Five Ways to Simplify Network Inventory Management

So you bought this great network inventory management tool, got it set up, it’s returning data, but you want more. Here’s five of my favorite features and tips to get the most out of PDQ Inventory.

1. Managing multiple domains with PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory.

PDQ Inventory requires very little to be able to perform efficient network inventory management:

  1.  DNS resolution of targets
  2.  An SMB connection between the target and the console; because of this managing trusted and untrusted domains can be set up almost painlessly.

There are a couple of ways to handle the DNS portion. (If you’re in a trusted forest, this is likely already done.) If you are not, here are my personal suggestions:

  1.  Secondary Zone Transfers (with DNS search suffixes via GPO)
  2.  Conditional DNS Forwarders

After you’ve got successful name resolution between your domains, next up is the SMB connection; these are the same requirements as managing your single domain. Check out this KB (Knowledge Base) article for more information.

Now that we meet our requirements, we’re off to the races. First, define the credentials for your alternate domain from Options > Credentials:

Define the credentials for your alternate domain from Options > Credentials

Next up, include the containers you wish to sync from the other domains (Options > Preferences > Active Directory):

Include the containers you wish to sync from the other domains.

Any containers you sync will automatically set the scan user for the synced computer objects.

2. Scan User Credentials

Now that we can effectively manage multiple domains, what about those machines in your DMZ, or those kiosk machines that are not domain joined? Define scan user credentials per computer, and in these cases, we can define local accounts, and assign them to computers. Once you have determined the local admin account from Options > Credentials, you can right-click on a machine in your console and define which credentials should be used to scan that computer:

Define which credentials should be used to scan that machine

Default scan user

You can then verify the scan user for any given computer by looking at its details:

Verify the scan user for any given computer by looking at its details.

Once you’ve got your scan users assigned, PDQ Deploy can make use of these (no more credential switching for deployments):

No more credential switching for deployments.

3. WMI Scanner.

Windows stores most anything you would want to grab in the WMI repository on a machine. I won’t cover it in detail in this post, but this KB will get you going in the right direction.

4. Tools and Remote Commands

PDQ Inventory is much more than a computer inventory tool. PDQ Inventory can do almost everything PDQ Deploy can do. Do you ever find yourself running the same commands on machines? Maybe you’ve been using command or PowerShell steps in PDQ Deploy? Why not use Inventory to run those commands and capture the same output? Remote Commands are great for those one-off tasks you need to perform quickly. You can access them via the right-click context menu of any machine:

Tools and remote commands can help you with your network inventory management.

If you find yourself running the same commands on machines over and over, turn them into a tool! Create tools from Tools > Customize > New. Tools can be either command or PowerShell giving you full access to the shell on a target machine in the scripting language of your choice:

Turn repetitive remote commands into tools.

This webcast covers the types of tools you can create in depth and is worth a watch.

5. Custom Fields

There are some things that PDQ Inventory is not going to be able to scan for, and needs an individual to input the data. Not to fear, PDQ’s PC inventory software has got your back. You can store info like refresh date cycles, SLAs, and warranty info to name a few. Once you’ve got the data into a .csv, you can import using this KB article for help.

Hopefully, these tips help simplify your computer inventory management, as well as take a bit off that full plate of yours.

-Josh

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