Windows

Microsoft’s Best Tools for Administrators and Power Users of Windows 10

Over the past year, Microsoft has integrated into Windows 10 several command-line utilities and free applications from the Microsoft Store that extend the functionality of the operating system.

In some cases, the company did not even officially announce the release of a new utility, and users independently found new items in the system.

In this article, we’ve put together a list of new apps and tools that will come in handy for power users to gain advanced control over Windows 10.

Pktmon network packet sniffer

Windows 10 has a built-in network traffic sniffer called Pktmon. This tool was introduced into the system in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. It allows users to monitor application network activity and diagnose potential network problems.

In the Windows 10 May 2020 Update (version 2004), Microsoft added two additional features to Pktmon: viewing intercepted packages in real-time and converting Pktmon logs to a PCAPNG dump. In newer versions of Pktmon, you can enable real-time monitoring using the -l real-time argument.

Since PCAPNG network packet dumps are supported in many network monitoring programs, such as Wireshark, users now have access to additional log analysis capabilities.

Here is a complete guide: Pktmon command formatting | Microsoft Docs

Winget Package Manager

Last year, Microsoft released a package manager for Windows 10 called Winget, a tool that allows you to install and manage apps directly from the command line.

To install the program using Winget, type winget search to search for applications and winget install to install it.

Microsoft has created a repository with carefully selected applications that can be installed using Winget.

When searching, you can use keywords. For example, if you want to find an alternative to system notepad, search for “note”:

winget search note

You will be prompted to install Notepad++ and other apps with “note” in the title if you want to see a list of all available packages, type winget search without any arguments.

Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2)

Windows 10 now comes with a new Windows subsystem for Linux 2 that includes performance improvements and improved compatibility with a wider range of Linux applications.

WSL2 received a full-fledged embedded Linux kernel based on version 4.19 with Kernel.org. WSL 2 also provides full access to standard system calls, improves Linux application compatibility, increases file system performance, and more.

WSL2 offers the following features:

  • Full Linux kernel
  • Improved I/O performance
  • Fully compatible with system calls
  • Optimize memory consumption at startup

If you are using an older version of WSL, you can upgrade to WSL2 by using the wsl –set-version command.

Install WSL | Microsoft Docs

Windows File Recovery tool

Windows 10 integrates the Windows 10 Command Line Tool File Recovery, which allows you to recover deleted files from your hard drive, USB drive, and SD card.

The tool will help in cases where you accidentally deleted an important file, mistakenly cleaned your hard drive, or want to recover corrupted data. It is a command-line file named winfr.exe.

Windows 10 File Recovery supports two recovery modes:

  • Regular is a quick recovery capability for NTFS file systems.
  • Extensive is a thorough search that applies to most file systems.

Microsoft Powertoys

Microsoft PowerToys is an open-source set of tools that allow you to extend the capabilities of Explorer, optimize application windows for large monitors, resize images, and perform other tasks.

At the moment, the set of utilities includes the following tools:

  • Image resizing
  • Configure the Explorer preview area
  • Powertoys panel that you can use instead of searching
  • Keyboard Manager to change hotkeys
  • Advanced renaming
  • Color picker

Windows Terminal

Windows Terminal is an open-source, tab-enabled console program that allows you to work with multiple shells and console interfaces in Windows 10.

For example, you can open PowerShell in one Windows Terminal tab and work with the WSL2 Ubuntu shell in another.

The program boasts support for hyperlinks, support for mouse, desktop backgrounds, and the ability to display commands from the keyboard.

In the latest version of Windows Terminal Preview, you can enable a new settings page with a graphical interface.

If you’re used to working with console interfaces, then you’ll love Windows Terminal.

PowerShell 7

In PowerShell 7, Microsoft introduced several new features, including automatic notifications of new versions and support for structured data formats JSON, CSV, XML.

Other improvements:

  • pipeline parallelization with ForEach-Object -Parallel
  • new operators:ternary operator a ? b : c
    • conveyor clutch operators || and && ;
    • conditional operators with null ?? and ?? =
  • simplified dynamic error representation and Get-Error cmdlet for easier error analysis
  • Compatibility level that allows users to import modules in an implicit Windows PowerShell session
  • automatic notifications about new versions
  • The ability to call DSC resources directly from PowerShell 7 (experimental function).

PowerShell 7 is available for download from the Microsoft Store.

Installing PowerShell on Windows – PowerShell | Microsoft Docs

Windows Sysinternals Tools

Windows Sysinternals Tools, a set of free utilities developed by Winternals Software LP, which Microsoft acquired in 1996, allows advanced users to diagnose and troubleshoot problems and manage the operating system.

One of the most popular utilities in the Process Explorer suite provides a detailed list of running processes and their loaded handles and DLLs. Using this list of processes, you can quickly find problematic and resource-intensive processes and, if necessary, complete their work.

Among the advanced features of Process Explorer: the ability to monitor problems with DLL versions and handle leaks. The tool is useful when checking suspicious processes that may be malicious.

Another tool in the Process Monitor suite monitors the activity of running processes in files, and the Sysmon utility allows you to monitor various activities on your computer. With Sysmon, you can detect attempts to interfere with processes, log data copied to the Windows Clipboard, keep a log of DNS queries, and automatically back up deleted files.

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