An Overview of the Microsoft Management Console

Microsoft® Windows 2000 Knowledge Center

The Microsoft Management Console

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An Overview of the Microsoft Management Console

The Microsoft Management Console (MMC) has been around for a number of years now, since the release of the NT 4.0 Option Pack. In spite of its potential, we don’t often see it being used on a regular basis by system administrators. The MMC can be a simple tool to use, presuming of course that you have the desire to make your life as an administrator just a little bit easier. Many times during visits to customer sites our technicians will ask an administrator bring up the Event Viewer or the Disk Manager, and nearly every time the administrators will launch these two applications separately. Then they will try and navigate separate menus to try and locate what they’re looking for. In Windows 2000, nearly all administrative tasks are done through the MMC in predefined consoles, or subsets of them. From those, or an entirely new console, you can build your own custom interface with exactly the tools you use frequently.

If you stop and think about it, the Microsoft Management Console is nothing more than a simple shell. All that is needed to get started is an empty console window, which you can start by clicking Start | Run and then typing in MMC and click OK. You are a portrait painter, and this is you canvas! From here, you have all of the tools you need to create your own specialized administrative toolbox. By using what is referred to as snap-ins (administrative modules), such as the Event Viewer or Services console, you can construct a single interface that’s easier to navigate and much quicker to load than manually starting each module individually.

Adding snap-ins is a breeze. After you have opened a bare console, just click Console | Add/Remove Snap-in. If this is your first console, the list of snap-ins will be empty, so you’ll need to click the Add button at the bottom. You will then see a list of all snap-ins that are available on your system. Choose the ones you’d like to use and click Add. When selecting some snap-ins, you will be provided with a choice of whether you want this for a local or remote computer. This is where you begin to see the advantages of the new MMC in Windows 2000. You can add snap-ins that point to remote machines without having to manually launch a module, then connect, only to have to repeat the process the next time you’d like to perform a task on a remote computer.

Once you have customized your new console, just click Console | Save and then give it a descriptive name so that you understand its purpose. By default, consoles are saved in the Administrative Tools folder in your individual profile. Once the file has been saved, click Start | Programs | Administrative Tools and you should see your new console listed.

Want more? When you begin building MMC consoles, pause and give some thought to the daily adminsitrative tasks you perform and how you perform them. You may even want to setup a dedicated network share that will contain custom MMC consoles that are pre-loaded with snap-ins for managing your remote systems. By doing this, you can launch them from other machines on the network without losing any functionality. This presumes, however, that all of the snap-ins have been made available on the machine where the console is launched. This is for security purposes, so keep that in mind.

If you use the Event Viewer every day to check for specific event types or to clear logs, you can create a console that simply has the Event Viewer snap-in for multiple remote computers. When you launch that console, you’ll have them all available to you in one window. Another consideration would be to create a console for each remote server that has the Event Viewer, Disk Management, Performance Logs and Group Policy snap-ins. This is only a small example of the usefulness built into the new MMC. You can even set Author and User properties on each of the consoles, so the creation and modification can be centrally controlled, thereby providing a consistent interface at all times.

Presently, there are a number of third party application developers who are writing snap-ins that conform to the MMC standard, and register those snap-ins during installation. Most of these snap-ins can easily be used with remote systems as well. When evaluating the purchase of applications in the future, you may want to see if this capability has been provided as administrative burden is an important consideration when choosing products. There’s much more to the MMC, and the pages that follow may help you learn more about the capabilities of this powerful administrative tool.

Using the Microsoft Management Console, Step-By-Step

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