Spiceworks is a great free network inventory and monitoring tool that is very useful for administrators and help desk staff. Spiceworks supports hardware and software inventory, facilitates network monitoring, and offers help desk functionality. For a more detailed feature list, please read this overview of Spiceworks's functionality. In this article, I will help you get started quickly with Spiceworks.
First, make sure you have a user that has full administrator rights to all resources in your network. You have to provide that user for the Spiceworks scanning utility. Since the tool can also scan VMware virtual machines, you might need the corresponding login information.
Second, make sure you have exception rules in your firewalls to allow the following: Ping, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), and RDP. I suggest doing this using Group Policies so you’ll be sure everything is configured properly on all PCs.
Third and finally, you need to make sure that the WMI service is enabled and running on all computers. This is likely the most important part, as Spiceworks uses this service to get all of its information.
Spiceworks installation ^
After you download the latest version, execute the installer on either a server or a powerful PC. The reason for this is that Spiceworks does require quite some processing power depending on the size of your network.
1. Specify the port on which you’d like it to run (port 80 is the default setting).
2. Accept the terms and choose the installation path.
3. Start up the application (via the shortcut).
4. If your firewall asks, allow Spiceworks to access your network; the corresponding executables are spiceworks-httpd.exe and spiceworks-finder.exe.
5. If you already have a Spiceworks account, you still need to create a new user unless you want to copy the database information of an existing installation.
Spiceworks login information
6. Click "Inventory" to start scanning your network.
Spiceworks start screen
7. Enter the range of your network.
8. Provide the credentials for the different account types. Here is where you need to supply the administrator credentials for Windows, Unix, and switches/printers (via SNMP). "Unix" is the one you want to use to detect VMware virtual machines. If you use different passwords for your network devices, just provide the one that is the most used. You can go into the configuration later to provide logins for specific devices.
Spiceworks scan settings
9. Allow some time for the scan to execute.
Spiceworks scan results
10. If many error messages are displayed, try to determine what caused them. Usually Spiceworks will give you a good starting point, like indicating that a certain port is not available.
11. If only a few errors occurred, you can start browsing your inventory.
12. I suggest that you run Spiceworks as a service. To do so, right-click the Spiceworks icon at the bottom right and click "preferences." Check “Spiceworks is running as a service” and provide the user/password. Running Spiceworks as a service will allow it to scan even if you are not logged on to the corresponding computer.
Spiceworks service preferences
Now you can start to explore the possibilities of this powerful network tool. You can set up email properties, monitors, and alerts. Almost everything is customizable; you just need to search a little. If problems come up, the Spiceworks community is a great resource for help. You also have access to a variety of Spiceworks extensions.