Spiceworks Redux: Review of v3

| August 31, 2008

spiceworks_logo.gifLast year I wrote up a review of Spiceworks v2. There were a few minor issues that I had with this application billed as "Free IT Management Software," but overall I felt it was a solid product.  Recently, I received an email notifying me that the latest iteration of Spiceworks was released. I thought it might be interesting to look over version 3, highlight the newest and best features, and see if the cons have been improved.

Disclaimer: I am not nor have I ever been affiliated with or otherwise compensated by Spiceworks.

Basic Install

As with the previous versions, the install of Spiceworks couldn’t be more straightforward.  It uses a few questions to configure the scanning, ensuring that it has the necessary passwords for any and all boxes running on the network.  The first change that stands out immediately, is the GUI.

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Discuss in Forums {mos_smf_discuss:RichM}

Improved Navigation/GUI

Along the left-hand column are all the choices you need to leverage the full ability of Spiceworks. Version 3.0 really has made Spiceworks one of the easiest most informative free tools available.  The previous versions used a tab system, and when you clicked on one tab, it brought you to a new screen with multiple options.  This clunky setup was frustrating, but, truth be told, I didn’t realize how bad it was till I tried the new version.

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Spicemeter

Upon first glance, I thought the scan was taking forever until I clicked on, "What is this" in the upper-right hand corner and discovered the Spicemeter.  The location of the Spicemeter is where in previous versions the progress bar was.  This was a very important facet of older versions, since scans took a long time, but now it is unnecessary.  Scans happen fast enough that progress is important, hence the Spicemeter.  The Spicemeter gives a list of suggestions. When a suggestion is followed, a green check mark appears and your percentage on the Spicemeter increases. Every time I think the program can’t improve or become more intuitive, it does.

For continuity purposes, I wanted to look back at my inital review, to see if the "cons" were addressed.

From RichM’s Review of v2:

Cons:

Extremely slow.

This is no longer the case, since scanning time has been cut nearly in half.

Processor intensive. It is highly recommended that you have a dedicated machine that will only run Spiceworks.

Even version 3.0 is processor intensive (demand hovers around 47%), and should be used on a stand-alone box with plenty of RAM.  If it is not possible, then try to use as few applications as possible when running Spiceworks.

There is a slight delay when you switch between tabs. This is not a deal breaker, but it can be frustrating.

The frustration is over. Thanks to the new intuitive design, you can quickly bounce from one section to the next as fast as a normal web page loads.

Other Features Worth Mentioning

- Device detection has improved, all unknowns are logically grouped

- Spiceworks now has the ability to track Exchange servers and monitor inboxes

- With Peer Ratings, one can use the opinion of other Spiceworks users and ascertain the best of everything. One example is to get users opinions of ISPs.

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Conclusion Redux

Spiceworks is a great app, and will be a great help with daily administration tasks.  There really is no reason not to install Spiceworks. If your organization is very leery of third party applications, it’s at the very least worth a discussion, since it will give you a better handle on what is happening on your network at all times.

Resources

If you have never used Spiceworks, you are in luck. There are videos on their site for quick introductions and plenty of other resources to get up to speed on this free product.

General Information

http://www.spiceworks.com/product/

Webinars and Videos

http://www.spiceworks.com/events/webinars/

Category: RichM

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