NetSupport DNA – Education Version
Ease of Installation
NetSupport DNA is designed to deliver a complete suite of IT admin features for schools and colleges, without the expensive associated hardware purchases, implementation and initial training costs of alternative solutions.
There are three main components: the DNA server is used to manage and store information in the DNA database; the console is used by the IT Technician to view information; and the agent is installed on each device you want to monitor.
After installation of the server module (used to manage and add information to the DNA database), the deployment tool provided will automatically discover and install the DNA client on targeted devices across the school. The DNA console (installed by the IT technician) provides full DNA system control, rich on-screen information and real-time reporting. The Console can be installed on multiple machines.
A typical 50-user PC evaluation can be up and running within 30 minutes. An additional gateway component is included as standard for linking multiple schools or campuses. DNA will also link with a school’s existing Active Directory if present (including single sign-on) and includes the ability to profile department access and administrative features by console user.
Receive notifications of any new devices that join the network and choose whether to deploy an agent automatically.
Once NetSupport DNA is installed and operational in your enterprise, it will constantly monitor the network and identify any new devices that join, providing the option to automatically deploy an agent for future management.
An affordable, powerful asset-management suite – and print-monitoring capabilities are a bonus.
IT PRO magazine, June 2016 – Read the review
NetSupport DNA provides one of the most comprehensive and detailed Hardware Inventory modules available on the market today. A wealth of information is gathered from each device, from CPU and BIOS types to network, video and storage information.
Inventory reports are displayed either for a single PC; a selected department; just teachers or a specific classroom PC; or condition-based “Dynamic Groups”.
Contracts options are also provided to record both leases and maintenance contracts associated with any school devices or peripherals, including supplier details, contract expiry dates and costs.
Hardware Inventory updates are configured to run at different time intervals throughout the day or at start-up and can be refreshed instantly on demand. A standalone inventory component is available to run on non-networked or mobile devices and in addition, high value peripherals can also be associated and recorded against a device, perfect for keeping track of school assets.
SNMP Device Discovery
The SNMP Discovery view allows NetSupport DNA to be configured to scan a range of network addresses and report on any new network devices discovered, such as printers and access points. These items are then stored within DNA and real-time data (such as ink or toner levels) can be monitored from the console.
The SNMP module includes the discovery of – and then active monitoring of – any selected SNMP devices; tracking statistics and a history for any data set on a given device over time, such as data traffic on each interface of a network switch. The module also includes a dedicated alerting component, supporting dozens of customisable alerts which can be created and triggered if any tracked data meets specific criteria. Alerts can be sent automatically to designated console users or pre-defined email accounts. Custom query-based reports and views can also be created to reflect all gathered data.
Easy to deploy, NetSupport’s DNA has features you’ll be hard pushed to find in other asset management solutions.
PC Pro Magazine
Software Inventory and Licensing
The Software Module is designed to help schools better manage licence compliance and reduce software overspend by accurately reporting installed software and proactively identifying PCs with software that has no or low usage.
A detailed summary of all programs and applications installed on each PC is provided, including Windows 8 & 10 store apps. NetSupport DNA can display the information for a selected PC, a department or a custom group and includes an extensive module for assigning and tracking licence use. The NetSupport DNA software license module supports the ongoing management of all software licences for each department, recording suppliers, purchase and invoice details, department or cost centre allocation and the tracking of maintenance contacts as well as storing PDF copies of any supporting documents.
A file scan option is also included and can be used to identify files of a certain type installed locally on devices. This could be used to ensure students’ coursework documents are not being stored locally and therefore being missed from the daily school backup routines.
Software Application Metering
The Application Metering module reports on all applications used on each PC or server, detailing the time the application was started and finished, as well as the actual time it was active.
Monitoring application use ensures software licences are assigned to the right staff / students and aren’t renewed without evidence of application activity, thus enabling cost savings.
Application usage can also be restricted for students, either fully or just by time of day. Lists of approved and restricted applications, together with times when restrictions apply, can be created and enforced centrally.
Application metering enables the school to monitor and report current licence usage levels for all installed applications and ensure that application usage complies with school policy. Reports can be presented by PC or logged-on user.
Keeping our students safe online is paramount and access to new technology in education is constant. From online learning and digital resources to social media and beyond, the opportunities are countless. To ensure the successful use of online learning and to support a safe environment, it’s vital that schools are fully prepared with not just an internet safety policy in place, but also the right tools to enforce it.
The Internet Metering module provides a detailed summary of all internet activity on each PC by a student, including start and finish times for each URL visited and the active time spent on a page. Results can be reviewed by device or user. Naturally, the key to supporting an effective e-safety policy is providing effective controls. With NetSupport DNA, internet usage can be fully managed; lists of approved and restricted URLs and/or sub-URLs can be applied centrally. Once applied, NetSupport DNA can allow unrestricted access to all websites, restricted access to certain websites that have been marked as approved by the school or by blocking access to specific sites marked as inappropriate.
