Getting Started With PDQ Deploy & PDQ Inventory

Purpose:

You're new to PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory, and need some help getting started. 

Resolution:

This guide will cover the basics of environmental setup and installation, through customization and common errors. 

The full-length product documentation can be found here: 

PDQ Deploy Documentation

PDQ Inventory Documentation

Check out our YouTube Playlists for getting started with PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory:

Getting Started in PDQ Deploy

Getting Started in PDQ Inventory

Table of Contents

- Before You Run the Installers For the First Time

- Understanding PDQ Deploy

- Understanding PDQ Inventory

- Customizing PDQ Deploy

- Customizing PDQ Inventory

- Practical Use Cases

- Common Errors

Before You Run the Installers For the First Time

Step 1: Configuration Requirements for Installation - Console & Target

  • Resource considerations. When considering resources for your installation in your environment it is recommended to start with the base requirements and increase resources as needed. Every environment will be different and so will the requirements to run PDQ based on environment size and also usage. Larger environments may have performance impacts that smaller environments do not get, we will address these at the end of this section with a couple of links to performance best practices.
  • The basic requirements for installing PDQ Deploy & PDQ Inventory are located on our Systems Requirements Page. CPU requirements are not listed and will need to be scaled with your environment along with the RAM and Disk requirements. Smaller environments may start with just one or two cores while larger environments may find four or more cores necessary.

Step 2: Environment - Firewall & Anti-virus Policies

You will need to set a few policies for your environment to allow PDQ to find, connect, and interact with your target computers. PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory will need to be able to ping and connect to the service manager, create files and directories, and run executables & shell commands. Some settings will need to be applied to the Firewall policies, File Sharing settings, and Anti-Virus so that you are able to interact with your computers from PDQ.

Windows Firewall Ports and Exceptions

Recommended Antivirus/Antimalware Exclusions for PDQ Products

Step 3: Decision Point - Central Server or Local Mode

PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory both have the option for Local or Central Server mode. The default choice is Local mode, which is ideal if you only have one administrator or only plan on accessing PDQ from a single machine. If you have multiple administrators using PDQ, and want to be able to access the PDQ Consoles from your workstations, then Central Server is the way to go. 

Configuring Central Server - PDQ Deploy

Configuring Central Server - PDQ Inventory

Step 4: Initial Installation And Configuration

Now that you are familiar with our system and environmental requirements, it's time to get started with the installation and configuration of PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory. Excite!

Setting Up PDQ Deploy

Setting Up PDQ Inventory

Using & Understanding PDQ Deploy (Deploy some software!)

Step 1: Understanding the Package Library

PDQ Deploy offers many common application packages in our Package Library that we test, maintain, and update so you don’t have to. 

Prebuilt Ready-to-Deploy Packages (Package Library)

Just because a package is not in our Package Library does not mean that it cannot be deployed through PDQ Deploy. You can create your own custom packages from most installation sources, as long as they can be silently deployed. 

Creating and Editing Packages

Step 2: Understanding and Using Credentials - PDQ Deploy

PDQ Deploy has three types of users. The Background Service User, the Console Users, and the Deploy Users. Each type of user has its own unique function within PDQ Deploy. 

  • The Background Service User runs the PDQ Deploy Service
    • This account must be a local administrator on the PDQ server
    • This account can either be a domain account or a local account on the PDQ server
    • This account must have Read / Write permissions to the repository/installation source
  • The Console Users are the users who are allowed access to the application
    • If your day-to-day account is not an administrator on your Client Console workstation, you can use the Windows ‘Run-As’ feature to launch the Client Console as a Console User with local administrator rights on that workstation
    • This account must be a local administrator on the PDQ server
    • If using Central Server, the account must be an administrator on the workstation that the Client Console is installed on
    • This account must have Read / Write permissions to the repository/installation source
  • The Deploy Users are the accounts that perform your deployments
    • This account must be a local administrator on the target computers you are deploying to
    • This account must have Read / Write permissions to the repository/installation source

Entering credentials in PDQ Deploy. When you initially install PDQ Deploy, you will be asked for credentials. The credentials you enter here will be the only credentials PDQ Deploy knows at first, so it will be set as all of those types of users mentioned above. Be sure to go in and add the appropriate credentials for each user type, along with the required permissions. We recommend using separate accounts for your Background Service, Console, and Deploy Users. 

