Are you the guy that got stuck with the office IT just because you can work an iPod? Got the usual small family business budget of zero for IT? Maybe you’re like me and have 8 or so computers in your house and want to get a grip on them.
Spiceworks offers free network monitoring software for situations just like these, and even bigger networks. (Must run on Windows only – will detect *nix on network though.)
After scaling back our IT budget at work, we insourced the network management side of things. That’s when I came across Spiceworks. It does all the things I need it to do:
- Software, network, and PC inventory
- Network, Exchange, and license monitoring
- Asset and inventory reporting
- Helpdesk & IT Portal
Installation was as easy as anything I’ve ever installed. Then it automatically did its own network discovery, where it inventoried devices connected to the network, as well as what software and updates were on them.
Within 30 minutes, I had a high-level overview of everything in our office. That’s pretty amazing to me for free software. There were some computers it wouldn’t connect to due to local firewalls, but that was easy to remedy. And it let me know that those firewalls were there, which shouldn’t have been.
To help you along, Spiceworks has something they call the SpiceMeter. It’s a way of gauging what basic network maintenance activities you have done,as a sort of training program. This includes things like:
- accurately identifying 75% of your assets
- setting up a helpdesk
- troubleshooting problems through the remote control
When your SpiceMeter is at 100% you can consider yourself a Red Hot Spiceworks Pro.
The software itself is far too in-depth to cover here. Yet Spiceworks offers way more than the software. They have a strong and growing community of users that are people just like you – some are professionals with extensive experience and some have just been thrown in the deep end of the server room to sink or swim. I’m somewhere in the middle.
There is also plenty of free training available for Spiceworks through SpiceworksTV – a series of training videos and webinars to help you along in your quest for network mastery. There’s even a section on IT comedy, just in case you’re starting to lose your mind…again.
I find it amazing that this software is free – only supported by ads served to you in the administration screens. The ads take up less than an eighth of the screen and are usually very targeted to IT, so they can really be useful too. If you don’t care for the ads, sign up for the paid version at $20 a month. Same functionality, but no ads.
Honestly, I’m trying to find a real negative about this software, but I can’t. One could complain that it doesn’t run on anything but Windows, but there’s lots of software like that. Maybe it would run with WINE, I don’t know.You could also complain that it’s best for networks with 500 or less computers, but really, that’s a good size network for most businesses. If you aren’t sold yet, check out their awesome YouTube video.
Is it a coincidence that the marketing chick has the same first name as my ex-wife? I think not!
Are you the defacto IT person? What do you use to take care of your network? Have you had any experience with Spiceworks? Let us know!