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One of the first things that struck me with PDQ Inventory was the ease in setup! Downloading PDQ Inventory is a breeze. Registering for the free version requires just your name, an email address, and your company. While waiting on the download link, take the time to read the confirmation page as it is sure to provide a chuckle or two.
The welcome screen for PDQ Inventory immediately begins guiding users through computer inventory collection.
The installation took less than two minutes in my environment. You have the option to select either the default free mode or the professional mode which requires a key. A nice feature of the setup is the ability to use a service or secondary account for scanning! A needed feature would be the ability to generate a trial key for the professional mode within the setup (though the setup does provide an external link where you can register for a trial key).
On the first startup, PDQ inventory displays an intuitive Get Started Guide. The first step is to add computers or to create a collection of computers. To make computer management (and reporting) easier, collections provide a way to group computers. Computers can be placed in multiple collections depending on the needs of your organization.
Collections can be Dynamic, Static, or based off your Active Directory hierarchy. With the ability to nest collections, some pretty powerful filters can be configured. For example, one could create a dynamic collection for an Organizational Unit containing all of your servers. Sub-collections of the server collection could dynamically divide the servers based on the operating system.
If a machine running Windows Server 2003 was upgraded to Windows Server 2008, the dynamic collection would automatically move it to the Windows Server 2008 collection. By planning out the collection hierarchy, a Windows administrator could potentially automate machine organization in PDQ Inventory and provide a quick way to view any common report!
A sample collection that divides servers based on the operating systems.
Overall, the inventory process is rather painless with the ability to import single computers, import through a list, or import all computers in an Active Directory structure. The scanning process was fairly quick on a small test environment. After scanning, you can begin generating a variety of reports. Useful basic reports include hardware/software inventory, displays, installed updates, and shared folders.
The built-in list of reports provides detailed information quickly for a Windows administrator.
Finally, PDQ Inventory aims to centralize common administrative tasks and does a pretty good job of it. Computers can be quickly filtered to by name or status. If you have used Group Policy Software installation to deploy an application, PDQ Inventory can quickly show you the machines that haven’t yet rebooted and thus haven’t installed the application. To make troubleshooting easier, PDQ Inventory provides an extensive Tools menu for each computer that allows quick access to the machines ADMIN$ share, the computer management window or a direct view to the event viewer. The Tools menu could be improved with the ability to add custom commands. This feature is available in the Pro Mode.
The tools menu is available when one or multiple computers are selected. The Wake feature is only available in Pro Mode.
Overall, PDQ Inventory provides a very solid resource inventory platform for small to medium organizations to build on. The free version is certainly compelling for any Windows administrator to try out and the Pro mode offers additional powerful features for a relatively cheap price. If coupled with PDQ Deploy, Admin Arsenal’s free software deployment suite, PDQ Inventory could very well be a central tool for your desktop and server management teams.