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Top Windows-Integrated Tools for IT Professionals

A lot of the time we, as IT professionals, can get so caught up in finding the latest and greatest new miracle software that we neglect to see what’s right under our noses. For many of us, this has been the case lately and is the reason that so many of Windows’ inbuilt tools are going unused. These are tools that anyone can use, from the teenager at home just discovering their interest in IT, to the bustling IT department of a large international company or even those providing IT support services for SMEs in London. The truth is that these are all simple, but useful utilities and tools that should be present in any IT professional’s arsenal. Some of them you probably know and use already, others you may have heard of once or twice, and still others may not be known to you at all. Read on to find out what they are and how you should be using them.

 

#3 Sysinternals Suite

More than a decade ago now such useful and basic functions as Process Monitor, Autoruns, RootkitRevealer were introduced to the Windows operating system. In that time it has transformed from a clandestine but undeniably valuable set of backdoor entries into a sanctioned collection of must-have tools. Many IT professionals today can’t imagine what it would be like to go through a workday without these tools and many others included in the Sysinternals Suite. Perhaps the best part about it, aside from its unwavering usefulness and convenience, is that it is completely free, so no IT professional or even hobbyist should ever be caught without it!

 

#2 HWiNFO32

HWiNFO32 is a godsend for forgetful computer owners and IT professionals everywhere. If you ever find yourself without such critical knowledge as what kind of CPU is inside the computer you’re working on, whether it supports hardware virtualisation, or how old its BIOS is, HWiNFO32 is the program for you. It can quickly and reliably find the answers to all of these questions and many more. It also monitors voltage and temperature of the internal hardware to alert you if anything is operating outside of the normal ranges. Although there are many programs that perform these functions, few are as comprehensive and easy to use as HWiNFO32 and virtually none that are worth having can compare to its price point (free). Run HWiNFO anytime you’re not 100% sure what kind of equipment you’re deal with and you’ll get all the information that you need without ever having to crack open a computer case.

 

#1 Recuva

Recuva will be your saving grace anytime you get a panicked call from someone who has accidentally deleted something that they shouldn’t have. Recuva lets you diffuse the situation and play the hero by “magically” restoring the lost file or files from their computer, flash drive, removable disk, or virtually any Windows-compatible storage media. It does this by scanning the device for orphaned file data and then presenting you with the option of restoring whatever it can find. It can also perform a secure delete operation if you come across a file that would be better off unrecovered.

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Tips and Tricks for Using SysAid

SysAid is a very useful IT systems management program that combines almost all necessary capabilities into one heavy weight tool few IT professionals like to be without. SysAid allows administrators to monitor & manage tasks in one platform, so they can deliver fast and comprehensive support. There are a few handy tricks that can help you get the most functionality out of your software, read on to find out about them.

How To Set Up Routing Rules

Routing rules are useful tools that automatically assign tasks and messages pertaining to a certain category, company, or user group to the relevant person who is in charge of handling that category. When used correctly, they help to make sure that information gets into the right people’s hands, without cluttering up the desks and inboxes of those to whom it is not relevant. For example, if you know that John is the employee who handles everything under the category of “mobile devices”, you can create a new routing rule that will automatically assign service records of that category to John. Even better, the process for setting these up is really quite simple!

First, go to settings and click on routing. Here you will see a screen giving you multiple options to set up a variety of different routing rules for all different people, categories, and other variables. All you really need to do is choose the appropriate categories and admins from the drop down menus. Once you’re done selecting your options, just click “Add” and your rule will be in effect. Go ahead and create as many routing rules as you like, but know that each service record is routed by SysAid only once. SysAid also applies routing rules from the bottom up, so if two rules could apply to one service record, it will be processed according to the one that is lower in the list. You can add, edit, or remove rules at any time.

Creating End-User Supervisors

End users are a special type of SysAid users that have the ability to submit and review service records. “Supervisor” is a type of permission granted to end users that allows them to monitor the service record history and activity of other end users. To begin, click on tools, then under user management, select end users.

On the next page, you will see a list of all the different end users of your system. Click on the name of the end user you wish to grant the supervisor permission. This will take you to the individual users page. What we are interested in here is the field that says “Is supervisor”. Likely, it will say “regular user” at this point. To grant the permission, simply select either Department Supervisor or Company Supervisor from the drop down menu and save your changes. This user will now be able to monitor other end users either within a specified department or throughout the entire company, depending upon your selection.

