Maintenance – explained

by Centurion Technologies 1. January 2013 10:00

Centurion Technologies Maintenance or Technical Support covers phone and email support from Centurion Technologies employees. Our support is based in-house and not contracted through outside services. Support covers product related downloads, fixes, patches, and in-version updates.

Centurion Technical Support Department’s hours of operation are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (CST).

Phone Number - 1-888-265-6055.  

Email - support @centuriontech.com


Maintenance Options:

Annual Maintenance Program

Customers preferring to stay with the Annual Maintenance Program can do so at the standard fee of 20% of the MSRP pricing at the time of purchase. A minimum annual fee of $50.00 is required.

* Three Year Maintenance Program - Save 6 months of maintenance cost with this program.

This program provides three years of full support for a fee of 2.5 times the standard first year maintenance fee, payable with the license order, with a minimum Three Year fee of $80.00.

* Smart Shield & Smart Control only. Three Year Maintenance Program is not available on legacy products.

* Renewal maintenance must be paid for all seats on a controlled license key in order to receive technical support.  


Additional Services:

PowerStart™

Provides for on-site assistance with the integration of Smart Shield into your network system along with enhanced product training for your network administrators. This service is designed to reduce your overall start-up costs in deploying Smart Shield as well as to maximize your use of the powerful utilities and cost reducing features built into the product. The price of this service is $1,000.00 per day plus direct expenses.

PowerAssist™

Provides a one-hour enhanced product orientation and training webinar to maximize your utilization of the many powerful features contained in Smart Shield and Smart Control. The price of this service is $250.00 per hour per five-person webinar.

PowerReview™

Provides a one-hour webinar review session with your network administrators to ensure that you are continuing to take full advantage of Smart Shield / Smart Control’s wide range of dynamic and cost effective attributes. The price of this service is $300.00 per hour.

SmartShield Client Windows Update

by Centurion Technologies 8. October 2012 10:55

Windows Updates

SmartShield Client Windows Update is a feature that allows our software to install Windows OS updates. This feature can be used to control various levels of updates on your PCs without manually going to Microsoft’s website to download and install updates. This is particularly relevant for PCs in an open lab or public area. These PCs normally have multiple users each day, and odds are no one would complete the necessary and vital Windows Updates. By enabling SmartShield to handle updates, manually downloading and installing updates are not necessary.  However, there is one very important limitation with SmartShield handling Windows Updates. SmartShield cannot install updates that require user interaction, i.e. Internet Explorer 8. Since SmartShield is automated and does not interaction with the installer, it cannot handle tasks of this nature.

How it works?

A few minutes before the Windows Updates are scheduled, our application will warn the user that they have two minutes to finish their work. Then the machine will set to unprotected and reboot. Upon reboot the keyboard and mouse will be blocked, a message will display that Window Updates are running.  Our application will run as many updates as it can complete in that timeframe and configuration set by the administrator. After all of the updates have been installed or the time limit has been reached the machine will reboot, unlock keyboard and mouse and go back into protection mode. The next time Windows Updates are run, SmartShield will complete the updates from the previous session and move on to the new updates.

Windows Update

To run Windows Update on SmartShield select the Windows Update button on the left.

Enable SmartShield to handle Windows Updates by checking the box that reads “Enable SmartShield Windows Update Management.”

 

Select the frequency you want SmartShield to run Windows Updates. Clicking on the dropdown arrow will display selections for every day or a specific day of the week.

 

Select the time of day that you would like SmartShield to run the Windows Update. By selecting the dropdown arrow you have the ability to select the time. Time cannot be manually entered for other times.

Enter the time limit or maximum amount of time you will allow Windows Update to run. The minimum selection is 40 minutes and the maximum selection is 400 minutes.

 In most cases 40 minutes will be ample time, but if the PCs have many updates backlogged the time limit may need to be extended. Any updates that do not complete in the allotted time will be installed the next scheduled Windows Updates process.

 

 

By selecting “Advanced,” you can control what type of updates you would like downloaded and installed. There are four options. 

All – Selecting this setting download and install every available Windows Updates.

 

Moderate – This setting downloads and installs Windows Updates marked as Moderate, Important and Critical.

 

Important – This setting downloads and installs Important and Critical Windows Updates.

 

Critical – This setting only downloads and installs only Critical Windows Updates.

 

Once you have selected the type of updates you want to install hit “Ok,” then select “Submit.”

 

You will be prompted to enter your password to save the Windows Update settings.

 

When changes are successful you will see this box.

 

 

 


SmartControl Resource Manager – Windows Update Configuration

by Centurion Technologies 8. October 2012 09:11

The Smart Control Resource Manager can be configured to manage Windows Updates on a SmartShield Client machine using three methods.

