Remote Installer

Overview

Remote Installer: Free Remote Software Installation/Uninstallation Tool

This remote deployment solution allows you to perform unattended software installation and uninstallation on remote Windows PCs quickly and easily. You can use it to install and uninstall EXE setups and MSI/MSP packages remotely on selected Windows PCs connected to a local network. Also, you can retrieve data on installed software from remote PCs, get aggregated software inventory reports and keep track of software changes.

EMCO Remote Installer is available in commercial and freeware editions. Check the feature list to see the differences. The commercial edition can be evaluated for free. The freeware edition is free for personal and commercial usage.

EMCO Remote Installer is an easy-to-use network application designed for centralized software management and audit across a local network. It offers a simple approach to remote software distribution and can be used instead of GPO, SCCM and other complicated deployment tools. The application is available in two editions with different sets of features:

  • The Free Edition is a freeware tool that allows you to install and uninstall software remotely in a silent mode on up to 5 remote PC at a time.
  • The Professional Edition is a commercial tool that provides you with advanced deployment and software audit features. It allows you to install and uninstall software on an unlimited number of remote PCs within the scope of a single operation. Also, you can create remote deployment and software audit tasks that can be executed manually or automatically on schedule.

EMCO Remote Installer: All-in-One Software Deployment Solution

EMCO Remote Installer is an integrated solution that covers different aspects of Windows software management. You can use it for unattended remote installation/uninstallation of EXE setups and MSI/MSP packages and for audit of installed applications across a network - all these features are available from the application's centralized administrative console. The application is capable of operating in enterprise environments and managing software across multiple domains and workgroups.

Remote Software Installation

Perform unattended software deployment over a local network. You can deploy EXE installations, MSI packages and MSP patches on one or multiple selected remote PCs simultaneously. You can either execute software installation immediately or schedule it for an automatic execution on a defined date and at a defined time. Learn how it works

Remote Software Uninstallation

Uninstall software from remote PCs silently with only a few mouse clicks. You can uninstall applications installed as EXE setups, MSI packages or MSP patches from multiple PCs simultaneously. Use the collected software inventory information to find and select applications that should be uninstalled from remote PCs. Learn how it works

Installed Applications Audit

Audit applications installed on the network PCs. The application can extract information, displayed by Windows Programs and Features, from remote PCs and store it in a centralized database. You can use this information to check what applications are installed in every PC or to get aggregated reports for the selected group of PCs. Learn how it works

Software Installation Changes Tracking

Detect software inventory changes happened on remote PCs. After every remote software scan the collected information is stored in the database as an inventory snapshot. These snapshots can be compared automatically to detect changes. You can get a list of software installation changes for every remote PCs or entire network. Learn how it works

Advantages and Benefits

Reduce Time and Efforts for Software Maintenance by Installing Applications Remotely

Installation of software applications and updates is a good example of routine procedure that can be fully automated. With EMCO Remote Installer you can distribute and install applications to remote PCs in tens or even hundreds times faster, than you can do it manually. You don't need to follow installation wizard, or do any routine actions - installation works on remote PCs in the automatic mode. EMCO Remote Installer can install remotely those applications and updates that have installations in Windows Installer format, i.e. as MSI file. If you need to deploy installation in any other format, you can convert it easily to MSI using EMCO MSI Package Builder.

Make Mass Remote Installation in Workgroups and Domains

Unlike Group Policy, that can be used for remote deployment only in Windows domain, EMCO Remote Installer can operate both in domain and workgroup. Using it you can easily scan the network to detect all available PCs and select those where application or update should be installed. There are no any specific requirements for remote PCs and you don't need to manually install any client modules to them. Administrative access to remote PCs is the only requirement to perform mass remote software deployments both in domain and workgroup.

Get Detailed Software Inventory Report for Every PC

When you install applications remotely, it's important to check what software is already installed on remote PCs. Having this information you can decide on which PCs application should be installed or upgraded. EMCO Remote Installer allows you to collect this information easily and get the list of installed applications including versions for each remote PC, so you have all information to plan and accomplish software maintenance by the most effective way.


Find and Uninstall Unwanted Applications Remotely

EMCO Remote Installer can be used not only to install or upgrade applications remotely, but also to uninstall them. Remote uninstall option together with the software inventory features is your powerful weapon against unwanted and unapproved applications living in your network. Using EMCO Remote Installer you can detect and uninstall such applications within seconds on all PCs across the network.


Be Aware of All Software Installed and Uninstalled by Users on Their PCs

The only way to keep a software infrastructure in a good shape is the regular software maintenance aimed at upgrading applications and removing unwanted installations. EMCO Remote Installer has a special feature that simplifies this task and makes maintenance cycles shorter. After finishing maintenance task you can save the current software inventory information and next time when you get the actual inventory report you can see changes in the list of installed applications for each PC. If users installed or uninstalled some applications on their PCs, you can see it in the report to decide if they should be updated or deleted. It significantly reduces a maintenance planning and preparation time.