Access can also be controlled by time of day, perhaps only allowing access to approved gaming sites for school clubs outside of hours.
NetSupport DNA features an extremely powerful Alerting module allowing the system to automatically notify operators when any number of changes occurs across the school network. Building on the DNA philosophy, the system is designed to be simple to initiate and there is no limit to the number of custom alerts that can be added.
There are two types of alert: system and PC alerting. System alerts identify any changes within the data gathered by NetSupport DNA across the overall enterprise, including alerts for things like new PCs added, changes in hardware, a new application installed/removed and so on. PC alerts identify real-time changes or conditions that occur on a specific PC, such as: CPU utilisation exceeding XX% for XX minutes; free disk space falling below XX%; a key service stops (eg Antivirus); print spooler alerts; security alerts (eg failed login attempts on a teacher’s PC); and much more.
Alert notifications can be directed to specified email recipients and/or active console users (on a per alert basis, so the nature of the alert may dictate which operators are notified). In addition, outstanding alerts are identified against matching PCs on the main hierarchy tree view. Once alerts have been identified, notes can be added by an operator. A full history of all alerts is accessible from the History feature.
NetSupport DNA, has proved invaluable, it was a very quick and easy install, discovering assets and users via Active Directory. The ability to combine NetSupport DNA with NetSupport ServiceDesk in a fault diagnosis scenario has been another key selling point.
NetSupport DNA provides a multi-delivery option for Software Distribution.
A software distribution package is created by either applying parameters to a collection of files or folders or by using the DNA application packager – recording the user prompts, keystrokes and mouse clicks that are used during a test installation, and then automating these on a live deployment to bypass the need for operator intervention.
Once created, the application package can be automatically “pushed” to the target PCs in the school for deployment or, alternatively, it can be “published”. Once published, a user can check to see which applications are available for their PC, based on their faculty, and “pull” these down on demand.
NetSupport DNA includes a Scheduling feature, allowing packages to be deployed on a specific date and time – usually out of core school hours when network traffic is at its lowest.
With remote deployments, such as multi-site schools, the need to minimize network traffic congestion becomes a priority. In this case, NetSupport DNA allows a client PC, ideally local to the target machines, to be nominated as a distribution point. When the software is deployed, rather than being sent to each remote PC directly, it is just sent to the designated PC which then acts as a relay and redistributes it to its local PCs.
Energy Monitoring and Power Management
The Energy Monitoring module provides a simple and concise high-level summary of potential energy wastage across the school by office and classroom computer systems that are left powered on out of school hours.
Energy saving is a big area of focus for schools, and NetSupport DNA helps in two ways: First of all, NetSupport DNA checks to verify the powered-on state of all computers and its local monitoring component keeps an accurate record of each time a computer is powered on, off or hibernates. Once it knows the times of day each computer was operational, an average (and customisable) “power consumption per device” calculation is used, facilitating a baseline energy usage calculation for all computers.
With this information to hand, Power Management policies can now be set. Computers in selected classrooms can be set to automatically power off at a specified time at the end of each day and then power back on – all at once, or in stages – the next morning. In addition, schools can apply “inactivity policies”, allowing rules to be set for systems to be set to sleep, log out or power down if they have been inactive over a period of time.
NetSupport DNA provides a simple and effective solution for managing the use of USB memory sticks to help maintain the security of the school network. The use of memory sticks can be controlled across the entire school or just for specific departments, staff or students. Usage can be set to allow full access, block all access, allow read-only access or prevent applications being run from an unknown memory stick. Alternatively, individual memory sticks can be “authorized” in NetSupport DNA – for the current day, a week or indefinitely – and the use of sticks in the school can then also be limited to only those authorized.
A program administrator can connect a memory stick to their local PC and then authorize its use within the DNA console for either a given department or a specific teacher. Teachers or students who connect an unauthorized memory stick to their PC can also request remote authorization where appropriate. Not only does NetSupport DNA identify both removable (memory stick) and portable (mobile phone, tablet, camera) storage devices, it also provides similar usage controls over CD / DVD devices (including USB and virtual).
Gain a real-time summary of all your PCs using Explorer mode. Selected PCs can be viewed in three formats – Icon, Details or Thumbnail view – and these can be refreshed at time intervals of your choice, e.g. every five or ten seconds and so on.
In the Thumbnail view, the PC screens (including multiple monitors) are visible and give a visual overview of current activity. The thumbnails size can be changed to suit the operator’s needs. For selected departments (i.e. finance or teachers), privacy modes can be set so the thumbnail is blurred.
