Spiceworks is another favourite of Edugeek members and it’s easy to see why. The simple setup process installs all of the required files and has you up and logging in to the web based GUI in minutes. Once there it presents you with a ridiculously easy to use interface, and credit where credit’s due, it was the only system I tested where it detected all of the network devices I had running first time.
The Spiceworks dashboard.
The work that has clearly gone into Spiceworks is plain to see, and every action or task you need to carry out is intuitive and easy to locate from within the web based GUI and not once did I feel the need to resort to online help or do a search as to how to carry out a task. Spiceworks also includes a very handy, customisable, helpdesk system that, whilst not as thorough as other dedicated helpdesk systems provides just the kind of features that small one and two person support teams on a single site require, although if you want more from a helpdesk system I suggest you look elsewhere.
Detected devices being monitored.
Licence management via Spiceworks is also a breeze, although, like many license management systems you do have to spend quite some time configuring it such as telling it not to register Adobe Reader or 7-Zip, and inputting the licences you do wish to keep tables on.
The overall layout of the Spiceworks working area is a joy to use, really it is, and almost every page is customisable allowing you to add or remove information boxes as required, and the only thing that spoils the overall effect Is the adverts displayed on the right hand side (used to keep the system free of charge, so we can’t really complain there) and the occasional box promoting various aspects of Spiceworks and the Spiceworks community although these too are removable.
The full screen, complete with adverts.
The features for device tracking and maintenance are also very good with options for Serial numbers, asset tags, purchase date/price allowing you to build up a good database of the what, where and how much of each device you have which is great, especially if you have a large network and sometimes lose track of warranties and which hardware requires upgrading. Throw in the ability to create custom alerts and you have a system that will fulfil almost your every need.
There are some shortcomings though. I found the lack of a single display showing all clients + their status makes keeping an easy eye on things a little bit harder than it needs to be. Also when you install Spiceworks or configure a new feature you receive emails from Spiceworks informing you of this, which can get a tad annoying. Using Spiceworks to successfully scan Macs also proved a challenge with the need to create custom scan rules (one per client if each Mac has a different admin login) to accommodate them successfully within Spiceworks. I also encountered a couple of confusing shortcuts that I thought were going to take to feature configuration options but then took me off to the ‘How to’ website. It’s not a big issue, but just something you should be aware of. Finally, Spiceworks also suffers from the lack of a decent method of laying out network maps with no facility to include your own background maps to layout the systems on top of.
All-in-all though, Spiceworks contains almost everything you need to monitor and manage your network and does it with for more usability and features than the more industrial free packages out there. If you want an easy and quick setup and a feature list to drool over then Spiceworks is the way to go.
- Silly easy to install and get up and running
- Great workflow and intuitive to use
- Excellent feature list
- Built in helpdesk
- Excellent device detection
- Creating custom maps is still a pain without being able to import a logical background
- Limited to 1000 clients, after this there is a performance hit (from Spiceworks own website)
- If you have Macs you will need to do some work to get it to work correctly with them
- Windows installer only
- Advert panels (I shouldn’t complain, but they do spoil the look and feel. Still, they keep it free of charge)
- Emails from Spiceworks
Operating system: Windows
Download from: www.spiceworks.com