Look for Software on Remote PCs According With Specific Conditions

Some applications don't register themselves in the Add/Remove Programs list. In this case it's hard to detect if such application is already installed on remote PC or not before make a new installation or applying an upgrade. But it's not a problem for EMCO Remote Installer. It has a special option to detect installations according with defined conditions. You can configure custom search conditions to find particular file or registry key on remote PCs. If defined resources are detected, then correspondent application is added to the list of detected installations.

Feature List

Remote Software Installation

Free Edition

Professional Edition

Software installation on multiple remote PCs         
Install a software package on a group of selected remote PCs over a local network. Software installation is performed concurrently on multiple remote PCs.

 Up to 5 PCs

 Unlimited PCs

Remote installation of EXE, MSI and MSP installation packages over a network         
Install EXE setups, MSI packages and MSP patches in a silent mode on remote PCs over a local network.
Software installation on a dynamic group of remote PCs         
Install a software package on a dynamic group of remote PCs. The dynamic group is defined by a simple condition that describes PCs that belong to a particular domain, workgroup, organizational unit in AD, etc.
Remote installation of multiple software packages at one step         
Install multiple specified software packages over a local network. The installed packages can be standalone EXE/MSI/MSP installation files or installations with multiple files. Installation packages are deployed one after another in compliance with the specified installation order, in scope of a single remote operation.

 Up to 5 package

 Unlimited package

Support of reusable installation tasks         
Create installation tasks that specify a list of software packages, which should be installed, and a list of remote PCs where these packages should be installed. Such installation tasks are preconfigured and can be executed immediately anytime with no additional configuration steps required.

Automatic remote software installation on a schedule         
Schedule installation tasks to be executed automatically. Installation tasks can be scheduled for one-time or recurrent execution.
Remote multi-platform software installation         
Install the specified x86 or x64 software installation packages depending on Windows platforms running on the selected remote PCs. The specified x86 package is installed on Windows x86 platforms, the x64 package is installed on Windows x64 platforms.
EXE deployment customization using command-line options and install scenarios         
Install an EXE setup silently using installation command-line options or an installation scenario to activate silent deployment.
MSI deployment customization using MSI transforms         
Customize remote MSI deployment by executing an MSI installation with applied MSI transformations, defined in MST files.
MSI deployment customization using custom MSI properties         
Customize remote MSI deployment by executing an MSI installation with options, specified by using MSI properties.
Support of the basic pre/post-install custom actions         
Apply custom registry changes on remote PCs before and/or after a remote software installation.
Support of the advanced pre/post-install custom actions         
Run EXE files, scripts, PowerShell scripts and Shell commands on remote PCs before and/or after a remote software installation.

 

Remote Software Uninstallation

Free Edition

Professional Edition

Software uninstallation from multiple remote PCs         
Uninstall a selected installation from a group of selected remote PCs over a local network. Software uninstallation is performed concurrently on multiple remote PCs.
Up to 5 PCs Unlimited PCs
Software uninstallation from a dynamic group of remote PCs         
Uninstall a selected installation from a dynamic group of remote PCs. The dynamic group is defined by a simple condition that describes PCs that belong to a particular domain, workgroup, organizational unit in AD, etc.
Remote uninstallation of multiple installations at one step         
Uninstall multiple selected installations over a local network. Installations are uninstalled one after another in compliance with the specified uninstallation order, in scope of a single remote operation.
Up to 5 package Unlimited package
Support of reusable uninstallation tasks         
Create uninstallation tasks that specify a list of installations, which should be uninstalled, and a list of remote PCs where these installation should be uninstalled. Such uninstallation tasks are preconfigured and can be executed immediately anytime with no additional configuration steps required.
Automatic remote software uninstallation on a schedule         
Schedule uninstallation tasks to be executed automatically. Unonstallation tasks can be scheduled for one-time or recurrent execution.
Remote multi-platform software uninstallation         
Uninstall the specified installation from the selected remote PCs running x86 and x64 versions of Windows. The uninstalled application is represented by the different software packages installed on Windows x86 and x64 platforms. These software packages are uninstalled from the selected PCs depending on their Windows platform, so the x86 package is uninstalled from Windows x86 platforms, the x64 package is uninstalled from Windows x64 platforms.
Support of the Smart Uninstall mode         
Use the collected software inventory information to configure the uninstall operation quickly and easily. Select the particular applications, installed on particular PCs, in order to uninstall them. No additional configuration is required in this mode.
EXE uninstallation customization using command-line options and uninstall scenarios         
Uninstall a software deployed by the EXE setup silently using command-line options of the uninstallation module or an uninstall scenario to activate silent uninstallation.
MSI uninstallation customization using custom MSI properties         
Customize remote uninstallation by executing an MSI uninstall with options, specified by using MSI properties.
Support of the basic pre/post-uninstall custom actions         
Apply custom registry changes on remote PCs before and/or after a remote software uninstallation.
Support of the advanced pre/post-uinstall custom actions         
Run EXE files, scripts, PowerShell scripts and Shell commands on remote PCs before and/or after a remote software uninstallation.

