IT Policies

Review: Spiceworks network management

Spiceworks is designed for any network manager looking to keep tabs on the status of their network, but without paying a steep price.

If you have a company network that contains any number of servers, desktops, printers, and various networking devices, a monitoring system is a must. You need to know the health, status, age, etc of your devices. You do this by employing a powerful network discovery/monitoring tool. There are plenty of these tools, with a wide ranging set of features and prices.

Naturally you will assume any tool worth its weight in features would cost its weight in gold. In some cases that is the truth. But in the case of Spiceworks that assumption is incorrect. Spiceworks is a free network management tool that is as complete as they come. But is Spiceworks for you? Let's find out.

Minimum requirements

Who's it for?

Spiceworks is for any network manager looking to keep tabs on the status of their network and network devices, but who doesn't want to pay the steep price for a tool offering similar features. And because of the incredible amount of features, Spiceworks is a solution for any sized network or company, regardless of budget.

What problem does it solve?

Spiceworks allows, from a single workstation, a network administrator to monitor the status of network health, as well as devices on that network. Not only does Spiceworks monitor the network, it will also alert the administrator when problems arise.

Standout features

  • Simple installation
  • Customizable Web based interface can be accessed from anywhere
  • User-configurable reporting
  • Powerful help desk feature
  • Easy to use Web console
  • Vast user community
  • Scripting support
  • Network mapping
  • Track license keys, serial numbers, deploy dates

What's wrong?

The biggest problem with Spiceworks is a product of its price. Because Spiceworks is free you will have to contend with advertisements on the Web interface.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

If you are looking for a solid network monitoring solution, and you don't want to foot the bill for the features you would typically find in such a tool, Spiceworks is the perfect solution. With the ability to create custom alerts and monitors, as well as the customizable interface, you cannot go wrong with Spiceworks. Spiceworks offers as many features as the competition without the steep cost. Spiceworks does exactly what you would expect it to; it monitors your network, scans for new devices, sends you alerts when something is wrong, and does so in a simple Web-based interface. What is there not to like?

User rating

Have you encountered or used Spiceworks? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

34 comments
paulywog66
paulywog66

I've been using it for a little over a month. I have a small network with 4 servers and just under 100 devices. Inventory works great. Love, love, LOVE the printer toner function. Also, love the fact that the helpdesk integrates directly with assets. Makes for easy tracking of any root cause issues on a device. Great community for help with any tech issues. Keep up the good work.

SJLyons50
SJLyons50

Fantastic program, fantastic support from both Spiceworks themselves and the Spiceworks community. Remote data collection is a great tool (for me looking after several networks). Network Map does need some work and it is being worked on. Each release contains new updates. New releases are communicated to the community in good time and install painlessly (well most do, there may be some delays on very large data sets). Would I recommend it to others? Without hesitation. I have to write up my experiences with spiceworks for our Group of Companies, as this program pretty much blew the socks off my boss when I added his PC to a scan (he's on another network subnet that I don't normally scan) and sent him reports on his PC within 25 minutes (I was working remotely via a 3G connection from a cafe in a local hospital at the time!). Even my son is getting into Spiceworks, he's going to install it on his School's student network, with the school's permission.

gareth.chamberlain
gareth.chamberlain

Great Product! Has ability to have multiple site collectors that update information to central management server. We use the Helpdesk, device monitoring, scheduled tasks (defrag etc), inventory management etc etc. Easily know exactly whats going on in your network. AND its very easy to get it up and running.

cshuey
cshuey

Okay, I was skeptical, but with 200 users, budget restrictions reduced our IT Staff from 5 to 2. We were inundated with trouble tickets and our old helpdesk solution could not handle it or manage it appropriately. We installed Spiceworks and it worked great from day one. As we have learned to use it more effectively, it has become much more than a helpdesk. Spiceworks inventory now handles ALL of our IT Inventory tracking including retired/sunset devices. We have added Gadgets to our Spicework Desktop that provide us with 'At-A-Glance' realtime monitoring of our SQL Server transactions, Server health including available drivespace, Data Switch Performance and Traffic Load, as well as, helpdesk ticket disposition graphs. The ability to customize the data forms and create custom reporting has made this a 'Cannot Live Without' Tool. We pay the $200 to get advertisement free access. The only thing I'd like to see improved is the webpage performance. Updating ticket disposition can sometimes have a slight delay. We'd also like the option of paying for 24-7 technical support for Spiceworks.