Displaying the selected PCs as icons is another useful option for viewing large numbers of PCs at a glance and simply highlights OS platforms, and any with active notifications.
Drilling down further, the Details view displays all of the selected PC’s details in a list with any active notifications highlighted, allowing for easy identification of PCs that may need immediate attention. This view also provides a visual summary of all active policies applied to each PC. In addition, by right clicking on any PC an operator can launch on-the-fly PC-specific features such as power on/off, chat, remote control, send messages and more.
The notification filter can be used across all three display modes to highlight the PCs with any active notifications within the chosen time period.
NetSupport DNA is designed to ensure you have maximum visibility of your school’s assets, from the classroom to the ICT suite and the library. System reports highlight PC and application usage to ensure under-utilized PCs can be identified and then re-deployed. In addition, “dynamic groups” enable technicians to designate and track technology due for replacement or upgrade. A great feature to help support both procurement and budget planning.
User reporting ensures a school can instantly see who’s doing what and where. In addition, it reveals if software licences deployed are actually being used and, as a result, whether an annual renewal for the licence is justified. NetSupport DNA will also highlight when PCs are left on out of hours and energy is wasted.
NetSupport DNA, together with its optional classroom management module, provides a range of features to support a school-wide e-safety policy. Within DNA, this includes both Internet Monitoring and restrictions to prevent access to inappropriate websites; disabling webcams on classroom devices; controlling access to content on memory sticks; triggering Alerts when violations occur − through to the enforcement of Acceptable Use Policies.
The classroom management module, NetSupport School, adds keyword and Instant Messenger monitoring, real-time activity metering, viewing student screens in the classroom and much more.
Safeguarding is a term which is broader than just ‘child protection’ and relates to the action taken to ensure the welfare of children and protect them from harm. With NetSupport DNA’s safeguarding module, it can be entirely managed by safeguarding staff –without the involvement of the IT team.
Working with national organisations including the Internet Watch Foundation, Safeguarding Leads, Local Authorities, leading charities and undertaking “in-school” consulting with students across age groups, NetSupport DNA provides both proactive and reactive tools that are relevant, effective and most importantly, up-to-date.
NetSupport DNA is your eyes and ears, monitoring the school network. Within the keyword and phrase monitoring tool, if a safeguarding keyword (in any language) is matched anywhere on the network, the event is captured immediately and provides a full background to the safeguarding event. An innovative word cloud highlights trending topics across the school to help you put incidents into a broader context. Appropriate staff can be alerted through email, real-time pop-ups or summary reports and review the triggered event.
A full explanation and definition of each keyword is also given to help staff understand the potential risk to the student. Staff can also see the broader context of a student’s activity from a detailed summary of their internet and application use that is available for any selected period of time. In addition, vulnerable students can be flagged and tracked as an extra layer of support, and a ‘history of concerns’ is available for each student.
Safeguarding needs to be proactive too and so NetSupport DNA enables Students to access online support resources – covering topics such as FGM, drug addiction, grooming and bullying – all from the NetSupport DNA safeguarding icon on their PC. Students can also report their concerns in confidence to a trusted member of staff via the Report a Concern option. Students share their problem by sending a message, screenshots or documents to a member of staff they trust, then NetSupport DNA will track the concern, any notes made, and even alert a Safeguarding Administrator if the intended member of staff has not responded within a certain amount of time. Concerns can be re-assigned to another Safeguarding Lead if for example the member of staff was on holiday.
It’s been great working with NetSupport and their new solution NetSupport DNA. We feel their twin approach of providing a mechanism for children to report their concerns to trusted members of staff alongside the proactive monitoring of keywords and phrases typed by students on their PCs ensures schools can be both proactive and reactive to the safety of children.
Gary Perkins, Head of School Improvement, Peterborough City Council.
NetSupport DNA contains a secure Vault component, allowing secure storage of serial numbers, passwords or any other confidential IT data. Access to the vault can be restricted to specific console users and activity can be recorded against the central DNA audit trail.
NetSupport DNA includes a powerful Audit component, tracking all selected console activity by staff. The audit feature records when policies or settings are changed, entries are added or deleted or where rights are changed for any DNA user.
NetSupport DNA provides a range of features to locate and manage users within a networked environment. In addition to key user data (name, telephone etc) DNA provides the school with the ability to customize the data to be gathered and collated from each device owner, including tracking of user acceptance forms. DNA also keeps a history of changes to the data entered in User Data. Changes to custom user details are recorded, including the following fields: Staff Number, Location, Asset Tag and Owner.
Other supporting tools include real-time chat and messaging, a real-time system status view for all devices, as well as a range of system admin features.
