It doesn't matter how big or small a network might be, those responsible for its upkeep and for maintaining license...
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compliance must know what's in those machines, hardware-wise, and on those machines, software-wise. That's why I'm delighted to be able to write about an inexpensive, powerful, and very usable tool that does as good a job at hardware and software inventory on PCs as anything I've ever seen.
The product is named MvPCinfo for Windows, and the current version is 1.8 (it comes in both personal and site edition versions). Because of the unique way the product's license is written, you can purchase only one copy of the software (it costs $25 for a personal license or $225 for a company site license, both of which permit use on an unlimited number of machines, as long as you don't run the software on more than one machine at a time) for all the machines at a single site or location.
MvPCinfo gathers information about all the hardware on a Windows PC (as accessible through configuration files and programs like Device Manager), inventories all the software installed, and even lists all the processes it finds running on the machine while it's executing. It digs into the Registry in incredible depth and across equally impressive breadth and compiles a wealth of information and statistics about the machines on which it runs.
By writing a scheduled job and running the software from a network share (where machine 1 runs at 12:15 AM, machine 2 at 12:30 AM, and so forth) and saves its reports to that same drive, individuals or small companies can easily run inventories once a month (or as frequently as they find necessary). Because the product includes an additional product called MvPCinfo Config Builder, it's possible to set up and manage all kinds of remote and scheduled activities for MvPCinfo for Windows. The Config Builder program even includes an auto-emailer that can use its own SMTP engine to send its report via e-mail to a designated address upon completion.
This is a cheap, usable, and extremely informative tool. System or network administrators looking for help with system and software inventory should definitely check MvPCinfo out.
Ed Tittel is a full-time freelance writer, trainer, and consultant who specializes in matters related to information security, markup languages, and networking technologies. He's a regular contributor to numerous TechTarget Web sites, technology editor for Certification Magazine, and writes an e-mail newsletter for CramSession called "Must Know News."