PDQ Credentials Explained

Enable Credentials to "Log on as a Service"

Adding and Using Multiple Credentials in PDQ Inventory

Step 3: (Optional but recommended) Integration With PDQ Inventory

PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory, while capable of working solo, are designed to work together. Taking advantage of the integration between the two will provide you with the best overall experience. 

Integration Between PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory

Using & Understanding PDQ Inventory (Scan your machines!)

Step 1: Adding Computers

There are four ways to add computers to PDQ Inventory. 

  • Active Directory Sync
    • Here you can select the OUs you want to sync with PDQ Inventory
    • You can also choose any OUs you want to exclude
  • Active Directory - Add by name
    • Here you can manually browse your Active Directory infrastructure to select individual computers to add to PDQ Inventory
  • Network Discovery
    • Computers can be added using the Network Discovery tool to discover computers using IP addresses or subnets
  • By Name
    • Computers can be added by name. You can type the names of the computers, copy and paste names directly in the computer list, or import lists of computers

Adding Computers

How to Synchronize Active Directory with PDQ Inventory

Active Directory Preferences Page

Step 2: Understanding and Using Credentials - PDQ Inventory

PDQ Inventory has three types of users. The Background Service User, the Console Users, and the Scan Users. Each type of user has its own unique function within PDQ Inventory. 

  • The Background Service User runs the PDQ Inventory Service
    • This account must be a local administrator on the PDQ server
    • This account can either be a domain account or a local account on the PDQ server
  • The Console Users are the users who are allowed access to the application
    • This account must be a local administrator on the PDQ server
    • If using Central Server, the account must be an administrator on the workstation that the Client Console is installed on
      • If your day-to-day account is not an administrator on your Client Console workstation, you can use the Windows ‘Run-As’ feature to launch the Client Console as a Console User with local administrator rights on that workstation
  • The Scan Users are the accounts that scan your target computers
    • This account must be a local administrator on the target computers you are scanning
    • This account can be a local account or a domain account 
    • The Scan User account can also be a LAPS account if you are using this solution

Disable Remote UAC for Local Admin/LAPS accounts

LAPS Integration with PDQ Inventory and PDQ Deploy

LAPS: Configuring Local Administrator Password Solution In Your Environment

Step 3: Understanding the Collection Library 

While you have the ability to create Collections within PDQ Inventory, we have decided to do a lot of the hard work of getting them set up for you. PDQ Inventory has the pre-built Collection Library, where you can view your computer’s applications, hardware, operating systems, runtimes, and windows updates. We even keep the Collection Library up-to-date, so you can view what needs to be updated with just a few clicks. 

Introduction to Collections

The Collection Library

Understanding The Collection Library in PDQ Inventory

Customizing PDQ Deploy

Step 1: The Magic of Custom Packages

Do you find yourself needing to support additional applications that aren’t in the PDQ Deploy package library? If so, that’s where custom packages come in. Customer packages allow you to create just about any installation package you might ever need. As long as the installer supports an unattended installation, it should work with PDQ Deploy. 

Building a Package in PDQ Deploy

PDQ Deploy - Creating a New Package

How to Create a Basic MSI Package & How to Create a Basic EXE Package

Step 2: The Power of Custom Variables

Find yourself constantly writing out the same long file paths or network share locations when creating packages in PDQ Deploy? Well with custom variables you can assign those network paths or file names to a variable and just call the variable. No more writing out the long strings of information. This also works great for if you ever move the network share or installer as you can just change the one referenced variable and it will be updated in all packages. 