     1.       Client Windows Update

     2.       Schedule Update from SmartControl Resource Manager

     3.       Windows Updates via WSUS/SUS (Windows Server Update Service-Software Update Service)

                               

Client Windows Update

This update setting can be used to configure multiple machines at once from SmartControl. The setting will allow updates to run without interference by blocking the keyboard and mouse during the process. Only an administrator can unlock the keyboard and mouse during an update. The updates will begin at the time and day you choose, and will reoccur on the same time and day each week after.  Your machines must be powered on in order for the updates to be completed.

To configure the Client Windows Update setting select one or more computers from your list in SmartControl Resource Manager

 

*Selecting individual computers can be done manually by holding “Ctrl” and clicking each machine to be configured.

*Selecting all computers can be done by selecting “Edit” from the toolbar and then “Select All Clients” from the dropdown menu. 

 

Right click a selected client and navigate to Client Control/Misc Configuration. Select Client Windows Update.

Alternatively, with the targeted machine(s) selected you can click “Client Control” from the toolbar.

 

You will be presented with a configuration window. This is the same window you would see if you configured the machine in-person. The box will be grayed-out if you are configuring your machine for the first time.

 

 

Once the “Enable Windows Update” box has been checked, you can begin configuring the options

 

 

“Frequency” options allow you run a check for updates by specific days.

Select a frequency and time of day to run Windows Updates.

The “Advanced” button holds four different Windows Update settings. There is a brief description of each option contained in the “Advanced Options” window.

 

Two minutes before the update runs, a pop up message will appear on the computer notifying any users of the impending update.

If protection is enabled, the computer will disable and reboot. Upon rebooting, Windows Updates will begin. The keyboard and mouse will be blocked and a red background will display a message that Windows Updates are running.

 

 

After the updates are finished, the computer will return to its previous state (SmartShield disabled or enabled).

If you are unsure whether a machine is configured for updates using this method, you can find out by right clicking and selcting “Properties” of any single machine. The “Properties” window will tell you the following information about Windows Updates for that machine – frequency, start time, maximum minutes allowed to do the updates, the level of updates chosen, and other useful information

 

 

In addition to checking the properties, SmartShield also keeps a log of updates on the client machine.

 


If the updates do not finish in the time allotted, SmartShield will begin the updates where the last session left off and continue during the next update period.

 

Scheduling Windows Updates

You can schedule Windows Updates through the “Scheduling” feature in the SCRM. This task will automatically execute the steps listed.

On this first window, you will configure start time, recurrence pattern and name the schedule. When using the SCRM's scheduler to run updates, we recommend creating a schedule with the following actions:

      1.       Wake-On-LAN

      2.       Disable Protection

      3.       Reboot

      4.       Windows Update (Block User)

      5.       Delay (5 minutes)

      6.       Enable Protection

      7.       Reboot

      8.       Shutdown
Note: Protection must be disabled for Windows Update (Recommended) to succeed.

Scheduling the "Windows Update (Execute Only)" task:

This task will only run Windows Updates. It only does Step 4 from the list above. It will not notify the user of the impending update, block the keyboard and mouse, change the login background, or automatically reboot the system.

Note: Protection must be disabled for Windows Update (Execute Only) to succeed.

When is this task beneficial?

This task is beneficial if you need to schedule Windows Updates to run on workstations that remain disabled and you do not want to reboot them. An example would be running Windows Updates on administrators' machines that are disabled.

WSUS / SUS Integration

The SCRM gives an administrator the ability to configure WSUS / SUS settings on a SmartShield client. This feature sets the name of the WSUS or SUS server that provides the client with the updates. It also allows for an administrator to prevent the client from modifying the Windows Update settings provided by the operating system.

Note: This setting can only be set from the SCRM.

To Set WSUS or SUS Server Settings on a client:

1. Highlight the client(s) > go to "Client Control" > “Misc. Configuration” > “Windows Update WSUS/SUS”

2. Enter the name of the WSUS or SUS server which will provide your clients with the updates.

3. If you want to prevent the client(s) from modifying the Windows Update settings provided by the operating system, check the box to do so.

4. Click the "Ok" button.


What does checking the box in the WSUS / SUS Server setting window do?

This will disable (gray-out) the Windows Update options on the client to prevent a user from changing any Windows Update settings through the control panel. It is like setting a policy to prevent modifying Windows Update settings.

If I no longer use a WSUS server, how to I remove my WSUS / SUS settings?

To remove WSUS/SUS settings, simply go through the steps above for setting the WSUS/SUS server name, only leave the name blank. This will remove the existing WSUS/SUS settings.

Smart Shield and McAfee VSE 8.8

by Centurion Technologies 16. August 2012 15:13

A few customers have reported Stop Error/Bug Check Screen, more commonly known as Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), when using Smart Shield version 2.1.10 or higher with McAfee VSE 8.8. Over the last couple of weeks, we have worked to identify the cause of this issue. At this time the process that actually triggers the BSOD to occur is the McAfee Task Manager service.

