When I asked my friends on the Mark Minasi Reader Forum for some ideas on cool free tools, Claus Nielsen was one of the first to email me. He wrote, “We needed to document our servers, but it seemed like a daunting task to begin from scratch. Luckily I heard of the SYDI project. SYDI was able to remotely gather 90 percent of the information we needed from our servers. So instead of spending two weeks documenting servers, we spent two days.”

I decided to try SYDI-Server, the SYDI version for documenting Windows computers. (There are also versions for documenting Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, and Linux systems.) Getting SYDI-Server was easy. You just go to sydiproject.com and click the Download link. Figuring out how to use it took me a bit longer. Although the default run command is shown next to the download button, I first wanted to read about my options. I eventually found a blog post where the tool’s author explains those options (click How-To on the home page, then select How to Document Servers with SYDI), which include being able to use it on local and remote machines and to export output to an XML file.

Deciding to run SYDI-Server in the default mode on the local machine, I typed

cscript.exe sydi-server.vbs

at a command prompt and pressed Enter. SYDI took off. A few minutes later, Microsoft Word displayed a beautiful 35-page report showing me documentation such as the server’s name, IP addresses, installed software, and security patches. The list seemed to go on forever.

After just a few minutes with this free tool, I could easily see why Claus was able to document all his servers in just two days. Great find, Claus!

—Eric B. Rux, senior Windows administrator and cofounder of WHSHelp.com