Five tech emergency apps you should always carry with you
What applications do you carry with you at all times? I’ve covered this topic once before, but it’s important enough to revisit. Why? Because you can never have enough emergency apps to carry with you in the field.
As you might expect, everyone has different needs and every emergency calls for a different tool. That’s why you need to have a variety of tools on hand to cover nearly every issue. In this take on the emergency apps, we’ll examine some tools that, although you may not always use, they will prove irreplaceable when the time comes to fire them up.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
1: Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition
Let’s face it, at some point you’re going to run into a machine that only has Internet Explorer and the browser simply won’t work. When that machine can’t browse the web, you might not be able to get the specific tool you need (one you don’t have with you) or you won’t be able to gain access to the solution for the problem. When that time comes, you’ll be glad you have Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition (Figure A). What’s great about this tool is that it looks and feels exactly like the standard edition desktop browser. As a bonus, if you use the browser with the Portable Apps Platform, the portable edition of Firefox will always run in private mode, so you don’t leave any information behind.
2: FileZilla Portable
There will be times when you either need to download or upload data from a troubled PC via FTP. When that happens, you’ll want to have the portable edition of FileZilla (Figure B) on hand. Although you might be able to download from an FTP site with your favorite browser, uploading can be an issue. And what happens when the browser is misbehaving and you simply need to snag some data? That’s when a portable FTP client can come in handy. Like the portable version of Firefox, FileZilla Portable behaves exactly like the desktop iteration of the app.
3: McAfee Stinger
McAfee Stinger (Figure C) is a standalone application that does a great job of removing more than 6,000 “fake alert” malware threats. This version also includes a beta of Raptor (a real-time behavior detection that monitors suspicious activity on an endpoint). This is not to be considered a substitution for a full-blown antivirus solution, as Stinger only looks for specific threats. And while it isn’t the fastest scanner you’ll ever use, it is certainly effective. Once run, it will isolate suspicious and infected files to C:QuarantineStinger.
4: EditPad Lite
At some point, you’re going to need to manually edit a config file and the installed tools simply won’t work. When that happens, you’ll be glad you have the likes of EditPad Lite (Figure D) in your toolkit. Editpad Lite offers plenty of features. With it you can do simple text file edits or even programming (although it doesn’t include all the features you’d want in a programming editor). EditPad also features a built-in clipboard tool, search and replace, and plenty of configuration options.
If you’re looking for a tool to manage or recover your PC’s master boot record (MBR), MBRtool (Figure E) might be just what you need. It lets you verify, back up, and restore the MBR, as well as edit or wipe the partition table and blank or remove the boot code. MBRtool supports the first four hard drives present on a system. The only caveat to using this tool is that it presumes you have backed up the MBR to a location outside the C drive (preferably on a portable drive you have access to) so you can then restore the MBR back to the corrupted system. Also note that MBRtool is an app that works with DOS, so there is no fancy GUI to help guide you through the process. You’ll want to take a careful look at the MBRTool User Guide.
Your go-to emergency apps
There are many good candidates for your emergency toolkit. If you’re walking around without them, you’re doing yourself (and your end users) a disservice. No, you won’t always need each of these apps. But when you do, you’ll be glad you have them at the ready.
What emergency tools do you find essential? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic readers.