What is MMC?

MMC stands for Microsoft Management Console. It is a framework or ‘tool host’ that provides administrators and users with a consolidated interface for centralized management, administration, and configuration of their system. MMC has existed since Windows 2000.

If you’re looking to streamline your working processes and make your life easier when it comes to managing your systems, MMC could be your answer. It is the ultimate centralized toolkit for remote network management, but it often goes overlooked. This article takes you through MMC, how it can enhance your workflows, and why MSPs and IT departments should think about using this powerful management interface.

What does MMC do?

Using your MMC console, you’re able to monitor and configure all the computers in your network drawing on a variety of tools. It’s important to make a distinction here – the MMC doesn’t do anything in and of itself. Instead, it is a centralized hub or interface for all your management tools. These tools give you the power to manage all the components within your network. This is why when you first launch MMC, you may be met with a pretty empty interface. It’s on you to populate your MMC with the snap-ins you want.

How does MMC work?

There are two main ‘panes’ in your MMC interface. The ‘Tree Tab’ and the ‘Details Tab’. In the Tree Tab, you’ll be able to see the overall hierarchy of all the objects you’re managing through the MMC. The Details Tab, as the name suggests, gives you an in-depth view of the object you’ve selected in the Tree pane.

What is a custom console in MMC?

Custom consoles are management interfaces that hold specific snap-in that help you to carry out certain administrative tasks. For example, you could create a custom console that caters specifically to the hardware components in your network.

What are MMC snap-ins?

If the MMC is a toolbox, the snap-ins are your tools. As the name suggests, snap-ins ‘snap into’ your MMC, and you’re able to choose and customize which ones you want within your control interface.

Snap-ins are essentially administrative tools that offer different functionalities. You add snap-ins to your console and these help you manage the hardware, software, and network components in your windows operating system. Although Microsoft offers a whole range of snap-ins, third party software developers can also create their own snap-ins.

Examples of MMC Snap-ins

Some examples of widely used snap-ins include:

  • Event viewer
  • Device Manager
  • Active Directory Users and Computers
  • WSUS (Windows Server Update Services)

Why do MSPs use MMC?

  • Remote management. MMC facilitates the remote management of your network’s components easily. Highly Customizable. MMC is versatile and flexible because you can create different consoles to cater to different administrative needs.
  • Delegation. MSPs can customize and adapt tools to cater to specific users. For example, by reducing functionality or restricting views, MSPs can create tools that are more accessible for less experienced users.
  • Scaleable. MSPs can design their interface that even less-experienced administrators on their team will be able to use.
  • Streamlined. Manage all your system’s components from a centralized interface.
  • Simple. MMC offers a simple, straightforward, and consistent interface to manage your network.

What is author mode on MMC?

There are two modes in MMC: user and author mode. Most MSPs will use MMC in author mode since this gives you the ability to make new consoles or make changes to your existing consoles.

You can toggle access in User Mode for full access, limited access to multiple windows, and limited access with only a single window.

When a user has full access, they’ll be able to access and see all the functionality of your MMC but won’t be able to make changes.

How to open and start the Microsoft Management Console

On all versions of Windows through Run:

  • Press the Windows Key + R
  • Type ‘mmc’ and click OK
  • Click Yes in the User Account Control pop-up

On Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10:

On the start menu, right click on Windows Logo or press the Windows Key and select ‘Run’. Then type MMC and click ok.

Through the Search box:

Type mmc in your search box and click mmc when it comes up

Through Command Prompt:

  • Type CMD in the search bar, and open Command Prompt
  • Type mmc and press enter

How to add and remove snap-ins to MMC

  • In your MMC, click ‘File’ and click ‘Add/Remove Snap-in’
  • Select the relevant snap-in on the list then click ‘Add’
  • Choose local computer or another computer within your network.
    Then click ‘Finish’

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t come across MMC before, you’re not alone. As we’ve seen in this article, however, it could offer a highly streamlined solution for remote system management – something every MSP looks for.

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