Custom Variables in PDQ Deploy

PDQ Inventory - Variables

Step 3: Using Schedules to Automate, Astonish, and Amaze

One of the best parts of PDQ Deploy is schedules. These allow you to automate the patch management process. You can use schedules to push out the latest version of applications on whatever daily, weekly, or monthly recurring basis you prefer. They truly are a set-it-and-forget-it tool. 

Creating a Multi-Package Auto Download Schedule

PDQ Inventory - Creating Scheduled Deployments

Step 4: (Optional) Target Lists

If you don’t have PDQ Inventory, then you should consider purchasing it. If that’s not an option, then target lists might be helpful for you. You can create and manage target lists in PDQ Deploy for a quick and easy way to deploy to many machines. These are especially useful if you find yourself consistently deploying to the same sets of machines repeatedly. They aren’t as good as dynamic collections in PDQ Inventory, but they can work in a pinch. 

Creating a Target List in PDQ Deploy

PDQ Deploy - Creating a Target List

Customizing PDQ Inventory

Step 1: Understanding the Power of Dynamic Collections

Dynamic collections are groups of computers that automatically keep themselves updated. For example, you can create dynamic collections off of application versions that will stay updated as your computers are scanned in your environment. 

Viewing and Creating Collections in PDQ Inventory

PDQ Inventory - Dynamic Collections

Step 2: Reports (Show Your Work)

Reports are another great way to view data. You can pull out and report on just about any piece of data that is within PDQ Inventory. It’s an easy and quick way to pull specific data from all of our machines and filter it as needed. 

Building Custom Reports in PDQ Inventory

PDQ Inventory - Creating Basic Reports

Step 3: The Potential of Custom Variables

Custom variables in PDQ Inventory allow you to set a specific value for a variable in one location, and then use that variable in multiple locations. Then if you ever need to update the value, such as when an application version changes, you just have to update it in one location.

Custom Variables in PDQ Inventory

Step 4: Automate with Custom Tools

Custom tools enable you to make things that you do frequently much easier. For instance, do you find yourself frequently browsing the C$ share of your computers? You could create a custom tool that does it for you. Then you could simply right-click a computer in PDQ Inventory, run the tool, and it would automatically pull up for you. 

Introduction to Tools in PDQ Inventory

PDQ Inventory - Creating a New Tool

Step 5: Custom Scanning with Custom Scanners

While PDQ Inventory offers many pre-configured Scan Profiles, you can also create your own to suit your needs. 

https://link.pdq.com/docs-pdqinventory?scan-profile-window.htm

Step 6: Access All the Information With PowerShell Scanner

The PowerShell scanner is a great way to collect just about any bit  of information. If you can write a script that can gather the information with PowerShell, then you can turn it into a PowerShell scanner and collect that information from all of your machines. It’s a great and easy way to pull the information that’s buried in the OS.

Introduction to the PowerShell Scanner in PDQ Inventory

PowerShell Scanner

Step 7: Going Oldschool with the File Scanner

Ever find yourself wondering which machines have certain files? The File Scanner works to tell you just that. Scan your machines for specific files or directories rather than having to check them manually. 

The Files and Directories Scanner in PDQ Inventory

Inventory Files & Directories Scanner: Examples & Usage

Step 8: Even More Oldschool with the Registry Scanner

Wondering if machines have certain registry settings configured? The registry scanner will allow you to probe all of your machine's registry keys to search for the exact information you’re looking for. This can be a fast and easy way to determine which machines have which registry settings. 

PDQ Inventory: Scan Profiles - Scanning The Registry

Inventory Registry Scanner: Usage & Examples – Support

Practical Use Cases

Now that you have learned how to install, navigate, configure, and customize PDQ Deploy & PDQ Inventory we can start looking into some practical use cases to get the most out of PDQ. 

