Updated: September 24, 2020

Install a Windows probe


To set up a Windows probe to monitor a network, you need to install a Windows probe on a server or other dedicated computer. The Windows probe can be installed on any server behind the firewall. When monitoring a very large environment, N-able recommends that you install the probe on a dedicated server.

If you install a probe on a domain device, you need to have elevated domain rights to ensure the probe has the right set of credentials to access the remote devices. You can view the list of the required privileges or user groups.

There are customer-specific and generic system installers.

The customer-specific installers are pre-configured with activation keys, registration token, customer names, and IP address of your N-able N-central server. As the customer-specific installers are very easy to use, we recommend that you make them your first choice when downloading the agent or probe software.

Generic system installers require you to specify either the activation key, or the IP address of your N-able N-central server and a customer name or customer ID. These installers are useful when you want to keep a copy of a certain version of the agent or probe offline.

There are no specific requirements other than using a Windows server. It is recommended you use a file or Print server, as they have more resources available on a consistent basis. If the environment is small and the only option is a constantly online workstation, this will be adequate for your probe.

If your client uses third-party antivirus, anti-malware, endpoint protection, or any form of security software that performs regular or real-time scans, it is vital to establish the exclusions outlined in our N-central Windows Agent Exclusions for third party AV products article before attempting to deploy our Agents and Probes.

Deploying Agents or Probes without applying the necessary exclusions in the security software can lead to various issues. These include complete deployment failures, through to partially working appliance that experience spurious and intermittent issues throughout their lifespan.

  1. Click ActionsDownload Agent/Probe.
  2. From the Select Customer/Site drop-down menu, select a customer or site.
  3. In the System Agent/Probe area, click the Windows Probe link. The web browser downloads the install file.
  4. If you have not set up customers yet, click the System Software tab, and click the Windows probe link. You will need a probe activation key to install generic system probe software. The activation key available by clicking Administration > Probes > System Communication tab when you edit a probe. For more information, see to Probe Activation Key.

  5. Launch the installer and follow the instructions to complete the probe installation.

The probe installs on the computer. N-able N-central enables notification alerts for the probe if it goes offline. Additional probes are automatically included within this notification. This is available at the Customer and Site level. Once the probe is installed you can exit the server and return to N-able N-central.

To verify, in N-able N-central, click Administration > Probes.

If you are using a customer-specific installation program, the Windows probe registers with the central server and initiates a discovery of all of the devices on the specified network. This may take some time depending on the size and configuration of the network being scanned.

If your probe is unable to communicate with the N-able N-central server, you may need to adjust your IP/FQDN settings from the System level. Click Administration > Defaults > Agent & Probe Settings and at the System level, click Administration > Network Settings > Network Setup of your on-premises installation.

Installing a Windows probe to a device without a domain

Many partners wish to install a Windows probe to a Windows device that is not part of a windows domain. Doing this enables you to monitor TCP services (Connectivity, HTTP, FTP, SMTP and so on).

Probes installed on or off domains can complete similar functions, and probes installed on a domain device are only limited by the credentials they lack. Domain installations are recommended if you wish to discover, run scripts, or install agents on all machines in the network. For local admin installations, the probe would not have access to networked devices. However, the probes will be able to cache patches and installers with both domain and local admin installations.

During the installation, a window will appear prompting you to enter the credentials of a Domain administrator enter a local administrator username and password, and the Computer name (NETBIOS) of the device instead of the domain:

  • Username: COMPUTERNAME\username
  • Password: XXXXXXXX

This will allow the probe to install and log into itself, which is how it tests to see if the account is valid.

You can get WMI readings between devices in a Workgroup environment. The probe is installed using an administrator account, which will also exist on each of the workgroup computers that the probe will be polling. This means installing it either using:

  • The administrator account
  • Creating an account on each of the computers with full administrative privileges, and a non-expiring password.

If you choose the latter, creating the account under both the Administrators group and the Users group, you will need to remove the account from the Users group, as the account will inherit some of the permission restrictions of the Users group.

With both options, ensure that the password is the exact same on each computer.

After the probe is installed, the service will have to be modified to use the administrator account:

  1. Stop the Windows Software Probe and Windows Software Probe Maintenance services in SERVICES.MSC.
  2. Change the service credentials by right clicking on each service and clicking Properties > Log On. Ensure that you enter your full credentials including the domain name if applicable.
  3. Restart the Windows Software Probe and Windows Software Probe Maintenance services in SERVICES.MSC.