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Where I work we use a piece of software called Dameware to remotely manage computers on our domain. Through Dameware we are able to get a list of all of the computers that are online and currently connected to the domain.

We are in the process of rolling out new desktop management software that does not provide this feature to us. We need to know the name of a computer when we want to connect to it.

I know how to get a list of the computers that belong to the domain but that also returns computers that may or may not be online. How do I return a list of computers that are currently connected (ie. they have an active network connection) to the domain? I thought about returning a list of computers that belong to the domain and then pinging each one but I think that would be slow and a complete waste of resources.

Have you run in to this problem before and if so, what solutions have worked for you? I would prefer a .NET solution but VB script will work as well. I may end up building a GUI for this that I would distribute to members of our IT team.

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The last place I worked did a smart thing with user desktops. They added [BGInfo][1] to the startup group for all users. This put the user's computer name right on the desktop, along with the help desk number and other useful information. This doesn't answer the question, but could help in other ways, which is why I used a comment. [1]: technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897557.aspx –  Carl Campos Jul 21 '09 at 22:26
    
I love the idea of using BGInfo. –  Mark Turner Jul 21 '09 at 23:14

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you watch the outbound traffic from DameWare, it just snags all the computer objects from AD and then tries to connect to them via their hostname using NETBIOS.

Thats extremely simple to re-create, no magic involved.

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+1 - Ping or a netbios query of the AD list of computers. It's not inefficient if it works. –  romandas Jul 21 '09 at 20:04

I often will use the MMC console for Computer Management, connect to our file server and check for the users' connection there to get their computer name and IP address for remote support. It's quick and easy and I don't have to walk the user through finding their computer name. If they're connection has timed out or something I just have them click on a networked drive to open the connection.

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Something as basic as Advanced IP Scanner (http://www.radmin.com/products/utilities/ipscanner.php) should be able to get you this info.

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Active directory users and computers will provide you a list of all machine accounts in the domain. Other than in scripts, I've never had to worry about whether a machine is online of offline because the changes I make are done via group policy. For desktop support, if I can't walk the user through telling me his machine name, i've got far bigger problems than how to connect.

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If you are interested in monitoring device status and considering building a GUI, you might consider a system such as Nagios or Zenss (there are many others, but these two are popular options).

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