We all know how in our struggling economy, finding effective tools that help us do our jobs, and not breaking our shrinking budgets, is getting harder and harder. A fellow in Ireland by the name of Dan Cunningham (his website is here, follow him on Twitter here), who just happened to post in post in the comments of our previous articles, has written two very excellent looking tools for the low/no budget systems administrator. Both of these will be going straight into production in my office ASAP.
Dan also has some useful tools for encoding video content on his blog, both of which are worth taking a look at.
Workstation Migration Assistant
The Workstation Migration Assistant is a visual wrapper for Microsoft’s User State Migration Tool, designed to simplify the capture / restore process for your end-users, and at the same time being highly configurable so that it can be customised to suit your organisations needs.
Some of it’s features include:
- Migrate via a pre-defined network storage location, external USB drive, or user-specified location. USB drive detection is automatic, and you can decide whether drives below a certain size are ignored (ie, memory sticks)
- Optional Hard Disk Health Check will run a CHKDSK prior to capture and fix errors if any are found
- Optional Encryption using a pre-defined company encryption key, or per-user customised encryption (for highly sensitive data that can’t be stored on a server without being encrypted)
- Use different configurations for “XP Only” (XP > XP) migrations via Standard (XP > Vista and Vista > Vista)
- Automatically run pre and post-capture / restore scripts and programs (very useful to further configure machine settings)
- Migrate domain only accounts, or domain and local
- Automatically exclude certain domain or local accounts from the migration
- Automatically send log files to an e-mail address via SMTP after the migration
- On-screen status during every stage of the migration, including ETA
- Option to limit migrations to a certain size, i.e. if over 20GB of data to backup, then fail and inform user. This is also overridable
- Automatic checks for USMT installation and optional download
- Command-line automation
It requires .NET Framework 2.0 on both the capture and target machines | Download
Software Compliance Tool
The Software Compliance Tool is a small application designed to reduce the overhead in managing unwanted applications in a business environment. While Windows Vista and Windows 7 have made a lot of headway in easing reduced user rights into the Enterprise, it’s still very common that Local Administrator rights are given to end users. The reasoning for this is usually to work around application compatibility (both external and in-house). However, this introduces the ability for end users to install whatever they want on their computers, including games, peer-to-peer software and security vulnerable applications. It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that copyrights are not infringed, and that their network is secure.
The Software Compliance Tool will try to automatically remove any applications which are contained on your custom-built “blacklisted applications” policy.
Some of the features include:
- Can automatically remove most Windows Installer (MSI) based installations
- Uninstall Strings for non MSI-based installs can be supplemented with switches (ie, “/S” for silent)
- Blacklist allows partial name matches (ie, “Mozilla” will blacklist all Mozilla applications)
- Blacklist allows version matches (ie, allow all versions greater than v1.6.5, remove all previous versions)
- Blacklist, but allow exclusions based on Active Directory Users or Groups
- Blacklist policy is encrypted to prevent tampering or reading by users
- AD Exclusions list is cached and encrypted, to allow running SCT off-domain
- Simple SQL logging to allow tracking of policy breaches (and potentially further action for repeated breaches)
- Extremely fast execution. Can be run from your Active Director login scripts
It requires .NET 3.5 to run, and must be run as a local administrator to successfully uninstall applications. | Download