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Choosing an Asset Tracking System

There is a lot of different software and tools out there to help IT professionals develop and maintain an asset tracking system, but they are not all created equally. It is very likely that one or two programs will be much more applicable to your situation than the rest, and it can be difficult to find that perfect fit among all the other choices. Here are a few things you should consider before committing to help you select the best asset tracking system for you:

Mobile Access

Mobile access may seem like a feature that is nie to have but not completely necessary. When it comes right down to it, you are really going to want an asset management system that your users can access from all of the mobile devices that they already have. This will really cut down on the hassle when implementing a new system. Mobile access that is free and easy to implement will help keep everyone on the same page and able to check in from anywhere in real time.

Secure Cloud Storage

This goes hand in hand with the last point, as having mobile access from anywhere generally requires storage in the cloud. You will want that storage to be absolutely secure for obvious reasons. This also means that you won’t have to install any bulky software on your devices and can get updates as soon as they are available.

Simplicity

There is much to be said for an asset tracking system that is easy to work with and configure.An open API makes it easy to integrate previous systems into new ones. These simple features drastically cut down on the time and energy IT professionals need to put into making sure the software runs smoothly.

Notifications

Real time notifications are a blessing in any system where assets move around significantly or are being checked in and out by users. Notifications and alerts help keep you up to date with what’s going on, without needing to be constantly checking in.

Pricing

As far as pricing models are concerned, you will definitely want to choose a program that has pricing per asset so that you don’t find yourself paying for expensive printers, copiers, and other equipment that may be ultimately unnecessary. Watch out for any hidden fees involved with upgrading users, changing or adding locations, and any account management tasks. If you can swing it, choose a company that offers payment plans where you can pay once annually rather than on a month by month basis. This way, you only have to worry about it once a year, and you may even snag a discount for paying all at once.

It can seem overwhelming, trying to pick out the right asset management and tracking solution. Luckily, there are a lot of great options out there, and if you know what to look for, you can have one up and running in no time.

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Getting The Most Out of Spiceworks

For anyone who may not be familiar, Spiceworks is a program designed to simplify the the daily tasks of a typical IT professional. Some of those tasks it seeks to simplify include inventory management, network monitoring, mobile device management, and it can even help you with running an IT help desk. This basic functionality is great, but you can squeeze even more out of the program just by knowing a few tips and advanced strategies. Check out these simple things that can help you get the most out of Spiceworks:

Backing Up and Restoring Spiceworks

You never know when something may go wrong, which is why it’s important to consistently backup all of your important data, including that stored in Spiceworks. Once you have everything running just the way you want it, it’s prudent to make a backup of your Spiceworks settings just in case a minor change in the future has unexpected consequences. To do this, simply go into Settings > Backup Configuration and set your desired backup location. From here, you can also set up automatic backups on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

When it comes time to restore from a backup, here is the process you’ll use:

● Download and install Spiceworks, but don’t start it up yet.

● Delete the db and data folders from your Spiceworks directory.

● Open your backup zip file and extract the contents to your Spiceworks directory.

● Run Spiceworks and after the migration is completed, you should have full access to your backup data.

Accessing Spiceworks Remotely

With this trick, not only can you access your Spiceworks desktop from any device on your network, but you can also gain access remotely from outside the network and have full control. As long as you know which port Spiceworks is operating on, you can freely access it remotely through your VPN or the https connection. With a VPN, you have many options and can access your desktop through navigating to any of the following addresses:

● http://HOSTNAME if Spiceworks is running on ports 80/443 (default).

● http://HOSTNAME:PORT if Spiceworks is running on any other port.

● http://IPADDRESS if Spiceworks is running on ports 80/443 (default).

● http://IPADDRESS:PORT if Spiceworks is running on any other port.

To access through https, You’ll need to point your external DNS to an available IP and configure your firewall to NAT that to your SW server on the port you are using. Once that’s done, you can access Spiceworks remotely by navigating to: https://IPADDRESS:PORT If you are using the default port 443, you will not need to include that number in the address.

Changing Your Startup Page

Customization is an easy way to make programs more convenient and efficient for your specific needs. To customize your Spiceworks startup page, go to Settings > User Accounts and choose the page you’d like to make default upon startup under Your Spiceworks Account. This will update the default startup page for the user who is currently logged in, but not any other user. It is not possible to update another user’s startup page while they are not logged in.