Archive for July, 2012

PDQ Inventory and PDQ Deploy

July 11, 2012 2 comments

Today there are countless Windows tools for system administrators to manage and deploy software/updates to machines. I recently came across a set of applications from Admin Arsenal called PDQ Inventory and PDQ Deploy that I love and have implemented at the organization where I work. These applications are worth their weight in gold and thought I would share them with you all. At the organization where I work, we use to rely on text files with different groups of computers and psexec to deploy software to machines before these tools. It was a nightmare to keep track of what software machines was installed and what updates were missing. PDQ Inventory and PDQ Deploy save us so much time and work.

The first tool, PDQ Inventory, is used to track the hardware, software and O/S configurations in your Windows network. Using PDQ Deploy you can gather detailed information about installed software, services, hardware, printers, and a lot more for all the machines on your network. With PDQ Inventory you can import your machines individually by name, as a list from the clipboard or a file, or from your Active Directory. You can organize your computers in collections based on their inventory. PDQ Inventory is very light-weight and does not require any agent to be installed on the client machines. It also does not interrupt users at all. PDQ Inventory has a very powerful report builder that can generate basic or more advanced SQL reports. PDQ Inventory also allows you to execute remote commands on machines and provides additional tools for rebooting, initiating remote desktop, Wake-on-LAN, and more.

The last tool, PDQ Deploy, is used to deploy software and updates to machines silently without user interruption or interaction. You can deploy software and updates to Active Directory Groups and OUs or target lists that you create. PDQ Deploy installs software on as many computers as you want. No need to “advertise” an installer and then wait to find out whether the installation succeeded. You will know right away if the deployment was successful or encountered errors. PDQ Deploy installs simultaneously on up to eight computers, queuing other targets until it is their turn. PDQ Deploy supports MSI, EXE, MSU & MSP, PowerShell, VB Script, Batch, and REG. PDQ Deploy is built to be small and impact your environment as little as possible. No need to pre-install anything on the target computers. Just put PDQ Deploy on a workstation, pick the installers, and go. PDQ Deploy communicates entirely through SMB File Sharing making firewall and security policies easy to configure. If you can remotely access the Administrative Shares (C$, RPC$, ADMIN$) on a computer you can use PDQ Deploy.

PDQ also has an excellent support staff and forum. The staff is knowledgeable, polite and extremely helpful. I personally have created several support tickets which were answered within a couple of hours. Admin Arsenal also offers both of the great tools FREE! The free version is completely free and has no ads or annoyances. They offer a ‘Pro Mode’ licenses for both applications that provides extra features and advantages. For more information on these tools, visit Admin Arsenal.

Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder

July 9, 2012 Leave a comment

I found an interesting tool built-in to Windows 7 that I wanted to share with you all. The Problem Steps Recorder in Windows 7 is a feature that enables users to record their interactions with an application and provide a detailed screen-by-screen view with accompanying information. You can use Problem Steps Recorder to automatically capture the steps you take on a computer, including a text description of where you clicked and a picture of the screen during each click (called a screen shot). When you record steps on your computer, anything you type will not be recorded. If what you type is an important part of recreating the problem you’re trying to solve, use the comment feature described below to highlight where the problem is occurring. It can be used by clients trying to describe an issue or by administrators trying to show users how to complete easy tasks. Once you capture these steps, you can save them to a file that can be sent to an individual for viewing.

Here is how you use it:

There are several ways that you can invoke the application. 1. Click Start and type ‘psr’ in the search box of Windows 7 start menu and press Enter. 2. In Run, type ‘psr’ and press Enter. 3. Or in a command prompt, type ‘psr’ and press Enter. After you have invoked the application, simply click ‘Start Record’ and perform the necessary procedures. The Problem Steps Recorder will not record any text that you have typed.If you want to add some sort of explanation, just click the “Add Comment” button while recording. Once you have finished, select ‘Stop Record’. A save dialog will open, prompting you to select where you would like to save your new instructions. The instructions are saved as a ZIP file. Once you extract the ZIP file, you will have an MHTML web archive file that can be viewed in a web browser such as Internet Explorer.