Working as a systems administrator oftentimes requires you to interact with many different computers in a single day. One minute you're dealing with cranky users complaining about slow performance on their PCs and the next minute your soothing badly behaving domain controllers.

Having to interact with so many different PCs makes it all the more advantageous to keep a core set of tools with you at all times. Many useful tools can be run from a portable storage device and some have even been specifically designed to run on portable storage devices. The former are what I call "portable compatible" and the latter can be considered "stealthy". That is, some apps can work on a portable device but are likely to add edits to the local registry while "stealthy" apps make no changes to the registry and ostensibly leave no traces behind. With that said, here are 10 things that I believe every Windows Administrator should have on their USB thumbdrives:

1. The Sysinternals Suite

As of June 2009 there are 66 tools in the suite. A thorough understanding of each of them is improbable (unless your name is Cogswell or Russinovich), however some of them have more readily understandable uses than others. For instance, Process Explorer allows you to see deeply into each running process, its CPU history, which executable was used to launch the program, where it is and what switches were used when launching. PsExec allows you to run any process on a remote system. Ever wanted to run another computer's command prompt from your machine? PsExec is the tool to do it with! Conversely, PsKill can kill remote processes without having to install a utility on the remote computer.

As a bonus, each of the Sysinternals tools are available "live" at "\tools" which is essentially just a file share open to the internet. You can access any of their tools from a command prompt or the run box by using a standard UNC path like this: \\\tools\[toolname]. Furthermore, since it's a file share, you can map a drive to that UNC path and give it a drive letter (thanks go to Ed Bott for cluing me in to that one). Even if you lose your thumbdrive you can still have easy access to the latest and greatest sysinternals tools on any computer with a network connection!

--> The rest of the tools are listed on Petri's website :