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WinLab Reviews
MediaAgent for CDs 1.0
Where, Oh Where Has My CD Gone?

-- by Cynthia Morgan

Who's got my CD-ROM? It's all too easy for someone to spy needed information on a 4-inch silver platter, borrow it for "just a sec" and then forget to return it. Unlike floppy disks, Cds aren't reproducible, so you can't tuck masters away safely.

A graduate of the "Why didn't I think of that?" school of software development, MediaAgent tracks CDs as they travel around your network by "reregistering" them every time they're inserted into someone's CD-ROM drive.

You can access discs whether or not you actually have a CD-ROM drive on your local machine. And, like a friendly librarian, it will even put you on a waiting list to access popular discs. It keeps a history of CD use, so it knows who had it last and tells the culprit to put it back into the drive so someone else can use it.

Put a CD into any CD-ROM drive across the network, and the software finds it. An Add New CD Wizard pops up if the disc's not already registered. To access registered discs, you use additional commands within already-familiar Microsoft Explorer or File Manager. You can restrict access to sensitive CDs, catalog existing CDs and log usage by user or group. And, although the otherwise excellent documentation barely mentions it, MediaAgent can catalog other shareable folders.

If you've used MicroTest's excellent DiscPort CD-ROM network connectors or towers, you'll feel right at home here. The program stays in the background until a disc is inserted into a networked drive.

MediaAgent requires read/write access to the folder containing the MediaAgent database. Windows 95 clients must have file-sharing enabled, and, if the network's also running Novell NetWare, have the SAP Advertising box checked in the NetWare file-sharing tab. While others will be able to see registered discs in unshared drives, they won't be able to access them. In fact, the program will detect whether file sharing has been turned on during installation and will head straight for a tutorial if it hasn't.

MediaAgent can be a bit tricky to use on the typical network. My version didn't support Windows 3.x users-a vital part of any Windows network-although the company promises to remedy that and support Win32s in the next software update. Your network's Mac and UNIX users will be out of luck. The program isn't recommended for use with multidisc CD-changer drives (auto-changers), since someone could log in and try to play an unused CD while you're working with another.

MediaAgent is a valuable part of any network administrator's toolkit and deserves a spot on our Recommended List.

W Info File

MediaAgent for CDs 1.0
Price: 10-users, $495
Pros: Tracks CDs through networks
Cons: All CD-ROM drives must be shared for full function
Disk Space: Client, 5MB; Administrator, 11+MB
Platforms: 3x, 95, NT
Media Path Technologies
800-357-0697, 609-222-0500
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

Copyright 1997 CMP Media Inc.

(From Windows Magazine, January 1997, page 173.)