Enforce Acceptable Use Policies
Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) form an integral part of the key information security policies used by most schools. It is common practice for new staff and students to sign an AUP before using school resources for the first time, or to confirm they have read any changes to such a policy whenever it is updated.
NetSupport DNA provides a flexible module to support the delivery and tracking of AUPs across a school. Policies can be applied either to specific devices (eg PCs in the library) for display each time any user logs on, or to users for one-time display and acknowledgement. The Acceptable Use Policy feature can support multiple policies (e.g. separate staff / student templates), which can then be formatted for clear presentation. Full tracking and exception reporting is also provided.
NetSupport DNA includes a high-level Print Monitoring feature. Individual printers across the school are automatically identified and, from the central console view, costs for printing (black and white, colour and so on) can be assigned either globally or against each different printer. Where required, printers can also be excluded from the view. A full overview of printing activities and indicative costs across the enterprise is provided by NetSupport DNA.
NetSupport DNA provides both on-screen and print-optimised reporting. The on-screen reports / views are provided with supporting bar and pie charts and “live” drill down capabilities on all key summary data. As well as reporting on individual devices, users and departments, NetSupport DNA also features dynamic groups. These are user-defined and added to the main hierarchy tree. A dynamic group could, for example, be to identify which classroom PCs are upgradeable and such a group would be created automatically from those that match the required criteria – such as “all PCs with more than ‘XX’ Gb Ram, ‘XX’ Gb free disk space and XX processor type” and so on.
Print optimised reports are designed for management reporting and can be scheduled for creation and output to a specified file location automatically. All reports include the option to print or export to PDF, DOC and XLS.
NetSupport also supports custom views for all data; the Query Tool provides users with an easy interface for defining custom views. The query tool uses a simple drag and drop field picker, supported with conditions and sum-based features.
Provided as a supporting tool for NetSupport DNA, the Inventory app can be downloaded free from the Google Play and Apple app stores. The DNA mobile app allows a school technician, when away from their desk, to search for and view a detailed Hardware and Software Inventory for any PC on campus. The mobile app also includes a QR code scanner to help instantly identify any PC, either from an on-screen QR code displayed by DNA, or from a label fixed to the device. NetSupport DNA also provides a QR code label creation facility including displaying custom details. A history of all hardware changes as well as any software installs or removals are also shown on the app.
In addition to the Inventory and History views, the NetSupport DNA mobile app also highlights any new PC alerts that have triggered across the school network.
Classroom Management (optional)
NetSupport is recognised globally as being the leader in classroom management and orchestration software. NetSupport School is the award winning classroom solution delivering a complete range of monitoring, testing, collaboration and orchestration tools for any classroom environment.
NetSupport School helps teachers and trainers improve the efficiency of ICT teaching by delivering a suite of tailored features developed with teachers, for teachers. Teachers and assistants can instruct students centrally to all their own devices; help maintain student focus by monitoring and controlling the use of apps, web sites, printers and more; support student learning using unique digital journals; utilise the unique student toolbar to highlight lesson objectives and expected outcomes; and deliver targeted student and peer assessment with a unique Question and Answer module, surveys or pre-prepared tests.
In addition, NetSupport School features a monitoring app for teaching assistants to use in the classroom.
NetSupport DNA (Education Edition) includes powerful Remote Control and monitoring features as standard. Everything from screen viewing, to transferring files and more are included in the component. The latest version also includes a remote PowerShell, Command Prompt and Registry Editor to make remote device management even easier.
For those wishing to take their Remote Support requirements a step further, NetSupport Manager provides seamless and secure access to workstations and servers across your enterprise, both locally when in the school and remotely when off site or mobile.
NetSupport Manager features true multi-platform remote control: monitor and view of dozens of devices in a single view; transfer files or updates to one or multiple devices simultaneously; remotely view and edit the Registry; manage services and processes; conduct an audio chat; share screens or even show your screen to others; access interactive training tools; and much more.
Designed to integrate with NetSupport DNA or operate as a standalone solution, NetSupport ServiceDesk ticks all the boxes as a fully functioning ITIL-compliant IT Service Management (ITSM) tool, supporting the key areas of ITIL’s best practice framework – Incident, Problem, Change and Service Level Management. Used with NetSupport DNA and our remote access solution, NetSupport Manager, support teams have a complete network management toolkit.
NetSupport ServiceDesk can be accessed through a web browser by any user from their desktop or mobile device and allows for the customisation of many key features within the solution. From operator functionality to the creation of specific data entry fields, it can be tailored to fit seamlessly into your organisation.
Powerful and customizable workflow rules help ensure delivery of an efficient and timely service in line with agreed service levels, automated email processing helps deliver further time savings and, with NetSupport ServiceDesk’s customer-friendly self-service portal, users are able to search for answers before even logging a support request.