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NETIKUS.NET, the publisher of EventSentry, released AutoAdministrator 2.3, a nifty Windows admin tool that allows you to automate quite a few common administration tasks. 4sysops readers get a discount on AutoAdministrator of $20 USD until the end of 2010, which means that you pay only $49 USD instead of the regular price of $69 USD. You only have to email to indicating that you are a 4sysops reader.
I reviewed AutoAdministrator 2.0 more than a year ago. Because Version 2.3 has some interesting new features, I will publish a revised and extended review in a series of four articles. Today’s post will give a general introduction to the use of the tool, and, in my next post, I will start with discussing its functions in more detail.
AutoAdministrator clearly demonstrates that no scripting language is needed to "automate" system administration tasks on multiple computers. Considering the low price of the tool, it would certainly be a lot more expensive for your organization to program scripts with the same capabilities. Moreover, AutoAdministrator is multi-threaded, which improves the performance significantly on machines with multiple CPU cores; in addition, the tool can reduce the time it takes to perform certain updates ten-fold (for example, with 10 threads). You can’t easily do that with a script.
AutoAdministrator 2.3 lets you query or manage eleven different settings on multiple computers: Processes (execute programs), Services (query and edit services), Password (manage user passwords), WMI (query on remote systems and capture the output), Registry (view or change registry values), File Management (copy and delete files and folders), File Information (view file details), Logons (view users logged on), Shutdown/Reboot, Online Status (ping hosts), and ODBC (query and manage DSNs).
Installing AutoAdministrator only takes a few seconds. The tool runs on all Windows versions higher than Windows 2000, and its console supports English and German. Important is that managed computers don't require an agent. This means that you can start managing all computers in your network right after you install AutoAdministrator on your desktop. It also means that you only need one AutoAdministrator license per admin.
For certain features, the Remote Registry service has to be running on managed machines. This service is not running by default, but you can use AutoAdministrator to start this service on all your machines. I will explain in one of my next posts how this works. You also have to make sure that Windows Firewall isn’t in your way. If you want to use all of AutoAdministrator's features you must allow File and Printer sharing. Some functions, like querying WMI, also work with more restrictive firewall settings.
AutoAdministrator's GUI is self-explanatory and requires no tutorial or manual. As you can see in the screenshot above, all the computers in your network can be seen in the right pane, the operations are selected by using the task bar, and settings can be configured in the left pane. The results of your operations are displayed right beside the corresponding computer. It is also possible to log all results to a text file.
AutoAdministrator scans your network for computers and also lets you access Active Directory to find computer objects. If you work in a Windows domain, I recommend using a domain administrator account to manage remote computers. However, AutoAdministrator also allows you to work with alternate credentials.
It is possible to arrange PCs in custom groups by dragging one or more machines to a group container. You can save custom groups to a file, which allows you to repeat certain actions on specific computers at a later time. It is also possible to save profiles for common tasks. To query or update multiple computers, you can select each computer separately if you want to target only a few machines. For managing a large number of computers, you can leverage Active Directory containers, create custom groups, or work with groups you've created in EventSentry, NETIKUS.NET's eventlog and monitoring tool.
In my next post, I will start discussing AutoAdministrator’s eleven functions in more detail. If you don't want to wait, you can watch this screencast, which demonstrates all features, or you can download the free demo version.