Managing NT service accounts just got a lot easier

Because Windows NT service accounts often have administrative authority, you need to change account passwords frequently. Lieberman & Associates' NT Service Account Manager 2.04 lets NT systems administrators remotely manage NT service accounts on multiple systems in one operation.

The product's setup file, ssetup.exe, is only 1MB, so it downloaded quickly. Ssetup.exe installed NT Service Account Manager in about 2 minutes, and I didn't need to reboot.

Getting started is easy. I picked a domain administrator account (user ID) for each domain that contained machines I wanted to manage and granted the Act as part of the operating system user right on each of those machines for the appropriate domain administrator account. Then I added each account to the Alternate Administrator Accounts list in NT Service Account Manager. This list is global within the program, so you have to maintain only one list to manage all your service accounts.

Next, I put NT Service Account Manager through its paces. When the software starts, you must select or create a Service Group, which is a list of computer systems that the program will act on simultaneously. I entered a name for my first Service Group, and the program displayed its main control screen, which Screen 1 shows.

Use the Microsoft Management Console's (MMC's) Domain, Browse, and Manual buttons to populate the Service Group with the computer systems you want to manage. Next, define a filter for the group that will limit the display to selected services, or define a highlight list by selecting a set of services and saving the list. Thereafter, you can simply select the highlight list to work with the same set of systems and services.

The software acts on only the systems and services you've highlighted, or all displayed systems and services if you've highlighted none. The program's key action buttons include Get, Set, and Replace. Get retrieves a list of services currently installed on highlighted systems, as Screen 1 shows. After you select services to manage, Set lets you apply a new service account and password. You can also use Set to start and stop services and copy new DLLs or other files to the target systems. Replace, like Set, changes a service account; however, Replace lets you limit the action to services with a specific user ID or password.

NT Service Account Manager has several advanced capabilities. The software can uninstall services from target systems and install services on new systems based on service-definition and file-copy parameters you define.

I found a few idiosyncrasies in NT Service Account Manager. For example, when I used the Filter Services screen to enable a filter, the services list refreshed automatically. However, when I turned off the filter to display all services, I had to click Get to refresh the list. Also, the software can automatically grant the Log on as a service right to a new service account, and will even create a new local machine account if the new service account you specify doesn't exist. However, the program won't perform either function unless you select the Change local account info check box.

NT Service Account Manager's ability to update service account passwords automatically is a godsend. Its other features are icing on the cake. Every systems administrator needs this software.

NT Service Account Manager 2.04
Contact: Lieberman & Associates * 310-550-8575
or 800-829-6263
Web: http://www.lanicu.com
Price: $299 for Enterprise Starter Pack (first five licenses); $19 for each additional managed Windows NT Server license; $10 for each additional managed NT Workstation license; price includes 1 year of technical support and upgrade maintenance
DECISION SUMMARY:
Pros: Changes service accounts and service account passwords for selected services on multiple computers in one operation; defines groups of computers and selected services to facilitate routine password changes; automatically creates new local machine accounts if the specified account doesn't exist; easy to use, after you learn its few idiosyncrasies
Cons: User interface could be more intuitive