 

Remote Software Repair

Free Edition

Professional Edition

Remote repairing of applications installed on multiple network PCs         
Repair selected installations silently on a group of selected remote PCs over a local network. Software repairing is performed concurrently on multiple remote PCs.
Up to 5 PCs Unlimited PCs
Remote Repair of multiple installations at one step         
Repair multiple selected installations over a local network. Installations are repaired one after another in compliance with the specified repairing order, in scope of a single remote operation.
Up to 5 package Unlimited package
Support of the Smart Repair mode         
Use the collected software inventory information to configure the installation repairing operation quickly and easily. Select the particular applications, installed on particular PCs, in order to repair them. No additional configuration is required in this mode.

 

Software Inventory

Free Edition

Professional Edition

Collecting information about the installed applications from network PCs         
Get a list of installed applications and software updates from remote PCs. The extracted information for every installation includes its name, version, vendor info and other available data. This information can be displayed by the application and exported to files.
Remote software auditing of a static group of network PCs         
Audit the installed applications on a static group of remote PCs. The static group is defined by a list of the selected network PCs.
Remote software auditing of a dynamic group of network PCs         
Audit the installed applications on a dynamic group of remote PCs. The dynamic group is defined by a simple condition that describes PCs that belong to a particular domain, workgroup, organizational unit in AD, etc.
Support of reusable software scanning tasks         
Create software scanning tasks to extract new or update existing software inventory information for network PCs. Such software scanning tasks are preconfigured by a list of remote PCs that should be audited, so they can be executed immediately anytime with no additional configuration steps required.
Automatic software scanning on a schedule         
Schedule software scanning tasks to be executed automatically in order to have up-to-date software inventory information for network PCs. Software scanning tasks can be scheduled for one-time or recurrent execution.
Software installation changes tracking         
Get information about software installation changes happened between two software scans by using the feature to compare scans. This feature reports applications that were installed, uninstalled and not changed.
Software inventory data aggregation for multiple PCs         
Get an aggregated software inventory report for any selected group of network PCs. This report includes a number of installations in the group for every found application and lists PCs where the application is installed.

What's New

Version 4.1.7 (February 3, 2014)

New and improved features

The below features have been introduced for the first time or significantly improved in this release:

  • The application supports Microsoft Windows 8.1 and .NET Framework 4.5.1
  • The custom actions execution results are logged

Resolved issues

This release resolves a number of issues, the most important of which are listed below:

  • An installation completion is detected incorrectly if the installation launches more than 64 processes
  • Errors are possible after creating exceptional occurrences or occurrences deletion
  • The application database could not be opened if it is located on a network share
  • Potential errors during updating the operations' progress

Version 4.1.6 (August 20, 2013)

Resolved issues

This release resolves a number of issues, the most important of which are listed below:

  • It is impossible to install specific executable packages due to the remote service failure
  • The application does not allow to install Microsoft Software Patches (MSP files) without the specified patch metadata
  • Potential application failure while selecting the software to be uninstalled or repaired
  • The application does not allow to install MSI packages if the target platform is not defined by the package
  • The application update process may hang in specific environments

Version 4.1.5 (May 22, 2013)

Multi-host operations in the Free edition

We've changed licensing policies of the Free edition to allow managing multiple remote PCs. Now you can install, uninstall and repair up to 5 packages on up to 5 remote PCs at a time.

New and improved features

The below features have been introduced for the first time or significantly improved in this release:

  • Reworked Ribbon and context menus structure to improve user experience
  • Improved the remote service startup error diagnostics
  • Renamed tasks being executed to operations to avoid ambiguity between executed tasks and tasks saved for future execution

Resolved issues

This release resolves a number of issues, the most important of which are listed below:

  • An error while connecting to an Active Directory forest root in specific environments
  • An error while handling a successful result of sending a e-mail notification or test e-mail
  • An error while moving a mouse pointer over an auto filter row
  • Line feed characters are replaced by HTML line breaks tags in plain text emails
  • Potential dead-lock when trying to edit a task during the tasks execution
  • Potential critical errors when deleting snapshots during the software scan process

Version 4.1.1 (March 28, 2013)

Installation, uninstallation and repairing of EXE setups

You can remotely install, uninstall and repair installations available in the EXE format. To run such installations silently on remote PCs, you need to specify vendor-specific installation/uninstallation command-line parameters or an installation/uninstallation scenario file when configuring a remote operation.

Deployment of MSP patches

You can install, uninstall and repair MSI patches available in the MSP format. MSP deployment works just as MSI deployment, and you can use the same configuration options you use for MSI packages.

The new Quick Install option

The new option is designed to save the time required to configure a simple remote installation operation. Select target PCs where you need to deploy certain software in the Network Browser or All Machines views, and choose Quick Install on the Ribbon or from the context menu. To initiate installation, you only need to select the installation file to be deployed. The advanced installation options are not available in this case, but you can use other remote installation operations provided by the application if you need to run an installation in the advanced mode.

New Office 2013 UI skin

A new UI skin has been added that has a style similar to that of Microsoft Office 2013 and was inspired by the concepts of the flat UI introduced in Window 8.