Nichomach
Nichomach

Ten tons of awesome as far as I'm concerned. My lot would have grumbled endlessly about forking out for paid inventory and helpdesk solutions, so this was a godsend - multisite works great as well.

spongebobdoverpants
spongebobdoverpants

The advertising is tolerable and is restricted to sidebars and headers so it seldom interferes with your actual work. I do wish the product was built on MS SQL or MySQL. As someone who does not follow SQlite, I find it a bit disappointing that I can't extract data and develop things as easily on my own--but then again, I am not a programmer so maybe SQlite isn't as challenging as I think it is. The user web portal is practical and customizable to an extent. While you can add widgets and custom HTML, you don't have complete control over the pages. Plus, you can't use all the widgets available in the ADMIN portal on the USER portal which is also kind of odd. It can be a bit slow to render data but it is hard to pinpoint if that is a Spiceworks, IE, Firefox, server or network issue. With that said, I love the product even though I just roughed it up pointing out its shortcomings. It can do virtually everything the big boys do right out of the box...for free. The community forums are friendly and insightful. The widgets users and vendors design are usually practical. And the wealth of data Spiceworks collects is priceless.

dryflies
dryflies

I run a one person shop with > 300 populated nodes, 27 switches on 3 subnets. Direct reponsiblity for all of it including end user support for 90 plus PCs and several Macs. I could not do it without Spiceworks!

sgrossweiler
sgrossweiler

OMG, can you imagine having everyhting IT in one place! I came into my job just over a year ago now and there was no IT infrastructure at all in place. What am I doing, where am I going, the network model was last updated when...? All questions and concerns that ran through my head. With a short hop to my favorite search engine and a tapity type of the words "Free Helpdesk Software" a slew of programs came up. But, one in particular caught my eye. Spiceworks. What a cool sounding name. Let's see what it can do.... The rest is history, there is no more mystery, and I can finally keep on top of the multitude of rotating projects. Being able to track, manage, and report from a single tool is invaluable. The interface is pleasing to the eye, and the community. Wow, the community is full of helpful, loveable, and quirky individuals. If you are in the arena for a program that can straighten up your day and help to clear some paperwork off of your desk, check out Spiceworks. The staff are a wonderful bunch of movers and shakers. Always looking to improve their offerings. They are always open to feedback and suggestions as well. So, download it and get running. What's it going to hurt...IT's free!

mogrith
mogrith

I started using Spiceworks for it's Helpdesk in version 2.1. 6,750 tickets later we are very happy. The monitoring and inventory modules great. The newest feature (still in early release) is tracking of Dell Warranties with alerts when they are about to expire. The speed at which new features are added is astounding. As part of the community you can help focus where development will be done. All of the above is very good, But the community is what pushes this over the top. You can ask about routers, copiers, software or about anything else and get a fast reply from people that have experience. Highly recommended.

Brown-IT-Guy
Brown-IT-Guy

Fantastic product. Each of our IT peeps uses it to monitor and inventory our networks and it works very well. One feature I've recently found useful is how it alerts me to common issues appearing in desktop event logs. This notification has helped us head off potential problems before they affect our end users.

mukababi
mukababi

For the $$ Spiceworks is great. I do agree with Mr. Wallen and others that the network mapping features are less than satisfactory. (If I was paying for this I'd want to complain a lot.) If (accurate) dynamic network mapping is what you're after, use Spiceworks for what it does well and buy/find something else for this. Spiceworks network mapping is just not ready for prime time. Everything else is pretty good. Our hope is they are developing tools to link things a bit tighter for seperate but integrated change and configuration management delivering a solid ITIL based solution.

edtech1300
edtech1300

Spice works is the way to go Enable WMI on all your PC and go from there the support ticket system works great also.

atholl
atholl

Been using Spiceworks for about 3 years now. Initially found it very slow. Used it mainly for auditing purposes. About 6 months back read an article which claimed that Spiceworks runs about 3 times faster using Firefox. That is fact, couldn't believe how much faster it ran using firfox. Now I have expanded to using the Help Desk facility. I find it a good tool.

