Getting WMI Objects (Get-WmiObject)

Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) is a core technology for Windows system administration because it exposes a wide range of information in a uniform manner. Because of how much WMI makes possible, the Windows PowerShell cmdlet for accessing WMI objects, Get-WmiObject, is one of the most useful for doing real work. We are going to discuss how to use Get-WmiObject to access WMI objects and then how to use WMI objects to do specific things.

Listing WMI Classes

The first problem most WMI users encounter is trying to find out what can be done with WMI. WMI classes describe the resources that can be managed. There are hundreds of WMI classes, some of which contain dozens of properties.

Get-WmiObject addresses this problem by making WMI discoverable. You can get a list of the WMI classes available on the local computer by typing:

PS> Get-WmiObject -List

__SecurityRelatedClass				__NTLMUser9X
__PARAMETERS							__SystemSecurity
__NotifyStatus						__ExtendedStatus
Win32_PrivilegesStatus				Win32_TSNetworkAdapterSettingError
Win32_TSRemoteControlSettingError	 Win32_TSEnvironmentSettingError

You can retrieve the same information from a remote computer by using the ComputerName parameter, specifying a computer name or IP address:

PS> Get-WmiObject -List -ComputerName

__SystemClass						 __NAMESPACE
__Provider							__Win32Provider
__ProviderRegistration				__ObjectProviderRegistration

The class listing returned by remote computers may vary due to the specific operating system the computer is running and the particular WMI extensions added by installed applications.


When using Get-WmiObject to connect to a remote computer, the remote computer must be running WMI and, under the default configuration, the account you are using must be in the local administrators group on the remote computer. The remote system does not need to have Windows PowerShell installed. This allows you to administer operating systems that are not running Windows PowerShell, but do have WMI available.

You can even include the ComputerName when connecting to the local system. You can use the local computer's name, its IP address (or the loopback address, or the WMI-style '.' as the computer name. If you are running Windows PowerShell on a computer named Admin01 with IP address, the following commands will all return the WMI class listing for that computer:

Get-WmiObject -List
Get-WmiObject -List -ComputerName .
Get-WmiObject -List -ComputerName Admin01
Get-WmiObject -List -ComputerName
Get-WmiObject -List -ComputerName
Get-WmiObject -List -ComputerName localhost

Get-WmiObject uses the root/cimv2 namespace by default. If you want to specify another WMI namespace, use the Namespace parameter and specify the corresponding namespace path:

PS> Get-WmiObject -List -ComputerName -Namespace root

__SystemClass						 __NAMESPACE
__Provider							__Win32Provider

Displaying WMI Class Details

If you already know the name of a WMI class, you can use it to get information immediately. For example, one of the WMI classes commonly used for retrieving information about a computer is Win32_OperatingSystem.

PS> Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_OperatingSystem -Namespace root/cimv2 -ComputerName .

SystemDirectory : C:\WINDOWS\system32
Organization	: Global Network Solutions
BuildNumber	 : 2600
RegisteredUser  : Oliver W. Jones
SerialNumber	: 12345-678-9012345-67890
Version		 : 5.1.2600

Although we are showing all of the parameters, the command can be expressed in a more succinct way. The ComputerName parameter is not necessary when connecting to the local system. We show it to demonstrate the most general case and remind you about the parameter. The Namespace defaults to root/cimv2, and can be omitted as well. Finally, most cmdlets allow you to omit the name of common parameters. With Get-WmiObject, if no name is specified for the first parameter, Windows PowerShell treats it as the Class parameter. This means the last command could have been issued by typing:

Get-WmiObject Win32_OperatingSystem

The Win32_OperatingSystem class has many more properties than those displayed here. You can use Get-Member to see all the properties. The properties of a WMI class are automatically available like other object properties:

PS> Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_OperatingSystem -Namespace root/cimv2 -ComputerName . | Get-Member -MemberType Property

   TypeName: System.Management.ManagementObject#root\cimv2\Win32_OperatingSyste

Name									MemberType Definition
----									---------- ----------
__CLASS								 Property   System.String __CLASS {...
BootDevice								Property   System.String BootDevic...
BuildNumber							 Property   System.String BuildNumb...

Displaying Non-Default Properties with Format Cmdlets

If you want information contained in the Win32_OperatingSystem class that is not displayed by default, you can display it by using the Format cmdlets. For example, if you want to display available memory data, type:

PS> Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_OperatingSystem -Namespace root/cimv2 -ComputerName . | Format-Table -Property TotalVirtualMemorySize,TotalVisibleMemorySize,FreePhysicalMemory,FreeVirtualMemory,FreeSpaceInPagingFiles

TotalVirtualMemorySize TotalVisibleMem FreePhysicalMem FreeVirtualMemo FreeSpaceInPagi
							ory			ry		 ngFiles
--------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- ---------------
		2097024		785904		305808		 2056724		 1558232

Wildcards work with property names in Format-Table, so the final pipeline element can be reduced to Format-Table -Property TotalV*,Free*

The memory data might be more readable if you format it as a list by typing:

PS> Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_OperatingSystem -Namespace root/cimv2 -ComputerName . | Format-List TotalVirtualMemorySize,TotalVisibleMemorySize,FreePhysicalMemory,FreeVirtualMemory,FreeSpaceInPagingFiles

TotalVirtualMemorySize : 2097024
TotalVisibleMemorySize : 785904
FreePhysicalMemory	 : 301876
FreeVirtualMemory	: 2056724
FreeSpaceInPagingFiles : 1556644