Here User, User, User…


When, like today, the 5:00 AM wakeup call comes in that someone cannot get to the Internet, it is always nice to have a little information – like what computer the user is on, where can’t they go, etc.

So, of course this morning’s call contained none of that. Just so-and-so can’t get to the Internet, please fix. Click.

Not having the computername, I had to go through the chore of finding the computer based on the username logged into it. Fortunately, there are a ton of ways to do so:

1) Back in the days of WINS I could use winscl.exe command. (Sorry, we don’t have any WINS servers now). Not really a choice in this example.

2) I could set a Domain Policy to audit account logon events, and then look at the logs on all my domain controllers. It works, but unless I have a tool to consolidate my logs, (I don’t), it can be time consuming to find the domain controller that authenticated the user, and the workstation that sent the logon request.

3) PSLoggedOn from Sysinternals (Microsoft) is a great little tool, but since it won’t scan every machine in my network in one pass, it isn’t perfect. If the machine I need is in the first several dozen, great! If not, I’m out of luck.

4) NBTscan is a great tool for this kind of thing, and I have used it often.

It gives you great output like:

C:\nbtscan>nbtscan 192.168.0.100-200
Doing NBT name scan for addresses from 192.168.0.100-200

IP address NetBIOS Name Server User MAC address
——————————————————————————
192.168.0.101 WKS-01 <server> Bob 12-34-ba-c0-52-32
192.168.0.109 WKS-02 <server> Sam 00-0f-1f-b3-b5-89

C:\nbtscan>

When I have had occasion to use it, it has never let me down.

5) Spiceworks is also a nice system, not specifically for this, but if you are sweeping your network with it, the inventory function will tell you the last logged on user of a given workstation.

6) In today’s case I used User Locator. This tool is one of my favorites. Not only does it return a list of computer(s) that the user is logged onto, but it can bind tools to the remote computer for one-click management of that computer. You can download it for free at http://www.motivatesystems.com/User_Locator.asp

Anyway, there are many ways to find out what computer a user is logged into. These were just the choices I ran down on the way to my selection this morning. You may have free or pay tools you prefer, but this is just another example of how many ways there are to do the same thing in IT. (The best way, of course, is to get the user to tell us what workstation they’re on in the first place…)

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