New and improved features

The below features have been introduced for the first time or significantly improved in this release:

  • Simplified deployment packages configuration process
  • Newly introduced option of using an auto-generated comment for software scan snapshots,
  • Significantly optimized performance while creating smart packages
  • Improved diagnostics of deployment process errors

Resolved issues

This release resolves a number of issues, the most important of which are listed below:

  • Platform-specific transforms for Multi-Platform Windows Installer packages are applied incorrectly
  • Incorrect error diagnostics if Windows PowerShell or the Console Registry Tool for Windows is not installed on a remote Machine
  • A critical error occurs when switching from programs to updates in the Inventory view if it is not linked with the selection
  • A potential error while logging the results of a scheduled task

Getting Started

EMCO Remote Installer is an application designed to manage software across a local network. You can use EMCO Remote Installer to collect information about the installed software from remote PCs and to install, uninstall and repair applications remotely. This tutorial demonstrates how to use the main features of the application, but you should realize that it's only a small part of the application's functionality. Once you have familiarized yourself with the main features, you can start discovering other available options and features. You can refer to the integrated Help file by pressing the F1 keyboard button in the application to find explanations for the available features.
In scope of this tutorial Professional Edition will be used. If you would like to follow step-by-step instructions provided here, please make sure that you downloaded and installed right edition. Otherwise you can notice some missed features and different interface options.

Making the Required Pre-Start Checks

Before you start to use the application and follow the steps described in this tutorial, you need to check a few points explained below. It's really important to check and understand these points in order to use EMCO Remote Installer successfully, so please don't skip reading this chapter.

1. Check if you installed the right edition of EMCO Remote Installer
EMCO Remote Installer is available in two editions: Free (freeware edition) and Professional (commercial edition). The Free edition can be used to work with up to 5 remote PC to install, uninstall and repair up to 5 applications at a time, while the Professional edition can be used to work with an unlimited number of remote PCs concurrently to install, uninstall and repair one or unlimited applications at a time. If you need to install or uninstall an application to/from more than 5 remote PCs, like it is demonstrated in the course of this tutorial, you need to use the Professional edition. Other functionality differences between the Free and Professional editions are explained in the feature list.

2. Check if your network environment is configured to meet the requirements
EMCO Remote Installer uses the standard Windows networking infrastructure to communicate with remote PCs, so you need to ensure that the required Windows services are started, the network ports are opened on remote PCs. The application requirements are explained on the requirements page. In case of any problems, for example, when a remote PC can't be contacted, you can find the problem details on the Application Log or Task Execution Results views. Usually, log messages contain information on how to resolve the problem, so you need to follow the provided instructions.

3. Make sure you have a setup file that supports silent installation
To be done automatically, remote installations should always be performed in the silent mode. If you have an MSI installation, it can be easily installed remotely since silent installation is supported by all Windows Installer packages (MSI packages). If you have an installation in the EXE format, you need to contact its vendor to learn how to install it silently. Different installations require different approaches to activate the silent installation mode: in some cases you need to specify the silent installation command-line switches, in other cases you need to record and specify an installation scenario. If an EXE installation doesn't support the silent installation mode, you can convert it into a silent MSI package using EMCO MSI Package Builder.

Getting to Know the Application Interface

EMCO Remote Installer has a Ribbon UI where all main actions are represented by the Ribbon menu [A] located at the top of the application's window [picture 1]. You can use corresponding actions on the Ribbon in order to install MSI packages remotely, scan installed software and perform other operations. Under the Ribbon, you can find three areas that contain multiple views represented by tabs. The Network [B] area located on the left side of the application window is used to display the PCs available in the local network. You can select the PCs in the Network area to install and uninstall software and perform other operations on. The main area of the application window [C] consists of multiple tabs that allow you to audit installed software and manage remote tasks. At the bottom of the application window [D], you can find tabs that can be used to work with network PCs, manage tasks and check log messages.
      

Pic 1. The main application window
    

On the left side of the application window, you can see the Network area that consists of two views: Machine Tree and Alternate Credentials. You can switch between these views by pressing the corresponding buttons at the bottom. The Machine Tree view consists of two areas divided by a separator [picture 2].

The Network Browser view [A] displays network PCs. After a network enumeration, the detected network PCs appear in Network Browser and are displayed in a hierarchical order grouped by domains, workgroups and Active Directory organizational units representing the network structure. If you need to create custom groups of PCs so as to execute group operations quickly, you can use the Custom Grouping area [B]. You can create custom groups there and drop or paste PCs from the Network Browser or All Machines views into the custom groups. Both Network Browser and Custom Grouping views are designed to select remote PCs. If you need to execute a remote operation, you can select target PCs in the Network Browser or Custom Grouping views and choose the required action on the Ribbon or in the context menu.

The Alternate Credentials view [C] can be used to specify administrative credentials used by the application to access remote PCs. To audit or deploy software remotely, you need to have an administrative access to the remote PCs. You can enter administrative usernames/passwords for domains, workgroups or PCs in the Alternate Credentials view. If required, you can configure different credentials to be used to access different parts of your network.

 

Pic 2. The Network area views: Network Browser, Custom Grouping and Alternate Credentials

 

The main area of the application window contains several tabs, and the Welcome tab is opened by default. This tab provides you an access to the main actions of the application, which are also available on the Ribbon. Once a network is enumerated or a task is created, you can switch to other tabs. Most of the time you will use the Software Inventory and Task and Schedule tabs as described below [picture 3].

