System admins overlooking Windows server farms or desktops should check out ControlUp, which offers a rich set of management tasks and monitoring capabilities. This article reviews some of the features, which may prove especially useful when identifying and troubleshooting common issues.
Submitted by Yoni Avital
The daily routine of a Windows systems administrator involves a variety of challenges, one of which is common to most mundane procedures, and is undoubtedly familiar to you all. The challenge is to spot and act upon irregularities among multiple machines and user sessions. The emphasis on multiple is due to the fact that many great tools are designed to work on one computer at a time (Task Manager, Registry Editor, Services console to name a few).
The first steps in most troubleshooting processes typically involve connecting to different machines using Remote Desktop or other remote tools, checking some performance metrics or configurations and analyzing the data – all in hope to figure out what is special about the users or computers currently experiencing the issue. The single-target nature of most traditional management tools is a major limitation at this stage. That’s why the initial investigation phase usually ends with the admin’s desktop looking like a battlefield, with numerous open consoles and remote sessions.
ControlUp is a management solution for Windows environments, which offers some new ways to perform familiar tasks, with multiple targets always in mind. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Monitoring major performance counters
In “My Organization” view, ControlUp displays performance metrics and system information for your machines, sessions and processes. The grid can be searched, sorted or grouped in order to make irregularities easy to spot. Relevant tasks may include identifying a machine with a high disk queue length or a user session with a high idle time.
ControlUP – Performance counters
Stress Level display
A special column called “Stress Level” can be customized in order to include any parameter measured by ControlUp. That means that you can configure custom thresholds for any metric (say, when free space on C: drive drops below 10%). Then, you can sort the grid by this column in order to make performance bottlenecks and OS issues easy to track down. The console also has a system tray alerts mechanism, which can let you know when your resources are under stress.
ControlUP – Stress Level display
Aggregation of Event Logs
The “Events” pane delivers Windows Event Logs from all of your managed computers to an aggregated view, from which you can filter, sort and search for events. As seen in the screenshot, you can even conduct an online research with the event’s details directly from the product.
The tedious use of single-target tools strikes back again during the remediation phase. Now you know the cause of the issue and need to perform some tasks on dozens of machines in order to restore peace and quiet (Kill Process, Replace file, Restart machine). Here are a few more examples of maintenance tasks you might need to perform (again, think multi-target!)
ControlUP – Aggregation of Event Logs
Comparing Registry data and performing bulk Registry changes
Suppose your issue at hand requires you to locate the differences between different values in a certain registry key on multiple machines. Then you need to configure a registry value uniformly on all these machines. With the “Registry Controller” utility you can spot differences in registry data between machines or users using color codes, and then perform any editing operation, such as modifying value data.
ControlUP – Registry Controller
Managing Windows Services on multiple machines
Another common task is manipulating Windows Services. Take, for instance, a simple but tedious procedure of reconfiguring a Windows Service to use a new service account, and then restarting the service. Oh, and it needs to be done on a hundred machines. Before you start typing a script to do the job, keep in mind that ControlUp’s Services Controller can take care of this task within a few clicks.
ControlUP – Services Controller
Comparing file systems and file operations on multiple targets
In a similar vein, file systems have their own Controller. It will take care of tasks such as distributing, deleting, renaming and otherwise manipulating files and folders on multiple machines. Just as in its Registry counterpart, color codes will help to spot differences between machines up to a file’s property level.
ControlUP – File System Controller
As shown, ControlUp’s major specialty is real-time monitoring and bulk management of multiple Windows-based machines and user sessions. ControlUp is agent-based, with an option to remotely deploy lightweight agents, which uninstall themselves automatically when not in use. A Remote Desktop connection manager is included, offering an organizer for your management connections and credentials. You can run the console from standalone machines and use it to manage computers belonging to multiple Active Directory environments, which is especially handy to admins who work from their laptops.
ControlUp is free for managing up to 50 concurrent user sessions, with absolutely no feature limitations applied to free users.