Can't-Live-Without Tools That Have Saved My Hide

We've featured lots of essential apps that we use every day, but some apps and extensions can also be considered life-saving — or at least can save you from tearing your hair out when trying to get things done. Here are a few that have really saved my hide.Photo by twicepix.

Lazarus: Previously featured Firefox, Chrome and Safari extension Lazarus can save you from what might be every web worker's worst nightmare: Filling out a long form and the browser crashing or the info just disappearing after you hit submit. Lazarus has recovered hours of work and saved me from a lot of frustration. If your work depends on online forms, install it; you won't regret it.

PdaNet: When your internet craps out or you've got a power outage but your laptop and smartphone still work, you don't have to stop everything if you have a tethering app like PdaNet installed. Available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and older mobile devices, PdaNet can get that last minute critical email out when all else fails. You'll need to install the app on your phone and your computer before such an emergency arises, however.

Dropbox and Yes, we've mentioned online syncing tools like Dropbox a lot, mainly for their convenience in keeping all your files in sync between computers and online. Some of the best features of these services, however, are also the constant backup that they do of your files, and the multiple file versioning, so in case you overwrite a file or accidentally delete it (a mistake I'll own up to making more than once), you can retrieve the original. I'm listing both Dropbox and SugarSync here because I use both, but other similar services would provide the same sort of protection as well.

These programs are the ones that have really been critical to keeping my work flowing and which I would feel stranded without. I'm leaving out a few obvious computer essentials like a regular backup program (having recently switched to CrashPlan based on this recent Lifehacker backup guide), antivirus (and Malwarebytes for rescuing systems), hardware firewall, and even System Restore on Windows.

What are the essential tools or apps that have been life-rescuing or work-rescuing for you?


    I really like the Chrome extension "Auto Copy", it's something small that makes a big difference to my browsing, and the time spent Ctrl-C'ing adds up, in a way. It's just easier not having to bother with keyboard commands;.
    Also, I like TabCloud. It's also helpful.
    Of interest is this program called "Allmyapps" for Windows, it's like the Mac App Store, but for (you guessed it) Windows
    It's got a good UI, pretty intuitive, and I like it.
    Take a look:

      I cant stand auto copy, i have an annoying habbit of selecting things for no apparent reason, and its really not very hard to right click on the text i just selected and click copy. Or use ctrl c since i then have my finger on ctrl v ready to paste (since im a righty its easier than ctrl insert/shift insert while mousing, so lefties might find that one easier).

    TimeSnapper has been a great tool. Not only does it track my time and provide reports on how productive I've been, it keeps screen shots so that if there is a problem and I lose that document I'd been working on for hours I can at least see an image of the text.

    Though isn't a program like pda net redundant on modern android and iphones?

    Notepad++ and Excel - I live out of text files and spreadsheets - all my planning and notes. If Excel would move to tabbed work books, but let me drag a tab out to a new window so I could open dual spreadsheets side by side - I'd be a very happy camper.

    Digsby - I have 3 gmail accounts, multiple social networks and a huge contact list of merged and meshed contacts. I'm dreading the day they cease support on the project - which seems a bit dead since they were bought a while back... If they could integrate google plus, skype IM and Skpye and Google+ Video chat, and fix the Facebook messaging thing - I'd be all kinds of happy. If they added Google Reader integration and maybe some kind of extension framework for tying into more obscure social networks - I'd be over the freaking moon.

    VisionApp Remote Desktop - I manage a mid sized environment, 60 or so windows machines, 30 or so linux machines, a bunch of comms equipment... if VRD could improve putty support a little, and make VNC a bit smoother, and add connectivity to Vmware/Xen environments - especially Vsphere/Vcentre instances - wow. If they provided a framework or support for say Cisco ADSM-IDM and Cisco Network Assistant (like you've never used the idiot tools, shut up) or mapping web UI's for stuff like iDRAC/ILO/RSA devices - I'd also be a very happy geek. If I could use it to manage/integrate with my Keypass data stores - especially if I could store my keypass data stores securely as part of my VRD datastore for licensed multi-user locations - I'd be all kinds of blissed out. Especially if I could map credential groups to AD users and groups and still associate with browser plugins...

    As a heavy google user (google apps/gmail/google plus/google maps/google docs/etc) - An android phone is a must have. It's a
    The sysinternals suite - for a sys admin who works with microsoft - it's must love stuff. Powershell ISE is also great.

    Synergy has previously been very heavily utilized - but Mouse Anywhere is rapidly nudging it out.

    nMap/Zenmap - I spend a lot of time going into new environments and having to figure out the lay of the land by myself and without documentation...

    A leatherman multitool and a LED flashlight are rarely not on my person - and an apple pry stick / black stick / the magic stick of power are also incredibly heavily used items in the real world. I also have a nice pen/stylus/laser pointer thing that lives in my pocket. A USB key rounds out my never go anywhere without real world tools.

    A decent label printer with barcode printing, a shifter spanner, a hammer and a good socket driver set also get heavy, heavy use. And the barcode reader on my phone gets heavily utilized.

    The Camcard app for android to scan business cards to contacts, and the increasingly wonderful adoption of people using QR codes on their business cards are probably not 'life' or major productivity savers - but they are very handy things. Tasker also warrants obvious mention.

    D'oh. Almost forgot - Wireshark. Couldn't live without it.

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