Not long ago we had a customer come to us asking if FastTrack Automation Studio could solve a particular problem. A large organisation, it had offices spread around the UK, all connected and tied into Active Directory. The IT manager was able to use Automation Studio solve his main IT headache (will cover that peach in a future blog item!) however, after he’d deployed Automation Studio on about 20 PC’s in his office, all of a sudden some users started reporting strange network login errors. Annoyingly these errors were not reliable. Any IT person knows that if you are going to have a problem, at least make it a reliable problem!
The issue ‘symptom’ would occur apparently randomly on boot and login. So user would boot up, and would get a login error, meaning none of their printers or network drives would be mapped. They would log out, and then log back in, the login script would run fine. The next day, they would boot their PC, and again fine. After lunch, they log back in, and the error was back.
The only thing consistent about the problem, was that it only occurred on particular PC’s. However there was nothing obviously ‘particular’ about the PC’s which exhibited the problem and those that didn’t. Same hardware. Same networking. Same office. Same O/S.
Wanting to help the customer get to the bottom of the problem, our first reflex reaction was to get WireShark out and start looking at what was going on. No easy task, on a large ‘unknown’ network, to get a good feel of what is going on quickly. Certainly we found a load of DNS issues, these were all sorted, however, the login problems did not go away.
Then we had a bit of a brain wave. Determined to discover the ‘difference factor’ between working PC’s and PC’s with login problems, we asked the customer to deploy FastTrack’s Inventory’s audit functionality (available in Automation Studio Enterprise edition and our Admin By Request privilege management solution). This would allow us to round up all the working PC’s, and examine their make up in detail, and compare these to the none working PC’s. Perhaps we would find the one thing which was the root of this issue. As FastTrack handles software deployment also, the IT manager as actually able to install the Inventory client automatically without users knowing. In no time at all, we had a good sample of PC’s to look at.
It didn’t take long for our Inventory solution to reveal that all the problem PC’s had one software package installed in common, which was not installed on any of the working systems. It was a TAPI based telephony product, un-authorised by IT, which was attempting to log the user into to a now non existent phone server. It was the client side agent for this that was interfering with Automaton Studios network login process.
The funny thing is that the customer wasn’t even aware that FastTrack’s Inventory functionality was included in the Enterprise Edition they had purchased. It ended up solving a network problem that had been plaguing them for months.
In addition to helping you keep on top of what software is running on your office PC’s, FastTrack Inventory also gives you a full inventory on each PC’s hardware too. As you can see in the image below, you get a QR code useful for asset management, Teamviewer and Remote Desktop links, and geographical location too!
If you would like to download FastTrack yourself to take a free trial please click on the download link below!
Above: FastTrack Inventory’s Software Audit view tab showing a % view of MS Office versions, filtered by CPU architecture. Useful!
Above: FastTrack Inventory PC Inventory view, showing computer information, user, system, hardware, geographic, operating system info and more.