McAfee Service-

Display Name: McAfee Task Manager

Description: Allows scheduling of McAfee scanning and updating activities.

Path to Executable: "C:\Program Files\McAfee\VirusScan Enterprise\VsTskMgr.exe"

 

 It appears that this service is associated with a user profile and starts upon user login. During the user login process a setting in our Optional Directory Protection (ODP) feature is not handled in the McAfee service and causes an error. At this time we will remove all unnecessary ODP directories for McAfee users in version 2.1.11.1071. 

 The installer to test this version is  available at http://209.62.71.50/McAfeeFix.zip.  You must completely uninstall any previous versions of Smart Shield before installing this one.

Centurion will report the issue to McAfee. Any centurion users wishing to use McAfee and Optional Directory Protection (ODP) may want to report it as well. 

Maintaining Client Schedules

by Centurion Technologies 19. July 2012 10:44

Schedules are a powerful way to manage Smart Series clients. Their usage can lower your overall power bill, assist with third party product updates, and help close a lab with automatic shutdowns. Occasionally schedules need to have minor modifications in order to keep them up to date.

 Let’s review how to correctly edit a schedule to keep it up to date. This example deals with a computer lab changing its hours from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

 1.      Select the schedule to edit and press the “Edit Schedule” button.

2.  Change the Start Time of the schedule to run at 6:45 and modify the description of the schedule.

Text has been changed

3.  Switch to the action tab.

4.  We need to edit the Delayed Shutdown action under “Action Order”. Select Delayed Shutdown and select the “Edit Action” button.

5.  Once the action to edit is selected, the Action information needs to be modified with the new text. For this example, we changed the message text to the new time of 7:00 pm. Once the update of an Action is complete, please press the “Add/Update Task” button to save your changes.

6. There are two more steps to complete before the schedule change will take effect. First, re-enter the password for the schedule. This is the password for the client machines.

7.  Press the “Save Schedule” button to complete the changes. This will provide a confirmation box for fallback, and return you to the View Schedules tab.

 

To review, saving a change to a step in a schedule requires:

  • Selecting the item to edit
  • Making the changes
  • Add/Update Task Button
  • Save Schedule

 

As always, call, email, or comment so we can know what you think or to clarify.

Hogan Haake

Smart Control Network Hierarchy

by Centurion Technologies 9. May 2012 12:40

Advanced Smart Control Network Configuration Scenarios


There are several ways to configure Smart Control Resource Managers. This document explains the more common configurations of SCRM to SCRM communication.  Connecting SCRMs will allow them to share client management responsibilities.


A Hierarchy Relationship makes one SCRM the Master and central license server while allowing sub servers to fully control their local clients. The difference between a Primary and Secondary SCRM is that only the Primary will facilitate licensing and product updates. This structure is most useful for organizations with remote locations.


A Helper Relationship gives all license, schedule, Energy Saver and ScreenView privileges to the Primary SCRM while allowing the Helper SCRM to control the Protection, Power and Miscellaneous commands to the client computers. This scenario is used when multiple administrators are sharing management of the same set of clients.
 



Peer Relationships gives all license, schedule, Energy Saver, and ScreenView privileges to the Primary SCRM of a subset while allowing a SCRM that is the Primary of a different subset to control the Protection, Power and Miscellaneous commands.These are used when administrators are sharing responsibilities over two separate subsets of machines.
 


Optional Directory Protection

by Centurion Technologies 7. May 2012 15:59

 

Optional Directory Protection

SmartShield has a new feature, Optional Directory Protection (ODP). ODP is designed to optionally remove a directory from being protected by SmartShield. This allows a user to specify directories to allow changes that persist from boot to boot. Directories that have been marked for ODP allow files and folders to be saved, changed and deleted. This feature will allow the user profile directories like My Documents and Desktop to accept changes. ODP can also be used in Program Files sub directories to allow the possibility for updates to a program without disabling protection. Rather than redirecting saves this all-new technology allows you to save directly to the hard drive. This removes the need for the special storage space; therefore you are only limited by the size of your hard drive.

 

ODP on Smart Shield Client

Open up the client and click the Storage Configuration button.

Navigate to the Optional Directory Protection tab.

 

On this tab, select the folder(s) that need to be excluded from protection. In this example, the desktop and my documents have been selected. Press Submit.

Enter the password for the SmartShield software.

Your changes will take place after reboot.

The “List Directories” button will show all of the directories that are excluded from protection.

 

ODP on Smart Control Resource Manager

Access ODP through the File Menu: Client Control > Misc. Configuration > Optional Directory Protection

 

 

Or through the right click menu of a client Misc. Configuration > Optional Directory Protection

The Optional Directory Protection screen will show up.

