Well I'll be: Now you don't even need a web browser to download and run Sysinternals!
Novel distribution method allows you to run Process Explorer remotely, no web browser required

Back when I used to run networks and fix computers for a living, the Windows Sysinternals suite was simply invaluable. As a lazy-ass control-freak hacker who gets high off of spying on my software’s I/O activity, it still is. Like many techies, the Sysinternals suite rests comfortably on my hard drive, a thumb drive, and any Windows boot disc capable of running it. It stays there and is turned to when needed, which means that in all other cases it is forgotten about and never updated. Why go through the hassle of navigating a website and downloading the zip file again when there’s a perfectly good copy on a thumb drive, right?

As I discovered while researching my previous write-up, the guys at Windows Sysinternals recently added a new feature called “Sysinternals Live,” which seems to be targeted at support personnel and techies in the field. We now have the ability to download and run any program in the Sysinternals suite remotely from Microsoft’s servers, using only Windows Networking a.k.a. SMB – the same network protocol used by Windows File and Printer sharing, and only rarely available over the Internet due to its sordid history of security problems.

The URI used to access these tools is \\\tools, and all you have to do is enter it into your Windows address bar.  Once there, you can double click to start one of the programs offered – the entire suite is available – and, if you want, you can copy all the files to a local folder of your choosing. You can even mount the Sysinternals share to a network drive (yes, I tested that) – although, as anyone who’s worked with SMB over a WAN link can tell you, file sharing is slow as molasses over low-bandwidth and high-latency (as in less-than-T1) network connections. As I write this, the toolset is copying at approximately 70KB/sec on my 3mbit DSL line, and the sequence of “Select All” and “Copy” took at least 20 seconds to catch up.

Apparently, the “Live” feature was added to the site last May – but word of it didn’t really get out. The only site that really featured it outside of various hints-n-tips pages is Lifehacker, and even then there wasn't a lot of attention paid.

Knowledge like this is handy information to have when you find yourself in foreign water, troubleshooting a computer that’s not yours. (We all have those moments.) If all you want to do is fire up Process Explorer without futzing around with web sites, zip files, or thumb drives, then remember the address: \\\tools.

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