PingPlotter Standard as a service with FireDaemon
I'd like to have PingPlotter Standard running continuously - even when I'm not logged in. Is this possible?
PingPlotter Pro runs natively as a Windows Service (for more details, see here), but PingPlotter Standard runs only as an application. This means that you need to be logged into Windows for PingPlotter Standard to trace and alert. There may be cases, however, where you want PingPlotter to start automatically when Windows boots, without having to be logged in as a user.
Windows services, under Windows NT, 2000, XP, 2003 and Vista, are designed to run when Windows boots, and to run without a user interface. This is an ideal way to run a monitoring application that can work without a user interface.
If you want to run PingPlotter Standard as a Windows Service, you'll need to enlist the aid of an additional application. There are several tools available that can do this, but one of the most powerful and easy to use is FireDaemon, a handy utility that will enable you to run just about any application as a service.
This article will walk you through the ins and outs of configuring PingPlotter for operation as a service using FireDeamon.
- Windows NT, 2000, XP, 2003 or Vista (not 95, 98 or ME).
- PingPlotter Standard 3.20s or higher, installed on your workstation (this does not work with Pro, which has its own service capabilities).
- Administrative rights on the installed workstation.
Note: These instructions were created using FireDaemon version 1.9, although other versions should be similar.
We assume that you already have PingPlotter Standard installed on your workstation. You'll also need to have FireDaemon installed. Download it from http://www.firedaemon.com/downloads/ and install it by running the downloaded installer (you'll need to be an administrator for this to work). If you have questions or problems with this step, please consult the FireDaemon documentation and website.
Configure PingPlotter for monitoring
Before creating a service, let's get PingPlotter Standard working and tracing to the target of your choice. We're also going to configure auto-save, which makes sure a power outage or other crash doesn't cause PingPlotter to lose data. You can change these settings later, so don't worry if you change your mind.
- Open PingPlotter Standard.
- Trace to a target of your choice. Example: www.pingplotter.com. Collect several samples (more than one).
- Create a directory used for auto-save. We usually use c:\ppdata, so we'll assume you used this. If you want to save it elsewhere, that's fine, too, but we won't cover that. This directory should be on your local hard drive, though - you don't want to cause PingPlotter problems if you lose a network connection and it's trying to save right then. Use Windows Explorer to create a c:\ppdata directory, or do it in the next step from the save dialog.
- Save the collected data to a 'starting out' file, in c:\ppdata\Service Autosave.pp2. Go to File->Save Sample Set... in PingPlotter. Save that data to c:\ppdata\Service Autosave.pp2.
- Set PingPlotter to have a tray icon (View -> Put icon in tool tray).
- Set PingPlotter to minimize instead of close. Go to Edit->Options, General and turn on the checkmark for 'Minimize PingPlotter when Windows close command used'.
- Set PingPlotter to auto-save data. Go to Edit->Options, Auto-save and turn on Auto-save data, set your 'Save Interval' to 30 minutes, and set your Filename to 'c:\ppdata\Service $dest $date'. Do not use any variables in the directory name - only the file name.
- Close PingPlotter.
Make sure you're not getting a PingPlotter Standard licensing warning here, or PingPlotter won't launch correctly. For best results, you should be using a licensed version of PingPlotter.
Install the PingPlotter Standard Launch Helper
PingPlotter Standard isn't built to run as a service, and it doesn't tie together it's 'load file at startup' capabilities with it's 'auto-save' capabilities. We've written a little helper utility that will make things work a bit better. In particular, this helper application will start PingPlotter with the latest save file - either the auto-saved file (from the schedule configured above), or from the file that was saved on shutdown (if PingPlotter was closed normally).
- Download the helper application.
- Extract the contents of the .zip file to your PingPlotter Standard install directory (probably c:\Program Files\PingPlotter Standard).
Configure FireDaemon to launch PingPlotter
FireDaemon, by default, will create several shortcuts to launch the 'Service Manager'. You can launch the service manager by either using the desktop shortcut, the Start Menu shortcut, or one of the other shortcuts created by FireDaemon.
- Launch the FireDaemon Service Manager
- Create a new service using the 'Service -> New' menu option.
- Use the following values on the 'Program' tab:
Short Name: PingPlotterStandard
Long Name: PingPlotter - www.yourtarget.com (change this to describe the target you're monitoring)
Executable: (browse to the c:\program files\PingPlotter Standard\PPStd_Launcher.exe)
Parameters: 'C:\PPData\Service Autosave.pp2' (path and filename to the save file above, surrounded by quotes)
- Change the following values on the 'Settings' tab:
Show Window: Minimized (this will start PingPlotter only in the tray, not on the taskbar - recommended).
Turn on 'Interact with Desktop'
Turn on 'Graceful Shutdown' and set 'Max Shutdown Delay' to 60000 (this will give PingPlotter enough time to save on shutdown).
- Hit the 'Install' button. You should see 'Service 'PingPlotter Standard' succesfully installed.
This should get PingPlotter started and running.
Caveats of PingPlotter Standard as a service
- When you log off, PingPlotter will close and FireDaemon will restart it. This will cause a brief 'break' in the collected data while PingPlotter is closed.
- If you have a logging alert configured, the system user needs to have rights to create files in the log directory you've specified.
Please let us know if you have success (or problems) using PingPlotter Standard with FireDaemon! We'd love to hear your experiences.