The Software Inventory view [A] provides you an access to information about applications and updates installed on remote PCs. If you performed a software scan, you can select a single PC, a workgroup/domain or an entire network in the Network area and see the aggregated inventory report displayed by Software Inventory view for the selected PC(s). By default, the inventory info is grouped by software vendor and application name, but you can re-group it by PC name or other fields using the actions available on the Software Inventory tab's toolbar. You can use the Software Inventory view to select applications and perform the required actions. For example, if you need to uninstall an application, you can select it in this view and choose the corresponding action from the context menu.

Using the Tasks and Schedule view [B], you can run, edit and delete existing tasks and manage their execution schedule. This view is available only in the Professional edition of the application. Tasks represent preconfigured remote operations, so you can create a task for any remote operation and configure it by defining the set of target PCs and remote operation settings. You can either schedule tasks to be executed automatically or run them manually from this view.

Finally, there are two other tabs in the main area of the application window. The Inventory Snapshots and Snapshots History tabs can be used to view the software inventory data collected during remote software scans.

 

Pic. 3. The inventory and tasks management views

 

At the bottom of the application window, you can find another group of tabs. These tabs represent views designed to provide you with various types of information [picture 4]. Let's take a closer look at these views.

The All Machines view [A] displays a set of network PCs with the additional information available for every PC. In particular, you can see the platform (x86 or x64) and the number of software inventory snapshots for every PC stored by the application. If you like, you can use this view to select PCs instead of using the Network Browser or Custom Grouping views.

The Application Log view [B] is used to show information on the results of operations performed by the application. The log information is available for every remote PC involved into the executed operations. In case of errors, you can find detailed error reports and troubleshooting information in this view.

The Task Execution Results view [C] can be used to review the results of the remote tasks execution. You can select a task in the Tasks and Schedule view and if this task has been executed, you can find its execution status on the Task Execution Results view. The reported data is available for every remote PC, so you can easily see where the task failed and resolve the problem easily using the available error messages and troubleshooting information.

The Operation Management view [D] can be used to check and manage the currently running operations. When an operation is started, you can find its progress displayed on the Operation Management view. Using this view, you can cancel the operation being executed on particular PCs or cancel its execution on all PCs where it has not been executed yet.

 

Pic. 4. Views located at the bottom of the application window

 

This tutorial demonstrates how to use basic features of EMCO Remote Installer, and in the following chapters you will see how most of the described UI controls can be used in practice.

Understanding a Remote Operation

EMCO Remote Installer is designed to execute various software deployment and audit operations remotely, but all operations can be configured using the same approach. To plan a remote operation, you need to answer the following questions: what, when and where should be executed and how it should work. Once you have answered these questions, you can configure and execute a remote operation in EMCO Remote Installer. Use a simple workflow below so as to plan a remote task.

1. Define an operation that should be executed remotely
You need to answer the "What should be executed?" question and select one of the operations supported by the application. In other words, you need to define if you need to install, uninstall, repair an installation or scan the installed software.

2. Define a time when the remote operation should be executed
You need to answer the "When should it be executed?" question and choose the time when the operation will be executed. You can execute a remote operation either immediately or later at a defined time. Also, the operation can either be executed just one-time or recurrently on schedule (i.e. every day, every second Monday of a month, etc.). You need to make your choice based on your needs and the available options. Note that the Free edition of the application supports only a one-time immediate execution of remote operations. The Professional edition supports all execution types.

3. Define remote PCs where the remote operation should be executed
You need to answer the "Where should it be executed?" question and select the target remote PC(s) where the remote operation will be executed. Using the Free edition of the application, you can only execute an operation on up to 5 remote PC; whereas using the Professional edition, you can execute an operation on an unlimited number of remote PCs. If the operation should be executed on multiple PCs, you need to define if it will be a fixed set of specific PCs or a dynamic group of PCs. The Professional edition of the application allows executing an operation on a dynamic group of PCs defined by a query, for example, on all PCs that belongs to a specified Organizational Unit in Active Directory.

4. Define details of the remote operation
You need to answer the "How should it be executed?" question and define how exactly the remote operation should work and what it should do. For a remote installation to be performed, you need to prepare MSI package(s) or EXE setup(s) that should be installed. For a remote uninstallation to be performed, you need to define application(s) that should be uninstalled. If you plan to install/uninstall an EXE installation, you need to know how to perform it in the silent mode by specifying the command-line options or an install/uninstall scenario file. Also, it's possible to execute various custom actions before and/or after installation and uninstallation operations, so you can use install/uninstall customizations, if required.

When you've gone through these steps, you are ready to configure and execute a remote operation. All you need to do is just specify the corresponding settings in the application as it will be demonstrated in the following chapters.

Case 1 - Auditing Software Installed on Remote PCs

To plan software installations, updates and uninstallations, you need to know what applications are installed on remote PCs. EMCO Remote Installer allows scanning remote PCs to extract and display information on installed applications. You can get the same information as displayed by Windows Programs and Features for the scanned remote PCs. The collected inventory information is stored in the database as a single inventory snapshot. If you make inventory scans multiple times, you will have multiple snapshots and will be able to compare them to see applications that were installed and uninstalled during the time between the scans.

