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Comprehensive guide to desktop monitoring tools

When IT admins need to get to the bottom of a problem, monitoring tools can be their best friends. Products and utilities such as Process Monitor can pinpoint the source of a problem and help admins find a fix.


IT administrators need to be sure everything from the servers to the applications are running smoothly and that users are employing their devices correctly to keep an enterprise data center running properly.

For example, if a user complains that his computer is slow, admins must be able to identify the source of the issue so they can fix the right problem. There can be many root causes that manifest themselves in the same symptoms: Maybe the user accidentally downloaded some malware, or he doesn't have any disk space left on his computer. But there could also be a bigger problem with the network connection, for example, and maybe other users experience the same slowness. With the right set of desktop monitoring tools, admins can find the answers to important questions associated with keeping desktops, applications and users running.

Dive into this comprehensive guide to learn more about desktop monitoring tools, including how they work, what Microsoft monitoring tools exist and where third-party monitoring tools come into play.

1Track desktop, app performance-

What desktop monitoring tools do and why they're important

Desktop monitoring tools are an important weapon in IT shops' battles to keep everything running smoothly, including desktops and apps. Admins can use desktop monitoring tools to identify the source of performance issues, keep track of inventory, deploy software, protect sensitive data and oversee apps. The key is finding the right product, and that task comes down to company size, what IT has to monitor and how they want to do it.


How critical is desktop management?

All the servers, networking and storage in the world are useless without functioning endpoints for employees to use. As a result, desktop management tools such as ManageEngine's Desktop Central and AppSense's DesktopNow Plus are critically important. Continue Reading


Pick the right tool for your desktop management needs

Desktop management tools cover five major areas: inventory, monitoring, software deployment, patching and security. It's important to find the tool that emphasizes your areas of need the most. Continue Reading


Top desktop management tools and best practices for SMBs

Small companies need desktop management tools that help with key processes such as monitoring and patching, but SMBs don't need enterprise scale. Tools such as Microsoft Intune and Desktop Central can fit the bill because they don't require physical hardware. Continue Reading


Explore cloud-based desktop and Web app monitoring

Web application monitoring tools can help admins manage Windows desktops from a cloud-based interface. Microsoft Intune is an obvious choice, but other utilities such as Mobile Device Manager from 2x may also be useful. Continue Reading


How to find the right Web app monitoring tool

What an organization is trying to do with its Web app monitoring program -- monitor Web server resources, detect anomalies or track page loads, for example -- determines which tool the company should use. Continue Reading


Ensure users have the app experience they want

Users want quality and speed from their apps. IT can use application delivery optimization and application performance monitoring and management to make sure both are up to snuff. Continue Reading

2Native tools and Sysinternals-

A look at desktop monitoring tools from Microsoft

Microsoft offers some native desktop monitoring tools such as Windows Performance Toolkit to help admins keep track of performance without having to look outside the Windows family. Windows Sysinternals utilities, including Process Monitor and Process Explorer can help admins examine Windows processes. Some of these tools come with the Windows OS and others are separate downloads.


Windows Performance Toolkit simplifies performance monitoring

The Windows Performance Toolkit introduces a host of features to make performance monitoring easier. For example, the Performance Recorder introduces a graphical user interface admins can use to point and click on the exact event they're interested in, rather than wrestling with the command line. Continue Reading


Get to the bottom of computer problems faster

IT admins can use the Reliability and Performance Monitor tool built into Windows Vista to view change management and event log information in one place and determine if a workstation is stable. The tool tracks events such as installs and uninstalls, as well as hardware or software failures. Continue Reading


What to expect from Sysinternals tools

Sysinternals are valuable management tools that can help scan for open network shares, monitor system activity during an intrusion and analyze transmission control protocol sessions. Continue Reading


Sysinternals tools scrub behind the ears

When users' computers start moving slowly and it's time for a cleaning, the tools Microsoft includes in Windows OS are often too basic for the task. Sysinternals' Process Monitor and Process Explorer are two free tools that pick up the slack by understanding exactly how Windows processes work. Continue Reading


Dive deeper into details with Process Monitor

Process Monitor, a free Windows Sysinternals tool, shows admins what a process is actually doing and logs process-related information to deliver a greater level of granularity than native OS diagnostics. Continue Reading

3When native tools don't cut it-

Third-party monitoring tools

Although Microsoft offers a plethora of desktop monitoring tools, sometimes they just aren't enough for some organizations. That's where third-party monitoring tools such as WireShark, which allows admins to perform a network trace, and SolarWinds Patch Manager come in. These third-party tools are particularly helpful for organizations that need to meet more stringent compliance or security regulations.


How to perform a network trace

Users are not forgiving when it comes to performance problems. With a network trace package such as WireShark, admins can watch what data is traveling between the network and the device to identify the source of any slowdowns and keep user complaints to a minimum. Continue Reading


Turn spyware into a good guy

Spyware isn't always bad. Although there are some liability concerns, IT admins can actually use spyware to track employees they believe may be stealing intellectual property or breaking another policy. Continue Reading


Network analyzers provide cheap, reliable user monitoring

Network analyzers are generally used to identify and fix application problems or analyze performance, but they can also keep tabs on user activity, including visits to nonwork or malware-infested websites. Continue Reading


How to pick a patch management product

With all of the patch management options available to IT admins, it can be tough to find the right product. ManageEngine's Desktop Central and SolarWinds Patch Manager are just two of the top offerings on the market. Continue Reading


Explore the third-party Active Directory audit market

In many cases the Active Directory audit tools in Windows Server 2008 and later cannot meet the regulatory compliance, security and monitoring needs of many organizations. As a result, many IT shops turn to third-party products such as Netwrix Auditor. Continue Reading

4Key desktop monitoring terms-


Take a look at some desktop monitoring tool terms you might not know.

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