Spiceworks Desktop 1.7
Power on your desktop -- and all for free
- Excellent GUI, 'My SpiceWorks' is very cleverly done, Impressive software inventory tools, Helpdesk is simple but well put together and useful
- We came across a couple of tiny buglets with RSS feeds and AV detection
Although the product sits happily on a random desktop machine, we’d put it on something that’s up and running all the time so it’s constantly connected and able to keep running all the time.
SpiceWorks is a free tool for managing and monitoring your computing, network and software assets, and for identifying problems when they occur. It runs on Windows (once installed, it runs in the background and appears as a small icon in the taskbar's notification area) and you configure and use it via a browser-based interface.
When you fire up the package and log in, the first place you'll go is the Inventory section, which unsurprisingly is where you tell it about your network and/or the kit attached thereto. Items ("assets") can be created manually or discovered automatically, and of course you have the opportunity to define credentials that allow SpiceWorks to connect to each entity and interrogate it. Again unsurprisingly, you can split the devices into categories, and if there isn't a category for something on the network (as was the case with a couple of bits of kit on ours) you can define new classifications.
Having defined the stuff you have, you can leave SpiceWorks to go and find out about it, and then to monitor over time what happens to it. So having defined the various desktops and servers on our network, we let it find out what software was installed; it came back with 635 software assets (more about those later).
The Inventory page has a very nice summary of the types of kit you have; each asset type has a graphic showing the number of entities of that type, along with notifications of whether there are any errors with them or whether any of them is offline. Below the summary is an "environment summary" which is split into sections such as "scan errors" (issues that need fixing so SpiceWorks can do its job), "storage" (a summary of each computer it's found, showing disk capacity and usage) and "DNS" (the names and addresses of IP entities on the network).
There's also a very nice "overview" section, which summarises the various things on the network such as the split of wireless/wired network cards, numbers of machines with/without AV software, devices whose IP addresses are DHCP/statically allocated, and so on; in each case there's a link that takes you to the specifics of the device(s) in question.
The software section's really nice, too. As well as peeking at the list in the main "software assets" section, you can also search for packages by name and see where they're installed and what the version IDs are. Rather cleverly it keeps track of the various versions that have been installed over time, so you can see where stuff has been upgraded.
There's more to SpiceWorks than asset monitoring, though. The next major section is the Help Desk which does what it says on the tin – it allows you to add "tickets," relating them to particular assets and/or assigning them to be done by specific individuals (oh, and attaching files if you so wish), and then manages the flow of work and tickets as they are allocated, accepted and dealt with.
It's not the most complex helpdesk package we've seen, but it's perfectly adequate for an average SME. Oh, and there's an associated "ask question" facility that lets you type a question and then submits it to the online SpiceWorks community forum in the hope that some other user will know the answer; unless you choose otherwise, you're told by email if someone replies to your query.
Next is the Reports section which, as you'd expect, lets you run off lists of entities on the network that satisfy your chosen criteria. There are plenty of built-in reports (computers without AV software, summaries of disk usage by device, comparisons of installed software versus known licence counts, and so on) and defining your own customised reports is dead easy - there's a simple screen that asks you what you want to call the new report, what criteria should be met by devices to be included, and what information to display; once you've defined a report you can of course run it on-screen, and if you wish you can export the definition into a ".RPTX" file that you can email to someone to enable them to run the same report.
Finally we come to what is actually the front screen of SpiceWorks: the "My SpiceWorks" section. Think of this as a kind of dashboard overview of your world and you're not a million miles away. It's split into a series of sections, termed "widgets." There's a default set of widgets, but it's easy to define your own; there's a shed-load of different types of stuff you can add, from SpiceWorks-specific stuff such as lists of alerts, the inventory summary or outstanding helpdesk tickets through to free-text notes or RSS feeds.
We were tremendously impressed with SpiceWorks in our lab. We did find two little buglets, though. First of all, although SpiceWorks correctly spotted the desktops that were running AVG Professional Edition, it incorrectly said that our Windows Server 2000 machine wasn't running any AV protection, despite the fact that it did indeed have an up-to-date release of AVG Server Edition.
The other problem we found was when specifying an RSS feed on "My SpiceWorks," the RSS feeds Techworld lists actually result in redirects being sent, and SpiceWorks wouldn't load the feeds until we'd told it the eventual URL (ie the result of the redirection) instead of the alias listed on our site.
When all's said and done, though, SpiceWorks is bloody wonderful. Despite it being a free product the GUI is tremendously well done (and a darn sight better than many high-price-tag products we've used) and the range of features is superbly designed, implemented and integrated. Start using it now.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Hisense Series 7 ULED 4K UHD TV review
- 2 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review
- 3 Portable power: Venom Blackbook 13 Zero review
- 4 Alcatel Idol 4S review: King of the mid-range?
- 5 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review
Latest News Articles
- Analysts laud and lance new Microsoft browser armor
- Apple's Siri-powered Amazon Echo rival reportedly hits the prototype phase
- Hackers have a treasure trove of data with the Yahoo breach
- Hands-on: Opera's free, unlimited browser VPN is ready for secure surfing
- Microsoft sues repeat software pirate who owes company $1.2M from prior case
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTTechnical Business Analyst | Marketing ServicesNSW
- FTAndroid DeveloperNSW
- CCData Analyst | Data Feeds | Catalogue and MapNSW
- CCSenior Infrastrcture Project ManagerACT
- CCSenior Project ManagerACT
- CCContract Systems Analyst (IT Security) 160928/JP/653Asia
- CCJava / J2ee ProgrammersACT
- CCSoftware TesterACT
- CCSolution ArchitectQLD
- CCLAN ConsultantWA
- FTDesktop/Application SupportVIC
- CCVideo Conference Support Officer- VoIP, LAN, WAN, RemedyNSW
- FTNetwork and Security Design EngineerNSW
- FTCustomer Solutions Engineer | Voice | Data | TelcoNSW
- CCContract Junior Programmer (J2EE/SQL) 160927/JP/551Asia
- FTIT Pre-Sales EngineerSA
- CCWAN Architect and ConsultantWA
- CCSolutions ArchitectACT
- FTMDM EngineerNSW
- CCSenior .NET DeveloperVIC
- CCBusiness Analyst with change management experienceACT
- CCData Analyst | Data Management Framework | Experience in RNSW
- FTTechnical Support Engineer | Cloud | Automation techsNSW
- CCiOS DeveloperNSW
- FTEMC Storage ConsultantWA