Let's audit installed software on all available PCs from the local network. In the Free edition of the application, you can execute software scans manually to get or update inventory information. In the Professional edition of the application, you can also schedule scans for an automatic execution in regular intervals so as to always have up-to-date software inventory info. Follow the steps below to run a software scan manually.

Step 1. Select the network enumeration operation
When you start the application the first time, there is no network and software inventory information available. We need to scan a network to detect available PCs and to collect software inventory info from them. These two actions can be performed in the scope of the network enumeration operation. Press the Enumeration Wizard button on the Ribbon to start the network enumeration.

Step 2. Select PCs to be scanned
We need to scan the entire local network and collect inventory information from all available PCs. To do this, you need to follow a few steps in the Enumeration Wizard.

  • Pass the Welcome page of the wizard
  • Select the Scan Network option to instruct the application to get information about available PCs from the network, then press the Next button
  • Select the Enumerate All option to scan all the available domains and workgroups. Alternatively, you can select the option to scan the specified domains and workgroups only [picture 5].

Step 3. Start the network enumeration operation
Press the Finish button in the wizard to start the network enumeration. Once the network enumeration is started, you can see detected PCs appearing in the Network Browser view. Once the enumeration is completed, the progress bar located in the bottom right corner of the application window will stop, and you can proceed to the next step.

Step 4. Review the software scan results
Select the Network node in the Network Browser tree and open the Software Inventory tab. Since you've selected the node representing the entire network the Network Browser, you can see aggregated inventory information for all scanned PCs [picture 6]. The information is grouped by Software Publisher and Application Name, but you can re-group it using the buttons available on the Software Inventory tab's toolbar. If you need to see the software inventory information for a particular PC or a group of PCs, select it in the Network Browser tree.
      

Pic 5. Selecting network enumeration options
          

Pic 6. Aggregated software inventory info
    

Step 5. Checking for errors
If you cannot see inventory information displayed for every scanned PC, you need to check if any errors occurred during the network enumeration or software scanning operations. This information is available on the Application Log tab, so you can check the status for every PC. In case of errors, you need to follow the provided instructions as well as check if your network environment is configured properly to satisfy the application requirements. For example, a typical problem cause is that some PCs were powered off during the scan, so their inventory information can't be collected. To resolve this problem, you need to scan software on those PCs again.

How to update software inventory info and track software changes?

If you need to update the inventory information for certain PCs, you can select them in Network Browser and choose the Quick Software Scan action from the context menu [picture 7]. The network enumeration process described above isn't necessary in this case, because the application already has information on the available network PCs, so you can collect or update the inventory information only.
      

Pic 7. Selecting the scan software action
          

Pic 8. Comparing inventory snapshots
    

If you've run software scans multiple times for the same PCs, you can switch to the Inventory Snapshots tab and find the results of those scans called snapshots. You can compare any two selected snapshots to see the differences between the scans hence the events that occurred in the meanwhile [picture 8].

Case 2 - Installing Software on Multiple Remote PCs

When planning a remote software installation, you need to keep in mind that the installation process works differently in the Free and Professional editions of the application. Using the Free edition, it is only possible to install up to 5 applications on up to 5 remote PCs at a time; whereas using the Professional edition, it is possible to install unlimited applications on an unlimited number of remote PCs in one step.

Step 1. Select the target PCs and the required operation
Let's assume we need to deploy an installation to multiple remote PCs. Select the required PCs in the Network Browser tree using multi-selection (hold the Ctrl or Shift key and click on the required PCs). From the context menu, select the Quick Install action [picture 9].

Step 2. Specify the installation package
In the Select Installation dialog that appears on the screen, you need to select the installation file you are going to deploy. You can select an EXE setup, MSI package or MSI patch file from a local disk or enter an UNC path to a file stored on a network share.

Step 3. Configure the installation options
Depending on the type of the selected installation file, you can see different dialogs with different installation configuration options. The main difference between MSI/MSP and EXE installations is that MSI/MSP packages use well-known silent installation options and you don't need to specify them, and EXE setups use vendor-specific options and you need to configure them to enable silent installation of the selected EXE setup.

  • In case you've selected an EXE setup, you get an information dialog that explains the specifics of EXE installation in the silent mode. Click the Next button to proceed to the installation configuration step where you should specify the installation command-line parameters that activate silent installation and/or the answer file that defines the installation scenario [picture 10]. Contact the software vendor to get information on running the installation in the silent mode if you don't know how to activate it.
  • In case you've selected an MSI package, you get a dialog that shows information about the selected MSI file and the command that will be used to install the package [picture 11]. If your MSI package has CAB files dependencies, you can select the option to copy the entire folder where the MSI is located to remote PCs before installation so that CAB files are available for the MSI installer.

Step 4. Run the installation and check the installation results
To start the installation, press the OK or Finish button on the installation configuration dialog. Once the installation is started, you can see its progress displayed by the progress bar at the bottom of the main application window. If you need to get detailed information on the installation progress, you can switch to the Operation Management view. This view allows you to stop the running installation operation. When the installation is completed, you can switch to the Application Log view to check the installation results. In the log, you can find installation statuses for every PC and detailed error messages if any problems occurred during the installation [picture 12].
      