Add machines to PDQ Inventory

There are several methods for adding computers to PDQ Inventory, but the most common is syncing with Active Directory. PDQ Inventory will only read Active Directory, and will never write to it, so any changes made to a computer in PDQ Inventory once it is added through AD Sync are strictly in PDQ Inventory. 

How to Synchronize Active Directory with PDQ Inventory

Working with Non-Domain (Workgroup) Machines

Scan your Machines with PDQ Inventory

Once you’ve added your computers, PDQ Inventory attempts to scan them using the default scan profile which, unless you changed it, will be the Standard Scan profile. 

First Inventory Scan

Analyze How Your Environment is Configured 

Once you’ve added your computers and ran your first scan, you’re ready to start looking at Collections. PDQ Inventory comes packaged with pre-built collections as well as the Collection Library, but that’s only the beginning. You will soon start creating your own Collections so you can organize your inventory in a way that suits your needs. 

Viewing and Creating Collections in PDQ Inventory

PDQ Inventory Filters: Usage & Examples

Getting Started with PDQ Inventory

Remote Workers & VPNs

PDQ works the same with VPN connected computers as it does with on-prem computers as long as the PDQ server can resolve the computer’s hostnames, ping the computers, and communicate bi-directionally with the computers over SMB. 

Using a VPN Connection to Manage Remote Computers with PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory

Automating Patch Management

Our vast Package Library contains many common packages, pre-built for your convenience, that we update as new releases come out. We also include Windows Cumulative Updates in the Package Library, so you can automate your Workstation & Server patching along with your applications. You can even configure schedules for these packages so you can set it and forget it. 

PDQ Deploy Automated Software Deployments: Part 1

PDQ Deploy Automated Software Deployments – Part 2

PDQ Live! : Automated Patch Management 101

Integrate PDQ Deploy With Your Imaging Process

No I.T. department is complete without an imaging process. New Users come and go, and there is always a computer to be prepared. PDQ Deploy can help save you time getting your users up and running. 

Get Started Using MDT Imaging in PDQ Deploy

Stay Up-To-Date In Your Environment With Automatic Reports

PDQ Inventory can also automate reports for you. You can either have the reports generate and save the file on your network or have them delivered directly to your inbox. 

Setting Up Auto Reports in PDQ Inventory

Run and Email PDQ Inventory Reports On A Schedule

Running Custom PowerShell Scanners and Scripts

While we offer plenty of pre-configured Powershell Scanners on our Github, you can also create your own Powershell Scanners to fit your needs. 

PDQ Github - PowerShell-Scanners

PowerShell Scanner

Write and Run Your First Windows PowerShell Script

Common Errors

As great as we all strive to be, no software is complete without its errors. Below are some of the more common errors you may encounter while using PDQ Deploy & PDQ Inventory, along with links to our Knowledge Base articles to help you troubleshoot. 

Environment Errors

Access is Denied

Can't access ADMIN$ share using a local user or LAPS account

Service Manager Access Denied

PDQ Credentials Explained

Computer Unreachable or Offline

Computer unreachable or offline

Target Computer Offline

Could not ping computer

Failed to Resolve Hostname

Failed to Resolve Hostname

Target Computer Name Mismatch

Failure Sending Mail

Email notifications after software deployment

The Network Name Cannot Be Found or is No Longer Available

The network name cannot be found

Package Errors

Errors While Building Custom Packages

What You Need to Know Before Building a Package

Silent Install And Finding Silent Parameters

Deployment Error Codes

Exceeded Timeout for Completion

Remote process exceeded timeout for completion

Silent Install And Finding Silent Parameters

Update Does Not Apply

Update does not apply

Deploy Monthly Windows Updates

Deploying Windows Updates Using PDQ Deploy and PDQ Inventory

Conditions Not Met: No Steps Were Able to Run

Conditions Not Met: No Steps Were Able To Run

Error Handling Wrapper

PowerShell Step Deployments and Error Handling

 

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