Ezine 161 – Free Utility ObserveIT Xpress

Guy’s Ezine 161 – Auditing Terminal Services with ObserveIT Xpress ObserveIt

ObserveIT Xpress is a free utility that allows you to monitor Terminal Service sessions.  This knowledge about what users are doing is particularly important where your organization has confidential information or research departments.

When I see the word ‘Free’ next to a product it raises concerns about just how good the product is.  All my worries about the robustness of the free ObserveIT Xpress melted away when I realized that has all the qualities of its big brother ObserveIT Pro.  In particular I was impressed by the way Xpress allows me to replay any action performed by administrators or people who logon with a senior staff account.

Returning to this free utility theme, to me ObserveIT is like a modern day Robin Hood, only instead of taking from the rich and giving to the poor; they invest the profits from selling to big organizations in providing free Xpress auditing tools to small companies.  I am guessing here, but the Xpress version probably has the same code as the Pro, it’s just that you can only replay the activities of the last 24hrs, and you can only monitor a handful of servers.  (Pro is unlimited in both respects.)

What You Get with ObserveIT Xpress

To let you into a secret, I wasn’t that interested in auditing Terminal Sessions until I happened upon ObserveIT, it’s just that I love trying these free toys and learning from their ability to troubleshoot user actions.

In the workplace, ObserveIT not only helps administrators with security, but also it provides answers when management insists on compliance with company IT procedures.  Then there is a second use of ObserveIT as a troubleshooting tool, for example seeing what users are actually doing to cause a problem.

The ObserveIT software works by recording, and visually replaying, all Terminal Server, Citrix, and Console sessions, thus providing detailed insight into all activities on your network.  Since the product is agnostic to protocol and software, it captures and stores activity coming from ALL methods of remote access to the server, including RDP, VNC, TS, Citrix, Netop and Damware.

ObserveIT Express – Free product download

ObserveIT Conclusion

For a long time session recording has featured high on every network manager’s wish list.  ObserveIT offers more than just session recording, because it has the ability to break down what was done, by whom.  Through using ObserveIT you can not only record the users’ actions, for compliance and auditing, but also for root cause analysis. 

Mark Minasi’s Conference


In April I wish I was going to Mark Minasi’s Conference in Virginia Beach Virginia, USA.  Topics include Windows 7, Hyper-V, and the future of email.  My friend Eric Rux is also speaking about: ‘The Big One – Merging 2 Companies!’  If you have a hankering to go, this is where you can see details.

Mark Minasi is a best-selling author, popular technology columnist, commentator, keynote speaker, and all-around alpha geek. He is probably best known for his books in the Mastering series (Mastering Windows Server 2003, Mastering Windows NT Server, Mastering Windows 2000 Server, Mastering XP Professional, etc) and his perennial hardware PC repair and fix-it book The Complete PC Upgrade and Maintenance Guide, now in its 13th edition.  

Guy Recommends: Tools4ever’s UMRAUMRA The User Management Resource Administrator

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It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.

Will and Guy’s Humour

This week Will and Guy have been reorganizing their animal section.  Here is our offering on funny pictures, stories and the odd video about birds.  Here is an extract:

Sam Seagull

A pilfering seagull has turned shoplifter by wandering into a store and helping himself to his favourite crisps. The fearless bird lies in wait every day and pounces at a corner shop in Aberdeen, Scotland, when the door opens. He sneaks in, grabs his spicy Doritos, then flies off with them in his beak and shares them with other birds.

The seagull, nicknamed Sam by staff and customers, has become so popular locals have started paying for his crisps.  See more of our funny bird stories and pictures.

See more interesting free computer utilities

Here are my reviews of more useful computer tools.  Most of these programs are free, while others are major applications, but time-limited.  One common theme is that Solarwinds give you a free specialist utility, and then supply a more comprehensive suite for larger organizations.  To let you into a secret; for small networks the free tool is all you’ll ever need.

E 202 Permissions Monitor  • E 190 Network Device Monitor   • E 181 Config Generator

E 166 IPAM  •E 161 OB IT  •E 159 Kiwi Syslog Review  • E 156 Windows Network Monitor

Real Time Netflow Analyzer  •Syslog Utility  • Ezines Home  • Ezines Home