ist
ist

I have been using SpiceWorks for over a year now. Work great on our WAN of 7 servers and 100+ nodes. The help desk, inventory, monitoring, and reporting have made my life easier. Had to tweak a few things here and there, but the support from the SpiceWorks IT community is amazing! Much better and quicker than waiting in a product support call queue. I would definitely recommend this program to other IT professionals. Download Spiceworks free network management software »

tedj
tedj

I use Solarwinds ipMonitor on our network- 4 locations 15 servers, 70 or so workstations. When I received my annual maintenance quote, I decided to Try Spiceworks again. It probed our network well and has some nice features that ipMonitor does not. The two I like the most are: 1. Log consolidation - VERY nice 2. Software inventory However, it is missing some key features- 1. Monitor CPU usage. ipMonitor alerts me when a server's CPU has been overtaxed for too long. A nice alert. 2. Ability to alert on a service. I tried to setup Spiceworks to alert me if a service stopped, and was unable to do it. The specific service was a web service to my web site. In testing, ipMonitor alerted when I stopped the service, Spiceworks did not. Your mileage may vary. (As the sole IT resource for the company, the amount of time I spent trying to get Spiceworks to do this was not more than 30 minutes.) For the cost, I will keep Spiceworks running for those features I don't get with ipMonitor. But, due to the missing features, I will also be paying the annual maintenance on ipMonitor. Spiceworks is a nice tool to have on my network!

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

http://www.spiceworks.com/referrer/ITSlave Download it now, you won't regret it. The best part of the Spiceworks experience is the almost 1 million knowledgable IT professionals that will help solve any problem you have. As far as the ads are concered, I have a webfilter that blocks ads, so they don't bother me.

savemeaslice
savemeaslice

25+ servers, 125+ computers, etc. and it's made our job a lot easier. The Help Desk system is great for managing support requests, inventory is really accurate and thorough provided your devices are running WMI or SNMP, and the other tools that they continue to integrate on a consistent basis make this product more attractive as time passes. There are a couple of problems, but it is to be expected with any system. Network map could be better, DNS issues occasionally arise (stale entries). Stevie Rea, I would advise scanning small segments at a time as the initial scan is acquiring all information. After all information is gathered the scan will run incremental scans.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you use Spicework to monitor your networks? Do you use the free version with the advertising? How does that work for you?

MauricioRubio
MauricioRubio

Nagios is a powerfull network managment system, like a Spiceworks you can retrieve a lot information about network devices (PC, servers, printers, etc) also you can install plugins, adds, extensions for new features, that you can download for free in the comunity nagios exchange. So the "advantage" of spiceworks over nagios could be is the friendly end user interface? without mention other good features like a help desk, easy way to scan networks, etc.

johno
johno

You should try it using chrome :)

johno
johno

Also been using it over a year now, as Steve says its a great tool! Cross platforms also Mac & Win. I just received an email stating the Printer door was open... And its free!!! The upgrades are class! Community are a bunch of IT pro's (like moi! :)

Compuhorsy
Compuhorsy

I have been using Spiceworks for 2 years though this year it is finally being used by my endusers - the 2 hardest parts to implementing a helpdesk is getting your endusers to use it and getting your IT staff to use it. ;) We use it primarily for the helpdesk function but I am experimenting with the other functions as I get time. If it needs a feature to make it rock for you, don't forget to submit it as a request. (http://community.spiceworks.com/spice_list/group/300-extending-spiceworks) The programmers are very responsive and many people in the community also write plugins for adding functions to it. (http://community.spiceworks.com/extensions) As for the ads - your choices are to filter them out using a content filter or ad-block, pay to have an ad-free version (http://www.spiceworks.com/myway/) or learn to appreciate that they actually have something to do with your job and not some vacation property or IQ test. At any rate, I recommend downloading and taking it for a spin. (http://www.spiceworks.com/referrer/Dana4085)

RaymondJM4
RaymondJM4

First understand, there is no comparison when it comes to Spiceworks and Solarwinds. Personally I would recommend Solarwinds with a sprinkle of Network Observer. If you ?got it like that?, then ?rock it like that?. But for the rest of us that are trying not to stand out when the company heads are looking for ways to cut their bottom line, Spiceworks is a no brainer. My best feature is the Dashboard. I customized it to show me what has changed each morning (devices, software, event, alerts). It?s a great way to find unidentified/unauthorized devices that connect to the system. I also use it to help make a list of things to work on for the day (staying busy is not hard in our field but it helps to be able to justify it to non technical executives). I run a laptop without any problems. The community thing is cool but I have not really used it much (although I did get

lpullen
lpullen

We found a failing hard drive on a laptop that would have caused a great deal of problems had it actually crashed on the user, but because of Spiceworks we were able to see the errors being reported in the logs and replace BEFORE any data loss (and just under warranty!). We would not have caught this prior to installing the free version of Spiceworks. And you can check it out for yourself in under an hour! Seriously. We love it. It is a 24MB download and will run on an older desktop or even in a VM (runs great). Great community, too. Do yourself a favor and check it out! Download Spiceworks free network management software ?

