Friday, November 9, 2007

PC Auditing made simple

One of my favorite system administrator tools is AuditWizard from Layton Technology. I found it a few years back and used it at a previous employer. When I came to my present employer I bought a 50-computer license because they told me that's how many computers I would be supporting. I quickly upgraded that to a 100-computer license and finally to 500 computers.

One of the things I like about it is that I can keep a history of my inventory. Every system administrator knows that there are always a dozen or more PCs floating around that aren't in actual productive use at the moment. So even though we really only have 80 to 100 computers that are in use and that I support, I have records of 120 computers in my database.

Some have been pressed back into service as a quasi-server, others to an unused back office where they are used more as a Terminal Server client or for guests to check email. Most are sitting on the bench awaiting an upgrade or repair before being redeployed for some function or as a spare when someone has a failure. My point is that I know exactly what I have on hand.

How does it work? Quite simply. The software is installed in a public folder on a server that can be reached by all workstations no matter what location or subnet they are on. I then modify the network logon script to require every workstation to run the auditing software in the background upon bootup. Yes, it adds about 5-10 seconds to the boot process but is well worth the annoyance to me.

What does it do for me? It saves me hours and hours of work that I don't enjoy and on which I have a hard time keeping up. The automatic audit records just about everything about the computer you could possibly need to know - hardware configuration, software installed, serial numbers, web browser cache, network addresses, patch history and lots more.

I have a policy of installing corporate licenses of software when I need it. At the end of the year I take an inventory by simply running a report in Audit Wizard and noting the difference between how many licenses I have consumed and how many we own. Submit the report to management and after a little grumbling and a small purchase we are legit again. Licensing compliance has never been simpler.

I use it almost daily. The report generator is excellent but tends to add a lot of fluff by spreading things out over too many pages. So I export to Excel, tweak it a little and I can tell you at the push of a button which computers need to have their memory upgraded this month or which are running low on hard drive space. It's a pretty slick piece of software.

I checked out lots of different pieces of auditing software before I found this one. I highly recommend it. What do you think? What PC auditing software do you use?

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