Best free server tools for Microsoft admins
Microsoft offers some pretty useful apps free of charge
By J. Peter Bruzzese | CIO US | Published: 13:45, 02 November 2010
SQL Server 2008 R2 Best Practices Analyser
Microsoft's Best Practices Analyser (BPA) for SQL is a real timesaver for IT admins and even DBAs. The tool scans your system, reporting back all configuration settings, complete with very clear markers as to which settings should be adjusted to align with SQL best practices as outlined by Microsoft. Prior to BPA, tuning SQL settings to achieve the ideal configuration was strictly a manual affair. But with BPA, admins receive automated feedback on their configurations, including annotations of critical configuration errors. But SQL Server 2008 R2 BPA doesn't just tell you that something is wrong, it gives you the needed information and links to help you fix the problem.
SQL Server Migration Assistant
Microsoft offers two Migration Assistants helpful for bringing an existing database into SQL: one for MySQL and one for Access. The SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) for MySQL will help you migrate any MySQL 4.1 and higher database to SQL 2005/2008/2008 R2 and SQL Azure, enabling you to convert your MySQL schemas to SQL Server schemas, upload the schemas to SQL and migrate your data to the new SQL database. The Access version does pretty much the same thing, converting Access database objects to SQL database objects, loading them into SQL and then migrating the data. One nice feature to the Access SSMA is that you can continue to use Access as your frontend application through links from Access tables to SQL Server tables.
Download: SQL Server Migration Assistant for MySQL
Active Directory Migration Tool 3.2
With Microsoft recently dropping support for Windows 2000 systems, the need to migrate existing Active Directory forests has become paramount for most organisations. Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) 3.2 provides an easy-to-use inter/intra-organisational migration toolset to help you migrate or restructure existing AD forests. This free, fully functional tool enables you to migrate users, groups, service accounts, workstations and servers between domains in the same forest (intra-forest) or in different forests (inter-forest). ADMT 3.2 also performs security translations and can move SIDs, passwords, local profiles and more. The most recent 3.2 version also supports Windows Server 2008 R2.
Download: Active Directory Migration Tool 3.2
Exchange 2010 Deployment Assistant
Whether you're deploying a brand new Exchange 2010 installation or upgrading from Exchange 2003/2007, Exchange 2010 Deployment Assistant will be a lifesaver. This free web-based tool simply asks you a few questions about your current environment, then offers a list of deployment steps. It sounds simple enough, but the steps include full explanations, clear instructions and links to overviews on what you are doing and why. The deployment assistant is so good that admins have recommended Microsoft make more of these types of tools available for every product it creates.
Download: Exchange 2010 Deployment Assistant