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Using the Microsoft Management Console: The basics

Just what exactly is the Microsoft Management Console? Find the basic details here, with info on how to use it to accomplish certain Windows management tasks.

Every time we add a new tool to our toolbox we need to learn two things. We need to learn what we can accomplish with the tool -- that's worth learning. We also need to figure out how the tool works -- what menus hide what functions, what windows hold what information, etc. If you work with a dozen or more tools in the course of your week's duties then that second part of the learning curve gets to be a real hassle. It's even worse if you spend most of your time using one or two tools and only occasionally (usually during a crisis) have to pull up some other app and remember where to find what. That was the nature of system management back in the NT days, when every network management tool was a standalone application with it's own command line parameters or window interface. Microsoft attempted to alleviate a lot of that wasted learning curve with the Microsoft Management Console, usually just called the MMC. The MMC is just a development framework; by itself it provides no management tools. The tools are provided by snap-ins, which are administrative tools you can open as a single tools or combine into custom consoles. Examples of MMC snap-ins include the Computer Management, DHCP admin tool, and Disk Defragmenter. Standard and customized consoles are stored as Microsoft saved console (*.MSC) files.


Here is how to use the Computer Management console, one of the core management consoles for Win2K network management:

  1. Right-click My Computer and choose Manage from the resulting menu. You can also type compmgmt.msc from the start/run dialog box.


  2. Note the console window includes two panes. The left pane displays the console tree with expandable nodes for each set of functions available from the console.


  3. Expand the Storage node in the console tree pane by clicking on the box to the left of the label. From here you can defragment the disk, manage logical drives and deal with removable media.


  4. Expand the System Tools node in the console tree pane. This is the stem from which you can manage folder shares, check out performance logs and alerts and view log files.

For more detail on the MMC, check out

Kevin Sharp is a registered professional engineer, writer, and yoga teacher living in Tucson, Arizona, and gains his expertise from a variety of professional activities. His writing interests have produced books and articles on the economic impact of technology on manufacturing and distribution organizations.


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