lpullen
lpullen

This has been a great tool for us and I highly recommend it to you. It is a quick 24 MB download » and very easy to set up. Just make sure you have your SNMP community string set up and SNMP is enabled on your devices. Try it and make sure you check out the extremely helpful community. Download Spiceworks free network management software »

wb2000
wb2000

I waited for ages for our SysAdmin to give the okay on installing Spiceworks. It finally happened at the beginning of this year and it's the best thing since sliced bread as far as I'm concerned. My focus is mainly on the 40+ workstations and the Inventory and Help Desk ticketing are proving invaluable. The Spiceworks Community is the best - 10 out of 10!

fdsudds
fdsudds

I used Spiceworks a little bit in version 1, but didn't have time then to mess with it. I have now been using it for a little less than a year and love it. Great helpdesk, inventory, monitoring, reporting. As far as the ads, as someone else here said, they are about our work and they really don't bother me. I would highly recommend it to all IT. We have 3 sites, 15+ servers, 100+ workstations and it works great. Give it a try, you won't be sorry.

Mohammad Oweis
Mohammad Oweis

I started to use it recently; more than one week. It does really a good job, i still did not checked all the features, i am focusing on the inventory; because its the most important part to me. 30+ Server, ~500 Computer, ~80 Other network device, 8 sites. I still did not scan all the sites, but scanning over the WAN does not take a lot of bandwidth. One of the features that i liked, is that it can alert me about Tuner levels for network printers. On the other hand, network map is not that much good. Anyway, i still need some time to evaluate the software more accurately.

acorelis
acorelis

I tried using Spiceworks about a year ago, and ran it from desktop for testing. It did mainly what it was asked. I wasn't very pleased with the network map that it gave me, but I was limiting it's ability for when and where it can scan. My favorite feature during the testing was the centralized management for the event log's, and the friendly community.

StevieRea
StevieRea

My boss tried Spiceworks (free version)recently on our network of 250 or so nodes. After three days (two of them over the weekend, with no real work traffic to get in the way), SW still hadn't completed its initial network evaluation. We waited three more days and still got nothing. My boss did some subsequent checking and found that SW was sending information to an outside source (not sure how he discovered it, but I wasn't curious enough at the time to ask). We immediately stopped the Spiceworks experiment. Personally, I'd love to see how it works. The demos looked amazing. If it sends system information into the ether, though... Has anyone else had a similar experience? I'm kinda curious, myself.

lpullen
lpullen

Nagios is a bit more granular in its monitoring. The inventory and helpdesk portion of SW is great. Give it a shot to see what you think. The plugins being released in teh SW Community are really adding to the functionality. Download Spiceworks free network management software »

V.H. Scarpacci
V.H. Scarpacci

I have been using Spiceworks for almost a year and network scanning can use a lot of network resources. If the scan is done a night many of the workstations will be off so there will be no updated information. I like the helpdesk which is simple and can be customized to a point. Server monitors are great and the reports are very useful. It works well with Firefox, but is slower with Internet Explorer. Training is all online through videos and webinars and all free.

Skaughty
Skaughty

We use it on our network with 200+ nodes. 90% are over WAN connections. It took a little playing with settings to get it to work right, but we easily complete 2 full network scans a day of all systems. You can also setup dummy terminals that just scan and report back to the main to limit bandwidth usage. As far as sending information outside. That is the first I have ever heard of that.

Justin James
Justin James

... because it has to download the ads. I'm not sure what else it gets (or uploads outside the network), but it is going to be getting ads at the very least. I tried Spiceworks a number of years ago, and I liked it (version 1). It scanned my network very quickly, but it was a smaller network (three or four servers, a few desktops). In my current network, I'm using SCOM since we get it for free, but I'd definitely give Spiceworks a shot if I had to pay for SCOM. Just as a heads up, I've written a few articles for their site and white papers for them under contract. But I do like the product, and that opinion was formed long before I had a business relationship with them. J.Ja