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Finding a Computer Inventory Application for Use with Mobile Devices

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Thomas Zucker-Scharff
Veteran in computer systems, malware removal and ransomware topics.  I have been working in the field since 1985.
I recently asked a question about Computer Inventory applications for Mobile Devices.  I was specifically interested in an app I could use on my android phone.  The best answer to that question was a recommendation from expert Fouad Maidine for 2 apps, one of them was infradog.  I have used another app for several years called Computer Inventory (CI) from iMobile3, which is for iPad only and Here I was looking for an Android app.  I also found an app called Cellica DB, which can be used to create the tracking forms I wanted.

I exported the data from the Computer inventory app on my iPad to a csv file - to import into the demo of the Cellica DB app.  And I signed up for and downloaded the free version of InfraDog.  There were some major differences from the start.  CI is a dedicated computer inventory application with some user configurable fields (you can also rename the predefined fields).  The application is fairly comprehensive.  But you must enter all the data, there is no way, that I have found, to either scan it in or upload it.  The only real shortcut is to download/export the file in csv format and then use it in excel to enter more data.  When you are finished you can import it back into the CI app.

I started checking out the 2 apps I had no familiarity with, infradog and cellica db. They are very different in how they work, what they do, and how well they are put together.  InfraDog is more of a computer monitoring app than anything else.  It automatically collects as much iinformation as it can get from the computers you designate (assuming you have access rights to them). Then you can set up various alerts for each or all computers to make monitoring much easier.  The setup was fairly easy and making the alerts, although initially a little confusing, was nonetheless straightforward.  The companion app for the android is also easy to use and has been extremely helpful (we are considering purchasing it). It does have some odd reporting which I will be discussing with the company.  For Instance, I keep getting an alert that a 2tb disk, which I know has less than 100gb used, is full or near full.  Then the alert magically resolves itself.  My biggest problem with infradog is that it is a monitoring app, not an inventory app.  There are very few fields you can enter information into, and those are mostly notes fields.  What I really was looking for was an app that I could use to track computers.  I want to be able to see at a glance what hardware is being used, what software is installed and what the various configurations are, especially network configs. So although we may purchase thhis software for monitoring purposes, it won't fill the inventory need.  Here are seven of the screen shots from the android client for infradog.

Here you see the login screen, the list of your groups (defaults), and the list of the computers you have registerred.

123.jpgThis set shows the basic menu screen, the first screen for one device, and part of what I see after tapping the disk storage icon.  Note the green dots with the sideways lightening strike inside them.  This denotes an item that has an alert set up for it.


456.jpg
This page shows a list of alerts.  It is what you would see if you had tapped on Alerts in the first screen in the  above picture.

7.jpg
Cellica DB is a wholly different animal.  It is as versatile as infradog is not.  There is a major problem though.  Cellica requires that you create everything from scratch.  I thought this wouldn't be too diffcult, but I was wrong.  The main problem is that although the software asks you to identify the phone for which you will be creating these forms, the Form Manager view on your computer and the way it looks on the phone are different.  Here are examples of how the form looks on my computer and on my phone.  The left side is the computer and the right side is the phone.  The data came from the imported csv file from CI.  Be mindful that this is how it looked after fiddling with the sizing for quite awhile, in order to get it to look better.  Initially I had it looking perfectly on the computer and it looked perfectly awful on my phone (useless).

page-1-2.png
page-2-1.pngpage-3-1.pngpage-4-1.pngpage-5-1.pngpage-6-1.pngThere were several other problems that I spoke to support about - none of which were resolved.  I wanted to know why I couldn't have certain action buttons on all pages.  When constructing the multipage form, it was not even an option to put an edit button on more than one page, this went for the next and previous buttons as well. Cellica support did say they were going to address this problem in their next release.  The problem illustrated above, support apparently decided is not a problem at all. After I sent them these screenshots, I received an email containing this

The forms are displaying properly as per the design in Cellica Database desktop Software. You may need to increase height and width of some button controls.
Could you please let us know the exact issue while displaying the forms on device with control layout is not matching with desktop form design.?
We will accordingly try to fix the issue on priority.
I setup the software so it would design for my phone:

Here is the readout from my phone
2015-06-05-14.31.01.png
And here is how the desktop app is setup:

prefs-for-phone-on-computer-db.PNGI tried specifying the phone, and when that didn't work I tried the resolution, which generated the same results.  

Needless to say, although I like the versatility of this app, it does not get my vote.  If it had an interface on the desktop that reflected the actual way the form would look on your phone, I might have felt different.  Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an easy affordable solution that does everything.  The best application I have for this is the Computer Inventory app from iMobile3.  As I mentioned earlier, it does computer inventory fairly well.  It neither queries the network in realtime, nor collects information remotely as infradog does.  CI does let you enter most of the information you would want to.  After several attempts at finding something that does everything, I have come to believe that if there was something that ponied up and tried, it would be a jack of all trades, master of none situation.  

My solution is the following
For the Android/Windows:
  • WinAudit to gather more specifics about each machine - even if I do have to go to each machine to run it (FREE)
  • infradog client for Android to montior the machines and network devices (FREE for 10 computers)
  • VNC to remote in and check the computers (Teamviewer/RDP/LogMeIn/Chrome Remote Desktop) (FREE versions)
  • I will continue looking for a decent invenory app
For iOS:
It should be noted that I have linked to reviews of VNC clients on lifehacker.  For a VNC viewer I suggest Real VNC for Android or RealVNC for iOS.

UPDATE April 22, 2016: This needed to be updated and the best reason was I did end up finding an application for my Android. There are several caveats, but it works decently. The application is called MobiDB. It is NOT specific to computers, so it requires that you set it up. I have only used the Android version and have not tried the PC version they have.

The Android version of MobiDB Pro costs $10.00 and the PC version costs $19.90. The design is relatively good. It is a relational database, which you must design. The Form design is not the way I would like it to be. For instance, I have been playing with it for some time and can only get a single form instead of a tabbed form. This is rather important in that not being able to separate the fields into tabs, makes the whole form more confusing. The biggest benefit is that I can import a csv file and have instant data. One does have to export a csv first, in order to see what structure the database expects. Importing works pretty well, but there is a problem when you are importing into drop down fields. The fields import as empty, even though you go through the process of entering the data exactly as it appears in the drop down list.  I tried the synchronization  with Dropbox portion of the app. It is reassuring to set up,  but it takes a long time to sync and ever since I interrupted the first sync,  not only had it been unable to finish a sync,  everytime I try to either ref it atable, form or create a new table/form,  MobiDB crashes losing everything I emerged since it started previously. 

Due to the crashing and the lack of tabs,  I am going to give Cellica DB another chance..

UPDATE May 10, 2016: I gave CellicaDB another try and ended up deciding on it as my solution for my android device.  The application is good and the desktop interface is much better.  There are three basic versions: CellicaDB Internet (the trial version is of this type), CellicaDB Wi-Fi and CellicaDB Anywhere.  I think their prices are on the high side, $44.99 for the internet and wi-fi personal editions and $120 for the anywhere personal edition.  But don't get taken in by the "relatively" low price.  Unless you make a stink about it, you will pay $80 over and above the $120 for the image add-on, if you want that capability.  Not a drop in the bucket...

On the other hand I have created forms for several of the Access databases I use, so I now have access to them on my handheld device, which is more than useful.  I might add that the support has greatly improved.  The biggest problem is that the forms still do not display correctly on the handheld unless you do a lot of messing with the resolution settings on the desktop.
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