

Tool Name: Poolmon
Filename: poolmon.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Helps to detect memory leaks by displaying detailed information about the allocation of memory. As soon as you type "poolmon" from the command prompt, the following kind of data will be shown. This includes the total amount of memory in the system and the memory available, amongst others.

Tool Name: Port Query
Filename: portqry.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Allows you to troubleshoot TCP and UDP ports. This helps the administrator to determine the state of any given port. If you type "portqryt -n computer_name -e port_number" the name will be resolved to the ip address and the port number will be queried. Details such as the service assigned to that port, the port type (TCP, UDP), the state of the port and also any held data will be displayed.

Tool Name: Process Viewer
Filename: pviewer.exe
Format: Graphical User Interface
Description: Allows you to change a process priority or kill a process. This can be described as more advanced version of the "process viewer" available in the task manager. With this tool you are able to set the priority of the thread and process or kill a process altogether. Pressing on the memory detail button will bring up a window displaying in-depth information as to where the memory of the process is going.

Tool Name: Remote Command Line
Filename: remote.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Runs command line programs on remote computers using only named pipes

Tool Name: Remote Storage Diagnostics Utility
Filename: rsdiag.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Queries and reports on remote storage databases

Tool Name: Remote Storage File Analysis Utility
Filename: rsdir.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Displays information form files in remote storage

Tool Name: Replication Diagnostics Tool
Filename: repadmin.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Allows the doagnosis of replication problems between controllers in Windows Server 2003

Tool Name: Security Administration Tools
Filename: sidwalk.exe, showaccs.exe, sidwalk.msc
Format: Command Line, Command Line, Graphical User Interface
Description: Manages access control lists

Tool Name: Security Descriptor Check Utility
Filename: sdcheck.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Displays access controls on an object

Tool Name: Service Pack Check
Filename: spcheck.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Creates a file containing a list of the service pack versions of important system files. This tool requires you to have the spcheck.ini file in the directory in which you are going to execute the command. If you do not have this file available, then you may download it from the Microsoft website. Type "spcheck" and a report will be created and dumped into the current directory. You will then have to go to the file and open it will a text editor (notepad.exe will do fine). The report contains a list of important system files and which service pack they have installed or if they are missing.

Tool Name: Windows Domain Manager
Filename: netdom.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Provides command line administration of domains and trusts

Tool Name: Windows Installer Cleanup Utility
Filename: msicuu.exe
Format: Graphical User Interface
Description: Removes excess registry entries from a faulty installation

Tool Name: Windows Installer Zapper
Filename: msizap.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: The same as the widows installer cleanup utility, only a more in depth version

Tool Name: Xcacls.exe
Filename: xcacls.exe
Format: Command Line
Description: Sets and displays files ACLs

Summary

As you can see, there have been quite a few additions to the support tools in Microsoft Windows Server 2003. They help you to troubleshoot any problems that may occur in your network setup and servers and provide valuable information for maintenance related tasks. The support as a whole has improved in Windows Server 2003; it's easier to find what you want, there is more information about certain topics and the layout is better structured.

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