Pic 9. Selecting the installation task action
          

Pic 10. Configuring an EXE package

 

 
Pic 11. Configuring an MSI package
          

Pic 12. Checking the installation results
    

The Quick Install operation is the fastest way to deploy an installation on selected remote PCs. It offers you only the basic installation features, and if you need to use the advanced deployment features, such as pre- and post-installation actions or deploying multiple installations at once, you can use other available deployment operations described below.

Using the advanced remote installation options

To perform remote deployments using the advanced options provided by the application, you need to select the Install Package, Install Package Task or Install Package Scheduled Task operations available on the Ribbon or in the context menu in the Network Browser view. All these operations offer the same deployment options. The Install Package operation can be used for immediate one-time software deployment, the Install Package Task can be used for creating a reusable installation task and, finally, the Install Package Scheduled Task can be used to run an installation task on schedule. The main advantage of using tasks is that tasks are preconfigured, i.e. they include the configuration of the software package(s) to be installed, the installation options and the target PCs. You can run a task immediately any time with no additional configuration required; so if you need to repeat the same operation or execution on schedule, it makes sense to create a task.

When you use any of the Install Package, Install Package Task or Install Package Scheduled Task operations and configure an installation package, you are prompted to choose the installation type by selecting one of the two available options [picture 13]. Those options are available in the Professional edition of the application and allow you to install the same or different installation files depending on the platforms (x86 or x64) of the remote PC as explained below.

  • The Generic Package option allows you to install a single installation file on remote PCs regardless of their platform. This option should be selected if you have a multi-platform EXE setup or if you need to install an x86 MSI package on remote PCs with the x86 or x64 OS.
  • The Multi-Platform Package option allows you to install different files under x86 and x64 platforms. If this option is selected, in the next configuration steps you will be prompted to specify the location of the installation packages to be installed under x86 and x64 platforms. This option should be selected if you need to install different variants of the same installation designed for x86 and x64 platforms.

Once the installation package properties are specified, in the next step of the wizard you can configure optional custom actions that can be executed on remote PCs before or after the installation. Custom actions are available in the Professional edition of the application and allow you to import a registry file and run an executable file, a script file, a PowerShell script or a Shell command before/after the installation [picture 14].
      

Pic 13. Selecting the installation type
          

Pic 14. Available custom actions
    

Using the Install Package, Install Package Task or Install Package Scheduled Task operations, you can install multiple packages to remote PCs within the scope of a single operation. Once you've finished configuring the installation package, the package is displayed on the Installation Packages page of the wizard, so you can proceed by installing it or pressing the Add Package button to configure another package [picture 15]. You can add as many EXE and MSI installations as you need, and they will be deployed on remote PCs one-by-one. If you like, you can change the packages installation order using the buttons located on the toolbar.
      

Pic 15. Installation package info
          

Pic 16. Configuring a Machine Query
    

Finally, when you configure the target PCs where a remote operation should be executed, you may notice that the configuration dialog has a number of options that allows specifying target PCs very flexibly. On the left side of the target PCs specification dialog, there are available PCs displayed: on the right side of the dialog screen there are selected PCs displayed, i.e. target PCs that define the so-called Machine Queue of a task. You may see that the Machine Queue already contains some PCs - those are the PCs that were selected when you opened the wizard, so the application added them automatically. If you need to modify the Machine Queue, you can select PCs on the left and press the corresponding button to move them to the Machine Queue. Use the corresponding button on the toolbar to delete PCs from the Machine Queue. Also, you can not only select PCs but also create so-called Machine Queries defining dynamic groups of target PCs. These Machine Queries are executed automatically before the task execution to report the PCs that satisfy the specified conditions [picture 16].

Case 3 - Uninstalling Software from Multiple Remote PCs

Using EMCO Remote Installer, you can use different approaches to uninstall software. For example, you can provide an MSI package or an EXE file to run uninstallation on specified PCs, and if you have already collected software inventory information from remote PCs, you can use this data to run uninstallation in the so-called Smart mode. When software inventory data is collected from remote PCs, the application gets a list of installed software and the uninstallation info for every application, so EMCO Remote Installer knows how to uninstall the installed software. In the Smart Uninstall mode, the application uses the inventory information, so you only need to select the remote PCs and the applications that should be uninstalled from them.

You need to remember that the Free and Professional editions of EMCO Remote Installer have different uninstallation options. Using the Free edition of the application, you can uninstall up to 5 installations from up to 5 remote PCs at a time; whereas using the Professional edition of the application, you can uninstall unlimited installations from an unlimited number of PCs within the scope of a single operation. Also, the Free edition lacks some other features, so the uninstallation steps and options differ in the Free and Professional editions.

Let's uninstall a single application from multiple remote PCs using an uninstallation task that will be executed automatically on schedule at a defined time. Follow the steps below to configure the uninstallation task.

Step 1. Select the application to be uninstalled
Select the Network node in the Network Browser tree and open the Software Inventory tab to see the aggregated inventory info for the entire network. Find the application that should be uninstalled. If you need to uninstall the application from all PCs where it's installed, select the application row in the Software Inventory view. If you need to uninstall only some of the displayed installations, you can select the required PCs under the application node using the multi-selection (hold the Ctrl or Shift key and click on the required PCs). Select Smart Uninstall > New Scheduled Task from the context menu to start the wizard [picture 17].