From the Smart Control, you can now enter the directory to exclude from protection. If the directory exists on the targeted computer(s), it will be excluded from protection. Conversely, if protection needs to be restored to a directory from the Smart Control, check the box before submitting the form to return protection.

 

Select Yes to continue, or No, to return.

 

That is all there is to it! Optional Directory Protection is a simple yet powerful way to use SmartShield to be more productive than ever before while computing in a safe environment!

 

Restrictions:

ODP will not allow Junction Points, Reparse Point or System Directories.

ODP may also affect the way system files or shortcuts are used and created.

Changes or Updates that require updates to the registry will not be compatible with ODP.

Smart Series: Managing Over 1000 Clients

by Centurion Technologies 7. May 2012 14:33

 

SmartShield with Smart Control

Managing Environments Over 1000 clients

 

Every day we speak to Smart Control users that are expected to do more with less. Whether you are managing 25 clients in a library or 5000 clients across a campus, you need the ability to track and control them in one location. We have posted on our website and our blog the minimum requirements for a Smart Control. Smart Control can be installed on a machine with 512 MB of RAM (not shared to other devices), XP, Vista, Windows 7, Server 2003, or Server2008 as the operating system. These minimum requirements will work for any smaller implementations of Smart Control and SmartShield, but as the number of clients grows so do the hardware requirements for the Smart Control server. As we tested for version 2.1.10 we set a benchmark of connecting ten thousand machines. Using a virtual environment we were able to manage this large number of machines with the following configuration.

 

Server 2008 Operating System

3.1 MHZ Quad Core Processor

16 GB RAM

Slowed the keep-alive time to ten minutes via the Smart Control preferences panel. We recommend slowing down the keep alive to one minute for every thousand machines pointed to the Smart Control.

10,000 machines / 1,000 machines per minute à 10 minute keep alive

 

At this time we are confident that this configuration makes it possible for almost any deployment we have encountered.  This testing leads us to believe that the Smart Control may be able to handle even more clients given more advanced hardware.  As you are implementing your Smart Control/SmartShield network please contact us with any question or for tips on configuration.

 

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General Info

Smart Series 2.1.10 Released!

by Centurion Technologies 7. May 2012 14:00

Preparation for Update:
1. Please make sure that all schedules have the correct passwords before installing on Smart Control Resource Manager (SCRM) due to the fact that we have updated how bad passwords are handled in the schedule.
2. Plan to update all Smart Controls first. The SCRM to SCRM communications have been updated to be more efficient but both Smart Controls must be on the newest version.


Smart Control Updates
•    Major SCRM to SCRM communication changes. All SCRMS must be on the same version.
•    Extended last column in Log Viewer to include longest line of information.
•    Added the ability to change the Keyboard and Mouse unlock phrase from the SCRM
•    Under Client Properties -> Groups tab that list all the groups that the client is a member of.
•    Schedules with bad passwords will fail with no action (no fallback) on the client computer.
•    File Transfer entire directories with all subfolders and files
•    Improved client icons in grid
•    Add or change Secondary Smart Control for the reporting clients

V-Control
•    Corrected password bug on Windows 7 x64 clients.
•    Corrected service registration issue in msi installer.
 
Clients
•    Optional Directory Protection (ODP)
•    Will allow the user to select directories to disable protection permanently.  This change is done at the kernel level rather than the file system as it is in Directory Exclusion. This is a different technology from Directory Exclusion and is much more robust and user friendly.
•    Can be set from the configuration panel, command line or Smart Control.
•    Schedules with bad passwords will be refused and no fallback actions taken
•    Change Keyboard and Mouse unlock phrase (Only works on 2.1.10 or newer clients with 2.1.10 or newer Smart Control)
•    Additional validation in scheduling for lower fail rate.
•    Directory Exclusion is still available to clients who have it configured or by adding a parameter to the ctsrgui.exe.config file. 
•    Ability to add a secondary Smart Control.
•    Client cannot receive product updates or licenses from secondary Smart Control.
•    Client pop-up windows push to front as well as sending other windows to back.
•    Windows Update failure
•    In the event that Windows updates fail a System reboot is scheduled to avoid clients being locked out with red blocked screen.  More error handling has been added to catch update and COM exceptions.

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Directory Transfer

by Centurion Technologies 6. May 2012 13:09

In response to a customer request, Full Directory Transfers will be available in Smart Shield and Smart Control version 2.1.10. Directory Transfer will allow the user to duplicate a Smart Control directory and all of its contents on the Smart Shield client. This feature has many applications with regard to client maintenance and data consistency. 

To use this feature, select the client(s) you wish to add a directory to and then click the file transfer option. You will see the new button labeled “Add Directory”.

Click the button to see a directory selector window. Then use that window to select the directory you wish to transfer.

Click ok and select your client destination location. Then the process works exactly like file transfer.

Progress can be tracked via the File Transfer Manager.