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TNI users who have worked with version 1.6 will notice that version 2 has a completely revamped user interface. The new UI is appealing, and you will be able to use it without studying the manual first.
Scanning computers and devices
The first thing you have to do is tell the scanner which machines you want to scan. Essentially, you have three ways to do this. You can select IP networks, select Windows networks (for Windows Workgroup), or leverage Active Directory to select individual computers or containers. Active Directory support is new in TNI 2. Computer selections can be saved, which allows you to easily re-scan specific computer sets at a later time.
Since TNI has to authenticate at remote computers, you should configure the credentials used to log on remotely. For Windows computers TNI uses the current user as default login, but you can change this setting. For SSH and SNMP logins, you have to specify the credentials in the Edit tab.
Total Network Inventory - Scanning options
TNI comes with a few scanner options that have an effect on the scanning speed. For instance, you can skip assets that have already been scanned and configure different ping methods and timeouts. You can also limit the number of stored snapshots and the maximum snapshot age. TNI scans multiple machines simultaneously and displays progress bars for each computer separately.
Access software and hardware inventory details
Once the scan process is completed, you can access the inventory data through the View Details tab. The Group Summary gives you an overview of your network's status. You see the number of physical and virtual assets and the number of different operating systems. You also see alerts that inform you about computers that require Windows updates or have no up-to-date antivirus software installed.
Software and Hardware inventory details
The inventory data is divided into three sections: software, hardware, and other data. The navigation pane on the left enables you to select a particular computer to access its inventory data.
Other data informs you about environment variables, network shares, autorun applications, status of system services and running processes, and information about users.
The latter feature is quite useful if you want to get an overview of all the user accounts in your network, because TNI lists domain user accounts and local user accounts in one place. In the Edit tab, you can add information about users or add new users that you don't want to have in Active Directory (for instance, employees that share accounts).
Total Network Inventory - Security view
The software section provides detailed information about the installed software and hotfixes, as well as security-related information (firewall status, antivirus, update configuration, and so on). And, just in case installed software isn't registered properly under Windows, you can also view the contents of the Program Files folder. TNI also shows what database engines and codecs are installed. The hardware inventory section offers all the information that the Windows Device Manager provides.
Hardware Inventory - Total Network Inventory
Useful is the feature that allows you to add custom information. You can manually add data, such as the date when you installed the computer or its price. It is also possible to add new data fields and organize the data into folders.
I like the search feature. If you type in the search field, TNI will highlight all hits as you type. The filter function allows you to hide sections that don't contain your search term. If you select a particular computer in the navigation pane on the left hand side, you can also search the inventory data of a particular computer.
In my next post, I will discuss TNI's reporting and software accounting features.
If you want to have a chance to win one of the two licenses of Total Network Inventory, each worth $1,490 USD, please send an email to with the subject "TNI." The deadline of this contest is October 26, 2011.
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