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A firm that tries to save a few dollars by installing software on multiple computers without buying an adequate number of licenses can find itself the subject of an embarrassing news release about a costly settlement with a software watchdog group. A few firms around the country have been tagged with six-figure settlements after running afoul of software licensing agreements. Even a firm with good intentions can find itself with a problem because no one has a grasp on the number of people in the firm using a particular software package. Several developers offer software that can give administrators a clear picture of software installations across a network. Here are a few: LANauditor LANauditor claims to be the first automatic network inventory tool. It works on stand-alone computers, as well as across networks. Results of audits can be stored in a Microsoft Access database. A license for a network with 50 to 500 computers costs $16.80 per node. A 25-node evaluation copy is free. PC Profile This Australian company offers tools that automatically detect application-executable files — or programs — stored on any Windows-based PC, without using a database and without using the computer’s registry. This method, PC Profile claims, is more reliable and thorough than methods used by other auditing packages. E-Z Audit This software can compile a hardware inventory and find installed programs. The license costs $150 for an entire network, regardless of the number of computers connected. Express Metrix The product called Express Inventory records hardware information, including the computer’s name, CPU type and speed, memory, disk space and network card address. It also monitors computers’ installed software programs for license compliance. Attest Systems Inc. Attest’s GASP program is the PC asset and software management tool recommended by the watchdog group Business Software Alliance. The company offers free evaluation versions of its three software packages. Anthony Data Systems The company’s auditing product, Aperio, is available in subscription form. A subscription for a network with 10-100 Windows workstations costs $4 per node.

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