Step 2. Specify the uninstallation time
Specify the task name and enter the date and time when the uninstallation task should be executed. Note that for a successful uninstallation the remote PCs should be turned on on the specified date/time. Press the Next button to proceed to the next step [picture 18].
      

Pic 17. Selecting the uninstallation task action
          

Pic 18. Scheduling the uninstall execution
    

Step 3. Configure the selected uninstallation package and the set of target PCs
You can see that the selected application is configured for uninstallation as an uninstallation package. If you've chosen to uninstall an MSI installation, you don't need to configure its uninstall options because all MSI packages have the same options to enable silent uninstallation. If you've chosen to uninstall an EXE installation, you need to configure its options to activate silent uninstallation because those options are different for different software, hence the uninstallation package is highlighted because it requires configuration. Press the Edit Package button to open the configuration dialog and enter the command-line parameters and/or an answer file with the uninstallation scenario [picture 19]. You can follow the next steps to configure the custom actions and the list of target PCs the selected software should be uninstalled from. Press the Apply button to apply the changes and return to the previous dialog. Once the uninstallation package is configured, you can press the Schedule button to create and schedule the new task.

Step 4. Wait for the uninstall task to be completed
The uninstall action will be executed by the application automatically on the defined date/time. You only need to keep the application running in an active user session to let it execute the scheduled task.

Step 5. Check the uninstallation results
Once the uninstallation is performed, you can switch to the Tasks and Schedule tab, select the created uninstall task there and switch to the Task Execution Results tab at the bottom to check the uninstallation results. If there were any errors, you can find detailed information and troubleshooting tips on the Task Execution Results tab [picture 20].
      

Pic 19. Configuring EXE uninstall options
          

Pic 20. Uninstall execution results
    

If you need to execute uninstallation immediately and there is no need to customize the uninstallation, you can select the Smart Uninstall > Quick Uninstall action from the context menu in step #1 described above. In this case, you only need to confirm the operation and don't have to follow the wizard steps.

Using the advanced remote uninstallation options

In the example above, we used only the basic uninstallation settings, but you can also use the advanced options to customize the uninstallation process, if required.

In step #3 described above, on the Package Set Editor tab you can add other packages to be uninstalled within the scope of a single uninstall operation. To add a new package, you can click the Add Package button available on the toolbar. The packages uninstallation order can be managed using the corresponding buttons located on the same toolbar [picture 21].
      

Pic 21. Configuring multiple uninstallations
          

Pic 22. Supported custom uninstall actions
    

If you need to execute custom actions before/after uninstalling an application, you can select the corresponding package on the Package Set Editor tab and open its properties using the Edit Package button. In one of the package configuration steps, you can configure the application to import a registry file and run an executable file, a script file, a PowerShell script or a Shell command before/after the uninstallation [picture 22].

Summary

In the scope of this tutorial, you can see how to use the main features of the application. Some features and options are not discussed here, but if you need additional information about the application features and configuration options, you can refer to the integrated Help. You can open the Help file by pressing F1 in the application.

Screenshots

 

 

 

Requirements

EMCO Remote Installer is a network application that relies on Microsoft network infrastructure to interact with remote PCs. The application uses a list of standard Windows services that should be started on remote PCs and ports that should be opened in the firewall. These services and ports are listed below. You can learn more about ports and protocols Microsoft operating systems require for network connectivity in the Service overview and network port requirements article.

EMCO Remote Installer System Requirements

Computer running EMCO Remote Installer must meet following requirements.
Minimum Hardware Requirements

  • 1 GHz Intel Pentium processor or equivalent
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 250MB of free disk space

Recommended Hardware Requirements

  • 2 GHz Intel Pentium processor or equivalent
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 500MB of free disk space

Supported Platforms

Windows XP (with SP3), Windows XP x64, Windows 2003, Windows 2003 x64, Windows Vista, Windows Vista x64, Windows 2008, Windows 2008 x64, Windows 2008 R2, Windows 7, Windows 7 x64, Windows 8, Windows 8 x64, Windows 2012, Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 x64, Windows 2012 R2
Requirements

  • Administrative rights on the local computer
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 or above
  • Enabled NetBIOS over TCP/IP

Requirements for Remote Computers

Remote computers, accessed by EMCO Remote Installer must meet following requirements.

  • Platform: Windows XP, Windows XP x64, Windows 2003, Windows 2003 x64, Windows Vista, Windows Vista x64, Windows 2008, Windows 2008 x64, Windows 2008 R2, Windows 7, Windows 7 x64, Windows 8, Windows 8 x64, Windows 2012, Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 x64, Windows 2012 R2
  • An access with a Local or Domain administrator rights
  • Enabled NetBIOS over TCP/IP
  • Enabled File and Printer sharing
  • Enabled access to the ADMIN$ share
  • An ability to ping the computer within 1500 ms
  • Started services: Computer Browser, Remote Registry
  • TCP ports opened: 135, 139, 445
  • UDP ports opened: 137, 138