Five Useful but Lesser Known Free Windows Utilities from Microsoft Sysinternals


You are probably familiar with powerful and highly useful free Sysinternals applications such as Process Explorer and Autoruns but there is actually a large suite of utilities provided by Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich and his Sysinternals co-workers. Many of the tools are quite specialized but they are interesting in their own right. In this tip I will point out five lesser-known utilities that experienced PC users might find worth looking at.

Windows Sysinternals

These particular tools are command-line utilities and therefore require no installation. The easiest way to use them is to place the executable files in a location that is in the system path. All are said to work in Windows XP and higher. These are 32-bit files but they also work on 64-bit systems. I have run all of them on Windows 8.1, 64-bit. They are given here in no particular order.

1. ListDLLs

This command-line utility reports a variety of information about the DLL files that have been loaded. (Go here for a quick discussion of what DLL files are.) For example, the program can list the processes that have a particular DLL loaded or display full version information for DLLs. The description and download link are on this page.

2. Contig

These days, PCs do not require much manual hard drive defragmenting but sometimes you might want to defragment just a single file that gets a lot of use. This is where the command-line utility Contig comes in. Contig is a single-file defragmenter that attempts to make files contiguous on the disk. It is handy for quickly optimizing single files that frequently become fragmented. It can also defragment NTFS metadata files such as the Master File Table, MFT. The description and download can be found at this link.

3. NTFSInfo

NTFSInfo will show you where on the disk (in terms of clusters) the NTFS Master File Table MFT is located and how large it is.The file system NTFS reserves a portion of the disk around the MFT that will not be allocated to other files unless disk space runs low. This area is known as the MFT-Zone and NTFSInfo will tell you where on the disk the MFT-Zone is located and what percentage of the drive is reserved for it. Requires administrative privileges. The description and download are at this link.

4. Whois

There are a number of ways to get information about who owns Internet domains but this little utility provides a quick and easy method. It goes online to find the registration record for a domain name or IP address and displays it. The description and download are at this page.

5. Handle

This utility allows you to find out what programs have a file open or to see the object types and names of all the handles of a program. The same facility is provided in Process Explorer but Handle is a command-line utility. It requires administrative privileges. The description and download is here.

And there you have it – five helpful command-line utilities from Sysinternals.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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